When One Clue Leads to Thirty Five More! You love it, you go with it, and you are so glad someone did not throw it away.
I have no idea where to start! I go through antique stores all the time. I would come home and put everything up knowing one day I would have the time to sit down and work on someones lost past or history.
Their lost story, their children’s lost memories of their parents or grandparents. It seems I find more and more that are sitting out in limbo because it was maybe the end of that immediate family.
No one was around to take over the memories. Or no one knew just what was in the box.
What Was in the Box?
Just like me! I didn’t know just what was in the box. Or exactly how much was in the box. I brought a large box home from a place that was going out of business. I just assumed that all the scrapbooks were from different places, or different families. Things the owner had piled together to get rid of. Boy was I wrong! As I was rummaging around in some of my boxes today wondering what I was going to write about next. I found a really neat little scrapbook that had photos. It had a great deal of writing inside but was some was hard to read at first. So, I decided to work on it. I pulled it out and started trying to make out some the details.
Awesome, I Have a Hand Written School Yearbook, Photos and Names…from 1925!
First I try to look up a few of the people listed, then I’m wondering how I was going to find out where this little book was from. It had writing saying Farmer School. That did not bring up very much as I Google around on the internet. I came up with some places around Graham, Texas again. And I’m thinking to myself, surely not!
Then I looked up a couple of names that I thought might be the teacher’s name. There was one page titled Miss Velma Finnell. Maybe she was the person that made the book. It had to be her book, or at least I thought so. Beautiful handwriting. Listings of all the students. A whole maybe thirty five of them for the entire school! A school that only went through eighth grade. Are you surprised? My grandmother said her school only went through ninth grade, and it would have been just a few years after this.
Miss Velma Finnell
I’m thinking she will be easy to find because she had not been married yet. I also though that with a strange name that I might be able to find her. So I searched to see if I could figure out where this little school was from. Based on trying to find Farmer School, which seems to be an old school that is no longer there. Along with a town that is no longer there! It is somewhere in the county of Young, on the east side of Texas.
I have been able to decide that this might be the right place for my scrapbook. I have found a Velma Finnell and her mother lived or died in Graham, Texas. This puts her in the right place to have had something to do with this little school. The book has her listed as the Assistant to the Principal. Wow, I look over to the Principal to see if maybe I can get a hit on his name on the internet. How many times can I say wow here?
There was no photo on Velma’s page and there are a couple of other pages that did not have photos. It does not look like she ever put any there. Maybe she just never got around to finishing the book. Maybe those children were not there the day she took the pictures. There was a page for Elmer with no writing and the photo had been taken out.
So Many Things Just Come Together at the Right Time Sometimes!
If I have the correct Velma, which I think I do. Her parents were Robert and Frances Finnell. And they live in the right area of the school I’m searching for. Can I just say here, that I have seen so many times where small communities are so connected. So connected that names tend to be given to your friends children, or aunts and uncles names to their children. naming them after someone really close to the family. Velma has a brother by the name of Brownlee Wallace Finnell. I’m wondering if anyone else is going…. really no way! Wow is that crazy. Because I just did an article on Leon Brownlee and his scrapbook off WWII letters.
Who is the Principal? It is Leon’s Brother, Elmer Brownlee.
In 1925, at this little tiny school, in a very, very small town. Where school did not start till October the 23rd and ended the year on May 15th, of 1926. (Why can’t it still be that way, someone is going to be saying that with me I’m sure?) The Principal of the school was Leon Brownlee’s older brother. Mr. Elmer G. Brownlee. On the 1920 census Elmer is still living at his parents home in Jack County. He is nineteen years old, and Jack County is also close to Graham, Texas.
Elmer had several brothers and sisters: Rosa, Inez, Fred, Bessie, Odessa, Avin, Leon, Linnice and a baby with no name yet. Somewhere between 1920 and 1925 he acquires five years of college. I have no idea what college would be close to where he was living at or how he did that. The census told he had five plus years of college when he was teaching in Clay County. Then in 1925 he is Principal and maybe even a teacher at the small Farmer School, in east Texas.
Falling in Love at the Farmer, Texas tiny one room School
Here is where it seems he worked for at least two or three years. He also fell in love with Miss Ella Maye Davis. The Book has her in the seventh grade for 1925-1926 school year. They get married on November 27th 1927. Their daughter Dorothy Nell Brownlee is born on September 16, 1928. On the census 1930 they have moved to Clay County and he is teaching school. In 1935 he is teaching school in Brownfield, Texas where his daughter attended her school years. I also have a couple of scrapbooks that were hers during her school years in Brownfield. Maybe she is the one that kept the scrapbook of everything that was going on with Leon (her uncle) during the war.
If you have read the article about Elmer’s brother Leon while serving in the military during WWII you will note that there are letters that were sent home to his brother Elmer in Brownfield and to other members of the family. There is also a letter from Avin (another brother) who was serving during WWII as well.
