Farmersville Town and School Sites Deeded in 1869
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, July 9, 1954.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune


It was town for the farmers, so that is where it got its name.

The land for Farmersville school site, as well as for the village by that name, was given by Joseph Kinney and wife on September 25, 1869.  The school was built the following year, 1870.  It is located in the northwest part of the village, in Cream Ridge township No. 59, District 5, Range 23, twelve miles north of Chillicothe and fourteen miles south of Trenton.

All the land on the west side of the present highway 65, lying in the town’s site, was included in the original deed.  Mr. Kinney wished the village to be useful, especially to farmers–hence it was named Farmersville.

Fred Kinney, a great-grandson of the founder of the town, and a resident of Farmersville, said the village in the early days was a much larger place than it is today.  There were two churches, Methodist and Christian, two grocery stores, three blacksmith shops, a drug store, a saloon, a coffin, wagon and plow manufacturing plant owned by a Mr. Palmer, and two grist mills. The mill in the south part of town was a saw mill and a grist mill combined.  It was owned by Elijah Spence.  The mill a short distance north of town was a flour mill owned by George Kinney. The town at this time had two Doctors, Dr. F. P. Batdorf and Dr. Huff.

Mr. Kinney attended two terms, 1889-1890 and 1890-91 at Farmersville.  His teacher was Miss Eva Ward.

Since the earliest records of the school were burned in a fire which destroyed the third school building in 1914, several residents of the town and former pupils of the school were interviewed to obtain some facts about the school’s earliest history.

Mrs. Mary Victoria Terry, 117 Jackson Street, Chillicothe, was the oldest person interviewed.  She started to Farmersville school in 1870 at the age of seven years.  She came to Farmersville from the province of Ontario, Canada with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Glover.  Her mother, Louise Evener, came to Canada from Germany at the age of 14 on a sailboat.

A friend, Ira Marshall, who had established a cheese factory in the Hazel Hurst district, persuaded the Glover family to follow him to Missouri.  He met them at Chillicothe and then took them to the old Methias hotel at Farmersville located on what is now known as the Carl Collison farm.

Mrs. Terry said she helped milk the 50 cows owned by her father.  Mrs. Terry’s daughter, Mrs. Emma Terry Thompson, with whom she lives, said that her grandfather, in Canada, built long rows of cowsheds, that each beast might be protected against the wintry weather.  Besides making cheese, the family sold butter at Trenton for 8 and 10 cents a pound.

Mary Glover wore dresses to school which barely cleared the floor.  In spring she wore calico and in winter she wore dresses, stockings, mittens, cape and even coats made by her mother from sheep’s wool.  Even school girls helped make clothing, taking their knitting to school with them, so they might work at it when the days were too stormy to play out of doors.

Her shoes were coarse button ones, fitted by measuring the length and width of her foot, since the children were never taken to town for a fitting.

Minie (sic) Gifford was her first teacher.  Another teacher she remembers was Frank Cosgrove.

Some school activities which she recalled were writing, spelling, and ciphering contests with other schools, the winner receiving a prize.  She stated that attending these contests was a great deal of fun.  The school’s organ was loaded on a large hayframe, roomy enough to seat all the pupils.  Benches were placed down both sides of the hayframe and one through the center.  It was pulled by four horses.  The pupils sang as they rode along.

Mrs. Thompson said she attended one term at Farmersville.  Her teachers were Katy Batdorf, who taught the winter term, and Mary (Conger) Weigel, who taught the spring term.

W. O. Kile started to Farmersville school in 1873.  Mr. Kile lives in Farmersville.  His father, Elias Kile, who came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, bought forty acres of land in the town before the Civil War.  He was a Civil War veteran.

He describes the first building as being frame, approximately 24-30 feet.  It faced the south.  There were two doors on the south and three windows on the east and west sides.  The 25 pine desks each seated two pupils.  They were lined up on either side of the school room, so that pupils on one side faced those on the other.

A rostrum extended across the north end, with a blackboard above it.  There were recitation benches on either side of the room and one in front.  The teacher’s desk was on the rostrum.  A wood-burning box-type stove, with a drum on top, heated the room.  There were shelves on the west side of the door for dinner pails and nails beneath the shelves held the pupils’ wraps. 

From forty to fifty pupils were enrolled t this time, some of them grown boys and girls.  The terms were divided into five months winter and three months spring.

