Pella Chronicle

January 14, 2011

Looking back at the one room school

By Helen Boertje
The Chronicle

Pella — The Simmons school was blown away by a tornado. It was located not far from the Monroe County line along 140th Ave. just north of the North Cedar Creek.  Its nickname was the Bluebird school.    I can visualize its location as being a place where there were once many of those beautiful little birds. And maybe there still are bluebirds there. In any case, it recalls another era when as part of our science, or perhaps art lessons, we were given the outlines of birds to color. We copied the descriptions of them and assembled all the sheets into a little booklet.  Not all of us had a Gladys Black to take us on bird walks to observe the real thing.

I talked with  Margaret Gee who started school in the Elm Grove district.  During a period when Elm Grove was temporarily closed, she attended the Simmons school.   She laughed about walking to  school uphill both ways for 2 miles.  (I believe this as I walked a mile and a quarter both uphill both ways as the road dipped into a steep valley) She said the school was sometimes so cold that the students had to keep overshoes on their  feet to keep from being frost bitten. At that time one large family made up most of the students at Bluebird. To make it passable they threw the cinders from the stove on the school driveway. This seems like  a good idea unless you accidentally stumble and fall while running. Cinders are sharp as knives and I still have a scar on my knee from a fall on cinders.   A memorable event for Margaret was the presidential election day when someone with a radio in his car came to the school house and told them who was elected.

Teachers were  Miss Morrow, Charles Kunkle 1891, Mr. Stange 1892, Miss Riggs, Miss Lanham 1893, Owen Whitlatch 1895, Owen Whitlatch, Blanche Welch 1896, Blanche Welch 1898, Eleanor Crosby 1899, Blanche Welch 1900, S. M. Rogers 1901, F. E. Crawford, 1903,  D. J. Beary  1904-05  , Anna Ridnouer 1906, D. J. Beary  1907-08,  Florence Stanger 1909,  W. J. Kincaid 1910, Frankie Carruthers 1911-12, Kathryn Shovelain 1913, Hazel Holland 1914, Emmett Kincaid, Katherine Shovelain, Edith Agan 1915, Ruby Bunting, Katherine Wise 1916, Lulu Pierson 1917. Tressa Kearney 1918-20, Maggie Agan 1922-23, Fern Welch 1924, Ruth Faye 1925, Rose Giles  1926, Ella Johnson 1928, Ella Kearney 1929, Florence Gibson 1930, Ruby Moon 1932, Ralph Robinson 1934-35, Eva Ford 1936, Velda Lucile Viers 1937, Wayne Exley 1938-39, Vera E. Stewart 1940, Edna M. Rankin 1941-42, Mrs. Lois Anderson 1943-44, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Blackman 1945, Anna Bingaman 1947, Mrs. Chamberlain 1948, Mrs. Jean Cooper, Dorothy Carruthers 1950.

Please contact me at 641-628-4716 or helenboertje@iowatelecom.net with information about any Marion county country school.