Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Stony Point School (Old)
Historical Marker
Round rock, Texas

122 County Road 113, Round Rock, Texas







GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 30.546498, Longitude: -97.615014

 
 
Marker Text:
Stony Point School was established in Williamson County by 1891. Children living in the rural area attended the school, which served students from grades one through eight. Most of the students were sons and daughters of families that emigrated from Sweden. For many of the children, attendance at school was their first exposure to English on a regular basis. As students learned and mastered English, they brought the new language home. Thus, the school assisted in breaking the language barrier for the newly arrived Swedes, helping to acclimate them to this land. In addition, the school gave many of the students, who often lived on farms, their only formal education. The school changed locations twice in its years of existence. The first location was in a one-room building on the Noack Ranch nicknamed Noack's Ark. The students affectionately called it Arken, Swedish for ark. The school later moved to locations west and southwest of the original site. In 1942, the school officially closed, as historic Stony Point merged with the Round Rock Independent School District. Still, alumni and teachers have gathered biennially to celebrate the former school. In 1999, a new high school opened in Round Rock, and a committee formed to recommend a name chose Stony Point in honor of the pioneer school. Stony Point High School stands as a modern structure in a growing district, but its name reflects a different time, when a small school served the residents of what was then a rural community.


 

 

 
Stony Point School, Williamson County, Texas
1891-1942 Historical Narrative

At the turn of the century, Stony Point School was a typical country school settled in the prairie land of Texas. This open prairie was being rapidly settled by Old World immigrants. Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, were suffering severe economic depression and a population explosion. By the 1900s approximately one-third of the total Scandinavian population had emigrated to America, and while most went to the Great Plains states, a significant number settled in the Hutto, Palm Valley, and Georgetown areas of Williamson County. Emigrants from other European countries were already in this area, but because of the language barrier there was little intermingling of nationalities until the state required children to attend public schools where instruction was in English. Once English became the language of the classroom, the barrier was broken and the new Texans became part of the new nation.

The first Stony Point school which began holding classes prior to 1891 was located on the old Noack ranch and may have been first used as a home or as one of the ranch buildings. The site of the first building was just off County Road 109, three-tenths of a mile west of the intersection of County Roads 108 and 109, two miles north of US Highway 79. Every day students drew water from a creek which ran on the east side of the school. The boys made fires, and the girls swept and cleaned the small one-room frame structure. The potbelly stove which stood in the middle of the room was moved to each of the next two buildings used as Stony Point School. Amelia (Olander) Hennech, whose father was Stony Point trustee P. A. Olander, remembered that the ranch where the family lived was nicknamed Noack's Ark, and the kids called the school the Arken, the Swedish word for ark. [1]

In 1894 Stony Point had 63 pupils, compared to nearby schools such as Round Rock with 235, Gaits with 46, Bell with 38, and Palm Valley with 37. J. B. Chapman was the sole Stony Point teacher that year. [2]

The language barrier between the English-speaking teacher and the Swedish-speaking students was very frustrating, and many a tear was shed over this inability to communicate, but the determined students quickly learned a second language in addition to their school lessons. In a few weeks they could understand English, and before midyear they were fluent in their new language. Many took their new language home, teaching family members English, and some even lost all traces of their Swedish accents. [3] In the early twentieth century Swedes composed more than fourteen percent of the foreign-born population and ten percent of the overall population in Williamson County, the third-largest foreign-born group behind Mexicans and Czecho-Slovakians. [4]

In 1902, J. G. Anderson petitioned the Williamson County Commissioners Court to divide the Stony Point district because two schools were operating within the school boundaries. Gower School district, which was located north of Hutto, was the school referred to in the minutes of the Commissioners Court. [5]

On January 12, 1903, Stony Point trustees S. A. Anderson and P. A. Olander purchased the southwest corner of John Snygg's 148-acre tract for one dollar. On this small section of land a frame schoolhouse was built to serve the rural students of the northeast Round Rock area. The second school was located a half-mile west of the first site, and was situated atop a hill about one hundred yards off the south side of the road.

