Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, March 13, 1953.
by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri
reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune
First Minor School Was Destroyed By Fire
Most of the early history of the Minor School was furnished by S. A. Hagaman of Palmyra, Missouri, who, until he moved to his present home, six years ago, lived on the Hagaman home farm for seventy years. This farm is about three miles north of the school site. Mr. Hagaman’ father, Charles Sherman Hagaman, came to Missouri from New York in 1867 and settled in the Minor district. His five children went to school there. Another son, Wallace Hagaman of Chillicothe was very helpful in giving data for this story Minor School. Mrs. C. A. Hagaman was clerk of the district for thirty-one years. His sister, Lydia, (Mrs. Lydia Hagaman Ward) taught at Minor School, and later his daughter Clara (Mrs. Clara Hagaman Boyer) was also a teacher there. His niece, Mrs. Eva Ward of Chula, taught four terms there, the last being 1951-52.
He writes that Minor School was originally located on a half acre of ground in Section 25, Township 58, Range 24, on the old prairie trail one mile from what is now North Broadway in Chillicothe. The part of the trail north was called Trenton Road. This old trail can still be traced from Broadway, northeast, across the McWilliam’s pasture, then almost due north to the Hagaman farm where it divided, with one branch going north to Farmersville and Trenton and the other northeast to Cottonwood Grove, Eversonville, Alpha and other towns. Across this trail, teamsters (called freighters), hauled goods from Chillicothe to north Missouri and southern Iowa.
In 1886 the C. M. & St. Paul Railroad crossed the southeast corner of the district and the entire Grace tract of land was incorporated in the city. The original Normal School was started in the northwest part of Chillicothe, therefore the building was moved north and the land was also incorporated which weakened the Myers district, finally beyond operating, and this was then attached to Minor district forming district No. 8, now known as district No. 42.
The school was first known as the Stewart School since Captain Stewart owned land adjacent to it. Later it was called Minor School because of the active part W. H. Minor took in the organizing of it.
Since schools in those days were organized on the enumeration basis, Mr. Hagaman says that J. A. Grace gave a year’s rent to a family in the district having ten children in order to secure the enumeration of children needed. Samuel P. Shour gave the land for the school site on October 13, 1871.
The first frame building was blown away by a tornado in 1876. Nothing but the floor remained. The desks were crushed and scattered across the road, but none of the building was ever found. An arithmetic book was found near Medicine Creek, on one side of the stream, while a slate was found on the opposite side. The distance was about six miles northeast of the school site.
The new building was set on limestone pillars, five on each side and center. It was built entirely of Northern white pine. It faced the east. The main part was 24x36 feet, with ten-foot studding and finished outside with ˝x6 inch siding. Inside, the walls were plastered down to the wainscoting, which was four foot high. Later the ceiling was covered with insulation board.
There were four windows each, on the north and south sides and one in the center of the west end, which later was closed to prevent the sun’s glare in the afternoon. The anteroom was 8x12 feet. It had a hall in the center 4x6 feet with a 3x7 door at each end and cloak-rooms on either side with small doors opening into the main room.
The painted pine blackboards, each 4x10 feet, were across the west end of the building.
Home-made desks were used, Mr. McMichael, the first teacher, was also a carpenter. He made desks, two of which are still in use. Later manufactured desks were purchased. The regulation desk and chair was used by the teacher.
The grounds sloped to the west with the main building near the northeast facing the road on the east. A woodshed stood in the northeast corner, and the well was near the southwest corner of the schoolhouse. One large oak tree stood just south of the well and five others were near the west end of the yard. Mr. Hagaman writes that a peeled hickory pole was fastened to two of these trees and was used as a horizontal bar.
The ball ground was in the pasture south of the yard, and he states that in all these years the objection to using same has been almost nil. Other games played on the school ground were Dare Base, Prisoner’s Base, Black Man, Shinney, skating on a nearby pond, and Fox and Geese when the snow was on, and he remarks “how we loved to use our sleds on the north slope of the schoolhouse hill.” Lots of cord wood was hauled into town in those early days, and when a barefooted team came to the schoolhouse hill, he says, “we sure heard a flow of language very much unrefined, used with more force than eloquence.”
Lydia Hagaman, who taught in 1896, recorded the following subjects and texts in her report for the year: Franklin readers, McGuffey’s speller, Ray’s Revised Arithmetic, analytic copy books, Butler’s Geography, Hyde’s Grammar, Barnes’ History, Steele’s Physiology , Milne’s Algebra, Townsend’s Civil Government. Mr. Hagaman adds that the school had a full set of geometric blocks, globes, maps, etc.
