Six Man History -- Dowdy School (Guadalupe Co.)

freeagent

Moderator
I thought there was a history thread on here, but couldn't find it.

Today's Seguin Gazette had a neat article on the Darst Field oil camp in eastern Guadalupe County. The area was the home for Dowdy School, which played 6 man in the 40's until it closed in the early 50s and combined with the Seguin ISD. Article online includes several pictures, but nothing of the school. The school building has long since been gone and is now a private residence. I've been told one of the football field goal posts still exist ... someday I am going out there and photograph them ... and maybe see about relocating them to Lifegate field.

Dowdy School graduate recalls youth in oil camp
Jessica Limmer | Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 12:00 am
Seguin Gazette

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles leading up to a tour of eastern Guadalupe County.

Gene Chambliss’ old stomping ground has a very different look.

Gone are the oil field camps, towering derricks, nodding pumpjacks and thriving school that once marked the far eastern end of Guadalupe County.

Though still an important part of the county’s economy, the oil business is nowhere near as visible as it once was, said Chambliss, who grew up in the Sun Oil Camp.

“It’s amazing how changed it all is. There used to be derricks butted up against each other — there were fewer restrictions back then — they’d just slide over another 50-100 feet and start drilling. But a lot of those pumpers were getting old and deteriorating.”

Chambliss, who now lives in Dale, said he moved to a few different camps as his family followed his father’s job. Most of his growing-up years, however were spent in the last oil camp house on Darst Oil Field. Chambliss is helping with an upcoming tour of the historic spots in eastern Guadalupe County set for April 21. Participants are invited to check-in at 8:30 a.m. at Seguin’s Oak Park Mall, 1221 E. Kingsbury St. Tickets are $49 and include a guided bus tour and lunch at the Belmont Social Club.

Chambliss said he’s glad to have grown up during such an interesting time in the county’s history and looks forward to sharing some history with others.

“It’s a chance to reminisce about the past, that’s what it boils down to,” he said with a smile. “That oil field, at that time, was allowed more drilling because of the high quality of oil. It supported our economy and the war effort in World War II.”

There was some time for play, too, he recalled.

“I roamed the woods a lot, we would go down to Nash Creek and there was a swimming hole there,” he said. “Usually the families went in to Kingsbury, Luling and Seguin to do shopping or socializing.”

The influence of the oil business was never far from everyday life, at the time. Chambliss recalled using some oil field landmarks to help him track down the family’s wayward cattle in the evening.

“There was no telling where they would be. I could walk the whole 75 acres and still wouldn’t find them,” he said. “One day, I thought to crawl up on the derrick and it let me spot them and go straight to them. It did become a practice of mine — not that it was permitted — but I would do it.”

Chambliss and the other kids on the oilfield caught the bus to Dowdy High School. Chambliss said he enjoyed himself so much he returned for a fifth year to finish a half-credit and play sports — the year his basketball team took the district championship.

“We had really good high school teachers, because of the oil royalty, the school was able to pay them better than some of the other schools in the area,” he said. “The school was made up of people who lived around the oilfield, and also areas like Leesville and Belmont.”

After graduation, Chambliss served in the military and graduated from Southwest Texas Teachers College (now Texas State) in San Marcos. He followed in his father’s footsteps by taking a job with Sun Oil Company in Dallas. After 12 years, however, he moved on to other professional endeavors.

During his absence, Chambliss said the way of life on the oilfield gradually changed. As the oil industry became more mechanized and roads improved, the need for oil camps and a community around the field diminished.

“After graduation a lot of people moved into Seguin for convenience,” he said. “The oil industry changed, a lot of companies cut down on employees and started using contractors, which ended the family-atmosphere that existed before.”

He said that employees on a company’s oil lease would actually take pride in creating a beautiful property for their employers.

“They used to keep the trees trimmed and whitewashed,” he said. “It was something to be proud of when you had a beautiful lease. But that’s all faded out. These days they just let it be.”

Though he’s lived and traveled all over, Chambliss said the eastern edge of Guadalupe County will always be special to him.

“I am very proud to have been raised where I was raised,” he said. “It gave me a broad view of things in my life.”

For more information on the tours, call Jesse Roy Hart at 830-303-2402 or for tickets, contact Stanley Dolle at stan.dolle@gmail.com or send self-addressed stamped envelope to 185 Dolle Farm Rd., Seguin, TX 78155.
 

freeagent

Moderator
CowboyP":3r5sagoi said:
Post any pics you can find of the team and/or field.

