• About Tidehaven ISD
         Tidehaven ISD is a consolidated school district in Texas, which encompasses the communities of Ashby, Blessing, Buckeye, Clemville, El Maton, Markham, and Midfield. TISD has been in existence since the 1949-1950 school year.   Tidehaven ISD currently has an enrollment of 786 students on four campuses. Tidehaven High School has an enrollment of 211 students in grades 9-12; Tidehaven Junior High School has an enrollment of 191 students in grades 6-8; Blessing Elementary has an enrollment of 212 in grades PK-5; and Markham Elementary has an enrollment of 172 in grades PK-5.
         More statistical data for the Tidehaven Independent School District and each of its campuses is available on the Texas Education Agency's Academic Excellence Indicator System web site. 
    The Story of

    By Catherine Pollard Carter and Alfred Hansen

    Note: This article appeared in print in the Bay City News, a Matagorda County weekly, in 1951.

    Now completed on land adjoining the site of the old Port of Tidehaven on the Tres-Palacios River is one of Texas' most modern and well-equipped school plant. The new high school of the Tidehaven Consolidated School District will receive and perpetuate a name once important in Texas commerce, but for many years forgotten. Once the landing docks for river steamers, Tidehaven community also was the location of the Pierce Gin on the Shanghai Pierce Estate. Over the docks at Tidehaven were loaded cattle the Pierce Ranch sold on a 10-year contract to Spain.

    It is entirely possible that some of the descendants of the bold adventurers who first brought cattle to Texas from Spain were the very ones who bartered with Shanghai Pierce's ranch managers for the yearling descendants of these same cattle. Hides and tallow were also shipped over the Tidehaven wharves, cotton and cane and peaches by the boatload. But these became forgotten industries. Like many of the ghost ports now long gone, Tidehaven joined the limbo of the forgotten, and but for the head stones in the old Hawley cemetery nearby, might even be difficult to locate. Other such ports include Fulton Landing, where the Grimes' sold their cattle and where they also had a hide and tallow rendering plant. This was closed after beef markets developed in Kansas City.

    Between that time and the days following the Civil War, when the south was ground down by a clique of Northern Industrialists in governmental circles, there was no sale for Texas Cattle. The meat was dumped into the river and eaten by the fish. The tallow could be rendered and shipped and the hides could be salvaged and sold. There was the Gyles' Landing on Wilson Creek (approximately where the Collegeport Road crosses it today), and there were wharves jutting out into the bay at Matagorda where hundreds of bales of cotton stacked up awaiting the coming of the boats to carry it away.

    Although the locations of other ghost ports may be somewhat in dispute, the location of the Tidehaven wharves is pretty well established by its proximity to the old Hawley Cemetery containing the grave and statue of Shanghai Pierce. Highway 35 runs between the two just before crossing the Tres-Palacios River from the east. The new Tidehaven High School is within sight of the old Tidehaven landing, but some two or three miles away from it, at the junction of Highway 35 and the road to Collegeport. It is a modern, well-equipped high school with facilities for serving some 200 high schools from the surrounding communities of Markham, Blessing, El Maton, Ashby, Buckeye, Clemville, and Midfield. It is situated centrally in an area rapidly developing both agriculturally and industrially, there being eleven (11) oil fields in close proximity. George K. Nelson is the superintendent of the new district and Alfred Hansen is the business manager. At present the district has 27 teachers, with 20 other employees engaged in transportation, maintenance, clerical, library, and cafeteria work.

    Eleven buses transport the approximate 650 scholastic population to school daily, from an outlying area covering nearly 300 square miles of Western Matagorda County. Its area makes the district one of the largest in Texas as well as one of the wealthiest. First plans for the consolidating and creating of the new school district came about in the summer of 1948 when the school boards of the old Blessing and Markham Independent School Districts met to discuss plans to provide better educational facilities for the sparse and widely-scattered Negro scholastics. Before the evening was over the boards were enthusiastically discussing plans for the consolidation of the whole area and it was decided to submit the plan to the voters of the countryside. Petitions were received and elections ordered in both districts for the purpose of consolidation. On July 17, 1948, the people gave the proposal a thumping five to one landslide at the polls, thereby creating the Tidehaven district. The new high school has many unique features, one of which is the fact that it is one of the first to be designed to more adequately carry out the recommendations of the Gilmer-Akin legislation. Other features are the exceptionally high building standards in the plans and the amazing low cost of construction per square foot of building. Its opening in the fall of 1950 heralded a long step forward in the educational facilities of Matagorda County.


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    Submitted by Betty Jo Ray Rusk
    Palacios Area Historical Assn. Newsletter
    November 1994 - Issue #26

    The roots of the Tidehaven Consolidation Independent School District lie in the early school districts of Ashby, Midfield, El Maton, Blessing, Buckeye, Clemville, and Markham. Without the merging of these districts in 1948, there probably would have never been a Tidehaven Independent School District.

