283. Gatesville State School for Boys

Gatesville State School for Boy was operated by the authorities in Texas in the years between 1889 and 1979.

The former inmates who happened to be children while they were sent there has spoken of physical, sexual, mental and verbal abuse at the facility.

It could not have been fun to be there as a teenager.

A blog has been made for the survivors to share and remember.

Gatesville State School for Boys (Memorial blog)

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About Rotsne

Danish immigrant, but very integrated. After having worked for another research center, I have recently started working for International Culture Exchange where I serve the youth and their families wanting to become an exchange student.

12 responses to “283. Gatesville State School for Boys”

  1. Ronnie McCollum says :

    I was sent to Gatesville in November of 1965. I was eventually released in April of 1967. I say eventually because my sentence was “indeterminate”. The very first day, I was beaten by a staff member for trying to communicate with the person across the hall. That was lesson learned for me. I was sent to Hackberry for my first stop. There I was subjected to things like “sitting on the wall”. You had to put your back against the wall and assume a sitting posture. Wasn’t too bad at first, but then your legs begin to shake, and you start to slip. No problem. There is an adult standing next to you kicking you in the ass to get you back in position. Then, when you can’t take anymore, they made you run to the other end of the dayroom and back. If you couldn’t do it you were back on the wall until they got bored. I had swats so bad I passed out. One of those double handed, swing for the fence kind. I made it through 2 then went out.
    Some other entertainment was the never-ending job of picking rock up from the athletic fields. We could spend 2 days cleaning all the stones up and they would magically appear the next week. Working in the maize fields in the summer was lots of fun.
    Then I got sent to Terrace. Much the same there. I got into a fight and hurt a kid pretty bad and got sent to lockup for 3 weeks. That’s where the bad shit happened. Working in the caliche pit in a continuous loop of getting a shovelful, walking it to the top of a huge earth dam, dropping your shovel into a hole that was never going to be full or filling a steady line of dump trucks. This was in November and it was freaking cold! One day during lunch, we all decided we weren’t going to get off the bus. After some threats of physical beatings, one of the guards on horseback, said ” it’s too damn cold. I don’t want to be out here and the beatings were avoided. I was glad to get back to Terrace. I got an extra 6 months on my case for hurting that kid. I was on the baseball field one afternoon when a kid from the office came out yelling, ” They got your papers”. I knew the end was in sight. A couple of weeks later I got a bus ticket to Ft. Worth, a new set of clothes and $5.00. I still have my “one timer” tattoo on the web of my left hand and grateful that it is the only one of those I ever got.
    I’m thankful I had enough sense not to go back. I’m 66 years old now with children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. My life turned out better than some of the people that were sent to “Gates of hell”.

    • Rayford Daniels says :

      My name is Rayford Daniels .I too was in Gatesville at that time.I witnessed grown men beating,raping and assaulting kids.Eventually I went to Mountainview.ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS I WAS BEAT.Mr.Orabo,Mr Owens,, Big Sassy,L.A.Steele,Elmer Voss all were child molesters.I remember them all.

    • Jerry baker says :

      I’m 74 years old and I’m sure that I’m suffering from pts. My whole life because of two years in 56,57,58 where I was beat up and stomped to the ground by superintendent Cal Wiley and others. One of the other men was called bubble eyes Haynes by the inmates.back then they had the bull pen where one of the men would take you out to different areas in 100° Weather and have us dig holes with picks and shovels ,just to cover them up again .if you said that you were thirsty ,you would get ran over by his horse and kicked in the head. If you would like a better comparison, watch one of the old chain gang movies they had in Mississippi of the one with . Jerry baker

  2. Sheldon says :

    thank you for linking to the blog. Gatesvile is still the same, only now with women, and under the protection of TDC.

  3. Marilyn Statum says :

    I would like to know if there is anyone who was in Gatesville in the early summer of 1964 and remembers a boy name James Alvin Gilbert. He was turned 17 rears old right after he was sent there. Any information you have on that time would be appreciated. James passed away in 2008.

  4. Melonie Rouse says :

    I’m not sure of the year but my father spent some time there. Would anyone happen to remember him, Roy Raymond Rouse?

  5. jerry combs says :

    My brother was sent to Gatesville in 78 or 79 would like to find out anything on why he was sent there or what happened while he was there. It was said he stole a car from the auto shop and was later caught in Dallas. His name is John Russell Combs he died in 1982 after a crime spree and then killed himself. I am his little brother and no one will tell the truth in his short life.

  6. Jane Gall says :

    I am a genealogical researcher who found one of my male Texas cousins in this Gatesville atrocity as I researched the 1930 Census. His name was Robert Thrasher and he was the youngest child in his family. I guess I’ll never know what he did to end up in this hell-hole of a “school.”

  7. Don Cortez says :

    I was in Gatesville TWICE. 1st time in March 1959, released in Sept, same year. Life didn`t change much for me in the`free world` so back I went. Was released in Sept 1959 and changed my ways. Left Lubbock and Moved to New Mexico and lied my way into the NM National guard. Boot camp and a better environment afterward helped. My 1st time there was in G company, the 2nd time B company. Anyone here ever heard the poem `Gatesville Cannonball`? I still remember the words!

  8. DON CORTEZ says :

    Couple of verses:

    From the honky tonks of Houston
    To the slums of San Antone
    From the pool halls of Ft.Worth
    Wherever you may roam.
    Now gather round young maidens
    And listen to my call
    Of how I got my ticket
    On the Gatesville cannonball.

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