• Humble ISD History

    Part 2: 1884-1919


    COMMON SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- In 1884, Texas passed the Common School Law, which provided for a system of county schools to be established across the state.1  All of Harris County was geographically divided into county school districts, each with at least one school and a three-member school board.2  Students could only attend a school that was within their district's attendance boundary.  The law mandated separate schools for white students and colored students. It also mandated the teaching of writing, reading in English, penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, modern geography, composition, and other subjects. The law established a taxation system to pay for the public schools, thereby providing a free education to all students living in each district (although there were still racial issues). The Common School Law of 1884 was the beginning of the current education system still in use in Texas.

    In the Humble-area, the land on the east side of the railroad tracks was established as Harris County Common School District No. 28, the Dunman School District.  The boundaries of District No. 28 originally encompassed a slightly larger area of land than Humble ISD today, following the boundaries established in 1882 for Harris County Election District No. 22.3 Joe Dunman's Schoolhouse was the only school in District No. 28 at that time.  By 1886, the district had opened a school for colored students.  This was a progressive step for District No. 28, since fewer than half of the Harris County school districts offered an education to colored students at that time.

    The area on the west side of the railroad tracks, where the Higgs School was located, was established as Harris County Common School District No. 29.  In 1935, District No. 29 became the Aldine Independent School District. 

    District Map 1884
    Original boundary of Common School District No. 28 (Dunman School District)
    (image provided by Dr. Robert Meaux)


    HUMBLE, TEXAS -- In 1885, the Lord's Mill Community began to collapse.  The Lord & Noble sawmill went bankrupt and closed.  The U. S. Post Office in Lord closed in February of 1885.4 Pleasant Humble took over responsibility for the local mail, most likely out of his store or home.  Local legend states that mail carriers from other towns were instructed to "deliver to Humble," meaning Pleasant Humble.  Whether this story is true or not, when the applicaiton was made to open a US Post Office in his town in August 1886, the official name on the application was listed as "Humble, Texas."  Pleasant Humble was appointed as the town's first postmaster.5 Pleasant Humble was also elected as the local Harris County Justice of the Peace in 1887.

    William Humble & Pleasant Humble William Smith Humble (standing) and his father, Pleasant Smith Humble


    District Split

    TWO SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- Joe Dunman's Schoolhouse was located in the mid- portion of the district, while the town of Humble began to develop further north.  The Humble residents wanted more local control, and a school located closer to the town.  They petitioned the Harris County Commissioner's Court to split the district.  Their request was granted, and  in 1888 District No. 28 was split into two parts: the northern portion of the district remained as District No. 28 (Humble), while the southern portion became District No. 35 (Dunman).6  Each district had its own three-member school board, but was also controlled by the actions of the County Superintendent of Education, and the Harris County Commissioner's Court.

    District Map 1888
    Boundaries of District No. 28 and District No. 35 in 1888
    (image provided by Dr. Robert Meaux)

    Joe Dunman's Schoolhouse ended up in District No. 35, and was renamed as Dunman's Prairie School.  A new school was built for District No. 28, closer to the developing town of Humble.  This new school was called the West River School, and was located at the corner of Isaacks Road and Old Humble Road (on land donated by William Humble, son of Pleasant Humble).7  This location is now part of the Humble Cemetery.  The school for colored students was also moved to District No. 28, since District No. 35 elected not to educate African-American students.  An old rail car was used as the school for colored students.  Since the type of railroad track that ran through the Humble area was called narrow gauge, the school for colored students was known as the Narrow Gauge School.


    Charles Bender Charles Bender
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)

    CHARLES BENDER -- In 1889 Charles Bender (1829-1906), a native of Germany who owned a sawmill in Spring, purchased one of the nearby defunct sawmills through bankruptcy proceedings.  The purchase of the Milledge and Calhoun sawmill included 3,600 acres of timberland in the area.  As a result, Bender owned nearly all of the land where the new Humble community was based.  Charles Bender was a benevolent employer, providing jobs  and homes for many people in the area, including African-Americans.  By 1912, the Bender operation had a daily capacity of 75,000 feet of longleaf and shortleaf yellow pine.  Lumber was shipped to all parts of the country, including destinations in Canada. The sawmill commissary was frequented by many of the employees for the purchase of groceries, clothing, and other household items. Over the next few years, Humble became known as a lumber town.

