Mason County News
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Ranch Branch School
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 • Posted June 18, 2008

The Mason County Sesquicentennial Committee produced in 1986 a book, The Communities of Mason County. My father, Hilmar Eckert submitted the following article.

"The Ranch Branch community was settled in the 1890's when land owned and controlled by C. C. Crosby was sold. The Crosby Ranch consisted of approximately 20,000 acres in the northwest part of Mason County. The rich, but sometimes rocky soil located on the tributaries of Ranch Branch Creek (which ran north into the San Saba River), attracted young industrious couples ready and willing to establish a home and raise families.

"By 1900 over twenty families lived in the community. These families consisted of Charley Ashby, Will Adams, Sam Alexander. Frank Clark, Joe Coffey, Ike Coffey,. Jack Darley, John Eckert, Sam Harper, Jim Haper, Tom Hoover, Ferdenand Jenkins, Charles Jenkins, Max Ficker, John McWilliams, Jim McWilliams, Don Nobles, Charles Soules, Charles Starks, Anton Starks, Edgar Young, George Vanderveer, and Charles Vanderveer.

"These families had over twenty school-age children. Since no school was nearer than 10 miles, the Ranch Branch School District was organized in 1901 and a small school house was built. This was on the border of Survey 1330 John C. Crosby and Survey 1847 Wm. Greer (present day Ranch Road 1222). There are not deed records found for transfer of property given by Jim McWilliams. The tract reverted back to Swede Jordan who received it from his mother, Augusta, when the property was no longer used as a school.

By 1909 more room was needed, so the old school house was torn down and a new 30' by 40' building was erected ( and used until consolidation of Mason County school sin 1947.) Then this building was used for elections, church, and other community gatherings." (Hilmar Eckert)

A Masters Degree Theses was researched and written by Wm. Hadley in 1937, "History of the Rural Schools of Mason County" in which he searched County Commissioner records and minutes which reported the schools and the fact that the county judge was in charge of the rural schools.

In 1906 and 1908 the voters of Ranch Branch Community School District voted a tax for a new building. The age for attending school had been set by the Texas Legislature in 1907 at 7 to 17 years. During 1913-1914 and 1914-1915 the teacher was Max Swan and trustees were Anton Starks, Anton Clark, and J.M. Williams. In 1919-1920 teacher was Charles C. Pluenneke and trustees Sam Harper, C. D. Starks, and Charles Vandeveer. Eva Grate was teacher in 1926. Seven grades were taught by one teacher through out the years in this one-room school. Average teacher's salary for the 30 county schools was $183.93 in 1905 and $371.13 in 1915. In 1930 District No. 9 had J. Frank Erley teaching.

The old building finally blew over July 15, 2005. It is located on F. M. 1222 at the corner of Eckert, Lange and Harper land. For 45 years the Ranch Branch School served as the place of education though the seventh grade for the families of the community including those who moved in during the early 1900's.

Some of the school teachers in the one-room building remembered by students and recalling their parents' recollections include: Lousie Streigler (Jordan), Mrs. Anna Mogford, Sam Commul II, Charles Pluenneke, Audgrey Grove, Stella Gipson Polk, Dorothy Fickling (Schmidt), Vera Hocomb, Pauline Sorrels, Helen (Sell) Tallent, Mrs. Leah Henderson (Johnson), 1945-1947.

Student pile-on during recess at Ranch Branch School about 1919 include (left to right Top Calvin Coffee, Hugo Ficker, Hugh Soules; Middle: Sammy and Alvin Harper, Bottom: Hilmar Eckert, Harold Schmidt (glasses?)

Snow-break, January 1947 @ Ranch Branch School: Wanda Harper, Yvonne Harper, Mae Blanche Vandeveer, Gary Schmidt (crouching), Anna Schmidt, Charles Eckert.

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