Some former teachers from 1880 to 1890 were McMichael, Miss Angie Bryan, Thomas Albrittian, Florence Bryan, Dan Gibbons, T. D. Jones, Ida Collins, Alice Crafton, Adelia Collins, Charles Martin, Harve Matson and three teachers who served as county superintendent of schools, namely Annie Stewart Williams (the first woman to serve in this capacity in Livingston County), M. P. Gilchrist, who served while teaching, and J. W. McCormick. S. C. Orr, who taught the school in 2893, later served as representative from this congressional district.
The earliest teacher’s record preserved of Minor School begins April 6, 1891. Frankie Grayson taught that year. Some teachers who followed were Bessie St. Clair, Mary Quick, J. W. McCormick, E. C. Orr, Ella Burgess, Lydia Hagaman, Ruth Jackson, Virginia Elliott, and J. M. Gallatin, who went to school there in 1896 and taught the term of 1901-02. Ella Burgess listed the weather in her teacher’s report, and told why pupils were absent. Wallace Hagaman said that men were usually employed to teach the winter terms of school and women were selected as teachers for the spring terms.
Mrs. T. C. Campbell of Chillicothe, in an interview, said she considered William McCormick as an outstanding teacher because he possessed the happy faculty of getting along with children and all of them liked him. He was the father of Mrs. Ila Summerville, who until recently resided in Chillicothe. After Mr. McCormick quit teaching, he went into the coal business in Chillicothe and lived on Locust Street. Another teacher, Thomas Albrittian boarded in the home of Mrs. Campbell’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Minor, but she stated that many of the teachers lived in or near Chillicothe and were able to board at home. Mrs. Campbell was Ellen Minor when she was a pupil at Minor School. Eleven of her brothers and sisters also attended Minor School.
Mrs. William Martin of Chillicothe, who is the present clerk of the school, a position she has held for the last six years, has been most helpful in supplying information for the Minor School. In an old record, she found that in 1896, when Lydia Hagaman taught, and again in 1897 when Ruth Jackson was teacher, school was dismissed by the school board during the county fair. She says the patrons of Minor School were especially interested in it since the fair grounds were in Minor district. The half-mile track used for horse races is the present golf course of the Chillicothe Country Club. The grandstand and exhibit booths stood where the clubhouse is now located. These grounds were also the site of the first airplane flight in this county.
Mrs. Martin states that “Minor School could rightly be thought of as a Heritage School, since we have so many families who have been represented in our school for two generations, even down to the present board.”
The writer found the names of these interesting visitors recorded for the term of 1902-03: J. A. White, Coatsburg, Illinois, and Frank Davis, Mexico City, Missouri.
Names of old pupils of Minor School were supplied by C. A. and Wallace Hagaman, most of whom had written in the latter’s autograph album: Best -- Thomas, Blanche and Bert; Fry -- Fred, Eugene and Beulah; Gibbons -- Dan, Lizzie, Bud and Edward; Grace -- Ida, Ode, Charles, James, Jr., Ellen, Virgil, Virginia, Sarah Thorne, Gordon and Alice; Hagaman -- Clara, Lydia, Wallace, Charles and Nettie; Jackson -- Ella, Ruth C. (Carrie), Frank, James, Pearl and Arthur; Lathrop -- Cora, Eugene, Nova, Henry, Lizzie, Viola, Fred, Margaret and Bertha; Minor -- Lizzie Mary Green, William Ely, George, Jack, James C., Susan, Preston, H. Jr., Ellen, Decimond, Anna Lee and Rachel; Stone – Mark, Stephen, Horace, Richard, Sallie and Anna; Taylor – Anna, Arthur and Frank; WILSON – (a Mrs. Wilson who had seven children attending); BELDON -- A. A., Pearl, Harry, Katherine and Miles; BURGESS – Charles, Ella Martha, William and Harry; POSTLEWAIT – Joe, William, Mark, Sallie Belle (Dolly), and Harry; Victoria CHANEY; Minnie CASTER; Jessie McMANUS; Homer McWILLIAMS; Charles SARGENT; Jennie STEWART.
Some of the early patrons of the school, who are termed “old-timer” by Mr. Hagaman, were Charles Chaney, Calkins, Dienst, England, Captain Wm. Caster, (who was an Irish steamboat captain on the Mississippi before the Civil War), Gibbons, J. A. Grace, C. S. Hagaman, J. T. Jackson, Lathrop, William Mathews, Barney McManus, McWilliams, P. H. Minor, Charles Sargent, Captain Stewart, Stone, Mrs. Wilson, Francis Taylor, Jervis Postlewait, A. A. Belden.
Mrs. Campbell said the usual community activities popular in her day, were carried on at the schoolhouse, such as debating teams, and spelling bees in which the pupils of Minor School frequently competed with those of Green Grove School. She said she especially enjoyed the reading contests held in the school about twice a year. The teacher and two other adults in the district voted as judges for the contests. The pupils who could read the best were awarded a prize, usually a good book. Mrs. Campbell recalled that she was the winner in one such contest.
