Gordonville School History is Traced Back Many Years
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, January 19, 1955.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune

Rural School in northeast part of county still is operating.

Since early school records of Gordonville were not available, several former pupils were interviewed for data, most of it being given by Dick Reid who lives one mile northwest of the school and started to school there in 1885.

He stated that the first Gordonville school building was built of logs. It had puncheon seats with no backs and a dirt floor. It was located on the James Bowe land, some distance north of Wheeling in the southeast corner of Lot 3 of the northwest quarter of Section 30, Township 59 Range 22.

Some of the pupils attending school in the log building were Walter Reid, John Jordon, Madge Phillips, John Phillips, Howard Phillips, Mike Trumbo and Belle Trumbo.  Some teachers who taught in the log school were John Smith, Nellie Cassidy, Al Shours, Cornie Horn and Dixie Wallace.  Miss Margaret Regan, who lives seven miles northwest of Wheeling, was the oldest pupil interviewed. She started to Gordonville in 1879. Some teachers she recalled were James McCormick, Cora Wright, John Drake, Ambrose Wanamaker, John Smith and Al Shours.

Dick Reid’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Reid, came from Indiana in 1867 and settled 1 1/4 miles southeast of the first log school. There was a post-office one-half mile south of the school.  The postmaster was John Jordon, and it is thought the school took its name from the name of the post office, being changed from Jordonville to Gordonville.

A frame building was erected later one-half mile east of the center of the district on the John McCormick land, who donated an acre of land for school purposes. It was located on Lot 8 in the southwest quarter of Section 30, range 22, Township 56, district 3, now numbered 19.

The building was approximately 24x36.  It faced the south and had two entrance doors. There were three windows on both the east and west sides.  The flue which was in the north end of the building had a built-in closet where supplies were stored.  The building was heated by a box-type wood-burning stove with a drum on top. It had 1x6 pine double floors.  The room was ceiled and the building was painted white inside and out.  Unusual blinds hung at all the windows, made of half-inch green sticks woven together with cord. There were four blackboards on the north wall on each side of the flue and small ones on the northwest and north east parts of the walls.  These blackboards were four boards wide and painted black.  They came down to the wainscoting which extended around the room. Each had a narrow trough to hold the chalk and the erasers, which were made of sheep skin in the early days. Three bracket lamps with reflectors on the east and west walls furnished light when needed.  The pine desks were built along the walls. There were two pine recitation benches each 12 feet long with backs. The teacher’s homemade desk had a hinged lid in the center and an enclosure beneath for records, etc.

The building was set on wooden blocks. There was a cistern at the northeast corner of the house with a pump. When cistern was dry, water was carried in a cedar bucket from the Cummin’s or Jacobs’ farms.

Elm trees were planted in the school yard on Arbor Day about the year of 1880. Neighbors planted more trees later when some died.

Draw base, black man, shinny and soap burn were some of the games when Mr. Reid attended.

He studied McGuffy’s Readers, Ray’s Arithmetic, spelling, geography, grammar, and history. Slates were used for seat work. Mr. Reid‘s first teacher was Jack Hoge, who boarded at the Fred Olenhouse home, three-fourth of a mile west of the school. Other teachers he recalled with James McCormick, John Drake, John Waydelich, A. B. Wanamaker, Fannie Strovelle, Kate Shay, Ida Baxter, Maude Bailey, Tom Burch, Stella McQuary and Quinn Patrick.

Spelling schools, debates and cyphering matches with other schools were popular. Mr. Reid remembers one such match in which White Cloud and Gordonville engaged. John Waydelich of White Cloud and Fannie Strouvell of Gordonville were opponents in the match, with the result that Gordonville won.

Robert DeVaul taught singing at the schoolhouse. Pupils paid for a sixteen-week course held at night. He used a tuning fork, and had charts which he hung on the blackboard.

There were pay shows–traveling troupes, medicine shows and Punch and Judy entertainments at the school.

Preaching and Sunday School services were often held. John Smith, Hugh Johnson, James Regan who lived west of Chula, and Chris Dane were some of the preachers. Charles Trumbo served as Sunday School superintendent for a long time.

Directors recalled by Mr. Reid included Judge Donovan, Milton Ricket, J. B. Waydelich, Marion Coberly, Fred Olenhouse, John Regan.

The first frame building burned in 1915 or 1916 and a new one was built on the site of the old. It was built by the Hinnen Brothers of Chula. Peter Jacobs, August Bartholomew, and Bill Bowe were the directors when the new building was erected.

Mrs. Dick Reid, is also a former pupil of the school. She started in 1900. William Olenhouse was one of her teachers. She was Miss Addie Patterson.

