HISTORY OF DIAMOND HILL SCHOOL
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
The original Diamond Hill School was a two-room structure built in 1903 in the southeast corner of a pasture a few miles north of Fort Worth, Texas. It was situated at the same location as the house that now stands, facing east, on the corner of Twenty-eighth and Oscar Streets on Diamond Hill. It was classified as a county school, and Mrs. Estes Ritchey was the first superintendent; Mr. W.F. Helkamp, Mr. S.M. Lawson, and Mr. Harry Stehrole were the trustees.
When questioned about this first school, most of the old settlers didn’t seem to remember much about the faculty, students, or studies, but they readily recalled the fact that the schoolhouse was used for a school in winter and a shade for cattle in summer. It was quite a familiar sight they say, to see cows grazing around the school, but more often they were seen lying in the shade of the schoolhouse. Many times the door of the house was carelessly left open, and the cows wandered into the building but were always driven out before any damage was done.
The little school thrived, kept up by taxes in the district. The youngsters were eager to learn the three "r’s", and the entire neighborhood had a keen interest in the welfare of the school. One of the main factors in the progress of Diamond Hill School has been the interest taken by the neighborhood in their school. From the very beginning a bond of loyalty was formed by the people of Diamond Hill for their school and has been held throughout the years.
In 1905 Mr. Jesse Brown took Mrs. Ritchey’s place as superintendent of the school. Mr. Brown was at the school only one year, and in 1906 Mr. Inman replaced him.
During the time that Mr. Inman was principal, the school was moved to the site on which Diamond Hill School now stands. The number of students increased and there was a need for more room; so, when the school was moved, another room was added.
The next year Mr. Atchinson became superintendent of the school. He remained for one year and was followed by Mr. William Barr.
In 1908 the three-room school overflowed with students. There was an enrollment of nearly one hundred, and a new school was needed badly. Plans for a larger and much nicer building began to develop. The new school was delayed a short time because the foundation was built wrong and had to be removed and rebuilt. After that, the work on the building progressed rapidly and was finished that same year. It was built of brick with a large basement and two other floors. An auditorium was built on the top floor and later became the center for many pleasant entertainments.
Mr. T.E. Carson became president of the board of trustees. Mr. D.T. Richardson was secretary, and Mr. W.W. White was treasurer. Other members of the board were T.H. Helpamp, J.I. Burgess, Gus Jeter, and L.T. Buford.
When the old school building was taken apart, it was used in the construction of houses that are still standing in good condition on Diamond Hill.
Mr. William Barr served as first superintendent in the new building. The first year school was held in the new schoolhouse there was an enrollment of a little over one hundred students. There were five teachers besides the superintendent.
The next year Mr. O.A. Tarleton was made superintendent. It was that year, 1911, that the Parent and Teacher’s Association was organized at Diamond Hill. Mrs. W.C. Pool was the first president, and Mrs. Wylie was the first vice-president.
At that time there was no lunch room in the school; so the members of the P.T.A. worked out a plan enabling the children to get one hot lunch a week at school. The mothers selected a certain day they would cook a hot lunch to take to school. The students were reminded the day before to bring their money for lunch. Many of these students still remember the Mulligan stew they ate on one of those days. I might add that Diamond Hill School was the first school in the county to serve hot lunches.
Diamond Hill School also that year became the first school in the county to have music and public speaking taught in the school. Miss Myrtle Dockery was the first public speaking teacher, and her pupils presented many entertaining programs for the community.
In 1912 the first Track Meet to be held in the county by county schools met at Diamond Hill School. It was quite successful event. All the schools in the county were represented. Barbecue furnished by Armour and Co. was served to all by the members of the Parents and Teachers Club, and everyone had a very enjoyable day.
Diamond Hill is also proud of the fact that their school board was the first in the city or county to furnish equipment and uniforms for all students participating in the sports activities of the school.
Two outstanding events occurred at Diamond Hill School in 1913 that caused the entire community to swell with pride. The first event was the winning of the county championship by the girls basketball team f Diamond Hill School. This was the first championship to be won in any kind of sports in the county. The school’s first trophy was presented to the girls on the basketball team for coming out first that season. Girls on the team were: Ether Averitt, Mary Baker, Lucille Smith, Virginia and May Will Calkins, Ruby Patterson, Ova Dunn, and Mary McClean.
