HENRY COUNTY HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS: Scott Township one-room country schools

Submitted photo

The Shelman School was a one-room country school in Scott Township in Henry County.
Submitted photo The Shelman School was a one-room country school in Scott Township in Henry County.

One of the projects that the Winfield Museum and Henry County Preservation Commission is working on this year is the one room country schools. This article will cover a little of the information gathered about the nine one room schools in Scott Township. We hope to learn more, so we would appreciate your help. If you know more information about any of these schools, contact Judy Rawson or Linda Haight at the Winfield Museum, which is open on Monday mornings 10:00-12:00. If enough information is gathered in Henry County for all the country schools, the Preservation Commission will do a book.

Looking at Scott Township, we find our first school was built in 1842 on Adam Ritchey land with David C. Ritchey as teacher. Adam wanted to charge rent for the land and building but neighbors refused to pay, so the building was moved to the Bartholomew Hochreiter farm in 1848, rent free. In 1858 the schoolhouse was moved into Winfield on Lot 3, Block 1 and was no longer used as a school. A new frame school was built in 1856 and used until 1872, located on the corner of Locust and 120th St., south across from the old Countreestore. This building was moved in 1874 to Lot 2, Block 8 where the John Wittrig residence is. This then became the town school.

The country schools were built between 1854-1871 in Scott Township. Sherman #1 and Round Grove #5 were two of the first. Philomathian # 4 and Frog Pond #7 were deeded in 1869, and Lemon #3 and Franklin Hall #9 were deeded in 1871. Smokey Hall #8, Lincoln Hall #5, and Victory #2 were built before 1870.

Samuel Luke Howe was the first County Superintendent from 1858-1859. He filled a vacancy in 1862, served another term in 1865-1868, and again in 1875-1876. J.A. Smith was the County Superintendent in 1860-1861, and in 1863-1864. In 1869, L. Farr was appointed as a temporary superintendent. G.W. Thompson served from 1869-1872.

Some of the 1872 rules for teachers included: 1) Fill lamps, clean chimneys, and trim wicks. 2) Bring buckets of water and coal for the day. 3) Men teachers may have one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings each week if they attended church regularly. 4) After ten hours of school, teachers should spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books. 5) Women teachers who marry or engage in other unseemly conduct will be dismissed. 6) Smoking, liquor, pool halls and barbershops will be suspect of worth, intentions, integrity, and honesty. If you perform labors faithfully and without fault for 5 years, you get a 25 cents per week increase.

Franklin Hall and Round Grove both served as churches on Sundays. Franklin Hall saw Beulah Baptist church organized there, and Round Grove saw the Presbyterian Church organized in 1856.

Frog Pond #7 was closed in 1918 when the Mt. Union school district consolidated. It was sold to a farmer and used as a home. It has since been torn down.

Lemon #3 was also torn down. The lumber was used for a corncrib which also has been torn down. Victory #2 was moved to a farm near by and made into a home but was also torn down. All the country schools in Scott Township closed in 1920 and became part of Winfield Consolidated Schools, except for Frog Pond.

Lincoln Hall #5 and Smokey Hall #8 were moved to Winfield and used as temporary classrooms in 1920. Philomathian #4 was sold for $250 and made into a home. Sherman #1 was purchased by Mrs. Arnold Ita and Mrs. U. Ita and became known as Ida Grove, which was used for various gatherings. Many of the local clubs that were located around Winfield took their names from the country school situated in their neighborhood. Philo Bee Club was named for Philomathian #4.

The school years often ended with a pie social or picnic, and sometimes schools joined together for the big event. In 1906 frog Pond had a pie supper reported by teacher Miss Hattie Pickett. There was a short literary program consisting of recitation, dialogues and word drill. “Those that attend will be shown a good time. Boys, this is your chance for a good time. See that girl of yours and get solid for this occasion. She wants to go.” One wonders if the teacher was doing some matchmaking or afraid the boys wouldn’t come!

There are many more stories to be told about our one room schools. Please visit our local museum or watch for a future book about all Henry County country schools. If you can find an old picture of one of the schools, please bring it to the museum so we can preserve our history.