The Rosenwald Centennial Project
for East Texas History, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/345
for East Texas History, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/2
-Professor Samuel Walker Houston
Samuel Walker Houston (02/12/1864-11/19/1945), was a pioneer of African-American education in Texas. Samuel was born to Sylvester Baker Houston (?-11/21/1898) and the Honorable Joshua Houston, Sr. (1822-1902) two former slaves of General Sam Houston. : There were five children born to his parents; Joseph (1836-1938), Joshua, Jr. (1876-1928), Samuel (1864-1945), Lucy Houston Gardner (1841-1916) and Minnie Houston Dillard (1881-1946). General Sam Housotn, famously taught his slaves to read. After they were freed, that basic education allowed Samuel's father the ability to become a civic leader and eventually Texas' first Black County Commissioner.
After studying with his father and Professor CW Luckett, Samuel W. Houston realized that education was the building block to success. A member of the intellectual elite, he was a classically trained musician and was greatly influenced by Booker T. Washington. Young Samuel matriculated to study in Virginia, then to Atlanta University in Georgia, where he was a student of W.E.B. DuBois before moving on to Howard University in Washington D.C.
While in DC, Houston honed administrative skills, working for 5 years as a clerk for the Navy.
1903: Instructor Houston returned home to Texas to teach at the Red Hill Community School in Grimes County, TX. He also founded and published a local newspaper: The Huntsville Times.
1906: Professor Houston founded Galilee Community School-- Texas' first 1-12th grade school academy for African-Americans-- on land donated by the Melinda and Sanford Williams family. The Galilee Community School later grew and morphed into the Samuel W. Houston Industrial and Training Institute..This was the site of the state of Texas' first boarding school for African American children where occupational skills were taught that included carpentry, plumbing, sewing, cosmetology, general maintenance, fine art and music classes. Funding from the community and outside sources, including the Rosenwald, Jeanes, Slater, Smith-Hughes, Smith-Lever Funds and a grant from the General Education Board of New York.
Of the above sponsors, substantial grants from the Julius Rosenwald Fund were realized for the construction of 2 academic buildings and 5 dormitories housing up to 400 boys and girls. Needless to say, the property on Highway 30 was a great source of community pride.
Samuel Walker Houston first married Cornelia Orvis, the daughter of Revernand and Mrs. Orvis. A photo of her is in the famous 1898 wedding photo showing the marriage of Joshua Jr and her sister. Samuel and Cornelia had a son, Harold Houston. Later, Cornelia and a baby daughter died in childbirth.
April 18, 1915: Samuel W Houston and fellow instructor Hope Harville wed. They raised three children: Samuel W. Houston Jr., (5/9/1916), Helen Hope (8/25/1917) and Hazel Sylvester (9/30/1919)
The Rosenwald Fund’s generous grants were joined by monies and support from the Jeanes Fund, the Slater Fund, Smith Hughes, Smith-Level and the General Education Board of New York provided generous grants to support not only the construction of buildings but the teaching of music, arts and the humanities as well. Prof. Houston was a prolific musician and took full advantage of their generosity towards his students.
The Rosenwald Fund's special agent G.T. Bludworth was instrumental in helping to ensure the expansion of the institute to 5 dormitories and 2 academic buildings.
1930: The Huntsville independent School District incorporated the school.
1935: Professor Houston served as the Commissioner of Interracial Cooperation; was Field Secretary and Director of the State Interracial Commission of Texas; and later as the Walker County Superintendent for persons of color. He eventually became the supervising principal over nine Walker County schools: Galilee, Colony, Cotton Creek, Cumberland, Ollie Hill, Smither’s Farm, Phelps, Sand Hill and Mount Prairie.... and first principal of the aptly named Samuel W. Houston High School which later became the Samuel Walker Houston Elementary School.
November 19, 1945: Samuel W. Houston died at the age of 81 and was buried in Huntsville's Oakwood Cemetery where his father, Joshua, Aunt Virginia Houston Wilson and namesake, General Sam Houston are interred--unsual since typically "Black" folk were not interred in "White" cemeteries at that time.
1995: The creation of "The Dreamers," a monument to underscore the contributions made by the black community in the growth and development of Huntsville and Walker County was placed in front of the now Samuel W. Houston Museum and Cultural Center. The work of art was commissioned by the Huntsville Independent School District, Huntsville Arts Commission and the Samuel W. Houston High School's Ex-Students Association
Source: “Pathfinders: A history of the pioneering efforts of African-Americans, Huntsville, Walker County, Texas" by Naomi W. Lede’
"Good place to rent for a family reunion. The people who work there are really friendly and nice. The pictures they have there and the stories they can tell you are very interesting if you like history and museums. They could really use a lot of support from the community and our town. Something worth preserving." -Rosilee Garcia
"Very interesting. Very friendly volunteers. A good look into a not so positive aspect of history and how a community and people were able to thrive despite the circumstances." -Linda Causey
"It's an awesome museum filled with all kinds of information of Black Culture. It's a must see for all families & especially their children!!" -Alpha Angels.
Generations of the descendants of John Wesley Wilson and Amarintha Kittrell Wilson attended the schools set up by Samuel W. Walker Houston. The amazing beautiful Eloise (Lovie) Wilson Johnson (pictured here) learned her sewing and design skills at the Samuel W. Houston Industrial and Training Institute. After graduation from Prairie View A&M with a degree in Home Economics, Eloise moved to Chicago in 1930, where, she established “Eloise Boutique” an upscale ladies dress and accessories store. Her sister Ann Wilson Welcome joined her in Chicago and helped grow the business. Eloise eventually became the celebrity hat and accessories designer for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, did extensive international travel and managed decades of Fashion Shows for NAACP national conventions.
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(as of Apr 19, 2022)
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