The first graduation class at Diamond Hill received much honor from the school and the community. There were five seniors in school that year, and three of them graduated. The first graduates of Diamond Hill School were: Mary Baker, Ether Averitt, and Lucille Smith.
The east building of the school which is known as the high school building was built in 1915. In the basement a manual training room and a kitchen and a dining room were built. The superintendent’s office, a library, a science laboratory, and a sewing room were located on the first floor. A large study hall and four classrooms made up the second floor.
Mr. R.L. Smith was president of the board of trustees, and J.W. Richardson was secretary. Other members were: Mr. F.J. Miller, J.A. Stevenson, J.W. Finney, E.R Hightower, and W.M. Vincent. Mr. O.A. Tarleton was superintendent.
When the dining room was built for the domestic science classes it was the only dining room in any school in the city. The room was very modern being furnished with regular dining room furniture. Nice silverware, fine linens, good chinaware, and excellent cooking vessels were furnished for the dining room. Miss Cory Gosney was the first domestic science teacher.
Prior to the building of the new school building manual training had been taught in a three-roomed house near the school. Mr. Fred Bruce was the teacher. When the east building was erected, a fully equipped shop was build. Shortly after the building was finished the manual training room was pronounced the most modern and best shop in any school south of Kansas City and west of the Mississippi River. Mr. Hellar was the first shop teacher to teach in the new schoolhouse.
In 1917 Mr. Ellis was made superintendent at Diamond Hill School. The senior play that year was "At The Foot Of The Rainbow". Some of the characters were: Robert Lentz, Ray Finney, Asa McDonald, Mary Roland, Tolly and Ola Bell Stevenson, Perry Smith, Erma Stevenson, Mary Holder, MayWasham, Bessie Wylie, Ione Dunn, Gertrude Hughey, and Mamie Caldwell.
During the war all the girls in school knitted for the soldiers overseas.
For several years before 1919 there had been quite a bit of talk concerning the affiliation of Diamond Hill School, but no definite work was made toward it until 1919. Many of these seniors at Diamond Hill had been going to the North Side High School to graduate, the school board approached the members of the senior class and promised to pay each one of them $50.00 if they would graduate at Diamond Hill and do the best work the could because all papers, test and notebooks of seniors were to be sent to the state board at Austin. It was through the work of the seniors that the Diamond Hill School became affiliated. Members of the graduating class who were responsible for such a large step in the school’s progress were: Mary Rouland, Charlie Stout and Bessie Wylie.
Students at Diamond Hill in 1921 attempted and accomplished a task that has not even been attempted since. Although there were not very many students in high school that year, those enrolled cooperated with one another and worked hard to publish the only annual ever edited at Diamond Hill High School. Virginia Corse was editor in chief of "The Diamond", which was the name of the annual. Bernice Hodge served as assistant editor, and the two girls were ably assisted by a staff which included Raymond Smith, sports editor; Clyde McDonnell, humor editor; Myrtle West, society editor; Zela Maxwell, circulation manager; James Wheeler, business manager; and Cecil West, assistant business manager.
The annual was dedicated to the memory of John M. Williams who was a member of the junior class when he died in 1920. John was a boy of noble character and was loved by all, so it was natural that the first issue of "The Diamond" be dedicated to his memory.
One of the most outstanding of the social affairs of the school in 1921 was an "Old Maid’s Auction". It is said that the Diamond Hill girls had been waiting a long time for a man
and were still waiting until one wise girl thought of having an "Old Maid’s Auction". Invitations were sent to the most eligible bachelors in the neighborhood. Many of them responded to the call, and bought them an old maid at the auction.
On many occasions during 1921 programs given at the school were made more enjoyable by the music played by the school orchestra. Members of the orchestra were: Mattie Lee Powell, Bernice Gallaway, Bernice Hodge, Veda Grove, Mabel Mitcham, Myrtle West, and Ella Mae Davis. Miss Turner directed the orchestra.
