Fannin County, Texas

History of Bralley-Pendleton High School

Honey Grove, Texas


In 1882, the first Colored school was established in Honey Grove, Texas.  The first teacher at the Honey Grove Colored School was Mary Womac.  Ms. Womac had approximately twenty students in the first class.  Later, the school was named for F. M. Bralley, an early Superintendent for Honey Grove Independent School District (1892-1906).   The name remained the same until May 4, 1959, when it was changed to Pendleton High School.  In 1890, the Walcott Institute building was moved to the northeast corner of town to house the school.  The school remained at hits location until the early part of the twentieth century when a new facility was errected in the south part of town.  (Exact dates are unknown because of the absence of the first school board record book). (referencing "The History of Education in Honey Grove.")

‚ÄčIn 1911, the school had an enrollment of 188 students with two teachers to carry the load of teaching the entire student body.  The teachers were W. J. Taylor and Eva Pollard.  Mr. Taylor was assigned the additional duty of principal.  Enrollment fluctuated through the years with as little as 118 students to as many as 250.  The average salary for a teacher at Bralley School was approximately $50 a month during the early years.  In 1912, the School Board voted to hire an assistant teacher, Irene Higgs, at a salary of $30 a month to help ease the load of teaching nearly 200 students.  In July of 1912, a coal house was built at Bralley, which stopped the need for teachers and students to bring coal and other heating materials from home.  In 1913, for the first time, the School Board required all teachers and students to be vaccinated or face termination as well as being prohibited from participating in school functions.  In early 1914, a walk was built around the school building by a "coterie" of negroes from "Lock Skillet" under the leadership of Preston Nicholson for a cost of $25 which included material and labor. (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

In April of 1920, W. J. Taylor was officially installed as the principal and janitor at Bralley School, in addition to his duties as a teacher.  Mr. Taylor held the position of principal until 1926.  In 1921, the school year was set to start on October 3, so as not to interfere with the students being able to work on farms in the area.  During the 1922-23 school year, J. W. Pendleton and his wife Carrie were hired as teachers.  This brought the total number of permanent teachers to three to teach 190 or more students.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

In 1925, Smith Hill School was established in Honey Grove to take over the duties of teaching the elementary grade students and Bralley became known as Bralley High School.  Upon the establishment of Smith Hill School, the number of teachers in the entire Black school system increased to six.  These teachers were split between the two schools with J. W. and Carrie Pendleton remaining at the high school.  On June 6, 1924, the school board hired W. E. Campbell as a teacher at Bralley and in early 1926, they hired Nora Perdue which brought the number of permanent teachers at Bralley to four to teach an average enrollment of 180 students.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

In 1926, J. W. Pendleton was installed as the principal at Bralley High School.  He held this position until his retirement in 1959.  Professor Pendleton was a World War I veteran and had returned to his home to teach after his service in the military.  In 1927, Professor Pendleton was also appointed as the principal over both schools.  He also held this position until his retirement.  Professor Pendleton was also the coach for the firls and boys basketball teams during his tenure at Bralley.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

The highest wage for a teacher at the school was approximately $65 a month with Professor Pendleton getting the highest wage of $95 a month because the added duties of being principal of both schools.  This was during a time when the average white teacher was receiving between $150 and $200 a month with a third of the student load per teacher.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

In November 1931, it was decided by the School Board to have part of the school year for the students in the summer because of the low attendance during the fall months because they had to work at the farms in the area.  In 1932, Home Economics was added to the curriculum at Bralley High School and Mrs. Carrie Pendleton was elected to teach this program along with her other duties.  Also in 1932, the School Board decided not to purchase the book "Book of Knowledge" for Bralley High, although this book was purchased for the White schools the previous year.  In the early years of basketball at Bralley, J. W. Pendleton was not only the coach but also had to purchase the necessary equipment out of his own pocket.  In April 1933, the School Board voted to reimburse him for his expenditures and to use the receipts from the basketball games at the school for any future purchases that may be necessary.  In December 1933, Mr. Pendleton was authorized to hire a janitor for the school at a wage of $7.50 a month, which relieved him of another of his many duties.  In February 1934, the School Board voted to have a new pit toilet installed at Bralley if the work could be done with CWA labor.  In October, 1934, the Smith Hills school was closed down and all students were moved back to Bralley and the old buildings were turned over to a committee of three people to look after and use as they thought best for the community.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

In 1939, Bralley High School was moved from the northeast part of town on 16th Street, where it had been since it was opened to Pacific Avenue and 8th Street in the south part of town.  The number of teachers at the high school was increased to six with J. W. Pendleton being given the control of making sure substitute teachers were brought in as needed.  From 1939 to late 1940's many comforts were added to the school to include the piping of water to the school and the installation of trench toilets.  The later was accomplished through the use of CWT workers in late 1939.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from May 1911 to November 1939, Volume I.)

