Boucher School Operated From the 1860s to 1921
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, December 5, 1957.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune


According to an article about Boucher school, which was published in the Centennial Edition of the Constitution-Tribune in 1937, this district was organized in 1869 and at that time comprised both the Kirk and Sampsel districts.  Kirk withdrew and formed its own district some time in the 80s and Sampsel formed its district around 1900.

There was an existing school before the district was formed in this neighborhood, probably built in the 1840’s and is thought to have been a squatter’s log cabin, which was located about a mile north of Sampsel on land which then belonged to the government.  Later the land on which the school was located, was homesteaded by Bill Boucher.  It could not be learned what year this school was destroyed by fire, after which a second building was erected on the George Ewing farm, later purchased by Carl Pepper.  Mr. Ewing was one of the early teachers.  The name of Doc Boucher, was the only pupil mentioned in the article who attended school in the second building.

The article records the following names of early patrons given in the enumeration after the Civil War: Bills, Gibbons, Boucher, Rensler, Krouse, Trimble, Walker, Minnick, Johnson, Shumate, Gann, Eberlin, Grazier, Whitacre, Morgan, Wilson, Phelps.  School enumeration at the time ranged from 50 to 90.

The article states that the second building was razed some time in the 70’s.  The floor was used in the barn loft on the farm of Andrew J. Boucher, and the rest of the building was moved about a quarter of a mile down the road below the John Kessler home where it remained for several years before it was moved to Sampsel by Doc Boucher.  He remodeled it and lived in it until it burned on Thanksgiving day of 1888.

The third building was built in 1869 and located 1½ miles north of Sampsel in Township 58, Range 25, Section 21.  It was built about 100 feet north of the last Boucher school and was on the site of the last school yard.  P. H. Lilly, who was a brother-in-law of Dr. Phelps, practicing in Chillicothe at the time, built this school house.  The building faced the south.

One of Missouri’s illustrious sons, Gen. Enoch Herbert Crowder, taught his first term of school at Boucher in the third schoolhouse.  He was so short of stature that director Andrew Jackson Coucher jokingly told him that he thought he was too small to handle the big boys, whereupon Crowder promised that no boy would ever whip him.  He was given the school.  He was so elated over being hired, that he gave the Boucher boys, Charley and John each a dime.  He boarded in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons.  He plowed corn after school hours to pay for his board.  The article states that he fell in love with the Gibbons daughter, Dell.  They never married however, and he remained a bachelor.

This is another example of some of the really great and noble personalities who emerged from these little early rural schools in our nation, to go forth in furthering “the American way of life.”  This man, small in stature but great in endurance and intellect, became an international figure in military and government affairs.  He spent 50 years in the diplomatic service of his country, retiring shortly before his death in 1932.

Among other early teachers of the school were Mr. Armstrong, Lizzie Willard, first teacher in the third building; Dr. Tom Phelps, Dan Gibbons, Bud Gibbons, Lyda Williams, Elmyra Gibbs, Bill Minnick, Nora Phelps, Jim Lowe, Anna Stewart, Lawrence Martin, Laura Cravens, Peacher Bain, Bill Wilson, Mr. Veserat, Dora Sailor and Sallie Gibbons.  These names all appeared in the centennial article.  It also informed that John E. Boucher first taught the school during the 1892-93 term and at the close of it the last building was erected in the summer of 1893.  Mr. Boucher started the next tern in the new building but resigned to become Circuit Clerk of the county.  Dr. Andrew Minnick of Lock Springs finished the term.  There were 83 pupils enrolled at this time.

Anna Boucher, now Mrs. O. A. Pursley of Lock Springs was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Boucher.  He served on the school board for a long time.  They lived a half mile north of the school.  She started in 1889 and her first teacher was Tom Phelps, who later became an osteopathic physician and preacher.  She had five sisters and two brothers who attended Boucher.

Mrs. Will Morris of Sampsel, a former Boucher pupil and the sister of J. A. Boucher who taught the school in an early day and later became a circuit clerk in Livingston County, furnished not a few names of former teachers of the school.  Among those not already mentioned were Lizzie Scott, Nick B. Matthews. Louise Gray, Katie Dryden, Ben Porterfield, John Noah, Henry Williams, James Thompson, Oscar Thompson, Mr. Tuttle, Maude Tye, Stella Phelps, and Inez Boucher, who had many interesting programs when she taught.

