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Michael M. Miller

MABSON, FELIX H. (ca. 1856–1890). An early black educator in Galveston, Felix H. Mabson was born in Mississippi about 1856. His father, Mark Mabson, enlisted in the Union Army at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in January 1865. Serving in Company A, Fifth Heavy Artillery Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, the North Carolina-born Mark Mabson began serving detached duty with the Freedman’s Bureau there in January 1866. The elder Mabson mustered out of the army on May 20, 1866, and received $77.20 in back pay from February and earned a $100 enlistment bounty. That was a lot of money for a man who served as a slave not long before. Mabson’s father made the most of it. He gathered his wife Eugenia, daughter Sarah, son Felix, and two older women, Elise Mabson and Caroline Petty, and after first going to Ohio, made his way to Johnson County, Kansas, southwest of Kansas City. Along the way, two more children arrived, Mary and Eugenia.

There is no information on what Felix H. Mabson did immediately after leaving his father’s farm sometime after 1875, but he was in Galveston by 1884. He was the principal at Broadway School, one of the city’s colored schools, and boarded in the city with William H. Love. It is not clear when Mabson and Isabella White (1863–1930) were married. Isabella also taught school, but it is likely she stopped once the couple married. Three children followed in quick succession. Eugenia was born in 1887, Effie in 1888, and Felix H. in 1889. Mabson administered one of the state’s summer normal schools in Waxahachie in 1885. Probably in about 1887 after the curriculum there expanded, Mabson was named first assistant teacher at what was then called Prairie View Normal School (now Prairie View A&M University).

Then, seemingly near the height of a promising career and with a young family, Mabson died in 1890. The Brenham Weekly Banner on June 19, 1890, mentioned the educator’s passing with the announcement that M. H. Broyles, principal of the colored schools in Brenham, had been named to succeed the deceased man. No explanation of the thirty-four-year-old Mabson’s death has been uncovered. A small estate remained, and his wife was appointed administratrix in March 1890. Upon Mabson’s death, Isabella almost immediately returned to teaching in Galveston. Although Mabson’s son Felix became a Galveston tailor and in 1905 was working for W. C. Senne, teaching became something of a legacy of the Mabson family and included sisters and daughters. Felix Mabson helped pioneer education for African Americans in Texas and was among the first to bring higher education to his people thereby leaving a legacy to a new generation of African-American educators.


 Brenham Weekly Banner, June 19, 1890. Galveston Daily News, March 21, 1890.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Michael M. Miller, "MABSON, FELIX H. ," accessed May 30, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmafn.

Uploaded on June 13, 2013. Modified on June 18, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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