In 1921 the first active football team was organized at Diamond Hill. Robert (Bob) Stanton, was captain of the team and was fortunate to have on his team such fine football players as Cecil (Bricktop) West, Gus (Brass) Messick, Earl (Tubby) Martin, Clyd (Babe) McDonnell, Wilbur (Blue) Corley who came from Riverside, Claude (Plough Horse), Snow, Orville (Possum) Yeary, Aaron (Smiley) Smelly from Birdville, James (Runt) Wheeler, Forbert (Stakes) Staples, Herbert (Monk) Owens, Earl (Eddie) Gear, Reginald (Regs) Smigh who was known as the ladies man, Jessie (Hot Air) Ayres, Perry Smith, Jessie Hayes, and Endris Jeter.
The team played eight games that season and made a good showing by winning four of them
The girls track team brought honor to Diamond Hill that year in the county track meet. Anna Forster won first place in the 140 yard relay, third place in the thirty yard relay, and fourth in the fifty yard, and fourth in the fifty yard. Jessie Calkins won second in the fifty yard and second in the thirty yard. Bernice Gallaway won second in thirty yard, second in fifty yard and first in relay. Odessa Lewis won first in fifty yard and first in thirty yard dash. Lillian Miller won first in relay, and Elta Fay Richardson won first in fifty yard and first in relay.
A club called the Whitener English Club was organized at Diamond Hill in 1921 with Myrtle West serving as president and Miss Eva Craig as sponsor.
That year the student body elected Cecil West the most handsome boy, Myrtle West, the prettiest girl, Elmar Scarborough, the most popular boy, and Jessie Bell McCall, the most popular girl.
School life at Diamond Hill was enlivened greatly during 1921 and 22 by the presence of many students who came over from Riverside. They all took an active part in the sports, social and the other activities of the school and will long be remembered for their contribution to Diamond Hill School.
The west building of the school was built in 1921. The addition of this new building brought joy to all the students at Diamond Hill because of the many improvements in it. A full sized gymnasium occupied the first floor along with a kindergarten room and three class rooms for the primary children. The third floor was made into an auditorium with seating capacity for seven hundred.
At the time the new school was built Mr. A.W. Lents and Mr. E.E. Long served jointly as president of the board of trustees. Mr. H.M. Chapman and W.F. Bateman served as secretary. Other trustees were B.T. Richardson. Mr. J.A. Whitener was superintendent of education and Mr. E.L. Cowden was principal.
In 1923 a Girl Reserve Club was organized at Diamond Hill High School through the invitation of Mrs. Homer Holiday who was then secretary of the Y.W.C.A. Miss Eva Craig was sponsor of the club at Diamond Hill, and Margaret Burford was the first and Gladys Simons was the first vice president.
The club met every Wednesday after school. A definite program along education lines was given at each meeting. A social was given each month to promote fellowship among club girls.
Money making for all school activities was always sponsored by the club.
In 1923 Diamond Hill won first place at the city class B track meet.
In 1924 the girls basketball team won the city championship. The team was made up of Quida Martin, Gerogia Sailing, Polly Roberts, Jeanie Parvin, Elta Fay Richardson, Eva Bell Blomer, Minnie Doris, and Louise West.
During the early twenties the Diamond Hill School was known to be in the center of the richest school district in the United States. Taxes from the packing plants, the oil mill, and other industries went into the treasury of the school. It was not only in the richest district, but the school was recognized as one of the best independent schools in the south. I have already mentioned the facts that made it one of the best.
In 1924 Diamond Hill School was made a part of the Fort Worth Public School System. Mr. A.D. Roach was the first principal at Diamond Hill after it became a city school.
Some of the best remembered of school entertainments were the moving picture shows that were given after the projection machine, already in the auditorium was repaired by Sears Roach. Along with the regular pictures were shown pictures of life around the campus which were drawn by Louise Roach.
Judging from articles found in "The Student" and inter-school publication edited by all Fort Worth Schools, the year 1924-25 was quite a successful and enjoyable year at Diamond Hill High School. According to the paper the school hit a new high point in scholastic achievement when Kester Hearn courageously took the stand defending his belief that the giraffe is the highest form of life; when Country Patterson correctly answered the question, "What is nose in Spanish?" with a definite "I don’t know"; when several of the football players began studying encyclopedias for information on the planets and stars because Tub Tiller reported that he saw Mars at a close angle when he got beaned during a football game.
