Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of stories about some of the small communities and towns on Cooke County.



ROSSTON — Some say the community of Rosston in northwestern Cooke County was once considered a possible location for the county seat.

According to long-time Rosston resident Cecil Raney, approximately 200 people live in or around this fairly isolated small town. It never was a very large town and it still isn’t today.

Like many Cooke County communities, Rosston once had a school. The building is a community center today.

There were schools in both Rosston and in Prairie Point, a community just west of Rosston. These two schools consolidated some time in the 1920s and became the Ross-Point school.

Rosston resident Tom Richardson, said he believes the land to build the Ross-Point School was donated by the Bewley family of Rosston. “I think they donated five acres to build on the school on,” he recalled recently in a telephone interview.

He said the cement walkways around the building were probably poured in the fall of 1925 or 1926.

“They stamped the sidewalk with a date when they built it,” he said.

The sidewalks are still there today.

Students who attended the Ross-Point school could only graduate from tenth grade. Anyone who wished to further his or her education would go on Era to complete grade 11 and Gainesville to finish the twelfth grade.

Richardson remembers the school well.

“We had a basketball court outside, merry-go-rounds and an old windmill there to pump water,” he said. “When the wind wasn’t blowing we had to get water from the Bewleys.”

Richardson said the cooks were a married couple from Montague County named Carr. “He and his wife would cook beans and potatoes. We called him Mr. Beanie,” he said, laughing.

He said the school was built in a horseshoe shape with wings of classrooms on both sides and an auditorium also with classrooms. There was a kitchen and cafeteria.

The auditorium had a stage. Richardson remember the curtain had a picture of a river painted on it and kids waiting to perform would poke nervous fingers through the heavy paper curtain to get a look at the audience.

“They had to replace that curtain,” he said. There is still a curtain in place at the Ross-Point Community Center. The curtain features stores and businesses from years back, most of which Richardson said have long since gone out of business.

Richardson said students rode horses or walked to school back then.

“We had a horse shed for 20 or 30 horses,” he said. “And we burned wood in big old pot belly stoves. There was one in each classroom and, I think, two in the auditorium.”

There were no restrooms in the building.

He said Ross-Point kids loved sports. Baseball and basketball were favorites among the students.

The Ross-Point boys played basketball on an outside dirt court. The scrappy boys thought they had a pretty good team until they decided to challenge the Era boys team.

“We were used to that dirt court,” he said. “And when we got in that gym and somebody’d bounce the ball on that floor it would bounce way up. They beat the heck out of us,” he remembered. “But we could beat them in baseball. We could knock the ball out over that furthest fence,” he added.

The boys of the Ross-Point School also, apparently, liked playing jokes on their teachers.

In cold weather, the boys had to go outside and bring in wooden logs for the stoves.

“I know one time when we carried in the wood, one of boys — I won’t say who — sneaked a shotgun shell in one of those sticks of wood. Our teacher was Miss Kate Russ. She put the wood in, and it exploded and blew the door off the stove. One of us boys had to put the fire out, and it scared everybody so much she couldn’t tell which one had done it.”

There was a little house on the property for the teacher. The teacher had a cow, chickens and a place for goats or pigs, he said.

Richardson also remembers riding an Era school bus he describes as being like a chicken coop. “It was cold and it was hot. Sometimes that bus ride was 35-40 minutes long.” The bus picked up children from all over northwestern Cooke County — from towns such as Leo and Freemound.

Richardson’s sister, Nell Nolan also remembers the Ross-Point School.

“I went there until I went into high school at Era,” she said recently.

Nolan said she and her friends would play marbles wherever they could find a spot on the sidewalk.

The students also looked forward to checking out books from a county library.

“We used to have a book mobile that would come out,” she said. “It was a big day for us to get to go up in that big old truck. We’d pick out books and were allowed so many. Then we’d return them when the book mobile came back later,” she said.

Nolan, who today lives in the community of Prairie Point, said she still finds herself referring to the Ross-Point community center building as the “school.”

She said when the Ross-Point school was consolidated with Era ISD, the building was given to the local home extension club.

The two wings of the building were either sold or donated to two nearby communities.

Residents are proud of the their community center building and work constantly on its upkeep.

“We’re doing some repair work on it, trying to preserve it for future generations. We need to do some work on the kitchen walls and the ceiling. We’ve already remodeled the bathroom, updated it,” she said.

Both Richardson and Nolan said the building is used by locals for reunions, wedding receptions, and other community gatherings.

Community club members hold fundraisers there occasionally to pay for repairs to the building. The club also holds regular potluck dinners and bingo games at the center.

Rosston also has a general store which is still in business and was the subject of a Dallas Morning News feature story as well as a feature segment on CNN Headline news in the mid 1990s.

Kids ride buses to school, some spending 30 minutes or more on meandering county roads to gather all the students. Most attend Era ISD. A few — those who live past the Cooke/Montague county lines go to Forestburg schools.

Rosston has a rich history and old timers still talk about Indian raids, outlaws and Sam Bass.

Bass was born in Indiana July 21, 1851 and never called Rosston home. But he apparently spent enough time in the town to make an impression on the people he met there. Bass died on his birthday in 1878. He was only 27 years old, but by all accounts the former cowboy, gambler and train-robber lived hard.

Bass is said to have hid out in several small caves and locals still tell stories of the bandit, portraying him as something of a Robin Hood figure who sometimes shared his ill-gotten gain with others.

He died in Round Rock, apparently, in a battle with Texas Rangers when his luck ran out. Bass is buried in Round Rock and the city holds an annual Sam Bass celebration.

Around 1980, a group of Rosston citizens, concerned about the danger of fire after an extremely hot, dry year got together and created a volunteer fire department.

The group held its first fundraiser barbecue dinner and dance that year. Later, founding members of the Rosston Volunteer Fire Department decided to make the fundraiser an all day event. Since Sam Bass was a popular folk figure with ties to the area, his name was added to the celebration.

The first Sam Bass Day was held on a hot July day in 1981. The parade featured a tank driven by members of the National Guard, makeshift floats, local riding clubs and various town characters who showed up on horses or on foot. Some people fancied up their pickup trucks and drove slowly down Palmer Street to FM 922. The whole affair was short and sweet, a former resident remembered.

Later in the day, there was a cow-chip throwing contest, egg tosses, kids’ games and plenty of time for sitting in the shade catching up with old friends.

In the evening, people danced to the music of Doug Martin and the Rustlers, a country western band that covered hits such as “Silver Wings” and “Behind Closed Doors.” The band also did a rendition of the Beach Boys “Wipe Out” and a rousing interpretation of the Squash Blossom Special to which dancers performed a dance called the schottische.

In the morning, a few dedicated volunteer fire department members got up early to clean the firehouse grounds. They picked up beer bottles, cans and other debris left from the night before.

During the 1980s and early 1990s groups of residents used to gather on Saturday and Sunday nights to play volleyball on a sand court near the orange firehouse building.

Today, people still find plenty to do in the community. There is an unofficial motorcycle track frequented by a group of young men for whom motorcycle and four wheeler riding is a passion.

The Ross-Point Community Club holds a Harvest Supper each November. Every year, club members and volunteers from the community serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal to several hundred people.

Churches from Rosston and surrounding tiny communities also get together for community “singings” every few months. Anyone who’s brave enough to perform is welcome to get up and give his or her testimony through music.

The Rosston cemetery has graves dating back to before the Civil War and nearly everybody who lives in the small town has at least a relative or two buried there.

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