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Eager children scurry down a dusty dirt road to the west side of agrowing South Texas settlement, well before the need to look for cars as they cross the road. The school bell, dangling on the front porch of the new schoolhouse will ring soon, and the children know that there will be discipline if they are late for class. After the anxious students file into the schoolhouse and settle into their seats, instruction begins: the teacher embarks on the lessons of the day, imparting reading, writing, and arithmetic to students of different grade levels, all sitting straight in small wooden chairs in that one room.
The hipped roof, one-room schoolhouse, built in 1892 after the first two schoolhouses burned to the ground, belonged to the once hopeful settlement of Nuecestown, founded by Colonel Henry Lawrence Kinney in 1850. Nuecestown sat about thirteen miles northwest of a trading post that became known as Corpus Christi. The town was poised for growth, claiming one of the largest schools in the county by 1893 with thirty-two students. It continued its rise until a critical railway bypassed the town in 1905.
Just as those railcars of commerce would roar a few miles away without stopping, progress would pass the settlement by and lead to Nuecestown’s demise. In 1913, students of the Nuecestown schoolhouse were transferred to the Bonnyview school in Calallen, and in turn, the district closed the Nuecestown school for good.
Today, thanks to the efforts of Nueces County, the 1892 Nuecestown schoolhouse still stands on the property of the Hilltop Community Center at 11425 Leopard St. As the new school year begins, take the opportunity to step back into the Nuecestown schoolhouse scene and see how far our education system has come over the last century.