It's where Ada gets its news!
Ada Sports
April 19, 2019

You are here

Once upon a time in Ada

Liberty Township one-room schools

Once upon a time in Ada

Things you didn’t know about your own hometown

By Lee Crouse

Liberty Township one-room schools

When the one room schools were built they were officially named District School No.1, No.2, and on through District School No.9. The schools were soon given names by the local school trustees, often given the surname of the person that donated the ground for the school. Some were named for the family that had the most pupils in the school.

 No.8, located at the intersection of St. Rt. 235 and Co. Rd. 60 was first called “Hoon,” for the family who provided the ground for the school. It later was called “Cemetery School” followed by Woodlawn because of the nearby Woodlawn Cemetery. No.1, at the northeast corner of Co.Rds. 40 and 65 now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jump, was also known as “McElroy” and later on “Red.” The land was provided by D. McElroy. The building was wood, not brick. Maybe a reader could tell how the name “Red” came into being. Some will remember a weekly column “Red School” written by correspondent Mrs. Henry Casper for The Herald in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

 No.9, at the intersection of Co. Rd 60 and Twp. Rd. 25, was named Klingler for the donor. Rinehart, No.2, which is now Liberty Grange, may also have ben named for the donor. T. Rinehart owned a large section of land just east of the school.

 Can any readers provide information on how the other township schools received their names?-; No.3 Woods; No.4 Stewart; No.6 Scotts Crossing; No. 7, Mustard.

Carl D. Russell, long time teacher, undertook the enormous task of locating and naming all of the one-room schools in Hardin County. A map was published in the Kenton Times in August 1983, pinpointing the 139 one-room school houses that once dotted Hardin County. The names are fun to review. Many were named for their geographical surroundings: several Beech, Maple and Shady Groves, Oak Grove, Sycamore, Lone Oak, Silver, Wolf and Rush Creeks. Some names came from the settlement they were in: Foraker, Pfeiffer, Hepburn, McGuffey, Yelverton.

 Other interesting names are Loggerhead, Hottentot, Lime Kiln, Brush College, Wildcat, Beehive, Opossum, Pisgah, Henpeck and McGuiggan.

 Art Cotner, St. Rt. 309, has many personal recollections of how the one-room schools were when he was of school age. He started the first grade in the fall of 1913. His first three grades were at Woodlawn, the 4th and 5th grades at Rinehart. Let’s let Cotner tell it in his own words.

 Country schools in those years covered grades one through eight-all in one room that seemed large in those days.

  The typical physical plant of a school would be a one-room brick building, heated with a pot-belly”d cast iron stove in the center of the room. A woodshed (or coal) located at the front of the building, a pump (and dipper), two small outhouses, and windows protected by metal grills. Inside lighting was provided for the rare evening activities. Light was from wall-mounted kerosene lamps equipped with convex silvered mirrors.

  One of the evening activities was the “Box Supper” where the girls brought a “supper” in a fancy box and the boys bid for the box they thought belonging to the girl of their choice. The winners of the bidding were entitled to share the “supper” and hopefully gain the chance to take the girl home.

  Summer brought another use for the school grounds. It provided a place for Sunday family picnic, including water, playground, and the two little buildings at the back of the lot.

  Some schools seated pupils by the size of the seats, with a cheese box under the feet of the little kids when the seat was too high for the short-legged youngster.

  Recitation benches were at the front of the room where the classes were called, one by one, for recitation.

  Oral recitation was the rule with frequent use of the slate blackboard for instruction and examination. The blackboard was used occasionally by some character to scrape a fingernail with a screech to make the hair stand on end! “Spelling down” was a daily exercise to determine who received the Honorary “Head Mark.” In addition to the “Three R’s,” fundamentals in the upper grades emphasized history, grammar, and geography. All aimed at equipping the student with the basic knowledge that was required to “pass the Boxwell” which was a passport to high school.

  It was intended that a student would finish taking this test but not infrequently a much younger student who had absorbed information by listening to recitations of the upper grades would go to the County Seat with the older sibling, take the test and qualify for admission to high school. Conversely some pupils weren’t interested in going further and would terminate formal study at the One Room School.

  In addition to regular classroom teaching, the teacher served as the custodian, janitor, disciplinarian and general factotum.

  General supervision was provided by the County Superintendent whose periodic visits were generally unannounced and provided an opportunity for observation of the teacher in action. Although the teacher’s formal education may have been “sketchy” by today's standards, their final effectiveness left little to be desired. It could be described as a minimum of “prescribed method” but an abundance of substance.

  In a recent discussion of the myraid activities involved in modern educational system, the vice president of admissions of a university was asked if students of modern schools could be compared favorably with the product of the one room school, and his reply was “I doubt it!-“I doubt it!’