Mr. Kile’s first teacher was Brock Hudson, who lived 1 ˝ miles west of the school.  Another early teacher he remembered was a Mr. Hart.  His last teacher was Miss Josephine Norville.  During this term of school he took part in a program which he described as an exhibition. Four couples danced the minuet.  The name of the play was “George Washington and His Guest.”  He played the part of Washington and Lizzie (Bethards) Mitts was Martha Washington.  Others taking part that he recalled were Ike Kline, Wilmer Brown, Beulah (Taylor) Dickman and Maudie Watson.

There was an old cistern on the school grounds, but it was never used.  Water for drinking purposes was obtained from the Ira Palmer home just east of the school.  It was carried in a cedar bucket.

Wood for fuel, cut in 24 inch lengths, was racked on the school grounds.  It was bought by the cord, the contract going to the lowest bidder.

Some of the games played then were Shinny, Ball, Anti-over, Blackman, Tag, and Fox and Geese.

Subject studied were geography, grammar, reading, spelling, language, history, arithmetic and writing.  Pupils used copy books. Slates were used for handwork.

In 1896 the school was moved from its former site to property owned by Dr. F. P. Batdorf.  It was used as a shop and store house.  A new school building was erected that same year, built by Wm. Kinney and W. S. Kline, who lived north of Farmersville.  It burned in 1914 and the same carpenters erected another building in 1915 on the site of the old one.

School board members at that time were Mr. Kile, Pete Howard and J. H. Kilborn.  Other early directors included Elias Kile, W. S. Kline, P. G. Wagner, Lon Urton and Dan Austin.

Some of the early patrons of the district were Ami Butcher, Dr. Batdorf, Dr. Huff, Elias Kile, W. S. Kline, Solomon Livingood, Nick Howard, George Glover, Joe Bethards and James Watson.

School mates of Mr. Kile included George, Harl and Theodore Bethards; Al, Gus, Frank, Pete and Nora Howard; Homer Alexander, Lizzie Bethards; Mary, Martha, Dora, Fannie and Charles Glover; Lizzie Livingood; Katy Batdorf; Mattie, Ella and Katy Kline; Annie and Harry Selby; Hugh, Harry, Claude and Gusty Watson; Virgil, Les, Dell, Lena and Myrtle Ware.

Mrs. Harvey Copple, who was Mabel Austin when she attended Farmersville school, recalled that her first teacher, in 1896, was Mattie Batdorf, who taught six consecutive terms.  Other teachers she named were Miss Anna Selby, Bob Mulford, Francis Stewart, Bessie St. Clair, Celia Constant and Clara Blackburn.  There were 42 enrolled her first term of school.

Some of the schoolmates she recalled were Bertha Kline, Ethel Payne, Will, Roy and Harry Hurton, Allie Howard, Fred, Orin and Elsie Butcher; Violet, Goldie and Libert Hessenflow; Virgil, Homer and Robert Breedlove; Myrtle, Roy and Coy Anderson; Ottie Kile; Helen, Edna and Willie Wagner; Rosa, Clara and Jessie Wilcox; Harvey and Clyde Austin and Belle Brannon.

She studied reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography, grammar, spelling.  Spencerian copy books were used and changed for a time for vertical writing.  The school had a good set of maps, an atlas and a globe.

Church services were held at times in the school house.  Mrs. Copple said that her grandfather, Edwin Austin, was severely burned while he was attending church services at Farmersville school one evening when a kerosene lamp on the wall directly above his head exploded.  Mrs. Amy May of Chula is his daughter.  Other community activities held at the schoolhouse, which she remembered, were literary societies, medicine shows and political meetings.

Some Farmersville pupils who later became teachers were Beulah Taylor, Katy Batdorf, Franklin Batdorf and Allie Howard.

Franklin Batdorf, son of Dr. F. P. Batdorf is a graduate of the University of Missouri.  He has taught in New York and studied English abroad.  He has also taught in Austin, Texas and West Virginia.  He is now teaching English in Gainsville, Georgia.

Allie Howard is principal of the Hannibal school.

The earliest clerk’s record preserved is that of the year of 1924.  Directors from 1924 to 1941 were O. P. Hatfield, Fred Cox, Tom Blaine, W. O. Kile, Fred Butcher, Roy Prewitt, J. E. Burk, Fred Kinney, Winston Flentje, Andy Hibler, Claude Austin, Ernest Carr, Forrest Donoho, Elvin Wimmer, and J. E. Roberts.  Clerks during this period were W. T. Burns, Mrs. Elfa Flentje, Belle Austin and Mrs. Mable Copple.

The largest enumeration of children in the district during this period was thirty in 1931, seven boys and 23 girls.

There were five graduates in 1927, three in 1928, and four in 1929.

The earliest teacher’s record found was that of Elizabeth Shield’s for the term of 1933-34 listing 18 pupils.

