Dallas, Texas

Hunnicutt School, Oldest School in DISD

by Kathy Ann Reid, 1/23/2020

William Cunningham (W. C.) Hunnicutt (1818-1868) and wife, Nancy Beeman Hunnicutt (1821-1914), started Hunnicutt’s School in 1856. The exact location is unknown, but it is assumed to have been on Hunnicutt land. The current location at 2444 Telegraph Ave., Dallas, Texas, is near Hunnicut Road and not far from W. W. Glover Cemetery where the Hunnicutts are buried. The southeast corner of the school property at El Cerrito Drive and Highland Road is just a little over one-half mile from the northern most point of the W. C. Hunnicutt Survey, Abstract 0586.

The school name evolved with several variations that all included “Bayles.” The names noted are Bayles School House, Bayles School, Bayles Common School District, Bayles Public School and Bayles School East Pike. Bayles Elementary Dallas Independent School District (DISD) is likely the oldest school in the DISD.

The attached “Bayles History” was written by the Bayles Elementary Parent Teacher Association (PTA) as a memento of the March 23, 1956, Bayles Centennial Celebration 1856-1956. Some of the following is taken from that history and some gleaned from Dallas newspapers.

In 1870 when the Hunnicutt, Ferguson, Pupard and Motley children were finished with their schooling, the building was moved by means of a mule team to near the Bayles’ home on the west side of Lottie Road. The school was used as a polling place as early as 1876 when there was mention of the re-election of Honorable J. W. Throckmorton to U.S. Congress. Prohibition (of liquor sales) was a topic of conversation and debate in 1887 when Bayles School yard was the location for a grand picnic hosting speakers for and against prohibition.

In 1890 a team of mules was used again to move the school house to the next location that was in the area which was the northernmost portion of the W. C. Hunnicutt Survey. Presently the intersection of Samuell Boulevard and Jim Miller Road occupy the general area. Samuell Boulevard has been called East Pike, Highway 80 and Orphans Home Road. (In 1880 over forty acres were purchased for Buckner Orphans Home and crop fields, hence the name Orphans Home Road.) The 1941 obituary of Rowell Hunnicutt (son of W. C. and Nancy) mentioned that he sold 100 acres of the old Hunnicutt farm to Buckner Orphans Home. A few years after this move, the 1856 building was sold and a new one-room school house was built.

During the 1900s the Bayles School House was mentioned in newspapers as being an important Dallas County polling place, right along with polling places that are now cities (Farmers Branch, Hutchins, Cedar Hill, Mesquite, Duncanville and Lancaster). In 1906 when Professor J. T. Tooley was principal, the school house was used as a meeting place for the election of W. J. Lanham, G. G. Kerby and Ike Hunnicutt to be delegates to the Dallas County Good Roads Association. One night in 1916, Bayles School yard was the place where political campaigners spoke during a moonlight picnic.

In 1920 a newspaper reported that due to lack of funding, West Dallas School, De Soto School and Bayles Public School would close. At some point, the situation changed and in 1932 the building was remodeled and a second room added. Three years later, students from Bayles School East Pike along with the principal, Mrs. D. C. Motley, took a field trip to the Dallas Morning News plant.

A drawing depicting the planned new building was published in the Dallas Morning News, July 21, 1940, page 11. The caption read: “New School Planned for Bayles District. Now a two-room building on U. S. Highway 80 near Buckner Orphans Home …[the] new building to be just off Ferguson Road near East Pike a mile north of the present site.” For partial funding, a $26,867 building grant was received from the Works Progress Administration.

The students moved into the new building in June of 1941. The two- room building was sold, but the old school bell was kept. The graduating seventh-grade class of 1942 chose to hold graduation ceremonies in the old building (near Buckner Orphans Home) for sentimental reasons.

In 1991 Bayles Elementary celebrated 135 years in operation. The students sold blue-on-white t-shirts declaring “Happy Birthday Bayles Bobcats, 1856-1991.” At an evening celebration, students starred in a play featuring Old Man Hunnicutt, Mrs. Nancy and their children. The audience laughed upon seeing Old Man Hunnicutt with his walking cane and long pointy white beard. My mother, Helen J. Sullivan, and I were in attendance and were asked to stand for our introduction as representatives of Hunnicutt descendants. We received loud applause and cheers much to our delight. “Bayles History” written by the PTA, was handed out to the attendees of the celebration.