Each school in Fort Worth was given a page in the Fort Worth High School student’s magazine. Elta Fay Richardson was the editor from Diamond Hill, and Gladys Simons was assistant editor. Both of them were on the business staff of the publication. Many interesting stories and new items were published in "The Student" by students from Diamond Hill.
The paper sponsored an inter-school circulation contest in 1925. The school selling the largest number of subscriptions for "The Student" according to the number of students enrolled in the school was to receive a prize. The boys and girls of Diamond Hill began working furiously to win over the larger schools in Fort Worth. Their efforts were justly awarded when it
was announced that the students of Diamond Hill High School had won first place in the contest. A beautifully engraved trophy was presented to the school by the sponsors of the contest.
Miss Carrie Bean organized a mixed Glee Club early in the year of 1925 which progressed wonderfully the first few months after its organization. The club met every Wednesday and Friday under Miss Bean’s supervision, and many times during the year they were called upon to appear in programs at the school. Members of the Glee Club were: Verna Deaver, Doris Richardson, Avis Roach, Ruth Thompson, Corrine Thompson, Louise West, Pauline Roberts, Minnie Dorris, Gladys Simons, Margaret Burford, Ruth Hearn, Lucille Hittson, Gladys Stevenson, Madeline Rippy, Elta Fay Richardson, Ira Boydstun, John Wilson, Clarence Simpson, Burton and Burel Mallicote, Lilly Chapman, Dot McLean, Sophia Clark, Russell Donohue, Bob Stevens, and Roy Cooper.
_____ Stanton was elected most popular by that year; Margaret Burford, the most popular girl; Louie Pratt , the most handsome boy, and Minnie Dorris the most beautiful girl.
A familiar scene around the campus in the early spring of 1925 was the drilling of the boys for the annual Boy’s Week Parade. Mr. Lean St. Clair Directed the drilling.
Two Diamond Hill boys won honor for the school that year by winning medals in the international contest on home lighting. The boys were Hoodye Walker, eleventh grade student, and Kenneth Toal, grammar school student.
The school was extremely proud of the good showing that "Rabbit" Wilson made at the track meet in Denton and the state meet in Austin.
In 1926 the Reserve Officers Training Camp sent Captain Keltner to Diamond Hill to organize a cadet corps of boys from the 8, 9, 10, and 11 grades. George Sprague was the first captain of the Diamond Hill cadets.
At the same time Captain Crites organized a cadet band at Diamond Hill. Most of the members were taken from the band Mr. Roach had organized several years before.
Until 1927 all boys who participated in sports were called Hilltoppers. The football team got together in 1927 and decided that Hilltopper was not a very dignified name, so they selected a name that was much more dignified and noticeable. The football team became known as the Diamond Hill Eagles that year, and the name still exists at the school.
The basketball team won city class B championship that year. Men of the team were: Gordon Griggs, Lawrence Connelly, Warren Connelly, Aubrey Smith, Fred Stevenson, George Sprague, and Joe Sewell.
In 1927 through the efforts of Mr. Roach a student council was organized at Diamond Hill School. Ruth Smith was the first president of the council, and was highly praised for the work she did for the organization. It was approved by the council that each girl in the school wear a uniform. All the girls in school wore uniforms which were made of blue print with white collars and cuffs on each Tuesday, and they presented a very attractive picture. The girls at Diamond Hill were the first high school girls in the city to wear uniforms.
Mr. Roach wrote his Masters thesis at Columbia University from the work done by the student council t Diamond Hill.
In 1928 Frank Smith set a new city record when he won the 440 run at the city track meet. It was a record that was not broken for six years.
That same year Gordon Griggs won the mile run for Diamond Hill. The football team that year made Diamond Hill School history by winning not only the city class B Championship but District championship. Bob Connelly was captain of the team. Other members were: Earl Dorris, Victor Roberts, Horace Evans, Warren Connelly, Clem Connelly, Aubrey Smith, Frank Smith, George Sprague, Marshall Yeary, Austin Stevenson, Cullen Godfrey, But Nesbitt, Vernon Murphy, and Bill Bane, waterjack. Mr. Cherry was coach.