I guess I need to try a little harder ... the Mayor of Seguin (a family friend) graduated from Dowdy School and an old friend of mine from a Lions Club we used to belong to played football there. He used to say they really liked the bus trips to Harper and some of the "longer" trips, because the cheerleaders rode along with them on the bus.

Something tells me those rememberances won't be in the next chapter of this story ...
 

freeagent

Moderator
Second in a series (photos on website):

http://seguingazette.com/news/article_2 ... 3ce6c.html

Local woman recalls days at Dowdy School
Seguin Gazette
Jessica Limmer | Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:00 am

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles leading up to a tour of eastern Guadalupe County.

Though Seguin was miles away, Geri Bulgerin said there was always something happening around the Dowdy School.

“The school was the hub of all the social activity in the area,” recalled Bulgerin, who was known in high school as Geri Arnett. “We would have wonderful plays and the oil field workers and their families would come. There was always something going on.”

These days, all that remains of Dowdy School is a foundation, some stairs and other remnants of a once vibrant campus, but the school is rich with history and guides such as Bulgerin are eager to share their stories.

The school is one of the spots on the upcoming tour of the historic spots in eastern Guadalupe County set for April 21. Participants are invited to check-in at 8:30 a.m. at Seguin’s Oak Park Mall, 1221 E. Kingsbury St. Tickets are $49 and include a guided bus tour and lunch at the Belmont Social Club.

According to research gathered by 1946 Dowdy School graduate Paul Knodel, the Dowdy School was created in 1916 with the consolidation of the Walters School and Nixon School. The name Dowdy came from a family who donated land to the district. With the oil boom, which began in the early ‘30s, the school population began to boom, leading to rapid expansions.

Bulgerin, who is helping with the tours, said the school was made up of a building which housed a dorm or “teachery” for teachers with attached classrooms for younger students.

“My favorite teacher was Miss Ellen Ranft,” she said. “She was a sweet, wonderful lady.”

The high school and intermediate school buildings were attached by a breezeway. Bulgerin said she also spent numerous hours in the library and study hall — reading through the school’s book collections — and in the home economics wing learning to make eggs Benedict.

“We had a gymnasium that was state-of-the-art,” she recalled. “It was always being decorated for Christmas or prom. There were girls locker rooms that kind of went below the stage area and we would make a spook house for the younger kids at Halloween.”

Bulgerin said her father, Claud Arnett, came to Seguin with Texaco and she was born and raised in the oil field houses on the Texaco lease.

“They kept the houses so beautifully and we had a nice large fenced yard,” she said. “They really took good care of their employees.”

Bulgerin and her siblings spent their days off of school walking through the countryside with their neighbors and playing that they were Tarzan or Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.

However, growing up among the oil derricks did come with a few added dangers, she recalled.

“Mother would always tell us not to play in the slush pits, and we never did,” she said. “She would tell us if we went in there would never come out again.”

Bulgerin said she graduated the Dowdy School at the age of 16, as skipping fifth grade had made her one of the youngest in her class. However, without a car or way to get to work, she hung around school for another semester, just to help out.

“No one wanted to hire a 16-year-old kid who didn’t have a way to get to work,” she said. “So I caught the bus every morning and went into school and would help out the teachers.”

After a semester, she went away to Austin to attend business college, married and — after living elsewhere in the state — eventually returned with her family to Seguin.

As for Dowdy School, the campus population began to dwindle as the oil boom ended and more people began to move into town.

According to Knodel’s research, to boost attendance, Dowdy began offering transportation to students in the Jahns, Moss, Eden and Tiemann school districts if they transferred to Dowdy for high school. However, by the 1949, 1950 school year, these areas were annexed by Seguin ISD.

The following year, the Dowdy School area was annexed Seguin’s district and the campus was closed at the end of the school year in 1951.

Though little remains of the Dowdy School, Bulgerin said she and other alumni will never forget the good times they had together as classmates.

“Every summer we were excited for school to start again,” she said. “We had so much fun there.”

For more information on the tours, call Jesse Roy Hart at 830-303-2402 or for tickets, contact Stanley Dolle at stan.dolle@gmail.com or send self-addressed stamped envelope to 185 Dolle Farm Rd., Seguin, TX 78155.
 
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