    Bender Sawmill in Humble The Bender Sawmill in Humble
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)

    Throughout the 1890s, the community grew very slowly.  People moved to the area and tended farms or raised livestock.  In 1896, District No. 28 had a student population of 62, while District No. 35 had a student population of 41.  In 1903, landowner Joseph W. Dunman died.8 Since the Dunman Prairie School was located on his land, District No. 35 shut down the Dunman School building, and opened a new schoolhouse just a little further south on the Atascocita Road.  It was named the Singleton School  in honor of Reed Singleton, an early member of the District No. 35 school board and a local election judge. The Singleton School was located where the Waste Management Atascocita Landfill now stands at the corner of Atascocita Road and Wilson Road.



    The Spindletop gusher in Beaumont, Texas, 1901
    (imaged used with permission, Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, Lamar University)

    SPINDLETOP -- On January 10, 1901, the Texas Oil Boom began with the discovery of oil underneath a salt dome called Spindletop Hill in Beaumont.  By 1904, several companies were drilling wells on a salt dome in Humble in an attempt to discover oil there.  Charles Bender laid out a map of streets and avenues for the town of Humble and filed it with the county on October 22, 1904.  He named the streets running east and west through the town for famous oilmen that were drilling in Humble, including: Higgins Street (for Patillo Higgins), Barret Street (for Charles Barrett)...now called Main Street, Granberry Street (for Prentiss Granberry), and Statiti Street (for Henry Staiti).  Humble was now recognized as an official town within Harris County.  The streets laid out by Bender are still in use today, and is now know as the historic downtown Humble district.


    Original Street Map for Humble Original Street Map for Humble, 1904
    (image provided by Harris County Archives)

    HUMBLE OIL BOOM -- On November 7, 1904, the Moonshine Company struck oil in Humble.  Humble became a boom town overnight. Land that had been selling the previous week for $10 an acre was now selling for $20,000 an acre!  Suddenly, people descended upon Humble to make their fortunes in the oil fields.  The small, sleepy sawmill town of about 100 families increase to over 10,000 residents over the course of just a few weeks. The largest influx of people went to work at the Echols Ridge, the location of the successful oil wells.  By 1907, the Echols Ridge was renamed as Moonshine Hill, in honor of the first company to strike oil in Humble, the Moonshine Company.

    Student enrollment at the West River School (District No. 28) doubled in 1904-1905, from 32 students to 68 students.  A second teacher was hired, and a second building was added to the school.  The following year, 1905-1906, the student population more than tripled, up to 217 students.  A third building, and another teacher, were added.  The student population at the Narrow Gauge School (District No. 28) also increased, from 26 students in 1903-1904 to 52 students in 1904-1905. For the 1905-1906 school year, African-American students were removed from the old railcar and given a new wooden schoolhouse, the Pleasant Grove School. The Singleton School in District No. 35 also experienced an increase in student enrollment, from 14 students in 1904-1905 to 28 students in 1905-1906.9 During this time, with wealth in the town increasing, residents of both districts voted to voluntarily increase their property tax to increase the quality of the schools.

    All of the schools in Humble were Intermediate Schools.  An Intermediate School educated students in grades 1-7.  Seventh grade was typically the highest grade most students would complete, which is the root of the popular phrase "he only has a 7th grade education." After the seventh grade, most students would end their schooling to begin jobs, help the family on the farm, etc. Students wanting to continue into high school grades (grades 8-11) had to pass a county examination to continue their schooling.


    LAND GRAB -- since the district boundaries were first formed in 1884, the boundary between District 28 (Humble) and District 29 (Aldine) had been the railroad tracks of the Houston East & West Texas Railway.  In May 1909, the Harris County Commissioners Court made an adjustment to that boundary.  They moved the Humble boundary across the railroad track, and up to the edge of the W. B. Adams survey.10  In modern day language, it moved the boundary from the railroad track in downtown Humble all the way over to McKay Drive, behind the hospital.  This made it convenient for District No. 28, since they wanted to build a new Colored School next to Bordersville.  It was a suspicious move, since J. W. Hall was a trustee on the District No. 28 schoolboard, and he also happened to be on the Harris County Commissioners Court.  District No. 29 fought the change for years, but to no avail.

