Saturday, August 12, 2017

History of Pilot Knob School long forgotten.

Pilot Knob School began in 1892 subsequently situated 1 ¼ miles south of the Pilot Knob settlement and Colton settlement located southeast of Austin, Texas way out in the country. Pilot Knob School began in 1892 subsequently situated 1 ¼ miles south Pilot Knob located at the intersection of FM 1625 & McKenzie Road. Pilot Knob School was named after a volcano that is located on top of a hill. Several volcanoes were active at this location some 3,000 years ago. Pilot Knob believed to be settled on top of the remains of a cretaceous volcano. This cretaceous volcano serves as a geological feature in the nearby area.


The Pilot Knob Schoolhouse building was built as an L-shaped building similar in the form to a house of a private residence in 1892 on two acres of land. The Pilot Knob School was built as from an L-shape building plan similar to former Lamar School in Del Valle, Texas. This L-shaped building was a school that was served inside a single story structure unit. The building would later turn into a C-shape building. Sanitary needs were met with outhouses.

The first school term for Pilot Knob School was 1892 with a small student population of 15 students. Mrs. McKuen was the first teacher to teach at Pilot Knob School. These students came from various rural areas, subdivisions, and neighborhoods in Travis County/Austin. The settlement of Pilot Knob had its own school district called Pilot Knob School District also known as School District No. 67, School District #67, District #67, and District No. 67 from 1892 to 1956.

In 1893 is when 20 students attended this school. Enrollment grew within the first year. In the beginning, Pilot Knob School was a K-8 school serving grades 1 through 8. For those students who wanted to complete their high school education past the 8th grade had to go into town or transfer to the Creedmoor Common School District.


Population figures of 2 teachers and 99 students were reported in 1907. The school boasted a student population of 100 students in 1908. The 1907-1908 school semester faced growth in enrollment. 1907 and 1908 were the peak years for this school.

The cost per year was $346 with an average of $11.53 per student per year in 1934. The 1934-1935 school semester has 41 students. Two teachers taught seven grades for 120 days and got paid for six months. The school period was later extended to 8 months.

In 1936, Former pupil Joe Sassman became a school teacher and principal at Pilot Knob School. John D. Foster served as vice principal while Joe Sassman served as principal. When Joe Sassman served as a school teacher to fill in for a teacher who was absent, John D. Foster would serve as the school’s principal for that time. Miss Nan Gilbert taught at the school from the mid 1934 to 1956. Miss Nan Gilbert was a well known notable teacher to have taught as Pilot Knob School.

In 1937, Pilot Knob School became a K-7 serving grades 1 through 7. Students who wanted to complete their junior high school education past the 7th grade had to go into town or transfer to the Creedmoor Common School District. There were no junior high schools/middle schools or high schools in the Pilot Knob School District. Senior high schools were not available in this school district. Miss Minnie C. Overton also served as school principal for Pilot Knob School from the late 1930s to 1956. Mrs. Joe Sassman and Mrs. J. D. Foster served on the PTA.


In 1940, Pilot Knob School became a K-6 serving grades 1 through 6. Students who wanted to complete their junior high school education past the 6th grade had to go into town or transfer to the Creedmoor Common School District. 1940 is when Pilot Knob School became Pilot Knob Elementary School. Pilot Knob Elementary School served grades 1 through 6 from 1940 to 1956.

The Pilot Knob school is underwent repairs in 1940 and again in 1950. The repairs were modest in nature. Not too many were made though. Indoor plumbing was never added or equipped with this school. Outhouses still remained in use. An outhouse was added southeast of the school building. The school had no indoor toilet or electricity.


In 1956, Pilot Knob School District was consolidated into Colorado Common School District (now Del Valle Independent School District) due to dwindling tax revenue from decreasing property taxes, lack of funding, and lack of enrollment. It was mainly due to decreasing property taxes that rural school districts such as Pilot Knob, Creedmoor, Dry Creek, Niederwald, and Maha were consolidated into bigger school districts such as Del Valle ISD and Austin ISD.

Pilot Knob School was shut down in 1957. Pilot Knob School District was already shut down by then. The school was demolished later that year. The school only sat abandoned for a short period of time. Pilot Knob School campus property land was vacant from 1957 to 1995.

In 1995, building contractors and landscaping companies paved over the former Pilot Knob School campus for a bus barn to be surveyed and laid out. Land was resurfaced and flattened the same year. This Del Valle ISD bus barn would become known as the “McKenzie Yard”. The “McKenzie Yard” serves as a parking lot for the Del Valle ISD buses. Several portables and trailers have been hauled onto the property. Trailers are now on this property.


Pilot Knob School campus is now owned by Del Valle Independent School District (Del Valle ISD). Pilot Knob School campus now operates as a bus barn for Del Valle ISD with a chain link fence that surrounds the property and is off limits to the public. McKenzie Yard is a Del Valle ISD bus barn. Arivify states this parcel of land is owned by Del Valle ISD.

Today there are no indications visible of proof that the school was built here. There are no remains left of the school. No visible remains are evident for proving that the school existed. Remnants of the school have been paved over. A parking lot for the Del Valle ISD buses is currently over the former remnants of  Pilot Knob School.The original location for the Pilot Knob School was at Austin, Texas, US 78744.


Notable teachers to have taught at this school were John D. Foster, E. C. Kieke, Nan Gilbert, and Joe Sassman. Former pupil Joe Sassman became a school teacher and principal at Pilot Knob School. Miss Nan Gilbert was a well known notable teacher to have taught as Pilot Knob School.

Notable students who attended this school were Wilroy Kieke of the well known Kieke familiy, Mildred Sassman, Theo Smith, school teacher Marietta Cowan, Lois Kieke, and Joe Sassman just to name a few. Joe Sassman Sr. also received his education at Pilot Knob School along with his wife and relatives that lived in the area.

No comments:

Post a Comment