La Feria News

James B. Smith, A Zealous Schoolman


The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

BiCentennialHistoryCover The following story is a chapter from a manuscript entitled The Bicentennial History of La Feria, Texas written by Eddie Gathings McNail in 1975. Throughout the coming year we’ll be reprinting sections of her research into the history of La Feria as the city celebrates its 100 year anniversary.
James Bartlett Smith, Jr.

James Bartlett Smith, Jr.

J.B. Smith, who was elected principal of the La Feria High School in 1931, came to La Feria from Burkburnett, Texas. He was elevated as superintendent of the school system in 1936. He resigned his position in 1949 to go into private business, but returned to the teaching profession in 1956 as principal of the Sam Houston school. Later he became principal of the La Feria High School again and continued in this position until 1968.

Smith was a member of the Texas State Teachers Association and a past president of the South Texas District of T.S.T.A. and of the La Feria Chamber of Commerce. He was a holder of the coveted Silver Beaver award for scouting.

He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church and held many responsible offices in the local church, such as superintendent of the Sunday School, teacher of the Men’s Sunday School class and chairman of the Administrative Board. Smith was past president of the Rotary Club and held a perfect record of attendance of twenty-nine years. When he and Mrs. Smith made trips, even to Europe, he did not miss a single meeting, though sometimes he did not understand a word that was said. This helped hm to keep the attenance record.

This gentleman was a dominant figure in the La Feria community for thirty seven years.

James Bartlett Smith, Jr., educator, civic, church and business leader, died at the age of 64 in the Valley Baptist Hospital on Wednesday, April 17, 1968.

La Feria had lost a wonderful man whose life exemplified his Christian faith in God and his love for his fellow man.

La Feria High School circa 1930’s

La Feria High School circa 1930’s

Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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