Pella Chronicle

June 17, 2011

Looking back at the one room school

By Helen Boertje
The Chronicle

Pella — Brownlee school stands on its original site two miles south of Knoxville near Hwy. 14 at approximately 1620 130 Pl.  

According to a story by Ruth Kenney, her aunt Emma Dennison was one of the first girls to teach a winter term. She writes Uncle Steve Jenkins tells of a school master who always hung his coat on a certain hook.  Pupils thought he didn’t have any switches in the school house but one day they tried his patience too far and he pulled out two switches from under the coat.

I talked with Linda Caulkins Mason who attended this school through 6th grade when it closed.  She said she loved the school and the teachers and feels so privileged to have gone to a country school.  Her father Harold Caulkins also attended Brownlee.

The school was down in a valley. She walked on a gravel road to school but sometimes the creek below the house flooded and her father would have to drive the children into Knoxville and then take them back on another road to get to the school.

Like students from many other country schools. Linda remembers fixing potatoes for lunch on a little wood stove, having to carry water from a neighboring farm,  and playing  games such as baseball and fox ‘n geese.

One of Linda’s treasures is the bookcase from the school which she refinished  by stripping it of three coats of green paint.  (At one time, schools and other institutions seemed awfully fond of green paint.  Was this a fad or simply a bargain purchased in quantity?)

Teachers were Lottie McClymond 1886, Lora Myers, Helen Herrick 1895, Helen Herrick 1896, Stella Winegardener 1898, Stella Winegardener, Bula Sniff 1899, Bula Sniff 1900, Bula Sniff, Victoria Noftsger 1901, Mabel Reynolds, Edith Dawson 1903, Alice Bittenbreder 1904, Beatrice Smith, Myrtle McArthur  1905, Walter E. Kester  1906-07, Genevia Nittel 1908, Jen Gardner, Carol Swayne 1909, Verna King 1910, Lottie McClymond 1911, Hilda L. Bowman 1912, Jo Mendenhall 1913, Mrs. Rosa Smith 1914-15, Grace Patterson 1916, Ethelle Bruce, Catherine Mott  1917, Grayce Rowland 1918, Lora Flanders 1919, Mrs. Geneva Morse 1920, Mrs. Geneva Morse, Ione Dotson 1921, Irene Chrismore 1924, Charlene Orr 1925, Lena Willets 1927, Kathryn Bybee 1930-31, Juanita Covey 1932-35, Atha Kincaid 1938, Velma Vanden Berg 1939, Martha Louise Whaley 1940-41, Violet McDonnell  1942-45, Miss Doris Burton 1947, Mrs. Mildred Lundy 1948-49, Beulah E. Hayes  1951-53

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