    GROWTH OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS -- In 1909, the Humble citizens passed the town's first schoolhouse bond for $10,000.11 The district used those funds to purchase a block of land on Higgins Street from the Bender Estate in the downtown Humble area,12 and built the town's first brick schoolhouse.  Called the Humble School, it was a two-story, six-room schoolhouse, built to replace the old wooden buildings of the West River School.  It housed grades 1-7, plus two years of high school study (grades 8 and 9). A new wooden schoolhouse for colored students was also built, across the railroad tracks near an African-American community on the west side of town.  The school was never given a name.  It was simply referred to as the Colored School. The old buildings of the West River School were sold, and the land was eventually sold to the Humble Cemetery Association, who used it to expand the cemetery.

    Humble School The Humble School on Higgins Street

    SUPERINTENDENT WOMACK -- Humble hired its first Superintendent of Schools in 1909.  Daniel Henry Womack (1867-1957) served not only as the Superintendent, but also as the Principal of the Humble School for the 1909-1910 and 1910-1911 school years.

    Superintendent Daniel Henry Womack
    Humble's 1st Superintendent: Daniel Henry Womack
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)


    District No. 35 opened their second school for the 1910-1911 school year at Moonshine Hill, which was the central location of oil drilling in Humble.13 This two-room, wooden schoolhouse was called the Woodward School, named after Emerson Francis Woodward,14 one of the superintendents of the Producers Oil Company, which had donated the land for the school.15 Both of the District No. 35 schools were intermediate schools, for grades 1-7.  District No. 28 petitioned to have their school listed as a county high school, which would allow it to offer a full 4-year high school course of study to students in the district, as well as students in neighboring districts.  The petition was granted,16 and grades 10 and 11 were added in 1911 (12th grade would not be added to the Texas school curriculum until 1941).  


    FIRST GRADUATES -- In June 1911, District No. 28 celebrated its first graduates, twins Edith and Ethel Innman.17 Their graduation ceremony was held at the Dixie Theatre in Humble.

    John Franklin Crawford was hired as District No. 28's second superintendent starting in 1911. He also served as Principal of the Humble School from 1911 to 1914.

    Superintendent John F. Crawford
    Humble's 2nd Superintendent: John Franklin Crawford
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)


    SINKING OF THE TITANIC - The Titanic, the largest moving vessel at the top, sank after striking an iceberg in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

    In 1912, District No. 35 requested permission to build a high school at Moonshine Hill, but the county school board rejected the request, claiming the work of District No. 35 was not to a high enough standard.18   


    District No. 35 suffered another major setback in 1914 when the Harris County Commissioner's Court ruled that District No. 35 had built the Woodward School at Moonshine Hill within the geographic boundaries of District No. 28.  The Woodward School was transferred to District No. 28, along with the students and teachers.19  It was the beginning of the end for District No. 35.  The original Humble oil boom from 1904 died out quickly, enrollment shrank over the next few years at the only remaining school in District No. 35, the Singleton School.

    WORLD WAR I BEGINS - Austrian Archudke Franza Ferdinand is assassinated on June 28, 1914, leading to the start of World War I when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.  The war involved all of the worlds great powers at that time, and lasted over four years. The war caused more than 16 million deaths among the combatants and civilians.


    In 1915, continued increases in enrollment caused overcrowding at the Humble School in District No. 28.  The citizens passed a $10,000 schoolhouse bond to expand to the school to more than twice it's original size.  1915 was also the first year that Texas initiated compulsory attendance for all students in the State.


    BENEFIT CONCERT -- District No. 28 ran into a very serious problem during the 1915-1916 school year; it ran out of funds to finish out the school year.  Funding from the state was given to the school district based on enrollment at the beginning of the school-year.20 The state funds assigned to District No. 28 that year were based on an enrollment of 500 students.  However, by mid-year, the number of students had doubled...but the state did not provide additional funding for them.  

    Harris County Tax Collector William Moody undertook the task of raising funds for the school district, but he was tragically killed in an auto accident. He had raised enough funds to keep the district going through May 1st, but $800 more was needed for the remainder of the school-year.  To continue raising funds, violinist Mischa Gluchkin hosted a benefit concert at the City of Houston Auditorium on April 24, 1916.21  Mischka Gluchkin was a noted violinist, and leader of an orchestra in Germany.  He had married a girl from El Campo, Texas who had been studying music in Germany.  When War broke out (World War I), he was thrown into prison in Germany.  Upon his release, he made his way out of the country, and towards the United States.22 

    Mischa Gluchkin Violinist Mischa Gluchkin
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)