Frank Reid, who lives one half mile north and one and one-half mile west of the school started to Gordonville in 1884 at the age of 8. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lafe Reid came from Carlyle, Indiana. The family lived 1 3/4 miles northwest of the school.  His first teacher was Miss Nellie Cassidy. Other teachers named were Ambrose Shours, Jack Hoge, James McCormick, Fannie Stovell, J. J. Jordan, Mattie Dye, Tom Birch, Ida Baker, Kate Baker taught the advanced pupils bookkeeping. There were 60 enrolled the first term he attended.

Some of his classmates were Billy Carey, Richard and Pearl Coberly, Peter Jacobs, John White, Mattie Waydelich, Julia, Dennis, Donald and Maggie Regan, Dick Reid, Clara Rickett, Emma White, Albert and Lula Phillips.

Mrs. Frank Reid is also a former pupil. She started at the age of 23, first attending the Manning school. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Robert J. White, who lived one mile south of the school. Her brother, John, and sister Emma, were pupils. Her first teacher was John Waydelich. Two other teachers, Sally Stone and Johnny Smith, were recalled. Mr.. Smith was also a Methodist preacher. He preached at Mt. Zion and taught at Gordonville in the early years.

Mrs. Eugene Cousins of Chula who was Miss Cora Brassfield, started to school at Gordonville in 1922.   Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Brassfield lived one and one half miles northwest of the school. She has two sisters and four brothers who were pupils there.   Her brother, Vernon, has served in the army for 13 years and is now a captain serving with the armed forces in Germany. Her mother, who formerly was Miss Rena Boyer, started to Gordonville in 1889. Mrs. Cousins‘ first teacher was Wilma Smock. Other teachers she recalled were Marshall Macklin, who now owns a hatchery at Chillicothe, Hildred Thompson, Lorene and Nellie Owens, Evelyn Donovan, Louise Randall and Genevive Dietrich.

Mrs. Orville Jacobs, present clerk of Gordonville district, furnished two registers of the school.   The oldest is a daily school register beginning March 29, 1897, the last entry made being on June 20, 1902. Mrs. Jacobs father, John Donovan, started to school at Gordonville in 1894. He had a brother, Ray, and a sister, Daisy, who were pupils of the school. It could be said, that with the Orville Jacobs’ family Gordonville is a tradition, four generations attending there. The father, Peter Jacobs, the mother who was the former Pearl Coberly; Orville Jacobs, the son, and Pauline and Deane Jacobs, the grandchildren, all received their elementary education at Gordonville.   Orville Jacobs started in 1915 at the age of four years. Miss Alice Lawler was his first teacher.

The oldest school record lists Jennie Turner as teacher in 1897. The following seventeen pupils were enrolled that year from 5 to 16 years of age: Lee, Albert, Homer and Nora Coberly; Leonard Olenhouse; Wayne and Vena Phillips; Johnnie Castor; Rena Boyer; Clous Jacobs; Oakie Bowen, Ray, John and Daisy Donovan; Lola Bowe, Viola White; Frank Stewart. Maude Bailey taught the winter term of 1897 beginning September 27 and ending February 18, 1898. A notation in the register states that Franklin Readers were first introduced in the school that year. She taught three other consecutive terms ending June 16, 1899. Her style of penmanship changed radically from Spencerian to vertical style, during her last year as teacher, as evidenced by her recordings.   This new style of writing swept the nation for a time. Lydia Walker taught the winter term of 1899. Ending February 9, 1900. Thirty-five were enrolled that term. J. J. Jordan, who later served as county school superintendent for years, taught from April 2, 1900 to June 22. Through the years of his teaching, he taught four generations, it was learned at Gordonville.

P. N. Mitchell followed him when 30 were enrolled from October 1, 1900, to February 22, 1901. Texts used that year were Milne’s arithmetic, White’s Oral Arithmetic, Franklin readers, Sever’s speller, Rand-McNally’s geography, Patrick’s grammar, DeGarno’s language, Shinn and Morris’ history, Rader’s Civil Government and History of Missouri. William Olenhouse began teaching September 30, 190l. That term ended June 20, 1902. Thirty-one pupils were enrolled. Mr. Olenhouse was county clerk later, serving for many years. Addie Patterson, Maggie Sapp, Meggie Sapp and Frank Bowe had a perfect attendance for the term. Some missed only one or two days, while 14 pupils withdrew before April of that year, all reasons being recorded by the teacher. He left a notation reading thus: “To my successor: -- I left school graded into seven grades according to reader and advanced studies, having taught all common branches.”

In the director’s register, beginning April 2, 1918, the district is numbered 19. This meeting, Dick Reid was appointed secretary of the meeting and W. W. Donovan, chairman. G. O. Trumbo was elected director for the term of three years. An eight months school was voted. It was recorded that the school house was to “remain open to all educational purposes.” At the next annual meeting, April 5, 1919, Dick Reid was made president of the school board and Peter Jacobs was elected clerk. Mr. Reid and Mr. Jacobs served on the board for many years.

