Pinkley District is One of the Oldest
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, January 11, 1954.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune

Dates Back To 1856

Pinkley School, located two miles north of Spring Hill in District 12, Township 59, Section 24, is one of the oldest and largest school districts in Livingston County.

About the year 1856, a log schoolhouse was built on land known as the Pinkley farm. Mr. Pinkley was a Chillicothe mortician.

When interviewed, Mrs. Massengill White of Chillicothe told of her school days in this little log structure. She started to Pinkley School in 1882. Since no road led to the school, she had to walk a mile and a half through the woods climbing over rail fences to reach it. Since Black School was only three-quarters of a mile from her home, and after attending Pinkley School for two terms, her father, Porter Massengill, paid taxes in the Black district that she could attend school there.

The first teacher at Pinkley School was Miss Laura Miller, who later married Lewis Boyle. Her next teacher was Miss Eva Gamble. Approximately 35 pupils attended at that time.

Some of her schoolmates were George and Thomas Cravens, Nellie and Myrtle Gann, Rose and James Wilburn, Roy and Ollie Pinkley, Ronie, Ella and Alex Wortt.

She said the walls inside the log structure were whitewashed. The desks were made of native lumber having a shelf underneath for books.  They would seat three pupils. They had no backs. Windows on the north and south had small panes. The building faced east. It was heated by an old, long, wood-burning box stove with a hearth in front. It had a drum on top and Mrs. White said pupils often place frozen apples in it to thaw out before they could be eaten, since in extremely cold weather, food in the lunch pails in the back of the room would freeze before the noon hour.

Spelling bees and ciphering matches were held often in those days.

Mrs. White wore calico dresses to school in the spring, and linsey dresses made of wool in the winter. The wool for her clothing was taken from the sheep, which her father raised. It was thoroughly washed and then taken to Charles Wilburn’s carding mill and made into wool yarn. Mary Massengill dyed the wool after spinning it into yarn. The gods was woven on a loom, which was approximately a yard wide. Her mother also made her mittens, or gloves, hoods and scarves.

Years later, Perry Dillen, a contractor who lived in Jackson township, built a second structure on the side of the old building. The exact date of its construction could not be learned.

In an interview, Chester McCarthy, who lives a half-mile from the present schoolhouse, stated that he went to school in this building. There were about 60 pupils attending at this time. His first teacher was William Anderson, father of Mrs. Mary Waffle of Chillicothe. Other teachers were Etta Searcy Eads, Herman Elliott, John Noah, and John Gallatin of Chillicothe, who taught there 52 years ago. Earlier teachers than these were William Pearl, a deed commissioner in Livingston County, Isaac Wilson, Laura Cravens, Lewis Rice, George Moore, Kate Davis, John Hale, Frank Moss, W. A. Henderson, Horace Simpson, uncle of the late Dr. A. J. Simpson of Chillicothe, Celia Black, and Eva Anderson. Mr. McCarthy later taught school at Pinkley.

The second structure gad six windows, three on a side and it faced the south. It had home-made desks and a painted blackboard across the north of the room.

Drinking water was carried from a well on the Pinkley farm about a half-mile from the schoolhouse.

Games played were ball, blackman, shinny and anti-over. Skating was enjoyed on a near-by pond.

Mr. McCarthy’s schoolmates included Ruford Grimes, Myrtle and James Anderson, Fannie, Millie and John Christison, Grace, Dellard and Virgil Sumpter, James, Rose and Ann Wilburn, Eve Gamble, Laura and George Cravens, now of Hood River, Oregon, Charles Wingo, Homer Anderson of Yakima, Washington, George Raney and Mary Anderson Waffle of Chillicothe.

Early directors were John Boyle, Adam Black, Thomas Cravens, Robert Peniston, J. N. Ramsey, William McCarthy, W. A. Anderson, Frank Harvey, Benjamin Wenke, Sr., William Wilburn, James Ramsey, Harrison Christison, Andrew Young, and George Bassett. Some of them served for many years, among them William McCarthy, father of Chester McCarthy, who served as school clerk for more than 30 years.

Names of early taxpayers included Cravens, Ramsey, Gamble, Griner, Sumpter, Wilburn, Wingo, Anderson, Raney, McCarthy, Massengill and Christison.

Debating was popular at this time, Mr. McCarthy recalled. Jeff Jennings was considered one of the most outstanding debaters in the country.  He remembered that one subject for debate was “Resolved That More Can Be Learned Through Study and Observation Than By Travel.” Mr. Jennings was a fiddler. There were four in the family who played and they entertained at various places with orchestra music. Singing and literary societies were held. Lee Black, who was an extensive gardener, once gave a lecture on horticulture in the Pinkley schoolhouse.