The re-established boundaries for Stony Point were:

Beginning at the southeast corner of the C. 0. Youngbloom farm. Thence west to John Peterson east line. Thence west to southwest corner of A. Halerson farm. Thence north to H. Blands south line. Thence west to J. H. Brown southeast corner. Thence north along said J. H. Brown east line to C. W. Miller's line. Thence along C. W. Miller east line to northeast corner of said C. Miller land same being the north line of Stony Point District #20. (source)

Olga Johnson gave the following description of the Stony Point School:
The school was a square wood building facing west. Large wooden steps led up to the door. There were two windows on each side of the door. Windows were also on the east side. On the girls' side near the door was a long bench. The water bucket was kept on this bench. We each had our own drinking cup. In the center of the building was a tall round coal burning stove. The teacher's table was on an elevated platform. We each had a desk with a fold up set and a partition underneath to store books. The desks faced east — the teacher's platform served as a stage when we had programs. When the teacher rang the bell, we all lined up and walked in. The girls sat on the south side, the boys on the north. The boys were always slipping notes to our side. [6]

School life at Stony Point had its high points.
In April of 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt's tour through Texas passed near the school, classes were dismissed so students could see the President. Amelia Hennech recalls running the entire two miles from the school to the train tracks only to get a fleeting glimpse of the President as he stood on the train's back platform waving to the spectators as the train rolled through the area. Needless to say, this was a very special event in the lives of the entire community. [7]


Around 1906, a severe storm destroyed the school, but it was rebuilt on the same location. Later it was moved southwest of the first two school sites. The new two-room school was situated on the southwest corner of County Road 122 and County Road 113. Later a kitchen was added on the north side of the building. Former teacher and principal Velma (Miller ) Deison recalled that one of the duties she assumed while teaching at the school was assisting with the preparation of a meal for the students and faculty at noon. Each child took turns bringing something for the meal so the menu changed depending on the supplies of the day. Some of the students were only able to bring a single potato while others supplied pieces of meat. Because of the lack of refrigeration, care was taken to prepare items that would not spoil. During the winter, nature provided a refrigerator. [8]

The school served grades one through eight with one or two teachers, depending upon the number of students attending school that year. The school term was six or seven months long. Like at many rural schools, student population fluctuated daily at Stony Point. When boys and girls were needed to work on their family farms and ranches, their education was halted until the work at home was completed. Weather and improper clothing also kept students from school. Even with limited attendance, in some families, the children were the only scholars in the household. They were called upon to read to their parents and to write letters to distant relatives. Many parents sacrificed greatly to provide an education for their children. [9]

The County Superintendent's records for 1912 list the school trustees as A. J. Seth, P. A. Olander, and S. Anderson. There were approximately sixty-five similar rural schools in Williamson County at that time under the jurisdiction of the County School Board. [10]

In 1918, the County School Board trustees decided there were "hardly enough" children to serve both Stony Point and Palm Valley schools. The schools merged to form Stony Point District #20, and the boundary lines were reestablished. [11] In 1922 Stony Point had 80 students and a tax rate of 50 cents per 100 dollars property valuation, which was typical of other rural schools. Stony Point's $21.98 tax per student ranked highest of 68 rural schools that year. [12]

During the 1920s, Velma (Miller) Deison was one of the teachers at the school. She recalls boarding with some of the parents of the students and school trustee families. The teachers had to rely on local citizens to provide transportation during inclement weather. On more than one occasion, she recalled pushing a wagon or car out of a muddy ditch only to arrive at school wet and soaked with mud. Some of the other teachers at the school were Edna L. Jones, Kathleen Payne, Xenia Voigt, Nell Partlow, Mrs. Otho Ulhrich, Agnes Quick, Mrs. Early Magnuson, Mrs. Von Lunsford, and Mrs. Erna Warner. In April 1933, Mrs. Deison was principal of the school, and Mrs. Magnuson was the primary grade teacher when Mr. P. H. Youngbloom, who had served as a trustee, was honored at a special program. [13]

