Historical account written by Gilbert Durst, passed to Kenneth Durst, given to Roy Lehmberg, and then submitted by Mary L. Schmidt & Patsy Brandenberger
The Kothmannville School in the Kothmannville settlement 18 miles south-east of Mason, Texas, was built in the summer of 1912 by Mr. and Mrs. August Kothmann about 250 yards from their home. Taking into consideration that the teacher could room and board with them. This worked out to perfection and made history of many beautiful memories.
It cost between $800 and $900 to build the school.
Mr. and Mrs. Kothmann had six children ranging in age 12 to 5 years and not any of them had gone to school because there was no school near enough. There were also six more families in the Kothmannville area with children in the same age group who had not gone to school. They lived three to five miles from the school.
Miss Agnes Matern was the first teacher, 1912-1913, and there were thirteen children to start in the first grade. However, due to the teaching the older children had received in their homes, they were advanced to where they made two grades in one year during the first two years. Therefore at the end of the second year they were promoted to the fifth grade. Also attending were four pupils who had attended school elsewhere, away from their homes. But, by changing to Kothmannville, they stayed with their parents.
The teacher salary was set at $127.50 per month and the room and board at $27.50 per month. These figures remained the same throughout the twelve years teaching in the Kothmannville School. Miss Agnes stayed with the August Kothmanns and spent practically all the weekends in their home because the distance to her home was far and there were no automobiles in the area.
During the weekends, Miss Agnes stayed with the Kothmanns, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Arthur Leifeste who lived a distance of eight miles from the Kothmanns, came to see her in a one-horse-drawn buggy. A big mesquite tree at the southeast corner of the yard served for the hitching post to which Mr. Leifeste tied the horse. The big parlor of the home was theirs during his visits.
Sometimes, Miss Agnes and Mr. Arthur took off in the little one-horse-drawn buggy and it was on one of these occasions that they said that they were going to Castell, Texas, a distance of seven miles, to go swimming beside the bridge crossing the Llano River. At this time, Miss Agnes and Mr. Arthur had become engaged to be married at the end of the that school year. While swimming, Miss Agnes noticed that the ring Mr. Arthur gave her had come off her finger. Much time was devoted to find it, but after it was not found, Mr. Arthur naturally gave her another ring. They got married as planned and were blessed with eight children.
It was thereafter when, during a big rain, the bridge besides which Miss Agnes had lost her ring washed away. The following year, a new bridge was built across the same place, and, while excavating for the foundation for the bridge, one of the workmen noticed a round object and upon cleaning it, it had engraved therein, AL to AM, and the diamond was still in it. This, beyond all doubt, proved that it was the ring Miss Agnes lost.
Miss Pearl Donop was the second teacher to teach, 1913-1914. Her parents lived across the Llano River from the school, a distance of five miles. Two of Miss Pearl's brothers were school age, so they went back and forth in a one-horse-drawn buggy. And, whenever the river was on a rise to where they could not cross, their father brought them across by boat, selecting the place to cross where the riverbed was the farthest across and the water the least swift. And, there the Dan Kothmann children, who lived on the school side of the river, met them in their one-horse-drawn two-seated surrey to come on to school with them. Then, that evening, Mr. Donop was there waiting to take them back across. This method was used throughout the following year when Miss Pearl's sister,
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school was missed. Miss Pearl got married the following year and left the Kothmannville area.Miss Minnie Donop was the third teacher to teach, 1914-1915. Miss Minnie and the two brothers and a younger brother who had then become school age went back and forth also. A great credit mark for this little country school is the fact that their brother, Perry, who was then in the first and second grade, is now the great surgeon and medical Dr. Perry Donop in San Antonio, Texas.
Miss Jennie Gipson was the fourth teacher to teach, 1915-1916. Her parents lived close to Mason, Texas, a distance of twenty miles from the Kothmannville School. So, Miss Jennie stayed with the August Kothmanns. And, about every other weekend, her father in his little one-horse-drawn buggy came to spend the night with the Kothmanns on Friday evening and then early Saturday morning, they started for home, and on Sunday evening, they returned and again Mr. Gipson spent the night and started back home the next morning.
The weekends that Miss Jennie stayed with the Kothmanns, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Lee Loeffler in his little one-horse-drawn buggy came to see her. The big parlor of the home was theirs during her visits. I was then in the second grade and Miss Jennie gave me the specified time when to bring them a pitcher of water and a couple of glasses and they then gave me some of the best chocolate candy I ever tasted. And then, during the few minutes I visited with them, they had me translate from German to English and likewise English to German. I can almost still hear them laugh. They got married at the end of that school year.
Miss Valeska Rabke was the fifth teacher to teach, 1916-1917. Her parents lived at Willow City, Texas, a distance of 45 miles from the Kothmannville School. So, she stayed with the August Kothmanns. Neither her family, or the Kothmanns, owned an automobile then and therefore, Miss Valeska went home on the mail-carrying car very few weekends. Only when a holiday created a long weekend. The distance from the Kothmanns to where the mail-carrying car was met was three and a half miles.
