Frances Trask Thompson, girls' school founder, daughter of Israel and Judith (Somes) Trask, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on July 20, 1806. She attended a seminary in New York in the 1820s, then moved late in that decade to Dixboro, Michigan, to live with the family of a cousin who had married John Dix. With that family she moved to Matagorda, Texas, in 1834. In late 1834 or early 1835, as advertised in the Brazoria Texas Republican, she opened a girls' boarding school at Cole's Settlement, later Independence. In 1838 she was in Houston to secure the headright grant of her brother, Olwyn Trask, who was killed in a skirmish preceding the battle of San Jacinto. In December 1838 she was awarded a section of land in Robertson, Bell, and Milam counties in appreciation of her services as a teacher. She operated Trask Seminary in an eighteen-square-foot log cabin until 1838 or 1839, when she sold the property to Henry F. Gillette. Gillette called the school Independence Academy. In 1841 Miss Trask was teaching at Austin. She subsequently taught at Rock Island, near Washington-on-the-Brazos, and later returned to Austin. On February 25, 1851, she married William Thompson of Michigan; they operated the Swisher Hotel in Austin until Thompson's death on September 1, 1851, when his wife resumed teaching; she held classes in the old Capitol. In 1854 Frances Thompson was a member of the Daughters of Samaria. She taught at Jasper in 1856 and in Karnes County in 1860. Late in 1860 she returned to Boston to live with her sisters. Upon their death, she moved to Ashmont, Massachusetts, to live with a nephew. She died there on March 31, 1892.
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Georgia J. Burleson, comp., The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson, D.D., L.L.D. (1901). Kate Miller Johnson, Some Pioneer Women Teachers in Texas Before 1860 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1929). Trask Family Collection, Texas State Library, Austin.
Founders and Pioneers
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Thompson, Frances Judith Somes Trask,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 14, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 1, 1995
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