The boy’s basketball team won the Class B Championship in 1928. At the annual Boy’s Week parade, the Diamond Hill boys that year won first place in Senior High School attendance.
The year 1929 was a banner year for Diamond Hill School. Many trophies were won, the first of which was presented the Diamond Hill eagles who won the city Class B Championship in football.
That year instead of the city’s observing the annual Boy’s Week, it was observed as Boys and Girls Week. At the Loyalty Day Parade closing the week Diamond Hill High School won first place in attendance.
At the annual drill of the R.O.T.C. at Central High School in 1929, Company K, from Diamond Hill won first place in the senior companies. Officers were: Major Weldon Rippy, Captain William Boydstun, Lieutenant George Rothrock, Lieutenant James Miller, and Sergeant William Parrish. The sponsors were Captain Louise Roach, Major Hazel Nelson and Captain Euva Sitton.
Company K. Won first place for two years, and the trophy was given to Diamond Hill to place permanently in the trophy case.
In 1930 the girl’s basketball team won the city championship for Diamond Hill.
Diamond Hill also won first place in Class A relays at the annual track meet in 1930.
In the fall of 1930 the high school was removed from Diamond Hill. The school was then classified as a junior high school. Senior high school students who lived on Diamond Hill went to North Side High School.
Mr. Roach was retained as principal of Diamond Hill, and he soon had the school running smoothly again.
In 1932 at the city R.O.T.C. drill, Winifred Fitzgerald won first place for Diamond Hill School in individual competition.
Ex-students of Diamond Hill held their first homecoming on October 21, 1932. The first meeting was suggested and arranged by Ray Finney who acted as chairman at the first meeting. Mr. A.B. Jolly was the first president elected.
In the fall of 1933 the high school was returned to Diamond Hill. Mr. J.G. Wittmayer was made principal, and Miss Julia Chrismas was made vice-principal. The principal, vice-principal, and the entire student body along with citizens of the community became deeply interested in the organization of a high school that would be a credit to Fort Worth, and they worked hard to make it such. The curriculum was revised and expanded and many new activities heretofore not included in the school were introduced.
In October that year Mr. R.W. Nation sponsored the organization of a Hi- Club in the high school. The Hi-Y Club is a division of the Young Men’s Christian Association of the city. Dwight Johnston was the first president elected and Wilford Matlock served as vice-president for the first term. The club met once a week and was quite an active organization.
During the few years that the school was rated as a junior high school there was no Girl’s Glee Club in the school. One of the first of the new activities inaugurated when the new high school year began was a Girl’s Glee Club. It was organized and directed by Miss Philo Mae Murphree. The group developed rapidly and was presented in recital during the following Christmas season. It was one of the largest and most active groups in the school that year.
Interest in girl’s athletics was aroused and kept alive by the organization of a girl’s athletic association in the latter part of September in 1933. Club members consisted of all girls who were interested in any or all kinds of sports. Stella Kuba was the first president of the club. The first year of the club was quite successful. The girls entered several sports contests in the city and won the city championship in basketball. The physical training teacher was sponsor of the association.
A high school art department was launched for the first time at the beginning of the second semester in 1934. Mrs. R.D. Wise was head of the department. There were several classes in the division and each class was full. Art students became deeply interested in their work and many posters were made by them to advertise school activities. That year in February Diamond Hill High School was represented for the first time in the annual high school art exhibit at Carnegie Library.
The organization of a school orchestra was begun in the spring of 1934 when Mrs. Bessie N. Neal was assigned to the task. Mrs. Neal was handicapped because the intermediate building was being remodeled and the orchestra students had no definite place to meet. Meeting alternately in the auditorium, dressing rooms, back stage, and in various class rooms, the new group soon mastered their instruments well enough to present a program in assembly six weeks after it was first organized. Before school closed that year a regular music room was prepared for the orchestra and high school music classes on the first floor of the intermediate building. A piano, twenty-five new chairs, and six music stands were added to the room. Twenty members made up the advanced orchestra that year and there were seventeen pupils in the beginners orchestra.