Due to declining attendance and the desire to improve the educational potential for the rural students, the Stony Point School consolidated with the Round Rock Independent School District in 1942. Superintendents O. F. Perry and Mr. Muir arranged a satisfactory distribution of the school furniture between Round Rock and Hutto schools. On February 2, 1943, the Williamson County School Board accepted Round Rock resident Norman Dedear's bid of $651 to purchase the Stony Point School building. Mr. Dedear moved the structure to his ranch on Ranch Road 620 west of Round Rock. [14] Many of the former students remember the building well. The building contained two classrooms which were divided by a partition which could be folded to allow space for programs attended by family and friends. There were no athletic playing fields. Any sports that were played took place in the schoolyard.

Former student Grace Telander says she can still see the inside of the building in her mind's eye. She recalls, "we had outdoor privies, one for the boys and one for the girls. We had a big room and a little room. The big room had a stage that we used for plays and other programs." [15] Grades one through four received their education in the smaller room while the older children took up the larger area. The coal-fueled, pot-bellied stove from the original structure stood in the center of the building and provided the only heat.

Stony Point School served many students who lived on farms near the school. For many students the education received there was their only public school training. The teachers were well-respected and were dedicated to their teaching. For the many students who passed through the early Stony Point, this was a significant event for each one. During the early years, the children of immigrants who were primarily of Swedish descent were afforded an opportunity to learn English and thereby gain a more comfortable orientation into the settled society in the United States. The old schoolhouse is gone, but ex-students and teachers have gathered in May of odd-numbered years to recall their school days at Stony Point School. The majority of the teachers are now deceased or are unable to attend the school reunions. Grace Telander says the group of 68 former students still living enjoy being together for fellowship.

In October 1998, a new high school naming committee was formed to review, discuss, select and recommend names for the high school newly built in the Round Rock Independent School District. Nominations for school names were solicited by the school district via news media, public announcements, and notices. The committee met to review the names and recommended to the school district that the school be named Stony Point. Anita Laming, who was in the fifth grade when the old Stony Point School closed, served as one of eight on the naming committee. [16]

On March 29, 1999, the Stony Point Parent Teacher/Student Association meeting honored the former students by introducing each former student and presented a certificate to each as an honorary PTSA charter member.


Endnotes

1 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517; Hennech interview.
2 Williamson County Sun, November 1, 1894, supplement p. 2.
3 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517
4 Davis 7-11.
5 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517.
6 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517
8 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517; Deison interview.
9 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517.
10 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517.
11 Scarbrough 455.
12 Davis, Table 1 following p. 26.
13 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517; Deison interview.
14 DiGesualdo and Thompson 511-517.
15 Telander interview; "Schoolhouse Stories," article by Christie Schroeter in Austin American-Statesman, May 19, 1995, p. B12..
16 "New Round Rock high school gets old name," article by David Hafetz in Austin-American Statesman, November 1998.


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Austin American-Statesman, various issues.
Davis, E. E., "A Study of Rural Schools in Williamson County," University of Texas Bulletin No. 2238: October 8, 1922. Austin: The University of Texas, 1922.
Deison, Velma Miller interview, n.d.
DiGesualdo, Jane H. and Karen R. Thompson, Historical Round Rock, Texas. Austin: Eakin Publications, Inc., 1985.
Hennch, Amelia Olander, interview with Anita Lanning, November 2004.
Johnson, Olga Johnson, interview with Harvey Olander, October 2004.
Round Rock Leader, various issues.
Scarbrough, Clara Stearns, Land of Good Water (Takachue Pouetsu): A Williamson
County, Texas, History. Georgetown: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973. Shroyer, Jean and Hazel Hood, editors, Williamson County, Texas: Its History and Its
People. Austin: Eakin Publications, Inc., 1985.
Telander, Grace, interview with Anita Lanning, October 2004.
 

 


 

 

 

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