705 East 4th St.

Hallettsville, TX  77964

361-798-3243, ext. 200

w0rth1ng1959@gmail.com

No documented buildings and/or businesses on this block during this time period.

JULY - DECEMBER 1852

1851 - JUNE 1852

Block 18 is located east of the Courthouse square and is bordered by Second St. on the north, Third St. on the south, adjoins Block 22 on the east and Texana St. on the west.   The block is comprised of eight lots each lot 80 varas X 80 varas. 

Block 18

JANUARY - DECEMBER 1853

No documented buildings and/or businesses on this block during this time period.

The Alma Male & Female Institute est. in 1852 on Block 18 on land donated by Mrs. Margaret Hallet.  It opened its doors in May 1853.  The building, a long two story structure facing west, was located one block east of the square.  The frame was rough-hewn timbers, covered by planking hauled from Indianola on ox carts.  The building was a project of L. W. Layton, a local builder, at a cost of about $5,000.00.  

Reference:
*Free State of Lavaca p. 169

Alma Male & Female Institute (Block 18 Lot 2, 4, 6 & 8 & Block 22 Lot 1, 3, 5 & 7)

When Margaret Hallet donated the town site of Hallettsville to the Lavaca County Commissioners Court, included in her donation was a lot for a church and one tract of 80 varas square for a school.

In 1852, the Alma Male and Female Institution was established on the property donated by Hallet (Lot 2, 4, 6 & 8 in Block 18 and Lot 1. 3. 5 & 7 in Block 22).

The long two story wooden structure was built by local builder J. W. Layton.  The frame was of a rough-hewn timber covered with planking hauled from Indianola by ox cart.  The building faced west and contained classrooms, a dormitory and a music room.  The cost of the structure was $5,000.00.

Between statehood and the beginning of the Civil War, the Texas Legislature granted 117 charters to institutions of higher learning.  According to the Texas State Gazette of January 22, 1853, Colonel Amasa Turner introduced a bill to be entitled an act to incorporate the Alma Institute.  By January 29, 1853, the bill had been referred to the state committee of Education.  By February 5, 1853, the committee of Education sends the act back to the House and recommended its passage.   The act to incorporate the Alma Male and Female Institution was approved by the Texas Legislature on February 6, 1854.

The Institute’s first session ran from the first Monday in May 1853 to October 1853 with a curriculum based on all branches of a liberal education.  According to an area newspaper announcement the tuition was comparable to other such neighboring schools.  C. L. Spencer, a Methodist minister and a member of the James A. Baker Masonic Lodge #202 conducted the Institute as well as serving the local Methodist congregation.  He was assisted by a Miss Flanagan.  The dormitory, which was managed by A.G. Andrews, operated under two different rates, $5.00 per month for students attending Monday morning to Friday afternoon and $7.00 for students who needed washing, lights and bedding.

While the charter name was the Alma Female Institute there is evidence that boys did attend the school. A project was undertaken in 1853 by the local Masonic Lodge to construct a private school for boys, but the project was fraught with problem.  (See Hallettsville Masonic College)

A Board of Trustees from the joint stock company had governed the school prior to the school being granted a charter.  When the charter was granted, these trustees became the principal stockholders.  Those trustees were: Major James C. Finney, builder L.W. Layton, Collatinus Ballard, A.G. Andrews, Colonel Amasa Turner, S. Bennett, A.W. Hicks and Dr. M.B. Bennett.

The charter, among other duties, gave the trustees the power to transact the ordinary business of the school, buy, sell and hold property, accept donations and confer degrees.  The charter also stipulated that no religious screening would be required of any employee and not student or officer could be censured, suspended or expelled on account of his or her political or religious views.  It also stated that the Institute could never be under the control of any particular domination of Christians or religious sect.

The Alma Institute was garnering state wide attention as evidenced in an article printed in the Texas State Gazette on August 27, 1853.

“Lavaca County – Mr. Rogers of Hallettsville, informs us that this county is settling up very rapidly.  The emigration is composed mostly of farmers, mechanics, and such classes as build up a country.  There are few better farming districts in Texas than Lavaca County and certainly none that can boast of better health.  The crops are in flourishing condition.

Hallettsville, the country site, we also learn, is improving at a rapid rate.  A large male and female academy has recently been opened and is now in successful operation.  The building was gotten up and completed by individual enterprise, at a cost of about $5,000, and all the necessary apparatus, instruments, library, etc., will be supplied at an early day.  Such liberality is certainly entitled to, and will, undoubtedly, receive its just reward.”

References:
​*Lavaca County Deed C/207
*History of Lavaca County p.141
*Free State of Lavaca p. 169-170, 172
*History of Lavaca County p. 140-141
*History of Lavaca County Schools
*Education and Masonry in Texas 1846 – 1861 p. 189-190
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1846 - 1850