Mrs. Morris has a framed honor roll made out by Miss Inez in 1901 and which was found on the school wall after the building was abandoned.  Names of pupils on this honor roll were: Clara Boucher, May Boucher, Pealie Boucher, John bills, Ethel Gann, Lemer Gann, Bert Boucher, Harry Bill, Harry J. Johnson, Drewey Wilson, Russel Wilson, Roy Trimble, Helbert Trimble, Frank Boucher, Earl Boucher, Frank Krouse, Fred Larrimore, Frank Wagner, Mary Wagner, Ruth Krouse, Maude Walker, Anice Gann, Lottie Mansfield, Maude Carter, Blanch Morgan, Annie Boucher, Grover Gann, Mable Boucher, Gaynell Kessler, Marie Johnson, Edith Krouse, Bernice Wilson, Bella Purdan, Mable Krouse, Bertha Gann, Myron Purden, Gertrude Bills, Carrie Krouse, Vena Gann, Mary Wagner, Mattie Larrimore, Willard Liamore, Vernon Boucher, Willie Gann, Tommie Jones, Willie Walker, Dan Walker, Jake Krouse, Flora Todd, Nannie Jones, Hazel Frazier.  Most of the pupils on the roll received 100 in deportment and the lowest deportment listed was 80.

Mrs. Mable E. Gibbons of Chillicothe, who furnished the picture for the history, was Mabel Krouse when she went to Boucher school, starting in 1892.  Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Boucher and who lived ¼ mile north of the school when she attended, was able to give important data about the last school building.  She had a sister, Mabel, and a brother, Burt, who were also Boucher pupils.  Her father was an early pupil of the school.  She started to this school at the age of 11 in 1897.  Her first teacher was Ben Smith, who chewed tobacco and spit in the hearth of the long, wood-burning stove, which had a drum on top.  The pupils locked him out of the building at Christmas time until he came across with treats for them.  Mr. Tuttle was her next teacher.  He was an artist and drew pictures on the schoolhouse walls.  Above the blackboard he painted a ladder reaching up to stepping stones.  He later became superintendent of the Industrial Home for Girls at Chillicothe.

Mrs. Pepper said lumber for this building was furnished by the patrons.  Land for the school site was given by her uncle, Joseph Boucher.  Denneth Walker now lives on the site.

The building was frame, facing the west with two doors and two windows on that end.  There were three windows on each the north and south sides of the building.  Along the east wall there was wainscoting with a slate blackboard above it.  The walls were plastered and painted white.  Desks faced west and were the type that raised and lowered.  Since there were 85 enrolled at this time, pupils sat three in a seat.  The teacher’s desk was between the two outside doors.  There were three recitation benches.  Girls hung their wraps in the northwest corner of the room and the boys hunt theirs in the southwest.  Shelves in these corners held the dinner pails.  Light was furnished for night entertainments by the patrons bringing lamps and lanterns.

Ball, races and Blackman were favorite games.  A wool flag was purchased from pupil’s contributions when she was a pupil there.  It was the boys’ privilege to raise and lower it each day.  During vacation, the flag was folded and kept in a box in which tobacco was sprinkled to keep out the moths.  The flag was finally stolen.  Some of the teachers she recalled other than those already listed follow: Leland Johnson, Bob Lock, John Hale, Etta Pearcy, Cora King.  All these taught before the district was divided.  Ethel Jordan, Jenny Abshire, and Hazel Hawkins were teachers who taught after the district was divided.  When John Hale taught he opened school each morning with scripture reading and when he had finished, all the pupils knelt as he prayed.  He lived about three miles from school and did the janitor work.

Mrs. Pepper added that literary societies, spelling bees with other neighboring schools, and ciphering matches proved lively entertainment for all.  Casting out the tens was a method used to speed up the adding process.  At the close of school there was always a basket dinner with singing and games following.

Bertie Boucher organized a singing school while Mrs. Pepper was a pupil at Boucher.  It was held at night once a week.  She charged each pupil a dollar for a course of twenty-four lessons.  The pupils bought their own books.

Following is a list of some of her school mates: Marie, Henry, and Lucille Johnson; Mae, Edna, Emery, Anna, Pearl, Frank, and Paul Boucher; Elmer and Grover Gann, Bertha and Gaynell Kessler; Jim, Preston, Lewis, Frank, and Blanche Morgan; Harley, Tullie and Arthur Renchler; Harry, Russell and Bernice Wilson; Stella, Fannie, Octavo and Maude Phelps; Horace, Daisy and Maude Whitacre; Della, Mabel and Ruth Krause; Bertha and Maud Carter; Frone, Gertrude, John and Harry Bills; Dora Alexander; Dan, Harry and Billie Walker; Charles, Frank, Mary and Maude Wagner; Willard, Fred and Mattie Larrimore.