In 1904, a frame building was constructed on the road one-half mile east of the old school site.  It was built by Silas Harvey and Yeomans. It was rectangular in shape with a high arched ceiling. It faced the west. It had three windows on both the north and south sides. A rostrum extended across the east end. On the wall above it was a slate blackboard. The front of the building had a hall running through the center with cloakrooms off each side, one for the boys and one for the girls. Doors from each cloakroom led into the main room. The room was heated by a wood-burning box stove located in the center of the room. There were three kerosene lamps on either side set in brackets with reflectors. The building seated approximately 50 students.

Some of the teachers who taught in this little building were Lida McCue, Corintha Bruce, John Vincent of California, and Dr. Thomas Tye, who is now a practicing dentist at Cameron, Missouri.

In 1910 this building was moved one and one-half mile north to the John Boyle land which is the site of the present school building. The moving of it was superintended by William McCarthy, father of Chester, who helped his father, by driving one of the three teams necessary to pull it.  It was moved by means of a block and tackle on rollers.

It was in the contract that the land given for school purposes for both the log and frame should revert to the landowners if the building was moved or no longer used for school purposes.

At this time, the Black School district consolidated with the Pinkley School district.

After the schoolhouse was moved, a cistern was dug which furnishes the drinking water for the pupils of today.

This frame structure burned in March of 1923. The schoolhouse burned during the weekend and no one ever knew the cause of the fire. The school term was finished in a two-room house one-half mile west of the school site known as the Anderson home.

Teaching the Pinkley School is a sort of tradition in the McCarthy family, since Mrs. Chester McCarthy taught in the frame building before it was moved to the present site and also taught three consecutive terms in the present building, after her marriage, the last one being the term of 1946-47. Then the McCarthy’s daughter, Frances, taught Pinkley School during the term of 1942-43, and the McCarthy’s niece, Marjorie, taught Pinkley School consecutively from 1937 until the spring of 1942.

Mrs. McCarthy, nee Blanche Smith, first met her husband at the breakfast table in the home of his parents, where she boarded.

One year she had 16 pupils who graduated from the eighth grade.

Ciphering matches and spelling bees, box and pie suppers were popular community activities during the years she taught there.

She recalled that church services were held one year in the early twenties in a tent on the school grounds by Tommy Harris, a young evangelist, graduate of William Jewell College at Liberty, Missouri. Lena Walker of Kansas City held church services in the schoolhouse in the summer of 1940.

During an interview with Mrs. Harry Young, it was learned that she and her husband bought the Pinkley farm in 1922 and razed the second school structure, building a combination granary and garage from the lumber. Mr. and Mrs. Young now live one and one-half miles south of the present school site.  Mrs. Young taught her first term at Pinkley School in 1923, being the first teacher to serve in the new building.  She returned to teach there again 23 years later. Mrs. Young is teaching the Linville School the present term.

Pinkley School is also a family affair with the Youngs. Harry Young received elementary education at Pinkley School. Mr. and Mrs. Young’s children went to school there and they now have four grandchildren in school at Pinkley. Their son, Donald, is president of the school board this term, and another son, Forrest, is clerk.

Mrs. Young found a unique circumstance existing her first term at Pinkley School, in that she had sixteen pupils in the eighth grade, twenty in the lower grades, with no pupils in the in-between-grades.

Many of Mrs. Young’s former pupils have been called to serve in the armed forces of their country. She has had letters from them from the four corners of the earth.

The earliest record book found of the meetings of the board of directors began on April2, 1935. William McCarthy was sworn in, appointing Roy Timbrook as president and J. W. Prewitt, clerk. Miss Fay Cusick was hired April 10th of that year for an eight months term at a salary of $35.00 per month. Arthur Martin followed her in 1936-37.

The present building erected in 1923 is approximately 30x32, weather-boarded and painted white. It faces the south. There are three windows on the east, four on the south and two on the west. Part of the large room is partitioned in the northwest corner for a cloakroom. It is approximately 5x15 feet. The partition walls do not extend to the ceiling, which allows small room to be heated by the oil-burning stove, which heats the schoolroom proper. It has two openings, on eon the east and one on the south.  Besides having individual hooks for wraps, with name of each child above the hook, this room also serves as a washroom, having a sink with a built-in cabinet beneath. It also has a spacious storage cabinet across the north end.

