J. Otto Schulze Elementary school opened in September 1950 with 20 classrooms and a cafeteria. At the time it was called East Irving Elementary or East Ward. In 1958 the name was changed to J. Otto Schulze Elementary School.
In 1965, when Irving began integrating its schools, the Ledbetter School, a school for African American children, was closed and those students began attending Schulze Elementary. To accommodate the larger student body, a new wing, consisting of nine classrooms, a library, and a second cafeteria was built. Schulze Elementary became the first bilingual school in the Irving ISD in 1979. Students from across the district, who were taking bilingual classes, were bused to Schulze. In 1988, a new Schulze Elementary was constructed on the same grounds, just to the south of the original school. The older school was renamed the Earlie Mae Wheeler Transitional and Development Center and Special Education Offices.
Principals of Schulze have included Ernest Johnson, William Ward, Gail Sebastian, Luther Starr, Arthur Casey, Wayne Ball, Harry Teal, R.V. Higginbotham, Neal Brown, R.E. Lumpkins, Michael Moehler, Fred Ivy, Doug Baum, Mary Hart, Ron Jennings, Erin Yacho, and Lariza Liner. The current principal is Robin Bayer.
Julius Otto (J. O.) Schulze was born in Iowa City, Iowa in 1875. He graduated from Iowa City High School and received a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Iowa in 1897. He worked for a time with the Army Corps of Engineers and then went to work as a surveyor for the Rock Island Railroad. He surveyed rail lines in Arkansas and Oklahoma. In 1902 he was assigned to survey a 10-mile stretch for a line between Dallas and Fort Worth. While working the area, he and fellow crew member Otis Brown decided to build a town along the coming rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth.
In the fall of 1902, the two men purchased 80 acres of land from the Britain family on which to start their town. They left the railroad and spent most of 1903 preparing the town site. During the summer of 1903, Schulze returned to Iowa City to marry his fiancé Agnes Sueppel. The couple then moved back to Texas and the new town was launched in December 1903.
The young couple built a house on Ohio Street in the new town. The house remained standing until it burned in the mid-1980s. Unfortunately, Agnes and her new born child did not do well in the Texas climate and the Schulze family returned to Iowa City in 1905.
Schulze started the city’s first business, Irving Lumber Company. On the day of the town’s founding in December 1903, he advertised that he had lumber on the ground for those who were ready to start building. When the Schulze family returned to Iowa in 1905, J.O. Schulze asked his brother to come to Irving and take over the lumber yard. C.P. (Percy) Schulze moved to Irving and operated the lumber yard until his death in 1958.
J. O. returned to Irving with his grown daughters in the late 1950s. He died at his daughter’s home in Dallas in 1961 and is buried in Iowa City, Iowa.
Researches using various documents from the Irving Public Library Archives, Irving: A Texas Odyssey by James Rice, Lexie Swift, Portal to Texas History. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3307/ , and https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=154889001 This web page was created February 2017 by the Celebrating Irving Committee of the Irving Heritage Society in partnership with Irving Independent School District. Photos used with the permission of the Irving Archives, Irving Public Library, and Lexie Swift.