Joan C. McBride
This Story is about:||Stephen Alexander McBride|
|This story was learned:||Many Years of Research|
|It took place:||From Emancipation to 1920|
|Where:||Shankleville, Texas (Newton County)|
Stephen Alexander McBride
“He has done more for his people than any man in the county.”-- Earl Hines – 1985
Born a slave, Stephen was the first of his lineage to be born in Texas. According to senior family members, in his youth, Stephen’s mother often referred to him as “her little English man”. His mother was a slave named Hannah, owned by Edward Blackshear and later by Thomas Edward Blackshear. The Blackshear’s were among the early colonists moving into the great and vast lands of Tejas which was under the rule of Mexico. The Blackshear’s, their families and slaves eventually migrated to Jasper/Newton and became contributors to the development of the county.
As a man, Stephen has been described as complex, generous, intelligent and mean. He was a business man, a community man and a family man. Most who knew him speak of him with high regard. His accomplishments after emancipation speak for themselves. He recognized the importance of owning land and he purchased twenty-nine parcels of land, according to records in the Newton County Clerk’s Office. He gave land for a school (Enterprise School), a church (Church of God and Christ), and a cemetery (Shankleville Community Cemetery). He established and built McBride Normal College (a college for teachers to learn how to teach).
Aware of the needs of the community, Stephen built and owned a store, a cotton gin, a saw mill, grist mill, a syrup mill and a blacksmith shop. It was through these ventures that Stephen was able to provide employment for many of the men in the community. It is said that he drove his ox cart to Orange to purchase items needed by the residents of the Shankleville Community. And, when he bought shoes for his children he bought shoes for all of the children in the community.
Stephen accomplished quite a lot for a man who could not read or write. He even registered to vote in 1870, signing his name with an “X”. Indeed, Stephen made many contributions to his people, his community, and the county. He now rests in Shankleville Community Cemetery beside his mother Hannah.
The legacy of Stephen lives on. In January of this year, the Deep East Texas Archeology Society conducted a preliminary survey of Stephen’s homestead. That survey yielded artifacts dating back 10,000 years.
Texas State Marker Inscription
As a co-founder of the Shankleville Community, Stephen McBride worked to improve the lives of fellow African-vvvvvAmericans. Stephen was born a slave in Texas in 1834. After emancipation, he and Jim Shankle bought land in northern Newton County, forming the nucleus of a community of homes, churches and businesses. McBride owned a cotton gin, store, blacksmith shop, and saw mill, syrup and grist mills in Shankleville. His most enduring contribution was McBride College (1883-1909), the gift of a man who could not read or write but valued education for young people. The two-story school building also served as a community center and site of religious revivals. Stephen died in 1920.