Curator and Local Historian Finds Treasures in Institute Library
Curator and Local Historian Finds Treasures in Institute Library
There are always treasures coming into the Round Top Festival Institute Library as gifts and donations. An example of what can be discovered is what was found in the recent acquisition of books and papers from the Estate of Dennis and Delia Sacks, given to the Institute Library by Round Top native Maxine Weinert.

Forty-one books in the collection have been catalogued by Pat Johnson, Associate Curator and Assistant Librarian. They are a wonderful example of what was being used in early rural life in Fayette County. A textbook in the collection titled New School Algebra published in 1898 was still in use in 1920 by John Banik, Sophie Neese in 1921 and Delia Weber in 1924. All are recognizable Round Top family surnames.

Johnson took notice of the signatures inside the books and added descriptions to her cataloging. Many books still had their official "Texas Book Label" for the Round Top School.

The real treasure to Ms. Johnson was the 1898 copy of the Woodward & Tiernan's Texas Edition of The Rand-McNally Grammar School Geography, Illustrated with Diagrams, Colored Maps, and Engravings, Prepared Expressly For This Work. Its retail price of eighty-one cents is on the cover. Inside, in beautifully scripted handwriting, is the signature of "Laura Seibert, Nassau School, Texas, Oct 4, 1898." Miss Seibert was probably using this book when it was brand new to the school.

Signature in Textbook
Laura Seibert's signature in 1898
Grammar School Geography textbook.
The discovery led Ms. Johnson on a quest into the history of the Nassau Community and its school. A member of the Fayette County Historical Commission, Pat knows a bit about local history. She knew the Nassau School was long gone and that there is a marker on FM 1457 northeast of Round Top, but what she didn't know was that the school building had been relocated and is still standing.

The Nassau Community is located in the eastern part of Fayette County between Shelby and Round Top. The original five acres where the school was located was bought in 1855 from Henry Weyand, Sr. As the community grew, it became apparent that a school was needed, and early in 1890 the schoolhouse was built by local carpenters. School started the same year. The first Trustees were Herman Birkelbach, Henry Hoffmann and Henry Weyand, Sr. After 52 years, the school was consolidated with Round Top in 1942. The land was sold to Max Schoenst for an astounding price of $52.50 per acre. The school building was moved to Round Top, to the new Elementary School, where it was used as a bus shed and storage, and is still in use today.

It is recorded that the 1933-34 school year had the most children, numbering about 40. There were 19 teachers at Nassau School over the years. The teachers include T. W. Lightfoot, August Kneipe, Eugene Kneep, Albert Fricke, Armin Geise, Raymond Garlin, Lula Stork, Malinda Draeger, Minnie Baer, Bell Crawford, Ruby Nagel, W.L. Martin, Milton Witt, Roy H. Geise, Buster Brown, Maud Knittel, Gilbert Keilers, E. A. Kutchke and Joseph Knutzen.

During her investigation, Pat called Maxine Weinert, the donor of the collection. It turns out that Laura Seibert - Seiberts were early settlers to the Nassau Community - was Maxine's grandmother and mother to Delia Weber Sacks. Delia had the foresight to keep these wonderful books and Festival Hill is pleased to add them to their collection.

Information on the Nassau School was gathered by Bodo Kraus and chronicled in Fayette County, Texas Heritage, Volume I, 1996. Mr. Kraus was a Round Top native and president of the Round Top Bank from 1944-1973. Appreciation is extended to Lamar Lentz and Larry Birkelbach, both with Round Top Festival Institute, for their help in research for this story.