In 1906, a group of civic leaders in Fannin County put their collective minds to work and opened the Farmers Improvement College on donated land near Ladonia, Texas. This well-funded college, along the Sulphur River and Santa Fe Railroad just southeast of Ladonia, served African American girls and boys from grades six to twelve and was designed as an agricultural school grounded in the sciences. Male students learned farming and female students studied home economics. Families paid room, board, and tuition to secure their children a place.
As was typical in this era of segregated school, education programs for black students focused on trades, not academics. And, as typical for segregated schools, once the institution enjoyed an administration that reflected its student body, more academic classes were added in topics like literature, music, history, mathematics, and physics. Due most likely to population loss caused by job opportunities in the cities during World War II, the school closed in 1946.
Like most historic schools for blacks in the Red River Valley, the many buildings that made up the Farmers Industrial College (aka Farmers Industrial School, or F. I. S.) no longer exist. The school was still on the county’s soil map from 1940, but nothing remains of the site now except for a simple granite marker.