Q: I went to two schools named after presumably notable Texans: James S. Deady Middle School and Charles H. Milby High School. Who were these people?
Rick, via email
A: The Lone Star State brims with institutions of public education whose facades are emblazoned with names that are instantly familiar to anyone who ever set foot in a seventh-grade Texas history class. If one took the time to count up all the schools graced with the names of Austin, Bowie, Crockett, Houston, and the like, one would be counting for a very long time. But many other schools are named after worthy Texans of much less renown.
Case in point: though the Texanist’s early education did include a stint at a middle school named for famed Alamo defender James B. Bonham (Go, Bulldogs!), he also attended Cater Elementary (Go, Cougars!) and dear old Temple High (Go, Wildcats!). Cater was named for the Texanist’s childhood friend Joe Cater’s grandmother, Eunice, who donated the land on which the school sits. (Fun fact: Joe’s granddad had the very public school–worthy name of Sam Houston Cater.) And Temple High was named for the charming Central Texas hamlet from whence the Texanist came, which took its name from Bernard Moore Temple, chief engineer of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company, whose tracks ran through the town (Go, trains!).
While the Texanist knew all of the preceding off the top of his decreasingly hair-covered head, he’ll admit that Messrs. Deady and Milby were wholly unfamiliar to him. But an afternoon spent engaged in a little historical research proved fruitful, and the Texanist is happy to now share those fruits.
James Swan Deady was born in Louisiana in 1866 but moved to Texas and served as justice of the peace, mayor, and president of the school board in Harrisburg, which was incorporated into the City of Houston in 1926. According to the Houston school district, Deady was an “unselfish man who always put the welfare of others first.”
Charles Henry Milby, also a highly regarded Harrisburger, had interests in a brickyard, a bank, and the long-gone Milby Hotel. The high school was named for him in 1926, a year after his death.
The Texanist further discovered that several Milby High students have gone on to earn great acclaim. George Wagner, a.k.a. the wrestling bad boy Gorgeous George, apparently dropped out before graduation. Frank Mancuso, class of 1936, is a Texas Baseball Hall of Famer and served thirty consecutive years on the Houston city council. And Michael F. Marlin, who graduated in 1974, went on to pioneer the field of comedic juggling.
Reading between the lines of your letter, the Texanist sensed a smidgen of disappointment that you didn’t attend schools named after personages of greater stature. But though we live in a celebrity-obsessed age, take a moment to consider the alternatives. And then imagine how it would feel having to tell folks that you attended Houston’s Gorgeous George High School (Go, Grandiloquent Heels!). The Mighty Hornets of James S. Deady and the Fighting Buffaloes of Charles H. Milby could have done a lot worse.
Have a question for the Texanist? He’s always available here. Be sure to tell him where you’re from.
This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.