Pella Chronicle

December 17, 2010

Looking back at the one room school

By Helen Boertje
The Chronicle

Pella — Rising Star school was about a mile south of the present Knoxville city limits on the west side of Hwy. 5. I didn’t find anyone who could tell me the origin of the  name with its poetic ring. However, former student Sandra Brooks Chrisman commented that she always liked the name as it made the students feel like they were all rising stars.

It was  common for romances to begin in country school.  Jack Sterling told me that his  mother and dad  started school  together at Rising Star  about 1915.  In 1976  a picture was taken of them standing beside the school.  After the school was torn down, Jack made a frame for the picture from wainscoting used in the building. You can see a copy of the picture in one of the binders at the school house in the Marion County Historical Village.

The community made good use of the school building for after school activities. The April 14, 1938 issue of the Journal says “At the community meeting at the school house a very interesting program was given by Miss Augustine and pupils.  Mrs. Bess Momyer’s name was drawn to receive the quilt given by the garden club.” Later that year the Journal reports that the Community Club met at the school house on Sept. 9 for a program by the 4-H girls under the direction of Mrs. Jack Mark and Mrs. Roy Shilling.

I talked by phone with former teacher Imogene Ream Fee who has lived in California for the past twenty years.  At 84 she is on Facebook. One of the things she mentioned was that country school teachers had to watch students for frostbite when they would  come in soaking wet from playing in the snow.  At Rising Star she was grateful that the furnace was in the cloakroom.  This meant she could close the door so no one  had to endure the unpleasant odor of wet wool mittens drying near the heat.      

She also shared a special memory of the day that World War II ended.  She always parked her car in the driveway of a neighboring farm, and when she left school that afternoon, the little neighbor boy  came running out to meet her to tell her that the war had ended.

Imogene suggested I contact Sandra Chrisman who started kindergarten in 1945.  Sandra  remembers that she attended the wedding of Imogene and John Fee the summer after her primary year.  Even remembers the wedding gift they picked out for them--a pair of pink Fenton hobnail vases.  Sandra said Imogene was  a very good teacher. She describes her next teacher, Ceola Liebhart, as a fun teacher who played the piano for them and  pushed back the desks to clear a space so they could do the Virginia reel. She also remembers that teacher Georgia Long invited her and her sister, Connie Brooks; Betty Sue Pearson; and Lauretta, Dixie and Sherrie Spaur, to stay overnight in her home to watch the coronation of Queen Eliiazbeth on her black and white TV.  Sandra has written a memoir of her days in school called “My Rising Star Journal”. Find additional memories as well as the names of students who attended school with her in the copy at the school house museum.

Teachers included   Mr. Graves 1883, R. G. Marlky, A. L. Steele 1886, Lettie Duncan, Lucia Jenkins, Abe Steele 1889, Miss Jenkins 1890, Miss Rogers 1891, Miss Mary Cox  1893, Miss Media Watkins 1894, Lottie McClymond, Miss Maggie Watson 1895, Lottie McClymond  1896, Mr. Schultz 1897, C. M. Gilson, Jennie M. Kester, Miss Gertie Pritchett 1898, Jennie M. Kester, Fannie Gelderblom 1899, Fannie Gelderblom, Anna Sullivan 1900, Lulu Crosby, Ollie Gelderblom, Alice Winters, Miss Roller 1901, Lucinda Marshall 1903, C. M. Wassan, Lulu Townsend 1904, Lulu Townsend  1905, C. B. Howser  1906, Edna Tysseling 1907, Mabel Bush 1908, Lonice Cox 1909, Estella Brubaker 1910, Cora Rankin 1911, Emmett Kincaid 1912, Forest Moore, Sue Stone 1913, Sue Stone 1914, Edna S. Noe  1915-16, Alta M. Keane  1917-21, Jennie Leuty 1922, Alta Keene 1924, Iva Van Loon 1925-26, Thelma Maddy 1927-28, Nannie Hyatt  1929-30, Nannie Hyatt 1932, Bertha Augustine 1933-40, Malvina Neely 1941-43,  Imogene Ream 1944-45, Imogene Fee 1946-48, Ceola Liebhart 1949-50, Mrs. Blackman 1951, Mrs. Blackman, Georgia Long 1952,  Beulah Kirkpatrick 1953, Mrs. Ruth Goughnour 1954, Helen Adair  1955-56, Tina K. Mowrey 1957.

This is article 71 that has been published by the Chronicle. Please continue to send me information about your country school so it can be included in the book on Marion County country schools.   Contact me at 641-628-4716 or