    The fund-raising concert became more of a patriotic event than a civic event.  Many of the more affluent citizens of Houston pledged to attend the concert and contribute funds for the Humble school district, including R. S. Sterling of Humble Oil, R. L. Blaffer of Blaffer and Farish, E. A. Peden of the Peden Iron and Steel Company, and many others.23   The concert started at 8:30 P.M.  Gluchkin was accompanied at the concert by pianist Sam Swinford.  The only speech of the evening was made by Houston Mayor Ben Campbell. No admission was charged for the concert, but a free-will offering was taken during the recital.  The event raised $575 (the Texas Oil Company alone contributed a check for $250).24  

    On May 16th, Miss Florence Sterling and Miss Jennie Bering (who were instrumental in the success of the Houston concert) went to Humble to raise an additional $225 through another concert at the Dixie Theater.  Those who performed were some of the best musicians in Houston, including Ellen Loftus (who gave several delightful readings), Miss Williams (performed several violin solos), C. E. Gertin (performed a bass solo), Miss Heisig (performed selections on the piano), and Jennie Bering (performed several old songs, including "Comin' Through the Rye").


    MOVE TOWARD CONSOLIDATION -- By 1917, it was clear that District No. 35 was not going to survive due to low enrollment.  District No. 28 Superintendent J. F. Crawford appeared before the county school board requesting that District No. 28 and District No. 35 be consolidated.25 Over the next year, as the county school board deliberated on the request, new schools were built for both districts. 

    The County Superintendent worked out funding to build a new brick Singleton School for District No. 35.  District No. 28 passed a $37,000 schoolhouse bond, purchased another block of land from the Bender Estate,26 next to the Humble School, and added a new two-story high school building.  The new school was designed by future Houston Mayor Oscar F. Holcombe (1888-1968), who also designed a new masonry Woodward School for the district.27  The new Humble High School was built next door to the Humble School and opened in the Fall of 1918. In addition to classrooms, it also had an auditorium, a superintendent's office, a principal's office, and a home economics room.  Ms. Frances R. Hyde was the first principal.   "Impossible is Un-American" became the motto of the school, and was printed on every page of the 1918-1919 yearbook.  Grades 8-11 went to the new Humble High School, while grades 1-7 stayed at the Humble School, now called Humble Grammar School.

    Humble High School on Higgins Street Humble High School on Higgins Street
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)

    MOONSHINE HILL ROAD -- The Humble-to-Moonshine Hill Road was one of the first 4 concrete roads built in Harris Couty. The concrete road started at the corner of 1st Street & Old Humble Road and continued until it reached the Moonshine Hill Road.

    In 1917, many roads in Harris County were dirt roads or cordury roads. While using concrete as the base of a road was not new, using concrete for both the base of the road and the wearing surface began in 1891 in Bellefontaine, Ohio.28  The first such concrete road in Texas was in San Antonio on Belknap Place (from Dewey Place to Agarita Ave.).29

    THe first four concrete roads in Harris County (built simultaneously) were (1) Harrisburg Blvd. from the end of construction toward South Houston, (2) The Houston-to-Crosby Road from the concrete bridge at Crosby South, (3) the Humble-to-Moonshine Hill Road, and (4) the Washington County Road from the city limits of Houston to Camp Logan.30


    DISTRICT NO. 50 -- In the summer of 1918, District No. 28 and District No. 35 were combined into a new district, District No. 50.


    WORLD WAR I ENDS - While the fighting ended in 1918, a state of war continued to exist until June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versilles.  Four of the countries ceased to exist by the end of the war, and the League of Nations was formed in early 1920.

    SPANISH FLU - The greatest pandemic in human history broke out near the end of World War I.  It is estimated to have killed 50-100 million people (1/6 of the world's population).  This deadly influenza epidemic turned people's immune system against them.  Where as the flu typically is most dangerous to the old, and very, very young...this epidemic caused greater deaths among the strong and healthy, instead of the young and the weak.


    HUMBLE ISD IS CREATED -- On February 18, 1919, the 36th Texas Legislature passed House Bill No. 332, which converted Harris County Common School District No. 50 into the Humble Independent School District.30   The bill was sponsored by State Representative J. W. Hall, who had served on the District No. 28 School Board from 1908 through 1914.

    The law required an election to be held in May 1919 in order to select five school board members.  Until that time, the school board members of District No. 50 (William Zane Woodward, J. P. Kiser, and William Dewey) would continue to operate the district.

