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Markey’s Seminary at Plantersville

September 11, 2019 - 00:00
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In 1853, three men donated thirty acres of land to create the town of Plantersville. Namely they were Isaac Baker, Dr. Mitchell and Henry Gripp.

The thirty acres were to be divided up as four acres for a girl’s school; four acres for a boy’s school; four acres for a church; six acres for streets; as well as four acres for a two-story house along with two additional four-acre open lots.

That was the beginning of the vibrant village of Plantersville that today thrives as the recently incorporated city of Plantersville.

A year later, in 1854, James K. Markey built a boys’ school on the designated lot. However, he only taught the school until the last Friday in November 1855 when he married. The Pie brothers, Jon and Dick, picked up the teaching at the boys’ school.

Markey, five years later in 1860, built a boys’ school on his own property within the midst of a cluster of large red oak trees. He first named the school “Paul and Henry Institute,” then change it to “Joseph and Henry Institute”, and eventually named it “Markey’s Seminary.” Despite all the name changes that were made for children, it generally was known as Markey’s School.

In 1932, when a National Historic Survey was made in Grimes County, the only remaining structures of the school were “two rooms of the dormitory” that were occupied by Miss Betty Mar-key, a daughter of Markey.

According to Miss Markey the Markey Seminary first operated as a boys’ school, but after the Civil War both boys and girls attended.

Miss Markey continued that the school operated until 1875. The National Historic Survey features two photos of the Markey Seminary provided by Miss Markey. One photo showed the front of the frame home clustered within the oaks as well as another showing the rear dormitory structure.

Miss Markey related that her father came to Texas from Ireland in 1844 settling on a league of land near what became Plantersville purchased from Joel Greenwood. Late in 1844 Markey joined the Texas Rangers serving under Jack Hayes until Texas was annexed by the United States. It was then Markey returned to teaching. He taught privately until building the school.

Markey married a Plantersville girl, Mary Maxwell Griggs, in 1855. During the Civil War he joined the Confederacy and served two years in the army. Following the War in 1865, the school became a boys’ and girls’ school. The Markey Seminary functioned until it closed in 1875 when it was only a girls’ school.

An Amsler family history book relates memorable details of theculinary department of the Markey boarding school that were not to be forgotten. Son John Amsler, a student, remembered “Aunt Mary Butts, an old-time member of the Isaac Baker household staff, presided over the kitchen… her hot gingerbread, savory and spongy, which the diner was admonished to eat with plenty of fine butter.” Also, there were “fine biscuits with some butter, and beefsteak beaten tender and well browned with cream gravy that was enough to satisfy any appetite.”

If a student “had a hacking cough, Mrs. Markey would come up the creaking stair and administer disagreeable bitter effective doses of kerosene oil,” Amsler related.

Markey died at Planters-ville on Oct. 17, 1886.

Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. Visit for more information or to become a member.