Thank you so much to Joe Hock for donating these photos.
From Caddo’s First Century
By Elaine Braly
(From a 1972 Centennial issue of the Bryan County Star)
The first public school came to Caddo in 1905, according to the late George B. Morris, who served as the first co-principal. Subscription schools had existed in Caddo for a number of years. These were supported mainly by the Indian Mission which paid tuition for its young people. With no special building to house a school, classes were conducted at various places. At one time the Choctaw Council House was the scene of school teaching. The old Masonic Building afforded space for classrooms at different times.
In 1903 Miss Ita Wallace, a Kidd-Key College graduate from Sherman, Texas was head of the subscription school. Enterprising civic leaders in Caddo felt the need for a public school. Progressive citizens began to take action. They wanted a man to head the school. Judge J. L. Rappolee and his brother, Dr. Walter E. Rappolee, contacted a young teacher, George B. Morris form Rice, Texas, who accepted the position of co-principal together with his brother-in-law, L. A. Ellison.
If the town looked thriving to the new school officials that August day when they stepped off the Katy, the school situation in this bustling community posed a real challenge. The public school was a new idea. A number of persons still preferred subscription schools, which continued for a while after the public school started.
Morris recalled that John T. Petty, Caddo banker, who had lived in Morris’ home town, and who knew something of his reputation as a school leader, had strongly recommended Morris by informing the school board that “Morris is a real foot racer.” At the time, according to Morris, a teacher had to spend considerable time and energy running some of the big boys back into the classrooms as part of the day’s normal routine. Compulsory education was not to come until 1916.
“They promised me they would build me a school,” Morris recalled. “The first year I taught classes in the Blue County Court House. Court would be going on in one part of the building and we held classes in another. Bud Maytubby was U.S. Marshal. My salary was $50 a month.”
That same year, 1904, school board members kept their promise and work started on a fine new building. G. W. Phillips, P.W. Arnold, and H. M. Dunlap were members of that first school board. Douglas B. Williams, owner of a furniture and hardware store, and father of Cowboy Pink Williams, was another serving on the school board in those early years.
Mrs. Matilda LeFlore Manning, widow of Dr. Manning, and member of the prominent Choctaw family, LeFlore, gave five acres on the north edge of town for the building site. John Steger of Bonham, Texas, whose family later moved to Durant, was awarded the contract. The cost was $17,000. The building accommodated all 11 grades until 1912 when a separate high school was built.
The Manning School was considered a very fine edifice when it was completed in 1905. The three-storied red brick building was distinctive for its belfry cupola and its white Grecian columns. Stairway spokes were tooled in a classic pattern which was repeated in the heavy newels at the base and landings. In keeping with the ornate architectural style of the times, entrances had a border decoration of the sculptured egg and dart design with another edging of fleur-de-lis effectively completing the classic motif. The woodwork was solid cherry, the walls were robin’s egg blue.
Members of the Woman’s Music and Literary Club provided classic pictures for the school rooms and planted shrubbery and trees. The Czerny Music Club, a group of young women sponsored by Mrs. Ella Bilbo, donated a piano, which was in use when the school closed its doors for the last time.