School History & Namesake

  • T.F. Birmingham
    T. F. Birmingham 

    Thomas Franklin “Frank” Birmingham was born in Bebee, Arkansas, in 1869. After moving to Uvalde, Texas, for his dad to practice medicine, Frank graduated from high school and attended college at Baylor University. He graduated at the young age of 20 in 1889, and moved to the new little town of Wylie, Texas.

    Though his father wanted him to be a doctor like he was, Frank wanted to be a businessman.

    After moving to Wylie for a job, Frank started a courtship with Hattie Housewright, who would later become Mrs. Frank Birmingham in 1893.

    In 1901, Frank Birmingham helped found the tax district that created the Wylie Independent School District. He served as the first Wylie ISD School Board President. He funded the construction of Wylie’s first high school, Birmingham High School, which cost over $100,000 in the early 1900s. He donated a manual arts building and created a memorial scholarship in honor of his late sister, Pearl Birmingham. Additionally, he printed and put in each classroom, copies of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

    In 1940, on this 50th wedding anniversary, he and his wife created a land trust in memory of their son, Ovid, who died in the 1911 West Texas oilfield epidemic. Ovid was returned to Wylie and buried in the town's cemetery. For all his generosity, Frank asked that students whom benefited from the programs he helped create, place flowers on his son's grave each year. The Birmingham Land Trust has given Wylie ISD over $10,000,000 over the past 70 years. In the spring of each year, students from Wylie High School and Wylie East High School still place flowers on the grave of Ovid Birmingham, 100 years after his death.

    T.F. Birmingham Elementary, named in honor of Frank Birmingham, is located on the property that was a part of the original land and trust.