History of Black Hills School Near Chillicothe Opened in 1881 
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, February 9, 1956.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune


Last Term Was in 1941-42, Writes Mrs. Boone in Recording the History

It is thought that Black Hills school derived its name from the Black Hills of South Dakota.  It is located in district number 9, Cream Ridge township 58 and 59, Range 24, six miles north of Chillicothe.  Land for the school site was set aside by the county since it was part of the farm owned by the county from 1867 to 1901.

The district was formed in 1881.  The first annual school meeting was held at the home of Michael Broyles, April 14, 1881.  At this meeting, Thomas Roberts, Michael Broyles, and Seth Marsh were elected directors.

A three-month term was voted.  Funds of $75 were voted for same and $400 voted for building purposes.  The minutes were signed by R. M. Megar, chairman, and Seth Marsh, secretary.  A four-month was voted in 1882.

The school term began November 14, 1881.  The first enumeration of the district was taken April 14, 1881, listing 24 boys and 24 girls ranging in age from 6 to 18 years.  They were Edwin Adams; William, Jasper, Charlotte and George Beemer; Luan Brown; Susan, Aaron, Cora and Mary Broyles; Maggie Cargo; Luther Couch; James, Elizabeth, Laura and John Hutley; Luella Lile; William Leap; Maggie Mayberry; Clara, Lida, Howard, Belle and Gilbert Marsh; Francis Moore; Louisa, Thomas, Percilla, Samuel and Maude Payne; Sarah, John, Thomas, Anna, Joseph, and Henry Roberts; Lillie, George, Susan and Able Shotwell; Eddie Sparling; Melvin and Fredrica Volkman; Josephine and Bose White; Nancy and Mary Young.  From this enumeration, seventeen boys and sixteen girls attended school.  Sixty-one were enumerated in 1882 and 24 boys and 20 girls attended school that year.

The following taxpayers were listed the first term of school: Julie Adams, John Bradford, Henry Beemer, John Shotwell,  Jacob Lamp, R. M. Megar, Harry White, Christian Volkman, C. W. Shotwell, Fred Lamp, William Young, John OíConnor, Thomas Roberts, Michael Broyles, Martha Sparling, Mrs. Ann Payne and Seth Marsh.

Total expenditures for the three monthsí term were $475.

Teachers from 1881 to 1891 all held either second or third grade certificates.  Their salaries ranged from $20 to $35 per month.  Teachers during the ten-year period were Alice Woodford, Mary Darr, Laura Bradford, F. H. Sparling, A. E. Wanamaker, Rosa Clark, Siler Faulkner, William Wilson, Ida Baker and Stella McClary.

Harry Fischer, who lives one-fourth mile west of the schoolhouse, was interviewed.  He started to Black Hills in 1905 at the age of 6 years.  His parents were William and Mary Fischer.  He lives on the home farm.  His sisters, Viola and Mamie, also attended.  His father was an early director. 

Mr. Fischer supplied the following description of the schoolhouse: The weather-boarded 20x30 structure built in 1881 still stands.  It was built by Bill Diegleman and George Harman.  It faces the south and has three windows in both the east and west sides.  There is an anteroom on the south approximately 6x10 feet, which was used for wraps.  t has an outside door on the south with a window above it, and one door leads from it into the main room.

The first desks were benches made by local carpenters.  Later, 14 double factory desks were installed which face north.  There were long recitation benches on both the east and west sides of the room and a shorter one in the back of the room used for dinner buckets.  The first teacherís desk was also hand-made.  Its writing top slanted and was on hinges.  The space beneath was used for supplies.  The double floor is of four-inch boards.  The schoolroom has wainscoting, which at the present is painted blue.  The rest of the walls and the ceiling are plastered and painted the same color as the wainscoting.

The blackboard was at first of 3-foot-wide boards painted black.  Later, slate blackboards were installed.  They are on the north end.  Bracket wall lamps with reflectors, three on a side, furnished light for the room when needed.

Community activities at school in the early days included literary societies and debates, spelling, ciphering matches, occasional medicine shows and basket dinners at the close of school.

One of Mr. Fischerís teachers was Marvin Smith who now lives at 1015 Locust Street, Chillicothe.  Mr. Smith taught Black Hills during the term of 1906-1907.  He also taught Happy Hollow, Sneed, Linville, Springhill, Woodland, White Cloud and Pinkley schools before becoming principal of the fourth ward school in Chillicothe in 1910.  On January 1, 1911, he began carrying mail in Chillicothe, a position he held for 38 years.

Guy Summerville, who lives near the school, started to Black Hills in 1910.  His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Azel Summerville, lived three-fourths of a mile east of the school and one-fourth mile north.  His sister, Opal, also attended.

Teachers named, other than Mr. Smith by Mr. Fischer and Summerville up to the year 1933 were: Verna Barton, Frank Darr, Xanthe Dowell, Myrtle Ruddy, Levere Lowder, Charles Smith, Alice Hall, Hazel Sherman, Hazel Davis, Myrtle Storey, Geneva Thomas, Maude Cox Forbis, Clara Hagaman, and Agnes Martin.