    After the May 1919 election, the new school board members were sworn in by the Justice of the Peace.  The first members of the Humble ISD School Board were:

     At this point, there were 5 schools in Humble ISD:

    RESIGNATION OF SUPERINTENDENT CRAWFORD -- Shortly after Humble ID was created, Superintendent John F. Crawford resigned to become the first superintendent of the schools in Goose Creek.  Mr. Crawford had served 8 years as the Superintendent in Humble, and had helped bring about the move to become an Independent School District.31

    In his place, the district hired Edward Elbert Bagwell to serve as the new Superintendent.  A native of North Carolina, Mr. Bagwell had been superintendent of schools in Davis, Oklahoma, and worked as a teacher at the Baptist Academy in Hays County, Texas before coming to Humble.

    Superintendent E. E. Bagwell

    Superintendent E. E. Bagwell
    (image provided by the Humble Museum, Humble, Texas)


      -- Dr. Robert Meaux
    Last updated on 05/14/2018 8:31 AM



    1. Evans, C. E. The Story of Texas Schools. Austin: The Steck Company, 1955, page 107.
    2. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. E: 98, County Clerk's Office, Houston. The minutes specify the boundaries for the original common school districts.
    3. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. D: 360, County Clerk's Office, Houston.
    4. Wheat, Jim. Postmasters and Post Offices of Texas, 1846-1930.Garland, TX: Jim Wheat, 1974.
    5. Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832 - September 30, 1971, microfilm publication M841 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Service), roll 123, Harris County, Texas.  The post office application contains the first known use of "Humble, Texas."
    6. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. E: 507, County Clerk's Office, Houston.
    7. Harris County, Texas, Deeds, 40: 426-427, #11964, Count Clerk's Office, Houston. The one-acre of land is now the southern portion of the Humble Cemetery.
    8. "Services for Joe Dunman," Houston Chronicle, 7 March 1903, Section 1, page 8.
    9. Superintendent Reports, Annual Reports, Harris County, 1880-1911. Texas State Archives and Library Commission.
    10. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. O: 569, County Clerk's Office, Houston.
    11. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. O: 561, County Clerk's Office, Houston.  Land for the school was purchased from the Bender Estate.
    12. Harris County, Texas, Deed, 246: 8, #60126, Count Clerk's Office, Houston.
    13. Report of Harris County Schools for the Year Ending August 31, 1910.  Houston: The Cargill Company, 1910, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston.
    14. Meaux, Robert. Images of America: Humble. South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2013.
    15. Harris County, Texas, Deed, 246: 7, #60125, Count Clerk's Office, Houston.
    16. "School Board Met." Houston Post, 25 August 1911, page 25
    17. "First Graduates of Humble." Galveston Daily News, 3 June 1911, page 5
    18. "A Thousand Children Are Unaccounted For," Houston Post, 3 October 1912, page 13.
    19. Harris County, Texas, Commissioners Court, vol. R: 396, County Clerk's Office, Houston.  In 1917, the district replaced the wooden Woodward School with a masonry structure.
    20. "Oil Company Contributed," Houston Post, 6 April 1916, page 3.
    21. "Benefit Recital Planned for Humble School Here," Houston Post, 13 Pairl 1916, page 7
    22. "Benefit for the Humble School," Houston Post, 16 April 1916, page 16
    23. "Benefit for Humble Schools Certain to Be Big Success," Houston Post, 22 April 1916, page 13
    24. "Glushkin to Give Concert for Humble School District," Houston Post, 23 April 1916, page 9
    25. "County School Board Holding Long Session," Houston Post, 9 October 1917, page 3.
    26. The street between Blocks 26 (location of the Humble Grammar School) and Block 27 (location of Humble High School) in Bender's First Addition was filled in during the late 1920s.
    27. Harris County Common School District No. 28, "Minutes of the School Board, 15 May 1917."
    28. Snell, Luke M. and Billie G. Snell. "Oldest Concrete Streets in the UNited State." Concrete International, March 2002, pages 72-74.
    29. Prusinski, Jan R. and Donald Taubert. "Narrative History of Belknap Place: Oldest Existing Concrete Road in Texas (1914), San Antonio, Texas."
    30. "Resurfacing Highways in Harris County Texas. Good Roads, vol. 14, no. 12 (September 22, 1917), pages 160, E. L. Powers: New York.
    31. Texas State Legislature, 36th legislature, House Bill 332.
    32. Humble ISD School Board Minutes, 05/29/1919