Blackburn School Started
109 Years Ago, Now Is Closed
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, November 4, 1954.
by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri
reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune
Annexation to Jamesport District of Daviess County was in spring.
Blackburn school district was organized 109 years ago. The minutes of the first meeting read: Ordered that school Township 59 in Range 25 organize for school purposes. Ordered that Thomas Hutchinson be appointed school commissioner of said township and that W. C. Davis and Levi Cox be appointed school inspectors for said township. Dated February 6, 1845. Signed – Abel Cox, Clerk. This notation follows: “I do certify the above to be a true copy of the original order this 7 day of February, 1845. Signed J. W. Bills, T. C.”
About five weeks later the following minutes were recorded: The inhabitants met in pursuance of an order of the court at the house of William F. Hicklin on the 15th day of March 1845 for school purposes in Township 59, Range 25 and was organized by calling James A. Davis to the chair. The meeting then proceeded to the following business: Thomas Hutchinson elected school commissioner, Levi Cox, Alexander Dockery, William F. Perry and John W. Boyle, elected inspectors. James S. Moseley elected township clerk.
“It is determined that Township 59 be laid off in four districts, designated as follows: No. 1 in the northeast, No. 2 in the northwest, No. 3 in the southwest and No. 4 in the southeast. The board than adjourned to meet at the house of William Hicklin on the first Saturday in March, 1846. By order of the board of directors. Signed – James S. Moseley, township clerk.”
The last names of the seven men who furnished the funds for building the first school were Berry, Kesler, Carson, Davis, Ramsey, Blackburn and Hutchison.
The first schoolhouse was built on the 1,200 acre farm of Thomas Hutchison, who was the first teacher. Since he lived to be a centenarian, he saw the erection of the four school buildings in Blackburn district.
Mrs. Barbee Boyle Hutchison of Kansas City who from an old school record furnished the date for the school’s earliest history writes: “The shady woodland selected for the first school house, provided not only running water, but a deepened creek bed of living water. The grounds contained some grassy knolls or Indian mounds. A wagon road ran alongside. By this time the grounds were covered with bluegrass from sod which Mr. Hutchison had brought from Kentucky in 1842. The bluegrass was first sown in fence corners, and when ripened, neighbors came and stripped the seed by hand, this being the origin of the bluegrass of north Livingston.”
The late John Kesler and his wife, Alice Rose Kesler, parents of Mrs. Minnie Hedrick of Chillicothe attended school in the first building when they were children. It was built of logs and had a dirt floor. The seats were made of split logs and had no backs. Greased paper was used for window panes. The room was heated by a fireplace.
Mrs. Hedrick recalls that her mother told of using goose quills for pens and the juice of poke berries for in ink. Dippers were made of gourds. Clothing was then made mostly of home-made materials. Woolen cloth was dyed brown by using walnut hulls. The bark from the oak tree produced yellow dye and Crab bark, green.
Children enjoyed playing ball. Their bats were often pieces of broken rails and the balls were made of yarn ravel stockings which had been hand-knit. On Friday afternoon often sang in unison the names of the state capitals.
On March 4, 1854, Thomas and Mary Hutchison deeded a square acre of land for a school site in the southwest corner in the northwest quarter of Section 9, Township 59, Range 25 on which the second school house was built. It was about a mile southwest of the first school site. A state highway now traverses this site.
The school site was moved across the road in Section 8, Township 59, Range 25, during the Civil War. The acre of land deeded for the site was given by Gus Snidow and the school was then called Blackburn. The third and fourth building were erected on this site.
The Snidow family cemetery, which is very old, bounds the school grounds on the south. For many years there was not even a fence separating them. In later years, a high fence was erected between the school grounds and the cemetery.
Two of the graves are marked by old sandstone rocks, the inscriptions obliterated. Doubtlessly these stones were carried from a nearby pasture and marked and inscribed by members of the family. They were people by the name of Webb. The next burial was Temp Snidow, who died June 23, 1857. There are a few unmarked graves and no burials for many years.
The school yard is bounded on the west by a high fence, on the east by Route F and on the north by a farm to market graveled road. The school is a mile and a half south of the Grundy County line and two miles east of Daviess County.
The district was large and enrollment increased during the terms Frank Schuler was teacher, it numbered more than eighty pupils.
Mrs. Hedrick, who was Minnie Kesler when attended Blackburn, started there in 1884. She is the oldest living pupil of the school. Her parents lived a mile south of the school. She had a brother, Homer, who attended Blackburn school and later served as the district clerk for more than 30 years.
Mrs. Hedrick’s maternal grandparents were Dr. and Mrs. J. W. Rose, who came from Kentucky. They lived a mile south of the first school. Dr. Rose was a pioneer doctor with a large practice which extended south to Grand river just north of Utica, north to Hickory, 15 miles to the east, and 20 miles to the west. Many times it was necessary him to make a path through the underbrush to reach a patient. Often he had to be away from home for several days at a time, since he would be called from the home of one patient to the home of another. He took his pay in wheat, bacon, corn, hams, or whatever the farmer had to pay with.
Mrs. Hedrick’s paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Kesler, came from Bottertout County, Virginia. They lived two miles southeast of the school.
The third school was a frame building which faced the east. The interior was ceiled. The home-made desks faced west and would seat four pupils each. There two windows in the west, three each on both the north and south sides. The door was in the east. The blackboard was between the two west windows. A platform extended across the west end. Manufactured desks were used later.