In 1934 the Diamond Hill Eagles captured the City Class B championship in basketball without the loss of a struggle. Members of the team were: Leon Atherton, Weldon Jordon, Dwight Johnston, Alton Jones, Wilford Matlock, Purvis Wilcox, and Bob Boydston.
Another triumph in sports came that same year when the Diamond Hill boy’s baseball team won the city class B Chamionship. Mr. Cooper Robbins was coach, Mr. R.W. Nation, business manager, and Ward Boydstun was water jack. Boys on the team were: Nolan Herndon, Leon Atherton, Winifred Fitzgerald, Henry English, Wilford Matlock, Dwight Johnston, J.W. Key, Edgar Rabun, and Alton Jones.
One of the most appreciated of the remodeling projects in the high school building in 1933 was the work done in the science laboratory. All the old tables and equipment were replaced by new modern laboratory tables and new equipment. Through the efforts of Mr. Travis Hugh Small, the chemistry teacher, the chemical supplies increased and by his supervision the laboratory was kept in good order and was recognized in 1935 as the most well-kept and cleanest laboratory in the city.
In 1934 the Diamond Hill School grounds were selected as a Public Works Administration project. Their job was to widen and landscape the school grounds. A landscape artist along with Mr. Wittmayer and Miss Chrisman made plans for the widening and beautification of the school grounds.
All the rocks were removed from the grounds. Behind the school houses a large playground was made. In front of the school the grounds were landscaped. Grass shrubbery, and trees were planted while flagstone paths were laid. The cost was $30,000 but was worth far more that that to the pupils and citizens of Diamond Hill.
In1934 the football season was entered into with full enthusiasm, proved to be quite successful. The team tied for the city Class B championship. Eagles on the team that year were: Dwight Johnston, Bobbie Boydstun, Wilford Matlock, David Heard, Edgar Rabun, Leon Atherton, Cletis Evans, John Earl Harvey, J.W. Key, Weldon Jordon, and Winifred Fitzgerald.
That fall a boys’ glee club was organized. The club developed rapidly and the boys were presented in several assembly programs at their own school and other schools.
In January 1935 Diamond Hill High School was represented for the first time in the one-act play contest in the Interscholastic League tournament. The name of the play entered was "Submerged" and was awarded second place. Individual honor went to Edgar Rabun of Diamond Hill. Other members of the cast were: John Earl Harvey, Henry English, Wilford Matlock, Floyd Hungerford, Welden Jordon, Mrs. Floy J. Moore, directed the play.
The school was also represented that year in the first annual high school play tournament sponsored by the speech department of Texas Woman’s College. Each school presented the same play, "Not Quite Such a Goose". Members of the cast were: Edgar Rabun, Bernice Morton, Dora Ruth Terry, and Dorothy Joe Washan.
The first graduating class after the restoration of the high school held their exercises in the school auditorium in February 1935. Most of the graduates finished their school work the year before but waited until the next year to get their diplomas. There were ten members in the first class including: Stella Kuba, Lois Jaynes, Ruby Biggerstaff, Leo Bullard, Ruby Nell Gresham, David Heard, Meta Huggins, Ida Mae McCullough, Freida Pannill, and Ed Skillern.
Again in 1935 the Diamond Hill High School cagers were victors. The team captured the city class B basketball championship for the second time in two years.
In the spring of 1935 Diamond Hill High School accepted the Mary Hardin Baylor invitation to their annual play days which were held May 3 and 4. School girls from all over the state were there. A delegation of girls and sponsors including Sue Ella McCarty, Bernice Morton, Leona Hale, Mary Etta Bowers, Willore Galaway, Carrie Mae Haynes, Dorothy Joe Washam, Miss Philo Mae Murphree, Miss Julia Christan, and Mrs. Bessie Kinney went from Diamond Hill.
For the second year [the] baseball team won city class B Championship.
In 1935 Miss Philo Mae Murphree, faculty member wrote the words and selected a tune for the Alma Mater of Diamond Hill High School. There are no words which would make a more appropriate ending of the history of the school than those of the Alma Mater.
As long as we live
Fondest memories will linger
To bring back the school days
We spent on the hill.
We’ll bless as we travel
The road to achievement
The friends we made
The plans we laid
At Diamond Hill.
*Article provided by Dalynn Cross 2008