Stephen F. Austin State University

Booty School near Beckville, Texas (August 2012)

Booty School near Beckville, Texas
Written in 1936, this was submitted by Jane Jordan, the granddaughter of Joseph A. Jordan.

J.A. Jordan was the grandson of John Locke Booty who established the school described in this account "The History of Panola County, Texas"

The first school Joseph Jordan remembered was half mile east of Beckville and was made of pine logs, hewn by hand with a broad axe. There were open windows which closed with shutters. Cracks were many, but they tried to seal the rooms with planks on the inside. There were two doors in one end and a fire place eight feet wide on the other end.

According to an account written by Joseph Jordan, the grandson of John Booty who built the school house, the boys brought in pine knots picked up in the woods nearby to make quick fires in the fireplace. When the children got cold, they stood in front of the fire to get warm with book in hand studying lessons. The girls swept the floor at the noon recess each day with brooms made of safe straw from the fields.

He says, "Webster's Blue Back Spelling Book, Smith's Grammar and Davies Arithmetic were our books in use. Most of us quit when we learned the three "R's" - reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic." Joseph's grandfather, John L. Booth, built the school house named for John Booty and it was their community center, Church and meeting place for groups and political rallies.

John Booty was the first teacher. His sons, A. J. Booth and James H. Booty taught in this school house, then the grandchildren became teachers and three generations of the Booty family taught there. Booty's three children went to school from home three miles away. Jordan's sister rode horseback and he and his brother walked. On the way to school and back they studied their lessons. "We opened our books when we left home and on going home we studied our lessons. At home we sometimes studied lessons around the fireplace. Our light to study by was made of rich pine knots, thrown on as often as the light got too dim to see to study."

They learned the "ABC's" early then learned to spell short words. When they had learned most of the words in the Blue Back Speller, they got a McGuffy's First Reader. Then the students studied geography, U.S. History and Smith's Grammar and arithmetic as far as the rule of three proportion. To go further, the children had to go into town boarding school. Only a few boys and girls ever were fortunate enough to enter boarding school. Most of them quit school when they learned the three "R's" and helped with the work of farming or timber.