The later 1940's and earlier 1950's saw many changes at Bralley High School brought about by Professor Pendleton's hard work and diligence.  In May 1947, the children were asked not to play baseball at the city's softball field.  Although no official action was taken at this time to stop the play of baseball by Bralley High students at the softball field, this subject would be revisited many times in the years to come.  In 1949, Home Economics was made a permanent part of the curriculum, with Mrs. Carrie Pendleton selected to head the department.  A position she held until her retirement in 1960.  The same year Agriculture was added to the curriculum with Alfonso Terry being hired to teach this course.  In May 1949, two of the buildings given to the city after the closing of Camp Maxey by the Army were placed at Bralley to increase the space for students at the school.  In 1952, the final decision for hiring and firing teachers was left to J. W. Pendleton, as principal of Bralley High School and Dan Barker, as superintendent of all Honey Grove schools.  Also that year, Professor Pendleton led the girls basketball team to a District Championship and their first trip to the State playoffs.  (referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board from December 1939 to November 1996, Volume II. and a Booklet published by the Bralley-Pendleton High School Alumni Association in August, 1986.)

‚ÄčThe following is a quoted interview from students at Bralley from 1943-1949, Emma and James Allen:  "In 1943, Bralley High School was located on South 8th.  There was only one large building with several rooms.  Soon after that they moved some buildings from Camp Maxey outside of Paris.  That gave us more room.  There was only a boy's basketball team and no girl's team.  At that time Professor Pendleton was the boy's coach.  In a short time the school hired a coach and teacher named Professor Polk from Paris, Texas and he only stayed for a short while.  Then they hired a teacher and coach named Professor Boone to be a boy's coach and teach some classes."

"In or about 1945, the girl's basketball team was formed and Professor Pendleton was the girl's coach for the rest of the time we had a school.  The girls had a winning team down through the years.  We played towns like Blossom, Roxton, Ladonia, Wolfe City, Bonham, Hugo, Oklahoma and others.  We had no inside gym so we had to play on an outside court.  We had to play our games outside for two years.  From 1947 to 1949, the small towns of Dodd City and Windom opened their doors and let us use their gyms.  We used Gibbons High School gym in Paris, Texas to play some of our tournaments.  Professor Holford was one of our referees and he would arrange some of the places for our tournaments.  In late 1948-49 Honey Grove High School opened their gym doors to us and for that we were very grateful.  So we played the rest of our games inside.  Every year thereafter, we would always go to Dallas to play a three day tournament at the YMCA in play off games.  We played teams like Will's Point, Forney, Pilot, Terrell, just to name a few.  That was always the highpoint of our basketball season."  (Interview with Doris McCullough in Bonham, Texas)

After a Supreme Court ruling in 1955, concerning a case brought by Thurgood Marshall against the State of Texas for not allowing a black student into the Law School at Texas State, stating that the states had the right to separate buy equal schools for black students, the Honey Grove School Board voted to keep the races separate.  The same year the School Board asked for bids to replace the existing gym at Bralley High School.  The old gym was replaced that year at a cost of $15,610 with a metal frame building which housed the school's basketball court, bleachers and locker rooms.  In September 1956, the Baptist Church was allowed to start using the Bralley School for six weeks while repairs were made to the church.  Also the Missionary Society was allowed to hold its dinner in the school.  Professor Pendleton also requested consent of the Board to take a group of students from the school to the State Fair.  This proposal was approved.  In 1957, the girl's basketball team again went on to win the District Championship which earned them another chance at the State Championship.  (Referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board, Volume II and the interview with Doris McCullough)

In 1958, the gym at Bralley High School was destroyed by fire and was replaced in March of 1959.  The total damage to the gym was $19,875.89.  Even though the school was without a basketball gym for two seasons, Professor Pendleton once again led the girls basketball team to two more District Championships.  1995 was to be the last year a team from Bralley made it to the State Championships.  Although they never won at State, the Bralley girls always took an impressive record into the post-season play under Professor Pendleton's tutelage.  In May 1959, the salary for Bralley High teachers was finally raised to the State Salary level by the School Board.  (Referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board, Volume II and the interview with Doris McCullough)

