Hettie Halstead, who was born September 28, 1880, bought 289 acres of ranch land in Copperas Cove in 1947. In 1960, Halstead donated 5 acres to CCISD for the purpose of building a new school. Carolyn Taylor, 60, Halstead's granddaughter, said the school district came to her to buy some land but said Halstead decided to donate it. "She valued education," Taylor, a senior counselor at Copperas Cove High School said. She said Halstead always encouraged her children and grandchildren to get a good education.
Having come from a poor family, Halstead got most of her education in the business world. Taylor said when Halstead's husband died, he left her an insurance policy, which she invested. Halstead bought and sold real estate, bought a house to rent out, and ran a hotel in Houston.
Halstead's son ran the 289-acre ranch in Cove. "She had a business back when women weren't in the business world," Taylor said. "She was a tough businesswoman, but she had a very kind heart." Taylor said Halstead would help people with their rent. "You couldn't run over her, but if you were down on your luck, she would certainly help you out," Taylor said of their grandmother.
The year that Halstead bought the land in Cove is also the year she became interested in Cove school. While visiting her daughter and grandchildren, she learned that the classrooms at a school needed paint, reported an undated article in a Houston newspaper. "It was my granddaughter's classroom," she recalled in the story, "So I got some paint and brightened up the classroom, and the 32 school children wrote me letters of appreciation."
The original Halstead Elementary School building was built in 1962 and was dedicated to Halstead shortly thereafter. A plaque in the front hall of the school lists the names of the school board members, the architect and builder.
Halstead Principal Coley Howell said Hettie Halstead donated the land to the school district to provide an area for children to be educated. "She was interested in improving the education of children," Howell said. "She educated a lot of children and gave them a good foundation for life."
The school was built in a rural community, which at that time was outside Cove's city limits. After the school was built, Howell said the community grew around it. Because the school was near Fort Hood, expansion of the school was limited. In 1995, 14 classrooms and a play gym were added to the school
Halstead died in 1970, eight years after the school was named after her. She was 89.
More than 10 years later, one of her great-grandchildren attended the school. Matt Taylor, 19, of Killeen, attended kindergarten and first grade at Halstead Elementary in the late 1980's. "It was actually pretty exciting to know I attended a school named after my grandmother," Taylor said, adding that he wasn't aware of the fact at the time. "It made me feel real proud that she donated land for that reason. She felt that education was really important, one of the things in life she put a lot of emphasis on," he said.