Pella Chronicle

Days Gone By

April 7, 2011

Looking back at the one room school

Pella — Where was the Franklin Center School located?   “When I was student there during the the 40s Darrell Gifford of Redland, CA writes:  “Head south from Pleasantville on Hwy 60.  At the junction with  Hwy 92, continue south on Hwy 181.  Turn west at the Kading corner and go past the big round barn.  The school will be on the right across from the Darnell place.”

Sixty year later, I have to rely on Google Earth for this answer:  “Head south from Pleasantville on Hwy 5.  At the junction with Hwy 92 continue south on  S45.  Turn right on Newbold St. and proceed west for approximately .6 mile.  The county maintenance facility on the right occupies the former site of the school.”

The Knoxville Journal of April 18,1888 tells us that  Miss Spence has gone home with measles and her sister is filling her place.

When Miss Lizzie Leonard finished her term in 1891, she received a gift of a photograph album.  In May of that year the school burned to the ground. K. Journal

In 1925, long before most schools were considering school reunions former Franklin Center students were gathering for a basket dinner at Aulds’ Park.  Eighty attended this 2nd reunion, but “because of the heat, games were omitted for the greater part.  A few of less strenuous were indulged.  Dr. A. F. Keeton gave a fine talk.”  K. Journal

I don’t know what happened to the school building after it closed but an article from an old Pleasantville newspaper says that at auction, there was no bid high enough to suit the directors but they did sell the coal shed to Donald Shivvers for $46.00.

Mr. Gifford wrote several delightful “slices of life” about his years as a student in Franklin Center School.  These have been placed in the binder at the schoolhouse in the Marion County Park.  Here is the one called WET PANTS:

“Harsh winter weather was not considered an excuse for missing school.  There were no snow days at Franklin Center There was, however, a cold weather procedure followed by my mother.

Breakfast was hot oatmeal with milk, a cup of hot cocoa, a glass of water,  and, if we could afford it, orange juice.

Clothing began with long underwear and woolen socks.  Then a flannel shirt, overalls and lace-up work shoes were added.  Coveralls and overshoes came next.  The final layer consisted of mackinaw coat, a cap with earflaps tied down, a neck scarf and mittens.

Thus dressed and fed, I would head out for Franklin Center on my trusty pony.  After bouncing for the two mile distance to the school, the first order of business after tying up the pony was to visit the boys’ outhouse to eliminate the considerable amount of breakfast fluid.

On one memorable winter day sleet was falling as I left for school.  The temperature hovered well below freezing and the sleet was sticking to whatever it touched.  Layers of ice were forming on tree limbs.

Once at school, I hastily tied up the pony and headed for the boys’ outhouse.  Alas, the sleet had frozen the door closed.  I removed my mittens and tried to claw the door open with no luck.  In desperation, I went behind the toilet, out of sight of the schoolhouse, for relief.  I managed to undo the large buttons on the mackinaw coat.  Then got the zipper of the of the coveralls down.  But I could not manipulate the small metal buttons on the fly of my overalls.  My hands were virtually paralyzed from the cold and the sleet.

Nature took its course.

Reluctantly, I entered the schoolhouse.  Though the teacher kept a roaring fire in the coal burning stove on cold days, its warmth was hardly noticeable more than a few feet away.  On such days, we all kept most of our winter wraps on during school.  The many layers of my winter attire absorbed the urine without a telltale outward stain.  Fortunately, my desk was on the side of the room opposite the stove.  Because I never really thawed out, there was no obvious odor.

If anyone noticed my predicament, nothing was said and I never confessed.  To this day, all of my jeans have zippers-not buttons.”

Teachers at Franklin Center were Emma Blair 1886, Miss Spence, Mr. Williamson 1888, Lizzie Leonard 1891, C.O. Williamson 1894, Viola Goering, Chris. Shadle 1895, Mary

McNeil 1896, Lizzie McKinney 1898, Lizzie McKinney, Mary Kelly 1899, Cora Hon, Grace Morris 1900-01, Anna Heller, Myrta Gustin 1903, Myrta Gustin, Sophia Langelbartels 1904, Sophia Langelbartels, John Williams 1905, Clara E. Heller 1906, Flossie B. Kiefer 1907, John E. Williams, Nora Langelbartels 1908, Virgie Shinn 1909, Marie Chrisman, Vera Lukin 1910, Vera Lukin, Daisy Reeves 1911, Fern Morgan, Catherine Benge 1912, Catherine Benge  1913, Hazel Kading 1914-15, Bessie Williams 1916, Caroline Estes 1917, Ruby Cain 1919, Frances Reiter 1920, Ruth Kading  1922-33, Lela Gifford 1924, Rena Juline 1925, Marie Hixenbaugh 1926, Genevieve Wagner 1927, Grayce Richards 1929-33, Mrs. Lila Lukin Wagner 1934, Kathleen Wilson 1935, Kathleen Wilson, Mary Fedro 1936, Eva Ford 1937-38, Leah Hegwood 1939, Velma Vanden Berg 1940, Grace Richards 1941, Frances Brooks 1942, Frances Brooks 1944-45, Ella Kearney 1947, Mary Hollingsworth 1948,  Mrs. Helen Beem 1949, Mrs. Helen Beem 1951-54.

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


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