Time Capsule: August 12, 1861

On this date 150 years ago, Harry Fishburne Estill was born in Lexington, Virginia. The son of Charles Patrick Estill and Katherine (Fishburne), Harry was born in Rockbridge County and within seven miles from where Sam Houston was born sixty-eight years before.

The Estill family arrived in Texas in 1869 and settled in Washington County. In 1880, the year Harry graduated from the first class at Sam Houston Normal Institute, Charles was named a professor at Texas A&M. Charles came to Huntsville the following year but died after teaching one year. Harry succeeded his father in 1882, eventually rising to vice president of SHNI beginning in 1898.

Harry Estill was named President of SHNI in August, 1908. As president he introduced new programs of study and extracurricular activities, promoted the creation of the Alcalde (1910) and Houstonian (1913), upgraded faculty numbers and preparations, and obtained professional academic accreditation for the school. In 1923 he oversaw the school’s transition into Sam Houston State Teachers College.

Estill helped appropriate funds for a new three-story library, dedicated in 1930, that was named in his honor.  He and his wife, Loulie Sexton, had five children.  Harry died in 1942 and is buried in Huntsville's Oakwood Cemetery.

Writing in 1940, Dr. T.U. Taylor, the first engineering faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin as well as a graduate of SHNI’s first class of 1880, wrote of his fellow classmate:
Harry Fishburne Estill early impressed the class with the fact that he was always prepared on his lessons, was as regular as clockwork, straight-forward, square, and a student thirsting for knowledge. The writer of these lines has been a friend of Harry Estill since October 10, 1879, over sixty years. He has spent sixty years teaching in the schools of Texas, and the writer wishes to bear tribute to his contribution to Texas' civilization.


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