Living in Brownfield, Texas
From a few newspaper articles I found it looks like Elmer is working in the Brownfield, Texas School district. I found articles in the Lubbock Avalanche Paper for 1942 where he is serving at Principal over the Junior High. In 1947 he is serving on the School Board of Education as Secretary. Also in 1948 he is Secretary and Tax Collector. Then I found an article where he is acting Superintendent for 1953, 1954, and 1956. Then I could no find anything for a while, until another article of incumbent for the Terry County (Brownfield) Superintendent of Schools on May 6, 1962. I’m sure if I dug around for a while I might be able to find out what went on. But, what I really want to get on here are the pages from the 1925 scrapbook.
The Scrapbook Yearbook details and photos
It reads: “Little Blondy! Very studious and sweet.”
Page reads: Hay! “We are not young but once why not less Have our fun.”
Vivian’s page reads: “I can’t see what makes Arithmetic so blooming hard.”
Foy Garvey has on his page: “Words are getting so long now days that they nearly choke me to say them.”
Jessie’s page reads: “Hanging curls that her hand will lift. A talent of nature was also a gift. She makes a hard lesson easy.”
There is no photo on this page for Sydia, and the page was never even cut to stick a photo in. So my guess is there was never one to even put there. Her page reads: “Get the ball! Come on girls less beat the sox off those boys.”
So, there were these six children in the eighth grade. Their last year I’m guessing. I also believe that Miss Finnell was teacher to maybe the entire school. If I could find something on the school house it will probably be a one room school. According to the internet there is a sign named Farmer Rd., and a Farmer Cemetery that was started. A Baptist preacher by the name of W.H. Farmer who moved there in 1877 where a store, church, and post office were started. The town grew, had a few businesses. But WWII as well as heavy rain and drought played a part in this little farming town becoming the Ghost Town it is today!
Here are a couple of links to a page about Young County: http://usgenwebsites.org/TXYoung/
On to the Seventh Grade Class:
The class colors are listed as red, white and blue and the Class Motto is “We must all work together or we shall surely work separately.”
Ella Maye Davis
On Ella’s page it reads: “Very homely and full of pride which would hide her faults, if faults she had to hide.
Nona’s page reads: ” Now I see you. You may not think that I am looking. Good natured, studious, and thoughtful.
Grady says: “Ha! Ha! I am going to laugh as Freckles always gets the blame.”
Hubert’s page has this written: “Oh Gee! But ties do fly if I just had some long pants I would be gone.
Ruby Lee Davis
Ruby’s page reads: “Hee! Hee! All smiles, There’s nothing like good old school days.”
Edger says ” Come Boys lets beat the girls.” There must have been some kind of competition going on all the time between the boys and the girls. Especially with it coming up several times in their memories to go in an important yearbook.
One Clue Always leads to the Next!
Well, I just finished talking to a person online about the Young County schools to see if I had the correct school. I visited with a Dorman Holub from the Young County Facebook page and while discussing a few names I can safely say I have the correct place for the school and little yearbook history. So, in the near future the scrapbook will be hanging out back in Young County. Dorman is the archivist for the Genealogy Center at Fort Belknap. It was also confirmed that Velma Finnell was the teacher for the school and that I was correct in it being a one room school.
Thank you Dorman so much for all the helpful information. And…as I have said before, if I had not gone back again to search today I would not have visited with Dorman. Sometimes thing just happen for a reason because it has also brought us together on another subject and I will be going to hang out with a special group of people in October now.
If anyone would like to visit some more of that history you can visit the Young County, Texas History on Facebook. Also if anyone is interested in more information on Farmer, Texas – Dorman stated that they have records from the Farmer Church, photos of downtown Farmer and other goodies available. I’m sure they would love to hear from anyone that needs more information.
So, I feel that Velma Finnell was the owner of the book, and Dorman also confirmed that she lived nearby in Jean, Texas. I’m so glad she put this together because there was not much out there when I was looking for the school and information in general on the town of Farmer. She must have given the book to Elmer Brownlee when he left or something for it to have been in the box with all the Brownlee scrapbooks.
More on the little town of Farmer
In 1891 Farmer was the second largest little country town in Young County. But only by a very few people. Farmer was located on the northeast side of the county and had been called Brushy or Brushy Creek until William Farmer a Methodist preacher moved there in 1877, and the town then became known as Farmer. I guess things started slowing down because in 1921 the post office closed.
It went from being the largest in the county to a ghost town
Farmer had been a large bustling town. In 1886 it had the largest hotel called “The Fortune Hotel” that was a large three story with seventy five rooms. At that time Farmer was the largest town in Young County. There was an Easter Star Organization, a Post Office, a livery stable and one of the general stores. Some of which were operated by a William Richard Drum, one of the first business men in town. One resident of the Farmer community was a Sarah Eliabeth Lamons and her father had Published the local newspaper. Another resident of Farmer at an earlier time was a John Steen and his wife. Around 1915 Jim Davis was living around Farmer and there are some children listed in the book with the last name of Davis. Including the young lady that married Elmer Brownleee.