During the year that Miss Valeska taught, there were additional children attending who were not of a school age before the Lehmbergs. And the Garners, who moved into the area. They lived in opposite directions from the school and had to travel a distance of about four miles, also in a one-horse-drawn buggy. Sometimes, the Garner children walked.
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Waco, Texas. Her mind and memory are still unbelievably good and she still writes beautifully.Mr. Walter Leifeste was the sixth teacher to teach, 1917-1918. His parents lived near enough to where he went back and forth either horseback or in a one-horse-drawn buggy. During this year that Mr. Walter taught, there were two young boys found in San Antonio, Texas, who could not give an account of themselves. All they knew was that their name was Schoch and that they were brothers. Hans, the older, and Theodore, the younger.The move was made to find a home for the boys. So, J. W. Kothmann, owener of the W. Kothmann Livestock Commission Co. in San Antonio, Texas, made the suggestion to place them with families in the Kothmannville area so they could attend school in the Kothmannville School. This immediately was approved to be seen if it could be worked out. The first approached were the Walter Lehmberg family and the Walter Kothmann family, who graciously took the boys in and thereby they got to go to the Kothmannville School.Miss Amanda Grote was the seventh teacher to teach, 1918-1919. Her uncle and aunt,
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the school and Miss Amanda had a Model T Ford car. So she stayed with her uncle and aunt. Also in that area, known as Keyserville, there were children who had then become school age. And also a young lady by the name of Kaseda Durst who was staying with one of the Keyser families. So the together went back and forth in the little Model T.
Here again, a great credit mark for the little country school is the fact that one of the Keyser children, Lester, became Dr. Lester Keyser.
Miss Ida Kowierschke was the eighth and ninth teacher to teach, 1919-1920, and 1920-1921. Her parents lived a distance of 12 miles from the Kothmannville School. So Miss Ida stayed with the Kothmanns. It was during 1920 that Mr. and Mrs. August Kothmann bought their first automobile, a Studebaker, and their oldest son, Arthur, who was then seventeen years old, was the only one then driving. So Miss Ida got to spend weekends at home whenever she so desired. It was during her first year teaching in Kothmannville, 1919-1920, that the oldest children who started school in 1912-1913 graduated.
During this time, there were additional children in the area who became school age to attend and therefore the number of children attending remained
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Mr. Gilbert Jordan was the tenth teacher to teach, 1921-1922. His parents lived a distance of eighteen miles from the Kothmannville School, so Mr. Gilbert stayed with the August Kothmanns. He spent some weekends with the Kothmanns and some weekends he went home. With the automobiles then, it was no longer a problem to go back and forth.
I shall never forget the beautiful time we spent together. We had a pet wolf at that time, and every other evening, Mr. Gilbert and one of us three boys then still attending school would take the old 12-guage shotgun and kill a jackrabbit for the wolf. Like during all the teachers' stay with the Kothmanns, there was never a dull moment and it was all so beautiful and principal.
Miss Louise Wehmeyer was the eleventh teacher to teach, 1922-1923. Her parents lived in Fredericksburg, Texas, a distance of 32 miles from the Kothmannville School. So, Miss Louise stayed with the August Kothmanns. With the automobiles then, it was no problem when Miss Lucille wished to spend the weekends. She spent many weekends with the Kothmanns.
It was during those years that I raised the turkeys for my mother and I
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nests over quite a surrounding distance, and many evenings the teachers went with me to gather the turkey eggs. As I think back, I visualize that we walked not less than five miles every evening. I was the youngest one in the family and this was my last year in the Kothmannville School.
Every year throughout, there was a school closing program which was attended by people from far away and nearby. The porch of the school was the stage and was arranged with draw curtains for the children to perform. And many benches were arranged in front of the stage and roofed by a large tarpaulin, rain or shine.
Throughout the day, everybody had a beautiful time. Everybody in the area joined in to provide a real dinner for all the visitors free. Underneath a huge spreading liveoak tree beside the school, a cold drink and ice cream, etc., stand was set up by someone who operated it on their own. Soda water was a nickel a bottle and ice cream cones and candy bars were also a nickel and they were oversized.
I recollect that we children were given a quarter to make do for the day. And, sometimes, when the day was over, we had a nickel left to put
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Miss Lucille Lange was the twelfth teacher to teach, 1923-1924. Her parents lived in Mason, Texas, a distance of eighteen miles from the Kothmannville School. And although all the August Kothmann children were no longer going to school in Kothmannville. But, with the school being only 250 yards from the August Kothmanns, Miss Lucille therefore chose to stay with the Kothmanns.
This was the last year in the Kothmannville School. The few children then left in the Kothmannville area all lived a distance from the school to where their parents decided to set up school in the Dan Kothmann home, whereby all the children had only a short distance to travel.
The little Kothmannville School building was recently presented to the Historical Society in Mason, Texas, and moved on their grounds (the old Grammar School and High School) to represent all the country schools in those days.