GUEST COMMENTARY: Name new high school after Liberty Hill’s first teacher
By CHRISTOPHER LANDRUM
Though my family has had deep roots in Liberty Hill for more than a century-and-a-half, being a son of Lampasas, I am an outsider.
As a former grader for the written portion of TAKS exams, I’m also aware that the name of a school does not affect the scores of its students. Nonetheless, I ask Liberty Hill to name its new high school after this community’s first school teacher, Julius Cicero Landrum, considering that Liberty Hill is currently growing faster than any time in its previous history.
According to hometown historian J. Gordon Bryson and current expert Leonard Kubiak, the location of the original Liberty Hill schoolhouse is believed to have been near the cemetery, just across the highway from where the new school is being built. (Kubiak, Len. “Regarding an old school house in Liberty Hill.” Email to Christopher Landrum. 5 November 2011.)
The City of Liberty Hill’s Comprehensive Plan, 2004–2014 relies on the above facts about Liberty Hill’s heritage––and adds that Julius Landrum was the town’s first teacher. This information was provided for future developers to keep in mind amid the town’s ongoing, rapid expansion. (City of Liberty Hill Comprehensive Plan, 2004–2014. (http://www.ci.liberty-hill.tx.us accessed 25 July 2012.)
In Culture of the Shin Oak Ridge Folk, Dr. Bryson characterizes Julius Cicero Landrum as “the fountainhead of that river of learning which Landrum learning and teaching has flooded all over Shin Oak Ridge. From there, it has overflowed all over Texas.” (Bryson, J. Gordon. Culture of the Shin Oak Ridge Folk. (1964). Firm Foundation Publishers. p. 116 ff.)
Parts of this “fountainhead” include his grandchildren: Neely Landrum, trustee of Southwestern University, Georgetown in the 1960s as well as Mary (Landrum) Anderson and Ella Lena (Landrum) Gallatin, sister schoolteachers of Liberty Hill in the mid-20th Century.
His great-grandchildren include: Graves Landrum, vice chancellor for administration for the UT System in the 1960s; Marvin Landrum Jr., teacher at Liberty Hill in the 1940s and later throughout Texas, Mexico, and Central America; and also Nina Faye (Landrum) Canady, postmistress of Liberty Hill 1974–1992.
His double great-grandson, Gene Landrum, grew up around Liberty Hill, attended its lower schools, and later taught at Lampasas ISD for 40 years.
TEA records show by all measures that LHISD is doing undeniably well in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s demands.
Considering these facts in full, it is not unreasonable to conclude that naming the new campus Julius Cicero Landrum High School offers a way for Liberty Hill to carry on its heritage to future members of the community, whether those members have roots young or old.
Julius Landrum taught all across Williamson County, so other future schools might rightly deserve to be named after him, but the above facts allow Liberty Hill to claim itself as the most appropriate place to preserve his legacy of education over the Texas Hill Country.
Christopher Landrum is a quadruple great-grandson to Julius Cicero Landrum and grandson to Gene Landrum. He is on the administrative staff at the University of Texas at Austin.