Each One Teach One: The Education of The Texas Freedmen 

Freedmen's Bureau - Texas seventh semi-annual report on schools for Freedmen, January 1, 1869



Brevet Major General J. J. Reynolds, assistant commissioner; Rev. Joseph
Welch, superintendent of education.

The assistant commissioner draws a somewhat dark picture of the schools in Texas. A rude state of society in a large portion of that State, and an unsettled civil condition, must account for it. The schools there prospered in the first years of our efforts, and notwithstanding discouragement at the present time, they are destined ultimately to succeed. Already, under the care of the present earnest superintendent, they are more numerous and better attended than a year ago. The following is the comparative statement for the six months:

Six months ending December 31, 1867.

Day and night schools 34      
Pupils 1, 133      
Teachers 32      

Six months ending December 31, 1868.

Day and night schools 57      
Pupils 1, 871      
Teachers 53      

Increase23 schools, 738 pupils, 21 teachers.

General Reynolds, however, is obliged to say:
Very little can be reported at the present time in the way of encouragement from this State. The accounts received are an accumulation of oft-repeated horrors. Little or no interest is manifested, either by whites or blacks, in the cause of education. This is the result of the doubtful condition of all things within the State as well as the abject condition of its people. it has been found impossible, in many instances, to maintain schools where the agents of the bureau have been successful in opening them. Great difficulty has been experienced in procuring permanent teachers of moral worth, and the freed people do not appreciate the labors of those of their own color. Whatever is done in the way of their elevation and education must be accomplished by the bureau or by northern societies, at least until the State authorites can provide a system of education from present indications, a very remote period.

The superintendent admits the above embarrassments as resulting from the causes stated, but takes a hopeful view, especially as the national election has now passed and prominent political questions are nearly settled. He says:

We have suffered great inconvenience from the discontinuance of the agency system of the bureau, and owing to the condition of our mail facilities in this section we are slow in receiving our correspondence. I am happy to be able to say that our schools have not recently been interefered with.

The moral effect of the late presidential election is beyond conception.

Our assistant superintendents are taking their stations, and will give the supervision to the schools heretofore accorded by the sub-assistant commissioners.

The school inspector, General C. H. Howard, writes:
At Galveston I visited three schools under care of the bureau, in miserable houses, two of which are used also for churches. If they are to be continued as school-houses, they ought to be made comfortable, else half the benefit of the schooling is lost. I shall report this to General Reynolds, and, if possible secure immediate action in putting up a building there, which Colonel Sinclair (the assistant superintendent) says has been too long delayed. The American Missionary Association will pay for the ground at an expense of $1,000. In Houston I visited three of their Sunday schools, not having time to reach the fourth. The teachers are instructors in the day schools, and a house is rented by the bureau for them to reside in. A board of colored trustees hold a lot at Houston, and have waited for bureau aid to build a normal school-house; I shall urge this forward at Austin. Our teachers are highly commended by the freedmen, and by every one interested in their education. There are vacant houses at Richmond and Columbia, to which teachers will be sent.

Substantial progress is reported by Mr. Welch for the six months ending December 31, 1868, but the continued aid of the bureau is strongly urged:

In several instances our schools were closed in consequence of terrorism exercised by disorderly parties, whom it was impracticable to punish. Since the presidential election we have been interfered with less than before, owing to the general belief that adequate protection would be afforded by the new administration.

Aid needed.- Very few of our schools are self-supporting, and we have received but few teachers from the educational associations, so that we are dependent upon the aid afforded by our school fund. Nothing but a practically free-school system will reach the great body of the people for a long time to come, and it is very uncertain how soon such a system can be put in operation. The peculiar political situation renders the temporary aid of the bureau and the assistance of the missionary associations of almost unlimited value, as being the only sources from which any aid whatever is received in preparing the freedmen for their new position.

Patient training.- Great anxiety exists among the freedmen to educate their children, with a view of preparing them for the duties and responsibilities of their position, but there is a great lack of continuity,- both of support and attendance. They need patient training to enable them to realize the necessity of continuance in well-doing, in order to the accomplishment of their own earnest desires

A new school-house has been erected in the city of Austin, on a lot donated by the city council; several others of a temporary character have been built by the freedmen, with assistance from the bureau. The schools in general are prosperous, with the pupils regular in their attendance; the chief drawback being the inadequacy and uncertainty of the support of teachers.

The reports from Texas furnish the following statistics:

REGULARLY REPORTED   Schools Teachers Pupils
Day and night   57 53 1,871
Sabbath   37 ---------- 2,293
Total   95 56 4,164


IRREGULARLY REPORTED   Schools Teachers Pupils
Day and night   24 24 1,000
Sabbath   14 20 600
Total   38 46 1,600
Grand total   133 102 5,764

Of the regularly reported day schools but one is graded.

The average attendance of pupils is 1,543, or 82 per cent. of the whole number.

There was paid for tuition, by 1,043 pupils, $2,555 50; an average of $2 45 for each pupil. Of the whole number enrolled, 192 are in the alphabet; 875 spell and read easy lessons; 648 are advanced readers; 504 are studying geography; 812 arithmetic; 206 the higher branches; and 898 are writing. Two hundred and fifty-eight are over 16 years of age; 8 were free before the war, and 5 are white.

Of the teachers, 33 are white and 20 are colored. Transportation for 11 teachers has been furnished by the bureau.

The freedmen sustained, wholly or part, 57 of the schools a remarkable fact. They owned 32 of the school buildings; the bureau furnished 17.

For rents, repairs, and materials for school buildings, the bureau expended during the six months $7,626 24. Total expenditures by all parties, as reported, have been $10,181 74.

Seventh semi-annual report on schools for Freedmen, January 1, 1869
United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.
Government Printing Office
Washington 1869