"We received our mail from Marlin,
but we lived in "Spunky Flat". Honest to God, that is the true name
of the settlement and there is a Texas
Historical Marker at Hope cemetery near where the school
was mentioning "Spunky Flat".
The former Eureka
School "moved a few miles away on private property."
2003 photo courtesy of George Lester
is what is left of the Eureka school. It has a rich history
going back before the turn of the century. It was called Eureka, but
it has no connection to the town of Eureka east of Corsicana."
- George Lester
Spunky Flat or
Little Schoolhouse in the Cotton Field
Cotton Bales on their way to the Texas Centennial (1936). Hats courtesy
of Amon Carter
Granger photo courtesy of Dan Martinets
in love in Falls County
can happen in a heartbeat - it's recognizing it that might take some
Editors Note: George Lester, now of Elkhart,
Texas has been a loyal reader of TE for sometime. Through a series
of letters George shared these three related stories - each of them
worthy of standing alone.
The background of the story is Falls
County, Texas, about 10 miles East of Marlin.
The communities of Blue Ridge, Stranger
and Spunky Flat were in the absolute heart of Texas cotton country.
At one time the 75 miles around Waco
produced 27% of the entire Texas cotton crop.
In 1934, while Bonnie
Parker was writing her soon-to-be prophetic poetry in her Big
Chief tablet, the young inmates of the Eureka School in Falls County
were practicing cursive writing in theirs. Crime was a temptation
to some youth in the 30s, and just a few years before, Clyde Barrow
had dropped (or had broken) out of Waco High in neighboring McLennan
County to begin his career in a stolen car. But at Eureka School
in Spunky Flat, there were other distractions.
Class of 1934
George is in the second row from the bottom, fifth from the left.
Penny is in the bottom row on the extreme right. George's brother
Sam - who provided the old photo of the school - is kneeling behind
her - slightly to the left.
Courtesy George and Penny Lester
Click on image to enlarge
story in George's own words:
Our story is really something that smacks of fiction but it is true.
As I told you we went to Eureka in the 30s and I had a childhood crush
on Lillian. I was so shy I never let her know and I don't remember
even speaking to her in those few years. I would have trouble sleeping
at night just thinking about her. I had it bad for a 10 year-old.
We both moved away and had a full life apart. She married, had three
children and after 50 years together, her husband died in 1994. I
was married twice and was the father of three children also. I was
left alone in 1987.
Years later I found out through an acquaintance where she was and
I contacted her. It would make a great story to say she remembered
me but when we talked on the phone she admitted she had no recollection
of me at all. We talked for hours on the phone for the next few days
and finally arranged to meet.
The moment we saw each other it was love at first sight and we both
felt we were made for each other. Three months later we were married.
We are very happy together and it's a wonderful way for us to spend
our sunset years. We are both 77 now.
Lillian moved to the McClanahan school where she went for a couple
of years and came back to Eureka after we moved to Union
Grove. I remember after she moved to near McClanahan we drove
past her house on the way to Marlin.
Nobody in my family knew it but each time we passed her house my heart
would go pitter-patter anticipating getting a glimpse of her. Finally
after many trips by her house, I finally saw her going to the well
to get a bucket of water. In Hollywood this scene would be played
to the background of swelling violins sweeping the viewer to the heights
of heaven. I have to pinch myself now and then to realize that at
long last I have this idol of my dreams in my life.
An earlier photo
of the school surrounded by young cotton
Photo Courtesy Sam Lester
original site was at the intersection of what is now [FM] 2307 and
[FM] 3375. It was moved about two miles west on 2307 some time in
the 20s I think. That is where it was when my brother and I attended
and was where this picture was taken.
That is where it stood when it was shut down in the 50s and for years
it was used as a hay barn after it closed for good.
[It was then] moved to another place on the west side of 3375 about
a mile north of FM 147 probably in the year 2000.
I tried to stir up a little interest in getting it restored and made
a Texas Historical site but didn't have any luck. Last summer I visited
my old farm place and saw it across the road standing behind a barn.
Photo Courtesy George Lester
the former Eureka School
2003 photo courtesy of George Lester
Trip to Less-than Bountiful
Shangrai-Lai Comes Down to Earth
"For what seemed like years I used to look at the rise to the south
of our farm that was called Blue Ridge.
It impressed me as a place you could go and look down at the beautiful
view of the valley below. Then one day my dad said he had to go see
somebody about some business at Blue Ridge and I was allowed to go
With every mile I anticipated the thrill of reaching that Shangri-La
in the clouds. After a while dad stopped the car and conversed with
a man for a few minutes and then got back in the car preparing to
return home. I asked him why we didn't go to Blue Ridge and my dreams
were shattered by his answer, "Son, this is Blue Ridge". I got out
of the car and looked around and it didn't look any different than
Spunky Flat....no panoramic scene, no breathtaking view.
I told my wife this story and she looked surprised.
She said the same thing happened to her when she lived in Spunky Flat."
childhood home in Spunky Flat
September 2005 photo courtesy George Lester
became "Penny" early in her life and that's what she is known by now,
although my childhood crush was on "Lillian." - George Lester
George and Penny, 1997
marker (12 miles NE of Marlin)
mentioning "Spunky Flat"
Judge W. R. Reagan,
pioneer school teacher, gave this 10-acre site in 1873 to Hope Baptist
Church for a meeting, school, and burial ground. The 61-member fellowship
under the pastorate of the Rev. J. J. Davis erected a sanctuary to
serve the "Spunky Flat" area. The first grave in the cemetery
after 1873 was that of a young girl whose family was traveling through
the region. Over the plot they built a small house which washed away
in a flood. The first marked site, dated 1874, is that of Alma Etta
A summer revival conducted in 1921 under an arbor revitalized the
congregation, and for several years the prayer meetings continued
to draw large crowds. As residents moved to cities and young men went
into military service in World
War II, the membership declined. IN 1943 the last service was
conducted. The sanctuary was destroyed by fire in 1966. In the early
years relatives and friends provided maintenance for the burial ground.
Hope Cemetery Association was organized in 1974 and a tabernacle was
constructed five years later. The graveyard, with 104 marked sites
and many unmarked plots, continues to serve the area.