Samuel Walker Houston School

Samuel Walker Houston (1871?-1945) was the son of Joshua Houston and Sylvester Baker, two former African American slaves who worked for General Sam Houston in Huntsville, Texas. During the 1880s and 1890s, he attended the nation's leading black schools, including Atlanta University in Georgia and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Shortly after the turn of the century, he returned to Huntsville and founded a training school in the nearby community of Galilee. Houston's school was one of the first county training schools for African Americans in Texas. It enrolled students at every level, from first grade through high school, and provided a curriculum based on the industrial education model espoused by Samuel Chapman Armstrong, the founder and first principal at Hampton Institute. Young women at Houston's school received training in homemaking, sewing, and cooking, while young men learned carpentry, woodworking, and basic mathematics. In addition, Houston secured financial support from the Rosenwald Fund and the Slater Fund to support classes in music, education, and the humanities.

While working in Galilee, Houston married Hope Harville, a fellow teacher, on April 28, 1915. The couple then took up residence in a house near school grounds. They soon had several children and led the community through their example. In fact, by 1922, enrollment at Houston's school had grown to 400 students. P. R. Thomas, an educational reformer, called Houston's campus "the leading school of East Texas," and noted that it "had advanced under the leadership of the sage, Professor Houston, . . . from a low[ly] hut to [an institution worth] $15,000."

In 1930, at Houston's request, his school was incorporated into the Huntsville Independent School District. He then became the Black County Superintendent and later served as the principal of the African American high school that was named in his honor. Houston delivered his last public speech at the commencement of the 1944 graduating class of Sam Houston High School in Huntsville. He told the graduates: "True humility is a necessary quality for one who would be successful in the accomplishment of a great task. Another quality that is required for one who would be a leader is courage. He is not a real leader unless his courage remains steadfast and he can move forward with his convictions whether there is a visible majority with him or not." Samuel Walker Houston died on November 19, 1945, and was buried in Huntsville's Oakwood Cemetery. His educational efforts helped to improve the lives of hundreds of African Americans in East Texas, and his example stands as a perfect demonstration of the resilience and creativity that African Americans employed in their battle against racial segregation.

Images

Samuel Walker Houston and Jeff Hamilton

Samuel Walker Houston and Jeff Hamilton

Taken at the Texas Centennial in 1936, this photograph showcases two of the leading African American figures in Huntsville. The first, Jeff Hamilton (far left), had served as a former slave of General Sam Houston. He wrote a memoir of his time in slavery, entitled Sam Houston, My Master. The second, Samuel Walker Houston (center), had founded the Samuel Walker Houston Training School in 1906 and was by this time principal of Huntsville's all-black Samuel Houston High School. | Source: Samuel Walker Houston Museum and Cultural Center. View File Details Page

A New Building

A New Building

This 1919 photograph shows figures laying the foundation for a new building at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Construction underway in 1916

Construction underway in 1916

This photograph highlights construction on a building at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School in 1916 | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

The Industrial Building

The Industrial Building

This 1919 photograph showcases the Industrial Building at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Walker County Training School

Walker County Training School

This photograph provides an excellent shot of three buildings on the campus of the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Teacher's Home

Teacher's Home

This 1916 photograph shows a teachers home at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Teachers

Teachers

Pictured here are the educators who taught at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. Included among them may be: J. Paul Chretien, who taught manual training; Jack Beauchamp, who taught woodwork; and Hope G. Harville, who taught homemaking. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Industrial Education

Industrial Education

The Samuel Walker Houston Training School taught students craft skills, such as masonry and building construction. In addition, Houston emphasized classical education in literature and music. Students who graduated from the school received a well-rounded education in one of the only black high schools in the state. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Young people at school

Young people at school

Pictured here is a group of young students from the Samuel Walker Houston Training School at Galilee. Note their professional dress and determined look. These young men and women had a bold new future before them. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Learning the Building Trade

Learning the Building Trade

Pictured in the photograph are several young men in one of the industrial construction courses at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Students

Students

This 1916 photograph shows students gathering for an official function. Note the large number of students present and the variety of ages. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Students posing for a picture

Students posing for a picture

This photograph shows the eighth and ninth grade students at the Samuel Walker Houston Training School. | Source: Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library View File Details Page

Samuel Houston High School

Samuel Houston High School

Pictured here is the all-black Samuel Houston High School, which was constructed in Huntsville during the 1930s. Named for Samuel Walker Houston, who served as principal of the school, it provided black students a formal high school education during the Jim Crow era. | Source: Samuel Walker Houston Museum and Cultural Center. View File Details Page

Audio

Scott Johnson discusses the Samuel Walker Houston Training School

Scott Johnson was one of the first five graduates from the Samuel Walker Houston Training School at Galilee. He later became a prominent educator in Huntsville himself, and the Scott Johnson Elementary School is named for him. | Source: Huntsville Arts Commission. Recorded by Ralph Pease for Walker County Stories. View File Details Page

Richard Watkins reads biography of Samuel Walker Houston

Richard Watkins reads a short biography about Samuel W. Houston from Naomi W. Lede's Pathfinders: A History of the Pioneering Efforts of African Americans, Huntsville, Walker County, Texas. | Source: Musings From Sam Houston's Stomping Grounds, Newton Gresham Library, Sam Houston State University View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Jeffrey L. Littlejohn, “Samuel Walker Houston School,” East Texas History, accessed June 26, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/2.

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