Hambrick uncovers history of first school
After 58 years of service, the old Libby Elementary School building is history. Standing in its place is a beautiful, 101,000 square foot building that is furnished with state-of-the art technology and amenities that most schools can only long for. On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at 10:00 am, the public is invited to attend a dedication ceremony and take a tour of the new Libby Elementary.
Superintendent of Carthage Schools, Dr. Glen Hambrick, has spent many hours researching the Lendal C. Libby family, namesakes of the elementary school. He discovered Mr. Libby was responsible for starting the first graded school in Carthage when he was 18 years old. Moving here in 1890, he took the old adage, “Go West young man,” to heart and ended up in Carthage, Panola County, Texas, with a vision to create a school.
It was named the Carthage Male and Female Institute. Later, the first high school in Panola County was started, and it vball12was named the Panola Male and Female College. In 1896, schools in the area were incorporated into an Independent School District with Mr. Libby as the first superintendent. He hired Dr. O. H. Cooper to run the high school as principal.
Dr. Hambrick’s research enabled him to uncover quite a distinguished educational background of Dr. Cooper. Born in Panola County, his father was a medical doctor named Dr. William Cooper. He graduated from Yale with a Master’s degree. He then went overseas and received his doctorate in German from the University of Berlin. Returning to Carthage, his first teaching job was at the Woods Post Office. He later taught at Sam Houston State Teacher’s College and while there was a founding member of the Texas State Teacher’s Association. According to research, at the time, colleges were only private schools such as SMU and Baylor. Cooper believed there was a need for a public college, so he chaired the committee that helped organize the University of Texas. Hambrick stated, “After all that, he came to Carthage to become principal of the Panola Male & Female College. His mother was living here, and if you look at the timing, you get the impression that his mother was not doing well, so I assume he came back to Carthage to take care of her. That’s when he went to work for Mr. Libby. When Libby left, he became Superintendent. His mother must have passed away and that’s when he left and became President of Baylor University. From there, he went to Abilene and started a school called “Cooper’s Boys’ School.” It later became Abilene-Cooper High School which is one of two high schools in Abilene today. A lot of this information came from Lela Belle LaGrone’s writings, some from Baylor archives, and some from online information about Panola County.”
Amid all this research, Dr. Hambrick was also trying to find descendants of Lindal Libby. He located a grandson, Alfred Lynn Libby who lives in Fancy Gap, Virginia. “He knew he had some cousins in Texas, but had not had contact with them. He gave me a couple names, and I got on the Internet and found them. Doug Libby from Woodville, and Tommy Libby from Sugarland, are brothers, and they knew of one other cousin, Larry, in Dallas. They’re all coming to the dedication ceremony, except for Alfred who is too ill to travel. They only knew a little of the story about naming Libby school. They were aware a school was named for their grandfather, but really knew very little about him. I was trying to get information from them, but in reality, I was giving them information about their grandfather they didn’t know. They’re all extremely excited about the dedication and are looking forward to coming to Carthage.”