On May 4, 1959, J. W. Pendleton retired after 36 years of service to his school and his community.  He was replaced as principal by O. O. Luper.  Professor Pendleton did much to improve the fare of the students in Honey Grove during his long and distinguished career.  As a tribute to Professor Pendleton, the Honey Grove School Board changed the name of the school to Pendleton High School in honor of his service.  Professor Pendleton could only enjoy this honor for a short time before God called him home in December of 1959.  His funeral was held in the gym of the school he loved and served so dearly.  Professor Pendleton's legacy is best states in his favorite quote:  "It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul."  The school bore his name until the doors were closed for the last time.  (Referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board, Volume II and a Booklet published by the Bralley-Pendleton High School Alumni Association in August, 1986.)

In 1960, another era came to a close at Pendleton High School.  Mrs. Carrie Pendleton retired after 41 years of service to the school districts of Bonham, Gainesville and Honey Grove, with 37 of those years in Honey Grove.  Mrs. Pendleton still remained active in the effort to improve conditions for students long after her retirement.  (Referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board, Volume II and a Booklet published by the Bralley-Pendleton High School Alumni Association in August, 1986.)

After a long, hard battle, even after a Supreme Court ruling won by soon to be Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, the schools in Honey Grove were desegregated in 1966.  The integration of schools started at the beginning of the 1965-66 school with the moving of 7th and 8th grades to the Honey Grove Junior High School.  According to School Board Records, "one non-white teacher was to be hired at the Junior High School."  The choice of integrating the 1st through the 6th grades was left to the choice of the parents.  At the end of the 1965-66 school year, the schools in Honey Grove were completely integrated.  The buildings of Pendleton High School were sold to the Honey Grove Cooperative Gin Company for a total of $10,035.00.  The buildings were soon torn down to make room for the company's grain bins.  (Referencing Official Records of the Honey Grove School Board, Volume II)

Even though the buildings are gone, the spirit of J. W. Pendleton High School lives on in the hearts of the many lives that were touched there.  Many great people of the community went through the doors of this great school.  In 1985, the Bralley-Pendleton Association was formed to ensure that the memory of this great school will never die.

The teachers of Bralley-Pendleton High School included the following: Mr. Robert Boone, Mrs. Ruth Turner, Mrs. Carrie Pendleton, Mrs. Iceola Wheeler, Imogene Givens, Mrs. Clarice Henry, Mr. Leo Henry, Mr. A. Terry, Mrs. Terry, Mrs. Myrtle Johnson, Mrs. M. Ryan, Mr. W. H. Seay, Mr. H. Cyrus, Mrs. Charmain Johnson, Mrs. Garrett, Mr. Rogers, Mrs. McCarthy, Mr. Brown, Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Mangram, Mrs. Effie Andrew, Mrs. Allie Preston, Mrs. Merita Howell, Mr. Sheppard, Mr. Shaw, Mr. Coleman, and Mrs. Sammie Rogers.  (Referencing a Booklet published by the Bralley-Pendleton High School Alumni Association in August, 1986.)

The principals for Bralley-Pendleton High School include: Professor Gilbert, Professor Bennett, Professor J. W. Pendleton, Professor Joe Wickerson, Professor W. J. Taylor, Professor O. O. Luper and Professor Huckaby. (Referencing a Booklet published by the Bralley-Pendleton High School Alumni Association in August, 1986.)  

Note:  All information for this report was made available by the diligent work of the members of the Bralley-Pendleton Association.  Their hard work made the writing of this story possible.  Some things may have been left out, but it was not due to lack of research on the part of the Association.  The members of this Association are to be commended for their desire to ensure such a great history is not forgotten.

Bralley-Pendleton School

Marker Text:

The first school for African Americans in Honey Grove began in 1882 with 20 students and one teacher.  The school was named for F. M. Bralley, an early superintendent.  By 1911 there were 188 students and two teachers.  Bralley became a high school in 1925 when Smith Hill School opened for elementary grades.  But the two schools were joined again n 1934.  In 1959 the school was renamed in honor of its long-term principal John W. Pendleton.  After the Honey Grove schools were integrated in 1965-66, the Bralley-Pendleton school buildings were sold and razed.

Location:  South 8th Street, Honey Grove.

More information on the Bralley-Pendleton School is on the Honey Grove Preservation League site.