Few counties in the state of Texas can boast greater achievements in their various public schools than Anderson. None can show more pronounced advancement, nor can any display a more wide-awake, progressive group of teachers. From those serving the most remote country school to the teachers in the Palestine City schools, practically, all are alert, ambitious, and progressive. The majority either possess college degrees, or are working on them. These teachers are deeply interested in their work. They plan conscientiously that the children under their tutelage shall make every advance possible.
Then as the accounts of the individual schools will show, the school buildings are modern, commodious, and generally speaking, of brick construction. Modern heating, plumbing and lighting equipment are installed, while the play ground equipment, in many schools, is at least on a par with those of other counties over the state. Radios and telephones are found in several of the schools. Then, during the last several years, educational tours have been conducted when pupils have been given opportunity to visit the State Fair, different sections of Texas, or the South, places of historic or scenic interest, etc. One has but to read the history of such schools as Tennessee Colony, Slocum and others to realize that Anderson County Schools are not confining their pupils to text books, but are instructing them how to find, “Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones and good in everything.”
From an old Palestine history the date 1855 is given as that of the establishment in Palestine by the Masons of “a large, commodious and well equipped house for the male. and one for the female school.”
According to papers in the hands of Miss Fannie Lou Fullenwider, teacher of history in High School, Palestine, the first school building for Palestine was made possible on July 13, 1858, when citizens subscribed stock for the erection of a school, to be known as the Palestine Female Institute.
On July 6, 1859, all stock was transferred by subscribers to F. S. Jackson, John G. Gooch, and John Witherspoon “for the purpose of education,. authorizing them to cast our votes in all elections for teachers or trustees.” The document bears the following names: A. E.. McClure, Elam and Templeton, Isaac S. Taylor, Mrs. M. L. Curten, Elbert Jamison, J. J. Word, John H. Reagan, Isaac Cline; Wm. Alexander, O. C. Terrell, N. F. Sparks, H. H.. Link, Geo. W. Duke, J. Murchison, R. A. Reeves, John E. Cravens, W. G. W. Jowers, Geo. R. Howard, R. W. Willett, J. A. Lawrence, E. I. Inglehart, D. C. Hunter, J. M. Dixon, B. H. Woodard, N. C. Gunnels, W. M. Gray, A. Joost, Wm. N. Hicks, and Lem Gregory.
The lot on which to erect a school building had been acquired by F. S. Jackson, John S. Witherspoon, John Murchison, Wm. H. Tucker, and John G. Gooch, trustees of the Palestine Female Institute, August 14, 1858. Ruben A. Reeves, B. H. Duval, and Paul J. Simons, with his wife donated the three and seven-tenths acres of land as a site for the school. The Female Institute building erected on this ground is occupied by the Junior High School building today. The early teachers of both Female Institute and Masonic Institute and other early schools were: W. M. Bishop of Virginia; Elisha Pettit of N. H.; Rev. W. L. Mosely, John G. Scott, Rev. Elliot, Edward Wise, .H. B. Phillips, and N. B. Brooks of Alabama.
On July 29, 1873 the Palestine Educational Association was organized with a membership of six-, teen from which the following officers were chosen: J.R. Palmer, president; R. McClure, vice president;- J. W. Ozment, treasurer; J. Y. Gooch, secretary; S. N. Pickens, R.- J. Royall, Jim Langston, C. A. Sterne and N. B. Barnes, trustees. Prof. A. H. Bailey,, A. M., of Alabama was the first Principal employed by the Association. The old catalog- published by the Association for the session of 1873-4 announces the faculty as follows: A. H. Bailey, A. M., Principal; Prof. J. T. Kennedy and Miss Mary Graham; Music Department, Prof. H. B. McEachern and, Miss Florence R. Finch; Telegraphic Department, W. D. Allen and J. P. Springer.
On July 29, 1876, the Female Institute was incorporated under the name, Palestine Female College, with the following as incorporators: Dr. J. P.. Palmer, R. J. Royall, T. E. Kersh, H. J. Hunter, N. R. Royall, S. N. Pickens, Thos. B. Greenwood, and Cyrus Helm. The school with Prof. A. H. Bailey and associates conducting it, continued till June 1881, young men, as well as young women comprising the student body.