Incomplete History of Forsan School

by Boyce Hale, class of '38


   In 1928, my family was living in a tent on the bank of the Pecos River, some three miles south of lraan, Texas, at a place called Red Barn. Mom was always complaining about how far we were from a railroad or a doctor and on several occasions had asked Dad to find a job closer to civilization.

   Along about that time, crude oil began to seep into the river, and one day I was fishing when I heard Dad yell, Git out of there, the oil is on fire!" I scrambled to the river bank as flames roared over the river, just in time to keep from roasting my hind end. Mom, upon hearing what had happened, declared we would move, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

   So, on Friday, Jan. 11, 1929, Lester Leverage and Dad loaded our belongings into Lester's truck, and he drove us to Forsan via Rankin, Odessa, Midland, and Big Spring.

   It was a cold and windy day and we three children, lying on top of a flapping tarp covering our belongings in the truck bed, had a hard time keeping warm.

   Upon reaching Forsan, Dad found a place to pitch our home, a 10X12 tent.  Once the tent was up, we all pitched in and helped carry our belongings inside. Mom spent two days of hard work trying to make our tent livable.

   Monday, Jan. 14, 1929, Mom enrolled me in Forsan school. At that time, the school was two rooms with two teachers. The school had been built by C.O. Smith for the sum of $2,500. The first teachers were Constance Cushing and Martha Ross. Teachers at the Chalk school were Kate Mae Miller and Swan Cramer. I believe Mr. Cramer was also principal at Chalk and the school started about September, 1927.

   At the end of the school term in May, 1929, Forsan had 73 students. In the spring of 1929, a bad wind storm destroyed our tent and blew our things over a wide area. We spent a day trying to gather our clothes and bedding. Dad then rented a tent that had a wood floor and side wall probably three feet. We were so excited to have these lush surroundings. It was a vast improvement over the earthen floor.

   Forsan was created in May, 1928, when S.F. Ballentine and Associates purchased 160 acres out of the Clayton Stewart ranch. They surveyed the plot of ground and sold lots for $50 to $150 each.

   Mr. Balentine announced that the town would have utilities very shortly. He also said that a school would be built. And a post office would be in place around Dec.15, 1928. Forsan was an "off shoot" of four sands because oil was found in four formations at various depths: Yates, about 1200 feet. Queen, about 1800 feet, San Andreas, about 2600 feet, and Clearfork, about 3000 feet.

   So Mr. Balentine called his town, Forsan. The school year of 1929-30, Forsan School had a principal named J.B. Bolin. His wife would coach the girls basketball team.

   Another room was added to the existing two in 1929. Three more rooms, and more teachers, were added in 1930-31. It was then the high school was established. In 1931, the Forsan girls basketball team won the Howard County championship. Team members were Loretha Parks, Opal Fielder, Lilliam Thames, Pauline Nix, Anita Huff, Minnilee Campbell, and Lucille Wilson.

   In 1932, Leiand L. Martin was hired as principal. Mrs. Martin would teach English. Among the first things Mr. Martin did was to build a gym. He actually hammered and nailed the gym into completion.

   It was a barn with wood frame covered with corrugated iron (tin as we called it). But it was the pride of Forsan. By this time, a full-fledged high school had been established and in May, 1933, the first class was graduated. Graduates were Ruth Costin, Paul Fulton, Roland Howard, Woodrow Scudday, Lillian Thames, and Ila Young.

   As of 1996, Paul Fulton was the only survivor of that first class. Mr. Martin remained through the 1938-39 school year.

   In a matter of sports, the boys, under coach Brady Nix in 1936 won the county, the area, and the district champion-ships. They were beaten by Crews in the regional finals.

   By the end of Mr. Martin's stay the school had several buildings: a band room, home economics room, a cafeteria, and the high school building itself. The new high school building was about where the swimming pool is today.