History of Happy Hollow 
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, June 3, 1955.

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by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri

reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune


Site northwest of here once known as Hog Skin Hollow

Happy Hollow School is located in Jackson Township, District 13, about 11 miles northwest of Chillicothe.  The school was first known as the Brassfield School, and later nicknamed Hog Skin Hollow. It is said this name originated when hogskins from stolen hogs were found under the schoolhouse.

Later, by a vote of the district, the name changed to Happy Hollow School, which had been suggested by County Supertindent J. W. McCormick after learning from Mrs. Irene Stith that the valley where the school was located was known by that name.

While it could not be established just when the first school district was formed, Opal Stith, who lives near the school, wrote that according to the Zion Church records, the church was organized at the schoolhouse in February of 1868 and therefore the school was in existence some time before that.

The first school site was approximately four or five rods west of the first one, and the first building was of logs. J. C. Stith, who lives a short distance east of the school, went to school about a month in the little log building while the new frame structure was being completed. He was interviewed for the school’s early history. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Stith, lived three-quarters of a mile east of the school. His two brothers and four sisters went to Happy Hollow School. Three generations of Mr. Stith’s family, have received their elementary education at Happy Hollow School, namely J. C. Stith, his children and his grandchildren Delbert, Wayne and Wilda Stith, children of his son, Opal, who later taught school.  His nephew, Robert Venable, also was a pupil and later taught Happy Hollow School.

Scott Miller was the last teacher in the log building, teaching the spring term of 1878. He was succeeded by Miss Maggie Andrews, who taught the winter term of 1878 and who was the first teacher in the new building. She two and one-half miles south of the school and either walked or rode horseback to her work. She received $35.00 per month. Mr. Stith started that term at the age of six. Seventy-four pupils were enrolled.

The log schoolhouse had a clapboard roof. The building sat on rocks. It faced the south with a door in the south end and a window on each of the east and west sides.  The walls and ceilings of the building were never finished, showing the bare logs and chinking. The floor was of wide boards of native lumber. Puncheon seats without backs, extended across the room. The wood-burning box-type-stove with a drum on the top, sat in the center of the room. There was a small blackboard on the south end made of painted boards. Pegs in the wall held some of the pupils wraps, but it was necessary for others to place their wraps on the seat beside them or on the floor. Dinner pails were stacked in the south corners of the room. The log structure was sold to J. J. Stith when the new school was completed. He moved it to his farm and used it for a barn.

The present school site was given by Milton Hughes in 1878. The frame schoolhouse was built by Joe Irvin, who lived in the neighborhood.  This building is still in use, having been remodeled and redecorated, and is now a modern schoolhouse wired throughout with electricity. It is described in the latter part of this history by its present teacher, who remarks that it is “located between two high hills. The valley is filled with large trees and pastureland.  The gravel road passes east and west on the north of it and a clay hill extends eastward.”

Mr. Stith stated that spring water for drinking purposes was carried for a number of years in a wooden bucket, by two pupils who considered the errand quite a treat. These springs were found at several homes near the school. Pupils drank from a common tin drinking cup.

Elm, linn and walnut trees grew on the banks of little Guthridge creek near the school grounds to the south. There was another small creek to the north. When a flash flood came during school hours, pupils were not able to cross the creek to get home, and would have to wait until their parents came for them with teams and wagons.

The usual subjects, reading writing, spelling, arithmetic, geography, history and grammar were studied by Mr. Stith, and the advanced pupils had algebra and civil government.  Ball was the favorite game of the pupils, both boys and girls.

Other early teachers in the new building were Jennie Bain, Eleanor Boyle, John Brinkley, Katie Dickerson, Frank Hickson, Lola Vitners, Jennie Abshire, William Anderson, G. B. Smith, and William Girdner. Some teachers during the 1900-25 period named by Opal Stith were Marvin Smith, John N. Gallatin, Oscar Moseley, John Lowe, Maye Cole, Ellen Dockery, Barbara Schwab, Charles Smith, Bevy Maxey, Mary Young, Lloyd Con, Julia Matthews, Robert Venable, Opal Stith and Reid Pearcy.

Some of the early school patrons and the number of children each had attending the school follows:  Milton Hughes, four children; Steve Mathews; Philip Reeter, four children; V. H. Varney, seven children; J. J. Stith, seven children; Mr. Ulmer, John Gillespie, Elias Gutheridge, Riley Brassfield, A. S. Moseley, John Long, seven children; G. W. Herring, five children; John Caddell, four children; Jack Caddell, four children; Chep Venable, five children; John D. Boone, Joe Tanner, three children; John Smith, Grandville Mathews and John Mathews, one child.

Opal Stith not only taught the school, but served for a number of years as clerk and director. He wrote that in the early days, literary societies flourished. They were organized in the fall and continued during the winter months. They always drew a large crowd of people coming for miles to hear the debates and the news of the neighborhood which was read. His father was active in this work.