This should interest some people!
I knew Reba was from this area from stories from my mother. We had driven around several times because of a church that had burnt in one of the major fires around Possum Kingdom. This is when I got to hear most of the stories and was told about Reba’s family home. John McEntire is her great great grandfather and is buried in the Farmer Cemetery. What a great little note for this little ghost town. To have a famous country music star connection in the area of their community. And I think she is great by the way! You can find his grave site on findagrave.com.
In 1893 the town of Farmer had a baseball team that played Graham. Maybe that has something to do with some of the kids comments that are historically saved now in this scrapbook. Where the comments were about beating the boys or girls. Maybe they just played kick ball outside in the front yard of the school against each other. I bet someone out there knows part of the story.
So let us get back to the scrapbook and the children
We are down to the Sixth Grade class enrollment now:
The Sixth Grade Class: Opal Madoogie, G. T. Washburn, Ethel Petty, and Phillis Peters.
The class colors were Violets, Daises, and Dewdrops.
The Class Motto was: “He, who strives the hardest shall surely win.”
I have not found any page for Ethel Petty or Phillis Peters. Maybe they moved before the book was finished or something. There is not way of knowing right now. It would take some digging into. The enrollment pages are all at the front together though, so my guess would be that they were there at the beginning of the school year and not for the photos toward the end of the school year.
Her page says: “They, who beat her will have to work. An all around pupil.” She looks angry in the photo but I bet from what her teacher wrote that she was a go get er’ done type person!
G. T. Washburn
I want to look G.T. up and see how he did! His page reads “Ole Humm: When I get rich I am going to buy myself a farm and just work enough for exercise.” I bet he had one of the biggest farms around, but I will have to look it up and see.
The Fifth Grade Enrollment page: Three students
Vida Maye Joyner, G L. Joyner, and Lorena Williams. The class colors were blue, black and brown. The class motto was “Lets everyone stick to our task for the golden school days will soon be past.”
Her page reads “Everything just gets the best of (me) seems like.”
She has a huge smile on her face!
Don’t you know how nice it would be to be such a small school!
To have so much individual attention and fun. I think I grew up in the wrong generation. I love the older days.
Vida Maye Joyner
Her page states: “Little but loud as thunder! I am tiny.”
G. L. Joyner
His page has it written that “Here I am, If you don’t believe it just look.”
Fourth Grade Enrollment:
Vister Bagby, Houden Petty, Pearl Bagby, Rose Petty, Ruby Peters, Jewell Washburn, and the little one in front is Little Grace Bagby.
Third Grade Enrollment:
A. D. Peters, Lankford Warren, Loyd Warren, C. R. Garvey, J. R. Garvey, Huston Petty, and Theodore Grisham.
I bet the girls just did not want to be around this crazy group of boys. So their photo is of just the two of them by their self. There were just to many of the boys!
And the girls are: Loren Bagby and Waye Nell Joyner.
Now for the last page of the scrapbook… I believe it reads E. C. and Gladys Garvey. I have no way of knowing if they were considered first or second grade. It does not say! But the little insert of words is leaving me sad because it makes me think E. C. passed away. In 1920 E. C. was two years old and Gladys was one. I am also guessing he was named after his father Earl, I found a 1930 census record and he is not on the census. So, after you read the insert from the teacher’s page you will understand.
“Little E. C. was loved by everyone. He is now gone but not forgotten.”
This means something happen before the school year was over.
Well, this has been very educational. I did a great deal of reading and I know someone out there will be so glad to know that there are a few pictures of some of these great people. I hated that it is ending on a sad note. And not even knowing what happen to E. C. is still bothering me. But, he is now remembered once again. Just like his teacher said on the last page in the book. May we never forget our past, our roots, or our families that did so much for each and everyone of us here today!
Earl Collins Garvey Jr. was born in 1917 to Earl Collins Garvey and Josephine Gegg Garvey. He is buried in the Farmer Cemetery in Farmer, Texas, Young County. He died just shy of his eighth birthday. He also died before this school year started, so the photo is older than March 1925. Rest in Peace little man, and you are not forgotten!
All names have been transcribed to the best of my ability and knowledge. I also try to keep the account of the history as close as possible to the original writer’s input. I have copied them as they are written in the scrapbook.
Additional Resources and credits:
Four Brownlee scrapbooks in Jena Hamilton’s collection
Jena spends her time researching her family tree as well as others. She travels, visits cemeteries and other historical places while gathering and collecting old photos, albums, scrapbooks and other pieces of memorable history to study and share. Jena is a retired teacher, has served as president with her local Historical Society, and maintains a community history page. She also loves photographing historical reenactments, cemeteries and historical places.