Some new seats were purchased in 1923 and a set of World Books was bought for $79.50 in 1931. A flag and pole were purchased for $18.50 in September of that year. Wall board and shingles were bought July 3, 1934 for $63.67. A notation in the back of this register, states that a piano was given the school by the Manning Home Economics Club on November 20, 1940. At that time, Mrs. C. B. Flemming was president of the club, Mrs. Frank Pryor, vice-president and Mrs. Grace Raney, secretary.

On October 26, 1950, a dual oil burner was purchased from the B. R. Harris Company for $437, and a fan for it was purchased later at a cost of $25.

Hand-Aid storm windows were installed in 1950. Playground equipment was purchased from the Adams school in district 41, February 11, 1952 for $100.

From 1947 to 1952 a total of $156.50 was paid out for public school retirement system of Missouri.

During the 33-year period covered by this register, (from 1919 to 1952) the following teachers were hired: Cora Littrell, Grace Bowes, Mrs. Nancy Foley, Leah Teale, Wilda Smock, M. B. Jacklin, Hildred Thompson, Opal Hutchinson, Gwenevere Dietrich, Lorena Owen, Evelyn Donovan, Louise Randall, Mrs. Evelyn Jacobs, Margaret Condron, Dorothy Condron, Anna Shiflett, Viola Cooper, Mrs. Russell White, Mrs. Ola Young, Mildred Hooker, Ruth Laffey, Frances Cook, Bertha Whitt, Jean Baker, Jessie Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Josephine Jourdan, Carol Anderson and Evelyn Chapman.

The present teacher is Mrs. Lewis Chapman, who has taught for 19 years in the rural schools of Linn and Livingston counties. She has her college credits from the Maryville and Kirksville State teacher’s colleges.   She has a son and a daughter attending the Meadville High School. She lives five miles southeast of the school and drives to her work each day.

Pupils attending this year, listed according to their grades are: Shirlene Jacobs and Jean Talley, first grade; Pete Pryor second grade; Donna Graves, third grade; Preston Pryor, fourth grade; Ruby Graves and Marvin Long, fifth grade; James graves, Joyce Jacobs and Phyllis Pryor, sixth grade; Junior Talley, Ray Talley and Patricia Pryor, seventh grade; Gerald Long, Lawrence Graves and Barbara Graves, eighth grade. The 9-point health system was followed by all the pupils. The school attended a health clinic at Chula December 9.

The girls and boys enjoy dodge ball, black man and darebase as outside games. In addition there are swings and a merry-go-round on the school ground. They have a football and a basketball with goal. Indoor games played when the weather does not permit playing out-of-doors, are Old Main and Touring Cards, Clap-In-and-Clap-Out, Winkem.

Nature Knight is one of their projects with posters of wild life, from the fourth grade up, mounted on bulletin boards in the room. Health and spelling chart posters, are made by all grades.  When the writer visited the school, the children and teacher were busy with Christmas preparations and program. The boys had made tool boxes for their fathers for gifts and the girls were finishing handwork on towels as gifts for their mothers, which were all to be distributed from the Christmas tree which stood in the center of the rostrum in the north end of the building. Colorful stage curtains, picturing cowboys and drapes at all the windows to match tinsel decorations and foil Christmas bells, gave the room a holiday appearance.

School room equipment includes a jacketed oil-burning furnace in the southeast corner; four frames pictures, eleven single desks, nine double desks, recitation benches on the east and west sides, piano, teacher’s desk and chair, globe, large library with eight shelves in the southwest corner, several folding chairs, four globe, shaped electric light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.

The school house faces the south with two doors leading into an anti-room. There are three windows on the east and west. Two doors lead from the anti-room into the school room. The walls and ceiling are painted a teal blue and the wainscoting is varnished.   The floors are oiled. The blackboard is across the north end of the building and short ones on the northeast and northwest corners of the room.

The ante-room has two windows, one in the east and one in the west. It has two shelves in the southwest and one in the southeast for dinner pails. There are hooks for wraps on the left of the east anti-room door. The room contains a hotplate, radio, medicine chest, a table for the water bucket and cooler. There is a cup container and a soap container on the wall.

There are four large elm trees on the school ground, and a flag and pole. The well, with a pump, is at the east side of the building.

The Gordonville Community Club meets every forth Friday night at the school house. The members give entertainments and serve refreshments. Some times films are shown. Sometimes talks are given. Mrs. Lawrence Jacobs is president this year.

The Directors for this year are Claude Jacobs, president; Mrs. Orville Jacobs, clerk; Orville Jacobs and Sam Bowe.

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