Spelling, cyphering and sometimes geography after the last recess on Friday afternoons. A basket dinner was held at the close of school. A traveling show would come through the country sometimes, and would get permission to have the show some night in the schoolhouse, with the result that the directors would get in free. During election years, both parties used to have speakings at the school before the election, with plenty of cigars and music sometimes furnished by a well-known Negro musician.

School elections were another occasion for drawing a good-sized crowd, and Mr. Stith states that during the time Squires J. J. Stith and J. A. Mathews lived in the district, one of them was general elected chairman, and the proceedings were kept on a strict parliamentary order, more than such proceedings are today in some places he believes.

Church services were held at the school in the early days by different denominations at different times.  Sunday School was more often held in the afternoon with people coming for miles around, many of them from the Zion Church congregation. Lizzie Long served as Sunday School superintendent for a long time. Sunday School picnics were often held, sometimes on the property of Mrs. Irene Stith, who was the grandmother of Robert Venable, a pupil and later a teacher of the school.

Mr. Venable started to Happy Hollow School in 1900. His first teacher was Reid Pearcy. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Venable, lived two miles west of the school. He had three brothers and a sister who attended there. Mr. Venable taught Happy Hollow School the spring term of 1916. Through the fifteen years of his teaching, he taught several different rural schools in Livingston County.

Mrs. Bessie Brummit was Happy Hollow School’s teacher of the term just closed. She furnished the latest history of the school. She lives with her husband six miles north of the school on Route W, and drives back and forth to her work. This was her second consecutive term at Happy Hollow School. She has also taught Prothero School, and also taught in Harrison and Davies Counties. She is the mother of three sons, all married.

The white frame school building faces north. It is approximately 25x40. There is a door and a window on the north, seven windows on the east and three small, high windows on the west.

There is a slate blackboard across the south end. There are individual desks seating eighteen children. The room is floored with oak. A rostrum extends across the south end. The ceiling is painted ivory and the walls a pastel shade of green. A large framed picture and a map chart hang above the blackboard.

Under the high windows on the west wall, there is a picture, a bulletin board, medicine chest and two wall cupboards which are used for library and text book storage and for dinner pails. The water fountain is also shelved on this wall. The coat hangers are a special feature, too.

The piano, radio, hotplate and bulletin board are on the east side. The furnace-type heater, a Northland sits in the northeast corner of the room.  The ceiling of the schoolroom has been lowered to conserve heat, and to make the room more comfortable.

Other room furnishings include the teacher’s desk and chair, 24 folding chairs which are needed for club activities, three small tables, a sand table filled with books from the bookmobile, and a long, two-shelf bookcase. There is a homemade reading table with an inlaid linoleum top.

On the school grounds are found the coal house, two outdoor toilets, a swing, trapeze, teeter-totter and flag pole.

The well is walled with concrete, and every fall at the beginning of the school term, water is hauled to fill it from the Chillicothe water works.

Outdoor games include ball, blackman, stealing sticks, cheese box, racing jumping, and playing fox and geese when the snow is on. During cold or rainy days, inside games such as clap-in and clap-out, checkers, Chinese checkers and board games are enjoyed.

There are twelve pupils enrolled this term. They are Hazel Nibarger and Wilma Hines, eighth grade; Howard Hines, Leland Reeter, Louise Nibarger, Janice Alexander and Charles Pollock, sixth grade; Alice Hanes and Katherine Pollock, fourth grade; Carolyn Nibarger, Janette Hines and Mary Hines, second grade.

The health clinic which was held at Pinkley School February 16 for a check-up on the nine point health system, was attended by the pupils. Six earned their buttons.

Weaving, embroidering, molding with plaster of Paris, mobiles, drawings and posters have been made by the pupils this term. They are now working on a wood project.

Entertainments were held at the school in October, with a box supper, also a Hallowe’en party. A Christmas tree and recital, an exchange of cards and a Valentine party were given. A basket dinner is planned for the last day of school. Mrs. Brummit states this custom is tradition in the community and that former pupils of the school enjoy coming to visit and to reminisce

Directors at the time this history was written were Raymond Reeter, president; Bob Pollock, Neil Alexander, and Mrs. Raymond Reeter, clerk.

Potter and Happy Hollow boys and girls have organized a 4-H club. There are sixteen members and the name of the club is Happy Potter.

A community club holds meetings at the schoolhouse regularly the fourth Friday of each month. After the business session, games or entertainments and refreshments are enjoyed.

Mrs. Brummit adds, “Some people may have more money than the people of Poosey, but we have nature at our backdoor. Deer are often seen in the neighborhood, and there are the mushrooms – a feast fit for a king!  Come out and we will let you hunt some.”