Abraham “Abe” Barrington Marshall, educator, pastor, entrepreneur, and namesake for the pre-integration African-American high school in Angleton, Texas, was born on December 31, 1872, near Columbia, Brazoria County, Texas. Abe Marshall’s father died when he was five or six years old. Abe’s widowed mother insisted that he receive as much education as was available for blacks in Brazoria County at that time. He did that and then attended Houston College (which later became Texas Southern University). After completing his college education, Marshall returned to Brazoria County. He married Phoebe Woods, who was several years his junior. The couple had a son named Amiel; they also raised Phoebe’s daughter, Minnie.
Marshall pursued several careers simultaneously. He sold insurance, established the first funeral home in Brazoria County for African Americans, and owned a farm on which he grew cotton, corn, and other crops. He was an eloquent public speaker. He became a pastor and preached regularly at two different Baptist churches—Mount Pisgah and Bailey’s Chapel. He alternated, preaching at each church every two weeks. Marshall eventually became one of the wealthiest African Americans in Brazoria County in that era. The Marshalls acquired several properties in Angleton.
Teaching and preaching were two of Marshall’s favorite activities. In 1923 he began teaching at the one-room schoolhouse for blacks in Snipe, Texas, a small community that was about three miles southwest of Angleton. Soon the school was moved into Angleton, where he continued to teach in the one-teacher school. He taught English, reading, math, history, and geography for eight grades and served as the school’s principal. Marshall taught at the school for eighteen years.
One of Marshall’s granddaughters, who attended the school, described it as “a one-room country shack.” Eventually the school grew. Marshall devoted much of his time to his students and even visited their homes when they were absent. In fact, he was so busy with the school that he had to hire laborers to tend his farm, but his dedication to his students encouraged them to remain engaged in a variety of school-related activities.
Abraham Marshall died on July 13, 1941, at sixty-eight years of age. He was buried in the African-American cemetery at Burrell’s Chapel near the community of Bailey’s Prairie in Brazoria County.
The school in which Marshall taught for eighteen years was named for him in 1941. When a new school for African Americans opened in Angleton in 1958, it bore the name A. B. Marshall High School. In 1966 the Angleton schools were integrated, but in 2013 there was still a Marshall Education Center in Angleton, more than seven decades after Abraham Marshall’s death.