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
                               Hallelujah, what a Heritage
                                  Reporter/Mike Brown
                              Rockdale Reporter - 2016-04-28

But not every town has Susie Sansom-Piper in its heritage. Rockdale does.

The former educator, who still writes an annual Black History Month series for The
Reporter, started her luncheon speech at Sho’ Nuff Soul Food Friday by raising her arms
heavenward and giving thanks.

“On this spot, my grandfather (Paul Moultry) operated a blacksmith shop before Rockdale
became a town,” she said. “This is hallowed ground.”

‘CROWN OF STARS’— Mrs. Piper’s speech was part of Rockdale’s Heritage Days. (Also see
photos pages 1-2B, 4-6B and 2D. )

Now a resident of Austin, Mrs. Piper had some glowing words for her home town, praising
Rockdale for avoiding much of the racial strife which accompanied school desegregation in
the 1960s.

“I don’t think there were any fights,” she said. “If anyone said anything ugly I guess
they didn’t want it to be heard.”

“Rockdale, you’ve got stars in you crown,” she said.

Mrs. Piper was the last principal of Aycock High School, the town’s school for African-

Piper said in many ways the spirit of unity in the Rockdale area was the continuation of
its history.

“I have never heard of the slavery issue in this vicinity,” she said. “For the slave
cutoff place was said to be in the Gause-Hearne area.”

“Blacks have lived in every segment of Rockdale,” she said. “Every segment that is
available for our finances.”

Of course many injustices took decades to be dropped. “We remember the Dixie Theatre,
located where Citizens Bank is today,” she said. “We had to sit upstairs in the balcony.
Restrooms were not available. If you had a necessity you had to pay again to get back in
the theatre.”

Mrs. Piper recalled the locally famous Dinky train which ran on the San Antonio & Aransas
Pass (SA&AP) line.

“We had another train that gave a straight ride into San Antonio,” she said. “To ride
either train you sat in the car that was next to the engine and inhaled the smoke from
the engine.”

‘GREATEST ’— Mrs. Piper noted the community’s pride in the former Aycock school, which
still manifests itself a half century after the school closed its doors.

“Aycock was the greatest school that’s ever been in Texas,” she said. “It has always been
noted for producing high quality into the work world. And this began when Aycock only had
three or four teachers.”

“Our heritage continues, for we have wholesome church organizations, a religion school
and a cooperative spirit in our town,” she said.

HERITAGE — Mrs. Piper ended by talking about the concept of heritage, in observance of
the weekend’s theme.

“I admonish you to jot down all of the past significant things that you have
accomplished,” she said.

“This is your heritage and a heritage for your children and those to follow.”

“If Prof Wilhite (Aycock’s) former principal were here today, he would say ‘thank you,
Rockdale, for continuously stressing the necessity of working together for a better
world’,” she said.

Mrs. Piper concluded: “But since I am here, I will just say—Thank you Rockdale, and keep
up the good works.”

94-year-old Susie Sansom Piper gives
thanks for the ‘hallowed ground’ on
which she gave her Friday speech,
once site of her grandfather’s
blacksmith shop.
Susie Sansom Piper’s
speech Friday
concluded with a
spontaneous standing
ovation by crowd at
All Credit for this article
goes to Mike Brown and the
Rockdale Reporter