The walls and the ceiling of the schoolroom are a soft shade of green and the wainscoting is painted gray. A low platform is built across the north end of the room, with a three-foot blackboard extending the full length of the north wall. Alphabet cards are at the top of the blackboard. The eighteen single desks, in three rows, are fastened to wooden runners or strips enabling the rows to be moved with ease to any position in the room. There are six large framed pictures on the walls. There are work tables on the south and east and a small table on the east holding a set of World Books. There is a seven-foot bookcase in the northeast corner and a smaller sectional one on the east. Orange crates have been painted and pressed into service as bookcases. There are twelve folding chairs, one desk-type chair, a teacher’s desk and chair, a sand table, a metal storage cabinet for school records, a water cooler, a globe, full set of maps and a cot in the northeast corner of the room for the little ones to rest upon. The schoolroom is lighted by four large electric lights in globe-like fixtures, which hang from the ceiling. Two kerosene lamps in wall-brackets for emergencies are on the east wall. 

Mrs. Fred McCullough of Chillicothe, is teaching her third consecutive year at Pinkley School this term.  She previously taught nine years in Sullivan County. She is the mother of three boys and a girl. Two sons, Donald and Gene are in the service, Kenneth is a senior at Chillicothe High School, and Minetta is a sophomore at Kirksville State Teacher’s College.  Mrs. McCullough furnished the present day history of the school.

The teacher accompanies the rhythm band on the piano. All pupils take part. Clark Peterson directs with a baton. Frequently Donna Young or Zelda Akers play for the band. The school also has a record player and a radio, which was being enjoyed at the noon hour when the writer called for an interview. A hot-plate is the means of furnishing one hot dish on the menu each day. The menu is made out ahead of time for a week’s duration so that pupils will know just what to furnish for the week.

Mrs. McCullough explained the significance of the six bulletin boards in the room. One displays a unit on birds, another on trees, with artwork of spatter painted leaves. The second grade has one displaying a language and art unit picturing patriotic days. Another held Thanksgiving and Junior Red Cross posters made by the older pupils.

Pupils are having fun constructing “animules.” Newspapers are crumpled and wired into various shapes resembling animals and often the mass of paper turns out to be something entirely different from the object intended. These animals are padded and finally painted in colors appropriate to the finished “animule.”  The children are adept at finger-painting and working with colored crayons. A lovely picture of the Mayflower displayed on one of the bulletin boards had been done by one of the older pupils.

All classes are engaged in reading circle work. A metal card file is used to hold the records of the pupil’s reading circle work.

The school is health-minded. Eight points on a health chart are checked daily under the supervision of the teacher. Pinkley School is the health center clinic for Hosman, Happy Hollow, and Potter School districts. At a designated date, children from the four school districts are weighed, measured, their teeth, hearing and vision checked. A doctor examines their throat, noses and hearts. Immunization is given for diphtheria and tetanus and vaccine given for small pox. January 8th was this term’s health clinic date. In addition to these, each child must furnish a birth certificate for the school record, to be eligible for the nine-point health pin. Pinkley School pupils receiving these pins last term were Zelda Akers, Donna Young, Junior Akers, Verl Porter and Larry Porter.

All the pupils helped fill gift boxes for Christmas for the Junior Red Cross.

Playground equipment and games include swings and trapeze, basketball, softball, football, blackman, dare base, tag games and three-deep.

A large flag flies from a tall pole near the southwest corner of the building.

There are fourteen pupils enrolled this year. Gary Wilson and Virgie Venneman will graduate this term. Clark Peterson and Katheryn Morris are seventh graders. Donna Young, Freddie Young, Gary Peterson and Zelda Akers are in the fourth grade. Junior Akers, Sharon Young, Lois Young and Bettie Miller are second grade pupils and Larry Morris and David Fifer are beginners.

The teacher and pupils take a trip each year. This term Mrs. McCullough took them to the Homecoming football game at Chillicothe on Armistice day. Another all-day trip will be planned to visit various points of interest in Chillicothe before the close of the term.

The Pinkley Community Club meets at the schoolhouse the second Friday evening of each month. Officers are Mrs. Mae Akers, president; Mrs. Orville Peterson, vice-president; Mrs. Donald Young, secretary-treasurer; and Deloris Laffey, club reporter.

The patrons take turns preparing the program and sometimes the teacher and pupils take charge. Games, contests and movies are included in the programs. On October 20th the children gave a Negro minstrel in connection with a box supper and cake-walk. The cakes for the event were baked and furnished by the mothers. The proceeds for the evening were $106.00, which will be used for school equipment.

mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language: EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">Present directors are Donald Young, president; Forrest Young, clerk; Ernest Akers and Bill Fifer.

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