Pella Chronicle

July 6, 2011

Looking back at the one room school

By Helen Boertje
The Chronicle

Pella — Its former location now underwater, this school is also known as the school at Dunreath. The first mention I found of this school was in an 1870 Iowa Voter under reports from the County Superintendent following visits to the schools.  It said “George H. Smith has been hired for  a four  month term at $40/month. House is  good.”  (referring to the physical condition of the school building)

Knoxville Journal March 28, 1877 “writer” comments,  “ Sam Ridenour has completed a 6 months term. Patrons of  school and visitors present.  Exercises reviewed in arithmetic, geography, grammar, and U. S. history.  Good discipline and teaching.  Several addresses delivered, rewards of merit distributed, and a unanimous vote of thanks tendered by school to the teacher. “

Another visitor said, “I think I never visited another school where teacher and pupils appeared so interested.”  Average attendance was over 32.  “One of the pupils, a young lady, did not miss a day of school in the 6 months, and part of the time walked 3 miles. we have hitherto been hiring cheap teachers--some as low as $25 /month.  For this term we paid $45, and this school was really the cheapest we ever had in the district.”

In 1889  Mr. S. Ridenour returned to finish out a term and died at age 69 on May 6 after teaching only one month.  The correspondent reported there were no applicants for the job.

By 1890 a teacher had been found as the reporter noted. “Our school is progressing nicely under the efficient management of Mr. P. S. Harris.  Never has a teacher labored so faithfully as he is laboring.  He is only a young teacher, not yet a voter, but conducts the school better than some teachers with years of experience and we are sorry that we cannot keep him more than one term, but I guess it cannot be.  His skill, management, and labor will never be forgotten by his pupils.  Mr. Harris bade farewell with candy, gum, and a short talk.”  (He left because the board wanted to close the school.)

The  Knoxville Journal March 14, 1892 says at Dunreath there are 5 or 6 stores, a barbershop,a blacksmith shop, coal industry, and a good school which is used as a church building. Dunreath was on the Wabash railroad line.

In May 1892 there were 112 enrolled.  (Knoxville Journal)

In 1895 the school at Dunreath closed because of Scarlet Fever.

Myrle Timmons attended Dunreath in 1903.  He was four years old and kept following his 12 year old sister Pauline to  school.  His mom would have to go after him and bring him home.  Finally the teacher let him stay because he liked school so well.  (Country School Reunion Memories--the Percy Fair book of 1995)

Paul Clark, one of the students pictured, felt that country school students had more fun than town students.  He was glad that he had had the experience of attending country school where there was a closeness among the students and the entire neighborhood.  He recalls when teacher Helen White got married to Paul Coulson, everyone was invited.

I talked with Guy Reeves, former Pella High teacher who attended 7th grade at this school the last year it was open. He said it was a big double building with 1/2 used as a school and the other as a community center where church services were held.  When the dam for Red Rock Lake was being built, the building went to the Clark family and was being lived in by Seth Clark.  Guy  had to walk quite a ways to the school and would begin walking to school before the Monroe bus driver stopped to give his older sister a ride to school.  The driver would stop along the road and offer Guy a ride the rest of the way to school. (He supposed this would be illegal today) Evenings he walked home from school.  Lucille Mullins was his teacher there and also in his previous school, Pleasant Valley.  He was impressed by her unusual mode of transportation.   Lucille drove an old 8N Ford tractor to school.  The tractor had a cab with a windscreen and a canvas door.

Teachers included George H. Smith 1870, Lucy Bell 1871, Samuel Ridenour 1875-76,  Miss Dora Starr 1885-86, Miss Churchill 1888, Ida Pomroy, Sam Ridenour 1889, Mr. John Jennings, Mr. J. P. Harris 1890, Mr. Meek 1891, Elmer Van Winkle, Mr. and Mrs. Meek 1892, Alice Dearth, L. H. McKinney 1895, J. L. Cochrane, Eva L. Wilson 1898, E. A. Leighton 1899, Ona Harp, Stephen Templeton 1900, S.S. Templeton, Eva L. Wilson 1901, Nellie Rogers 1902, Nellie Rogers, Jas. D. Frank 1903, Claudia Henry 1904, Claudia Henry, Lucie Van Gorp 1905, Lucie Van Gorp, Claudia Henry 1906, Sadie D. Mullins 1909, A. H. Crosby, Mary Greenaway 1910, Ethel Jones, Mabel Bush 1911, Mabel Bush 1912-13, Mabel Bush, Mrs. Gertrude Way 1914, Helen Fox  1915, Olive L. Ryan, Margaret Cuthbertson 1916, Ona Acklin 1917, Ona Acklin, Amy Norris 1918, Nannie Hyatt 1920-21, Mrs. Velta Hunt 1923, Charlene Scheele 1925-26, Mrs. H. C. Bingaman 1927-28, Bernice Mohler 1929-30, Opal Morgan 1931, Beatrice Staley 1932, Jessie Williams 1933-35,  Roberta Lewis 1936,  F. V. Elliot  1937, Eleanor F. Wilkin 1938,  Eleanor Mohler, Ernest Klinker 1939, Edith Wheatcraft 1940, Mary Jenkins 1941-42, Betty Whaley 16943-44, Mrs. Mary V. Perkey 1945, Helen White 1947-48, Violet Lucille Powell  1949-51, Mrs. Lucille Mullins 1952-54.

Please continue to contact me with information and/or pictures about your country school at 641-628-4716  or helenboertje