Pella Chronicle

February 24, 2011

Looking back at the one room school

By Helen Boertje
The Chronicle

Pella — If this school were still standing  it would  be about midway on 94th Pl which is the  short stretch of north/south road connecting Rutledge St. and Story Drive. I am guessing that it was named for our 13th president Millard Fillmore who served between 1850 and 1853.

As the vice president for Zachary Taylor, he became president when Taylor died in the summer of 1850 and Fillmore finished out his term.   Although he is not a well known president naming a school for him seems  appropriate. He came from a large family of 9 children and had little time for an education.  When he was 14, his father apprenticed him for 7 years to a cloth maker.  Realizing that he needed more education, Millard studied on his own, memorizing words from the dictionary as he worked.  Before his apprenticeship ended, he bought his release for $30. He also bought a dictiaonary, the first book he ever owned.  He was the first president to have a library in the White House.

The only mention I found about Fillmore school from early days was this entry in the Feb. 18, 1886 of the Knoxville Journal.  “Teacher Elisa Croft was surprised by patrons of school who came with baskets as she completed a three month term.”

Beverly Jones told me that she began attending Fillmore a sa first grader in the spring of  1944  and went to school there until the school closed the following spring.  After that she went to Dallas. She remembers three girls taking doll furniture and staying overnight with teacher Ruth Kinney. She believes the other two were Patty Finarty and Colleen Hendrix.   I don’t know if this was a common practice among teachers but I do know that such special overnight stays were long remembered by students.  Some of my mother’s students from the North Porterville school (1926-27)  have told me that  my mother used to take one or two students  home with her on weekends. They thought this was a real adventure as my grandparents lived “far away” across the river near Knoxville.  

Beverly Jones also recalls the winter day that Patty Finarty hooked up her dog to a sled to take her to school.  And when the snow melted during the day, Patty had a real problem.

Teachers included Miss Maggie De Moss 1879, Miss Ella Hammond, Katie Bonebrake 1880, Miss Ella Hammond, Della Smith 1881, Miss Della Smith 1882-83, Miss Della Smith, Miss Johnson 1884, Miss Elisa Croft 1885, Lizzie Smith, D. W. McKinnis 1889, Miss May Bishop 1893, Lora Myers 1895, Mary Pringle, Bernice Maddy 1898. Mary Pringle, Bernice Maddy, Ida Staggs, Anna Bush 1899, Ida Staggs, Anna Bush, Nina Pringle 1900, Nina Pringle  1901-02, Elsa Moon 1903-04, Nora Welch 1905, Gerald Hunerdosse, Gertrude Mallory 1906, Gertrude Mallory, Mayme Lahman 1907, L. ˙May Miller 1908, Della Ridenour, Mabel De Witt  1909, Ira E. Houser 1910, Anna Bingaman 1911, Orba L. Moore 1912, Gladys Witt, Gretta Nofsger 1913, Margie Shives, Orba L. Moon 1914, Liva Barrett  1915-17, Helen How 1918, Nora Harty, Ruth Perry, Dimmie Hart 1919, Lois Bachman 1920, Bessie Hixenbaugh 1921, Winifred Brillhart 1922, Daisy Black 1924, Thelma Maddy 1925, Ella Johnson 1927, Cleo Black 1930, Thurlene Agan 1931-32, Icel L. Miller 1933, Wilma Madley 1934, Margaret Agan 1935, Joye Black 1936-39, Olive McVey 1940, Lida McMannis 1942, Luella I. Beebout  1943, Mrs. Ruth Kenney 1944.

Please continue to contact me regarding your country school at 641-628-4716 or