Willie Ann Hudson Andrews, school founder and teacher, was born in Virginia on May 26, 1848. In 1867, after her marriage to Whit W. Andrews, she moved to the Harris Chapel community in Gonzales County, Texas, where she established the first of several innovative coeducational schools in south central Texas. Mrs. Andrews conducted schools at the Josey community (now Luling), at Prairie Lea in Caldwell County, and at Mountain City in Hays County, before she opened Science Hall Institute between Buda and Dupre (now Kyle) in 1876. The curriculum at Science Hall, which covered mathematics, science, business, art, and music, was considered a model course of study and drew students from across the state. School officials built a dormitory after the available boarding spaces with local families were taken up. The school boarded both male and female students, an unusual arrangement at the time. Willie Andrews traveled as far as West Texas during the summers distributing the school's catalogue and recruiting students.
After Science Hall was destroyed by fire in the early 1880s, Mrs. Andrews accepted an offer to consolidate her operations with Kyle Baptist Seminary, a coeducational boarding school. After an unsatisfactory year at the seminary, she opened Science Hall Home Institute, a private boarding school, in 1884. In 1888, at the request of a group of Austin citizens who donated a school site, she left Hays County and established the Austin Home Institute, which operated until 1895. This school attained such standing as a preparatory institution that its graduates could enter the University of Texas without entrance examinations.
Willie Andrews died on September 10, 1895, of injuries sustained in a carriage accident, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin. In 1929 a group of her former students, including her three children, formed the Ex-Students of the Willie Andrews Pioneer Schools of Texas to commemorate her pioneer promotion of coeducational and public schools in the state. The former students held an annual reunion and memorial service until 1960.
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Austin American, November 3, 1957. Willie Andrews Pioneer School Records, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Walter Edward Willis, The History of Education in Hays County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1937).
Founders and Pioneers
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Chester V. Kielman,
“Andrews, Willie Ann Hudson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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