    By 1869 the community of Ashby on Wilson Creek had churches, but school was taught in private homes with students sitting on boxes. The town began in 1890 when Captain W. W. Moore established a store and became postmaster from 1890 until 1902. In 1911 a schoolhouse was built sixty yards from the present FM 1095. A teacherage was also built at the entrance to the road which leads to the Ashby Cemetery. It now serves as the home of the Vavra family. This school was used until the consolidation of the Tidehaven School District. The old building was sold to Frank Kacer, who moved it to Hawley Cemetery road for use as a barn. As early as 1908 school was held in a one-room building in the country about one and one-half miles east of Midfield, but the first school in Midfield was held during the term 1909-1910. Both terms were taught by Knox M. Aiken. In 1911 a fine, two-room schoolhouse was erected. The inadequate building was later enlarged to four classrooms with an auditorium on the second floor. Fire destroyed this building in 1929 and another building was built in 1930. It is no longer used.

    El Maton dates back to 1905 and became an official town in 1915. The El Maton National Hall was moved to its present site on FM 1095 from Buckeye Road. It was used as a school for many years and later as a recreational center. In 1917 the El Maton school taught eight grades.

    A school community in the Buckeye area was organized in 1905 with a scholastic enrollment of thirty-five. The one room schoolhouse was donated by Plotner & Stoddard. In 1913 an election was held for issuing of bonds for a new schoolhouse, and five acres north of the Buckeye townsite were selected for the site. The first floor of the two-story building was used for classes and the second for church and community affairs. In later years the Buckeye School District was incorporated into the Markham ISD.

    From 1911 to 1970 Clemville had a post office and a school until Clemville consolidated with Markham. Today students are bused to Markham Elementary School, the Tidehaven Intermediate, and the Senior High School at El Maton.

    The first school in Markham was a two-story wooden building. This one was replaced in 1935 by the present structure, which has had several additions. Black students attended classes in a building at D and Tenth Street and later at the Jefferson School in El Maton. Desegregation in 1965 ended the use of Jefferson as a Negro building. It is now the Tidehaven Intermediate. Students from the Danevang area also attended Markham schools. The school buildings in Buckeye and Northern Headquarters were moved and placed behind the Markham school. Buckeye’s school building was purchased by the Markham Methodist Church, torn down, and the lumber was used to enlarge the church.

    Classes were taught in Blessing as early as 1905, even before the townsite was platted in 1907. The Blessing Masonic Lodge Hall, built in 1873, was moved from the Deming’s Bridge area to Blessing. The first floor served as Blessing’s first school.

    George K. Nelson began his tenure as principal-teacher in the Blessing Elementary School. In March of 1942, George was elected superintendent of the Blessing district. He remained in that position through the consolidation of the Blessing, Midfield, and Ashby school districts and also the consolidation of Blessing and Markham school districts in 1948, which formed the present Tidehaven Independent School District.

    When the school boards of the old Blessing and Markham Independent School Districts met in 1948 to discuss plans for providing better educational facilities for their sparse and widely scattered Negro scholastics, plans were finalized for the consolidation of the whole area. After the plans were submitted to the voters, the proposal was approved by a five to one landslide at the polls, thereby creating the new Tidehaven ISD.

    Its opening in the fall of 1950 heralded a long step in the educational facilities of Matagorda County. At this time, its area of 293 square miles made the district one of the largest and wealthiest in Texas, it was situated centrally in the county in an area developing both agriculturally and industrially. Oil fields were in close proximity. George K. Nelson became the first superintendent and Alfred Hansen was the business manager.

    The school district now extends from the Slone Ranch on the extreme southwest side, just back of the Palacios Airport, to within four miles of the ghost town of Magnet at the point where the Colorado River and the Wharton and Matagorda County lines meet. It is bounded on the north by the Wharton County line, on the west by the Jackson County line, on the east by the Colorado River, and on the south by portions of the Tres Palacios River.

    Three state highways pass through portions of the school district: State Highway 71 from north to south, State Highway 35 from east to west to south, and State Highway 111 from the west. In addition, there are numerous state farm-to-market roads and county roads in the district, as well as some private roads of oil companies. The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Missouri Pacific Rail Lines pass through the District.

    The school district’s name derived from the port and old settlement of Tidehaven that lies within the school district. In 1903 the town of Tidehaven had a population of from fifty to one hundred. The railroad and port facilities contributed to its development. The site is located one mile south of Hawley Cemetery off FM 459. Its name is derived from the tidewaters which come up the Tres Palacios River from Tres Palacios Bay. In 1856 the government established the Tres Palacios post office on the same site as Tidehaven. The town’s name then became Tres Palacios and remained so until the post office was discontinued in August of 1904.

    Tidehaven is now considered a part of the nearby town of El Maton. Today, instead of attending school in inadequate buildings, with few students in their classes, they are housed in modern, well-equipped buildings. There is an adequate transportation system, and all students are participating in a program that is seeking to expand its opportunities for all youth.

    The picture for the future existence and continuous growth of a school for the rural children of this area remains brighter every year. With the continued good will and cooperation of the people with the board of education, the teachers, and the administration, the picture has become brighter as plans have materialized for programs of continuous educational improvement and campus growth.

    The present status of the district is one of steady growth. The Jefferson School, the former Negro school building, has been enlarged to accommodate grades six through eight. There are two elementary schools--one in Blessing and one in Markham. Grades PK through five are taught. The high school and administration buildings are at El Maton. Delvin Taska served thirteen years as superintendent after George K. Nelson retired. Allen Dusek, followed Mr. Taska in 1986.