Mrs. Wilke Owen of Sampsel was also interviewed.  She was Bernice Wilson when she attended the school  Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Wilson live ½ mile southeast of Boucer.  Her father taught there in 1888 before he was married to her mother, Laura Shumate.  She had three brothers, Drury Wilson, a dentist now in Cleveland, Oklahoma; Russell Wilson, who lives on the home place; and Harry Wilson, who were Boucher pupils and her sister Byrda, who is now Mrs. John Hays of Booneville also attended.  Mrs. Owens’ first teacher in 1906 was Henry Whitacre. 

Ola Stewart Young was a Boucher pupil.  She lived in the home of James Wilson when she went there, starting at the early age of 5.  Her first teacher was Jim Thompson, then Alice Thompson Dunn, Jennie Abshire and Stella Phelps.  Mrs. Young writes that while Alice Dunn was teacher there, a cyclone came within sight.  Mrs. Dunn and the children fled down the road a half mile to a cave on the Americus Morgan place.

Mrs. Young taught her first term at Boucher in 1916-17.  She rode horseback the three and one-half miles and did her own janitor work.  There was a box stove of cast iron in the middle of the room.  Wood was used for fuel and she could bank the fire to keep over the weekend.

The boys enjoyed making mud balls out of the clay from a road bank which they shoot from sticks. 

She recalls the pleasant memory of the crabapple grove across from the corner of the school ground where the girls enjoyed building play houses.  She writes, “in the springtime the fragrance from the crabapple blossoms was wonderful and I can remember the thrill of that grove and those play houses yet.”

She informs that in the early 1900’s rural schools had 6-month winter terms and if there was money available and the people so desired, a 3-month spring term was often taught with a change of teachers, which held true at Boucher.  Mrs. Young taught 27 years in the schools of Livingston County, retiring last year.  An inquiry sent by her to Mrs. John Hays at Booneville, another former Boucher pupil brought the following information to the writer:  Teachers from 1913 to 1920 were A. C. Gibbs; Rosa M. Zell, Inez Stone, Ola Stewart, Let Maharg, Thelma Brookshire Boucher and Hazel Hawkins. 

Other teachers since 1900 included Mrs. Charley Gibeaut, Mooresville; Mr. Houser; Ada Maharg; James Thompson, who became a dentist at Jamesport; Ethel Jordan and Mary Young.  These names were obtained from certificates of award presented Mrs. Hays, who was then Byrda Wilson, for being neither absent nor tardy in those years.  Mrs. Hays was graduated from the 8th grade in the spring of 1921.

Mrs. Hays informed that while she was in Columbia recently she met and visited with Leta Maharg who formerly taught Boucher, and who has been with the University of Missouri in foods research work for years.  She mentioned Opal and  Olen Puxsley, Fitzhugh, Rosa and Homer Cornut, as pupils the school term of 1920-21.  Boucher was consolidated with Sampsel in 1919 and the school ceased to operate in 1921.  The last building, which was erected in 1893 was sold some years later to George Goodman.  It was moved east of the Sneed district and made into a dwelling. 

The neighbor boys, Foy Trimble and Drury Wilson grew up to be a doctor and dentist, respectively; Dr. Trimble of St. Joseph and Dr. Wilson of Cleveland, Oklahoma.  Vernon Boucher of Bartlesville, Oklahoma is also a dentist.  Marie Johnson, a former pupil, teaches in Chillicothe.  Russell Johnson is president of a railway express in New York.  J. A. Boucher, recently deceased, a former Boucher pupil served as county superintendent of schools in Livingston county for 16 years, having been first elected in 1935.  He retired in 1951. He was a pupil of the Chillicothe Normal school, a graduate of Kirksville Teacher’s college and received his master’s degree in education from the University of Iowa.

Mrs. Everet Culling of Utica taught a spring term at Boucher a number of years ago.  She remembers there were slate blackboards and that the wood heating stove was toward the center of the classroom.  The building was frame and there was a well in the rear.  Mrs. Bulling recalled these pupils: Foy Trimble, Herbert Trimble, Marie Trimble, Grace Trimble, Roger Trimble, Bernie Wilson, Russell Wilson, Harry Wilson, Ola Stewart, Lucile Johnson and Hazel Mast.  Mrs. Culling taught at other schools in Livingston County, at Potter, Raulie, Prothero, Bliss and Maple Grove.  She was graduated from Chillicothe High School and attended the Chillicothe Normal and teachers college at Kirksville.  Mrs. Culling’s father was T. G. Phelps, who also taught at Boucher school and later became an osteopathic physician in Chillicothe.