Milam County Historical Commission - Milam County, TX
Statue of Ben Milam at Milam County, TX Courthouse
Old Junior High School Building, Rockdale, TX
Milam County Courthouse - Cameron, TX
Preserve America
Milam County Historical Commission
Milam County, Texas

All credit for these articles go to
Susie Sansom-Piper and
the Rockdale Reporter
by Susie Sansom Piper - Reporter Contributor
Rockdale Reporter - 2015-02-05

This is the 8th consecutive year for Susie Piper to write a Black History Month series for The Reporter, and the seventh year for ‘On the Other Side of the Tracks.’ Previously she authored ‘Ebony Etchings,’ sketches of local African-Americans, for 27 years and also wrote a series entitled ‘Just Folks’ and ‘Way Back When.’
Editor’s note: This is the first article in the eighth series of “On the Other Side of the Tracks, a Black
History Month series by former Rockdale resident, and longtime teacher, Susie Sansom-Piper.

This series will provide information about citizens and happenings that made a great
impact on the citizens of Rockdale during the decades of the 30s, 40s, 50s and early 60s.

Much of the information is from memories and contributions of those who yet live.

CHANGES — The 30s painted an indelible picture that a change in the little town of
Rockdale was on its way.

In spite of the fact that these citizens depended on farm life, domesticated work and
janitorial services to survive, there existed a desire to prepare their children for a
better way of life.

Four little grocery stores served the neighborhood; a pair of two-story buildings was
provided for the fraternal organizations.

The Moultrie-Shields Brothers Jazz Band was a jazz band which was popular during fair,
rodeo, and Juneteenth time.

The Rosenwald Foundation had contributed a new school near the old city cemetery, and it
was given the name of Aycock, in memory of B. Y. Aycock, who has been given credit for
beginning country fairs in the area.

SCHOOLS — Aycock High School was located on a hill between Third and Pecan Streets.

There were five teachers who taught grades 1-11. The state had not approved grade 12, so
Rockdale students had to secure a room in Cameron and attend the Cameron Colored School
in order to receive a high school certificate.

One of the early sports was basketball. This was played in the afternoon, usually on a
Friday, on a lime outlined court.

Only boys played the game during these years. A small fee was charged to neighborhood
people who attended.

There were no buses available for transportation to school, and sack or bucket lunches
were brought for the lunch hour. Everybody walked, everywhere!

The school was an “entertainment center” for the entire community.

They always celebrated the holidays with a special night time program, and at the end of
the school year there were elementary, junior high, and high school functions to provide

Yet this era produced many worthy contributors.
• Withie E. McKee, prepared chili for canning, Austex Chili Company.
• John V. McKee, first-class chef Austin.
• Addie P. Cavil-Owens, educator, Texas and California.
• Ruth Etta McDonald Sumuel, Beautician, children’s home, namesake for Rockdale’s Sumuel
Park, major community gathering place.
• James Thomason, business owner, Oklahoma City.
• Johnnie Davis Sanders, mortician at Phillips and Luckey.
• Georgia Johnson Richards, dietitian, Richards Memorial Hospital.
• Marion T. Benson, sailor on USS Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor.
• Susie E. Moultry-Piper, educator, Rockdale Public Schools.

The community was always close knit and cooperated and supported one another in all

photo by Mike Brown - Rockdale Reporter

caption: With many members of her family, and city officials, on hand, Sumuel Park was dedicated in memory of Ruth Sumuel (listed in this story) on Dec. 1, 2012.

Sumuel Park - Rockdale