History of the Gillespie County Country Schools Trail
On January 23, 2006, the Gillespie County Commissioners Court established The Gillespie County Country Schools Trail, linking 16 former historic country schools and the Vereins Kirche (Community Church), a replica of the first school in Gillespie County on Market Square in Fredericksburg. The schools trail is a first in Texas and possibly in the nation. On April 1, 2006, Carter Casteel, State Representative District 73 of the State of Texas House of Representatives, presented The Friends with a signed Resolution commemorating the trail and the work that was done to preserve the country schools, earning them placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Friends of Gillespie County Country Schools, in cooperation with the Gillespie County Historical Society, the LBJ National and State Park, the Cherry Mountain Community Club, and the Grapetown Community Club, sponsor the trail and the various activities throughout the year. The intent of the trail is to document the history of public education in the county and to document the more than 40 school districts which existed, several which have been forgotten. The goal to have a permanent display at Market Square in Fredericksburg documenting the districts and the remaining buildings for visitors to enjoy was dedicated April 10, 2009. Click here to read all about the plaque and dedication ceremony.
The schools trail allows visitors to Gillespie County the opportunity to learn about education and customs in the German Hill country of the 19th century, explore different architectural styles, and see the beautiful landscape of the area, especially during the spring wildflower season. Approximately 120 miles of trail have been broken down into color-coded routes directing the visitor to schools in a particular quadrant of the county. Visitors will be able to spend from two hours to half a day exploring this element of Gillespie County history. Click here for driving directions to all the schools.
The Gillespie County Country Schools Driving Trail brochure is available by clicking on this link.
Links to the 16 schools can be found under the Schools button on our menu. White Oak School, which is located at the Pioneer Museum complex in downtown Fredericksburg, is open daily. During our annual fundraiser weekend, held the first weekend in April, several of the schools are open to the public. All schools are now used as community centers and can be rented by the public for social activities.
Color-coded maps (see example below) depicting the routes are available in Federicksburg at the Visitor's Center located at 302 E. Austin Street, the Up-Town Visitor Center located at E. Main Street, The Vereins Kirche (Community Church), and at each school.
Historic information about each school and tidbits of information about such customs as school closings, early transportation, school lunches and discipline, outhouses, wells, and teacher salaries are available to the visitor.