Friday, September 8, 2017

History of the former Cottonwood School in Manor, Texas long forgotten.

Cottonwood School began its history as Bitting School in 1895 near the small town of Littig, Texas. Captain J. W. Bitting donated one acre of land to Travis County Public Schools for the Bitting School in 1895. Bitting School was built as a schoolhouse in 1895 to serve students that lived in the small towns of Littig, Texas and Elgin, Texas as well as rural Travis County.

The Bitting School was named after Confederate veteran J. W. Bitting (Captain J. W. Ramie) who served as captain in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. John W. Bitting served as captain in North Carolina. T. F. Nairn and Dan Williams donated lumber material to built the school.

At first the school term was 3 months. The school term was later extended to 4 months. Professor J. W. Ramie was one of the first teachers who taught 50 students in one room. There were 3 students sitting at one desk. Many had to sit by the windows. Attendance was very high.


A new school building was built for Bitting School in 1908.  This time the Bitting School became the  Cottonwood School (Cottonwood Elementary School) and was relocated miles far away from Littig at Cottonwood Creek on Old Kimbro Road in Manor, Texas. Cottonwood School was named after Cottonwood Creek. Enrollment was 35 students a day for average daily attendance and the school term was extended to 6 months in 1908. Bitting School relocated next to Cottonwood School.

In 1908, the Bitting School became the Littig School and a portion of the Bitting School building was relocated to Littig to become part of the 1887 Littig White School building. [Although the Bitting School was the former Littig School (Littig White School).]  Existence of Bitting School lasted from 1895 to 1908.

County trustees bought the property of the school in 1913. Professor J. W. Ramie continued to teach students at this school until 1920. Another teacher was added the same year. Cottonwood School was already separated from Bitting School by then. Cottonwood School only taught white students while Cottonwood Negro School only taught black students.

There  was  one  teacher who taught 32 students to 33 students a day. The cost per year for a student was an average of $30.00 resulting in an average cost per year to be $500. One teacher taught all 7 grades for 155 days to 160 days. The teacher’s salary was $50.00 a month and the teacher got paid for 8 months.


Cottonwood School became Cottonwood Elementary School in 1920. Cottonwood Elementary School became a K-7 school rather than the standard K-8 grade school model in 1920 where grades 1st through 7th were taught. Cottonwood Elementary School, at this time, was a one-room school.

After finishing 7th Grade, students were bussed to attend Manor High School in Manor ISD. Many students did not attend junior high school, senior high school, or high school in general in those days. They had to help out their families grow crops in time for harvesting season or work at the Elgin Cotton Gin.

Alice Ballerstedt Brady taught at Cottonwood School for the school term of 1925-1926. Alice Ballerstedt Brady herself was a former students of Cottonwood School who graduated the school during 7th grade. After 7th grade she attended Manor High School, At age 15 she graduated Manor High School as Valedictorian in 1920.


Transportation was often by horse and buggy. Student sometimes rode in carpools by parents who drove them to and from school. Busses were not provided until 1930. By 1932, the school had 3 busses. Bus drivers were paid by the school district and Travis County Public Schools.

In 1947, Cottonwood School and Cottonwood Negro School consolidated into Littig Common School District and later in 1954 into Elgin ISD. Most students already attended school in Manor and Elgin though despite all that.

Today the Cottonwood School lies in a wooden pile of dilapidation as a result rural decay on Old Kimbro Road. Not much remains of the Cottonwood School except for a wooden pile and a collapsed roof which you can visibly see when looking at the Manor, Texas area via satellite view on any maps online or a library.

Cottonwood School was located on Old Kimbro Road & US 290, Manor, Texas, US 78653.


As for the Cottonwood Negro School, Cottonwood Negro School was named after the Cottonwood Creek as well. The Cottonwood Negro School served as a one-room school that was an elementary school. After finishing 7th Grade, students were bussed to Manor to attend Manor ISD schools. Many students did not attend junior high school, senior high school, or high school in general in those days. They had to help out their families grow crops in time for harvesting season or work at the Elgin Cotton Gin.

There  was  one  teacher who taught 32 students a day. Sometimes 33 students a day. The cost per year  for a student was an average of $28.73 resulting in an average cost per year to be $431. One teacher taught all 7 grades for 155 days to 160 days. The teacher’s salary was $50.00 a month and the teacher got paid for 8 months.

Transportation was often by horse and buggy. Student sometimes rode in carpools by parents who drove them to and from school. Busses were not provided until 1930. By 1932, the school had 3 busses.

Both Cottonwood School (Cottonwood Elementary School) and Cottonwood Negro School had an average daily attendance of 32 students for the 1934-1935 school semester. The 1936-1937 school semester had an average daily attendance of 34 students.

In 1947, Cottonwood School and Cottonwood Negro School consolidated into Littig Common School District and later in 1954 into Elgin ISD. Most students already attended school in Manor and Elgin though despite all that.

The Cottonwood Negro School was located on modern day Ballerstedt Road, Elgin, Texas, US 78621 which is just south of Old Kimbro Road.

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