Many former pupils and teachers of the Minor School, have in later years found success in their chosen fields. Some others than those mentioned earlier in this history follow:
Four of the children of Mr. and Mrs. B. H. Minor became doctors. W. Minor went to Kansas City, and with his father-in-law, Mr. Thornton, established the well-known Thornton-Minor clinic. Mary Green, the Minor’s daughter, practiced medicine in Los Angeles for 42 years, having been the only lady surgeon in the city.
John Gallatin of Chillicothe, former pupil and teacher, has served his county as superintendent of schools and is now probate judge.
Joseph Stewart, who went to Minor School, the last week of one term of school, has been Chillicothe’s postmaster for the past twenty years. His brother, Francis Stewart, also a former pupil, is district judge of the district court at Muskogee, Oklahoma. Prior to this position, he was assistant United States attorney.
Miss Verna Reynolds of Chillicothe is an outstanding student and teacher of music.
Miss Josephine Norville, Chillicothe, who taught one term at Minor School, has studied at Missouri, Chicago, Harvard, and Oxford Universities. She taught English and Spanish in the Chillicothe High School for a number of years.
Mrs. Grace Allen Boehner, who is now dean of women at West Liberty State College, West Liberty, Virginia, taught her first term of school in the Chillicothe High School, three years at Columbia University and three years at Fayette (Central College), where she was dean of women.
Mrs. Vernie Waugh Garrett of Harrison, Arkansas, who was the daughter of Al Bryan, and a former pupil of the school, is a graduate of a University and a former missionary to China. She is a member of the Christian Church of Chillicothe.
John Deal, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Deal of Chillicothe, went to school at Minor in 1919-20. He is a graduate of Cornell University and received his Ph.D. and D. D. in London, England. He is now stationed in Burma as consulting entomologist, Ministry of Agriculture and forests, having a leave of absence from Penn State College where he taught entomology for three years. His mother, who was Pearl Reynolds, is also a former pupil of Minor School.
Mrs. Grace Skinner, who lives near Chillicothe, taught the 1952-53 term at Minor School. When the writer visited the school, she found Mrs. Skinner supervising some very interesting and instructive exhibits and projects.
The bird exhibit represented the work in drawings of every pupil in school. Only birds native to Missouri were studied, she explained.
On bulletin boards, the imports and exports of the United States were shown. All grades participated in weaving and papier-mâché work. A waterwheel was fashioned for the study of Iraq and Iran, and totem poles were made during the study of Indians. Mrs. Skinner said that she always tried to select projects and the like, which would encourage her pupils to become more science-minded and government-conscious.
The schoolroom was neat and attractive. The wainscoting is painted gray and the walls area pastel shade of green. The blackboard extends across the west end of the room. There are desks for thirty-four pupils, a teacher’s desk and a chair, a heating system of the furnace type. There are four corner shelves in the southeast corner of the room. A tall cabinet in the southwest corner is used to store materials and equipment. There is a piano, a Victrola, a water cooler, a bookcase, two bulletin boards, a large flag, a sand table, a long folding table and small chairs for first and second graders, and a first-aid kit. The school has an extensive library of supplementary books and a complete set of maps. The old tellurian of by-gone days is still in use. It is lowered for study by means of ropes and pulleys and is held in place near the ceiling by a heavy iron weight.
Playground equipment includes swings, slides, a volley ball net and a teeter-totter. Balls and bats are kept indoors when not in use.
Mrs. Skinner said that her pupils were all eager to be nine point students. She explained that to qualify, the child must meet certain health requirements, such as being inoculated from certain contagious diseases, must give teeth the proper care, and must present a birth certificate. This information is recorded in the teacher’s daily register. The nine-point child receives a different star for each year, and after a certain number of years, receives special recognition.
Community meetings are held once a month at night, at the schoolhouse. The parents are responsible for the programs. Usually the pupils contribute something toward the entertainments. A program is always given at Christmas time. Programs are varied, and refreshments are served after them. Mrs. Skinner said that a box supper was held during the past term which netted $100.00 and the money will be used to purchase necessary things for the school.
Grades taught the past term were first, second, third, sixth, seventh and eighth.
Pupils attending the past term were Jerry Chase, Marcella Goff, Judy Moore, Ronald Newton, Lorna Telaneus, James Spears, Dixie Wilburn, Lloyd Avery, Gail Bradley, Linda Farris, Kenneth Hoyt, Jerald Hamilton, Diana Jackson, William Plummer, Lloyd Allnutt, Charlene Jennings, Donald Wilburn, Lee Ann Bradley, Larry Cooper, James Plummer, Linda Hamilton, David Bloss, Jenny and Jerry Jackson (twins), Margaret Telaneus and Charles Jennings.
Members of the school board for the 1952-53 term were Trall Hefton, president; Fred Telaneus, William Martin and Mrs. William Martin, clerk.