Footprints of Fayette

A Historical Column From The Fayette County
Historical Commission and Fayette County Judge’s Office

Memories of Mullins Prairie and Cozy Corner in Fayette County – Part II
By David L. Collins Sr.

Ed Risper also owned land at the intersection of Mullins Prairie Loop and Cotton Gin Road across from the old Elias/Naiser gin near FM 155, as well as along FM 3233, south of FM 155 near the Cozy Corner community. The tract of land that Risper owned on Mullins Prairie Loop was close to a small tract of land that was donated before 1890 by Bedrich and Veronica Parma for the Mullins Prairie Colored School. When the old Brown School for white children closed, it was moved and added onto the Mullins Prairie Colored School, making it a two-room school with two teachers. Leo Vaughn sent me a picture from R.L. Homer taken in 1923 of students in front of what most probably was that school with Sissie Risper, one of the daughters of Ed Risper, labeled in the middle of the picture.
 There was also another colored school in the district located on the south side of Munke Road on the other side of Williams Creek near Criswell Creek across from the old Herman Munke farm. It was a small one-room school building with wooden-shuttered windows known by some as the Tin Top School and by others as the Radhost Colored School. Perhaps Tin Top  was a nickname for the school. Armstead Vaughns, born on Sept. 6, 1908, the son of Sip and Adaline Vaughns, attended the Radhost Colored School, which indicates that it was in existence in 1914.
There was also a Radhost School for white students located at two different sites, the last one on a hill on East Radhost School Road.
On a recent site visit, as I was driving west on FM 3233 near the Little Bethel Cemetery, I saw a familiar-looking gentleman mowing a large tract of land across from the Little Bethel Cemetery, so I stopped and introduced myself. It just so happened to be Melvin Willrich, whom I had met a year or two earlier. I asked him about the old Lane Pool Colored School and the Tin Top Colored School, also known as the Radhost Colored School, and he immediately pointed to a building adjacent to the west end of the Little Bethel Cemetery and said that it was the old Lane Pool School that is now a residence. He added that it was a combination of the area colored schools.
I have since learned that with consolidation of rural colored schools in circa 1947, the Lane Pool School was moved to that new site, given an addition and renamed the Hostyn District Colored School. Students from the Mullins Prairie and Tin Top/Radhost Colored Schools were transferred there to join the Lane Pool School students in a two-room building.
Leo Vaughn indicated that growing up in the Cozy Corner area was a wonderful experience.  He roamed all over and knew just about everyone. He does not remember when the schools were combined, but going to the Hostyn District Colored School brought back old memories of teachers, especially Willie Davis, Mamie Prince and Lucille Hearne-Hayes. He indicated that Mrs. Hearne produced some of the greatest school plays with student actors, including the Scotts, Slacks and Homers. He commented that she could have been a great producer/director like Lee Daniels, who produced the “The Butler.”
Leo also remembers some of the greatest local baseball players such as Tom L. Faison, L.B. Scott and James Johnson. He said these guys were great players and should have made it to the major league; however, they could not play with the local teams because of racial discrimination.
Mr. Vaughn also said that he was always a hustler and at 6 years old, he would find odd jobs wherever he could. One such job was working for a Jewish merchant named Jake Palmer, preparing chickens and eggs for shipment to Houston. He remembers two sizes of cases, a 30-dozen case and a 15-dozen case.
Mr. Vaughn often comes back to Cozy Corner and looks for the local landmarks; however, they are all gone. The Lane Pool and Tin Top/Radhost School sites are nowhere to be found. The Hostyn District Colored School building is the last-remaining vestige of the colored schools in the Mullins Prairie School District. It should have been designated as a historical landmark.
Bohot, Elva; recollections
Fayette County Land and School Records
Tobin Aerial Survey/Land Records
Vaughn, Leo Jr.; former student of Lane Pool School
Willrich, Melvin; recollections