Teachers from 1923 to 1942 follow: Inez Casida, Ione Gibson, Mrs. Byrda Wilson, Helen Pennington, Addie Elliott, Leonard Foster, Florence Flentje, Margaret Hatfield (taught three consecutive terms), Edith Shields, Delpha Duff (taught four consecutive terms), Mrs. Sam Gardner, Mary Joe Cheetam (taught two consecutive terms).  Salaries during this period ranged from $90 per month down to as low as $35 in 1933.

Other teachers recalled by Mrs. Copple were Mrs. John Donoho, who taught seven consecutive terms, Miss Mayberry and Miss Alice Mullins.

A new heater was purchased from the Midland Heating Company on July 31, 1930, and in August of that year, a flagpole was erected, the work being done by Butcher and Prewett.  A set of World Books were bought also.

The board of directors bought a lot for $25 June 5, 1934 to be used for a playground.  The land was originally owned by a Mr. Hessenflow.

A piano was purchased April 7, 1936.

A new well was put down April 21, 1937 and the schoolhouse at that time painted inside and out.  On October 27 a blackboard was purchased from universal Publishing Company for $35.28.

The schoolhouse was wired in December, 1939.  The contract was given to William Erbe for $45.  At this time a reading table was purchased.  In 1938 a new furnace was purchased from the Holland Furnace Company for $195.

A set of maps was purchased at this time from E. D. Wycoff for $54.75, and a set of new Human Interest books bought from the Midland Press Company for $49.25.

A merry-go-round for the school group was purchased from the Turner Company for $75 in May of 1939 and the school yard was fenced.

In March of 1941, $33 worth of outside reading books was purchased for state pupils Reading Circle work.

Farmersville school is still functioning.  Its latest history was furnished the writer by Miss Ilene Merriott, age 12 years, who is a pupil in the school.  Miss Merriott will be a graduate of the school next term.  Her hobbies are reading and music.  Her mother, Mrs. Irene Merriott, is the school’s present clerk.

The present building, 24x36 feet, faces the south.  It has an entrance room 9x9 used as the boys' cloakroom.  It has shelves for lunch buckets.  A small room in the northeast corner of the building is used as the girls’ cloak room and for miscellaneous storage space, including extra chairs.

An “Iron Fireman” oil furnace was installed in 1950 which stands on the east side of the room.

There are six windows on the south, two on the west and three on the east.  The ceiling and walls of the school room are painted a cream color.  There is a three foot wainscoting around the room.  The school room contains 16 individual pupils’ desks which face north.

Framed pictures on the walls include “The Good Shepherd,” “The Little Helper,” “The Father of Our Country,” and “The Wild Stallions.”

There are several bulletin boards, wall maps of all continents and a globe.

A permanent six-foot-wide stage extends across the north side.  A metal bookcase in the northeast corner of the room. There are two complete sets of World books, one set having been added to the library in 1951.

A piano and combination radio and record player, along with the traditional teacher’s desk and chair are other pieces of furniture found in the schoolroom.

The well, approximately eight feet south of the building, has been modernized by the present school board, installing an electric pump.

Miss Ilene states that Miss June Maberry of Dawn, MO, who taught from 1950-53, added much to the improvement of the interior of the school room and also the school grounds by purchasing venetian blinds for the windows, an electric clock, a piano bench, and the religious picture “The Good Shepherd,” four steel swings and frame, and a basket ball, with money earned by giving box suppers.  Other playground equipment includes a teeter-totter, a merry-go-round, swings and soft ball and bat.

Miss Mary Alice Mullins, Trenton, MO, a graduate of Trenton Junior College, taught a very successful term the past year.  She was asked by the county superintendent of schools give a reading demonstration with some of her pupils, at the annual county meeting of school directors and clerks in February.

The pupils enjoyed the art work taught by her.  Many interesting “Animules” were made last winter, and a project on trees was very educational.  Copper tooling was taught at Christmas time and finger painting was enjoyed at various times.

Favorite indoor games are horseshoes, bingo and checkers.  Outdoor games enjoyed are Redman, Cowboy, Andy Over and Indians.

The nine pupils attending last term were in grades 3-4-5 and 7.  They were Linda Hatfield, Ilene Merriott, James LeRoy Roberts, Gary, Joe and Donnie Gates, Jimmy and Johnny Frey, Gary Winner and Guy J. Carr.

Miss Deloris Laffey of Jamesport has been employed to teach the coming school term.

Community meetings are held regularly during school months.  Leslie Hatfield has served as president since 1952.

Present directors are Fred Butcher, President; Arlen Gates, and Mrs. Irene Merriott, clerk.