Woodland Has Been a
Substantial County School Many Years
Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, April 1, 1953.
by Mrs. Luther Boone, Wheeling, Missouri
reprinted with the permission of the Chillicothe Constitution Tribune
History dates to 1847 and location since 1867
Although the earliest records of Woodland School, northwest of Chillicothe, were not available, much of its early history was supplied by C. B. Smith, who has served as the school's clerk for more than thirty years. Mr. Smith lives on a farm one and one-half miles northeast of the school.
Daniel Hutchinson came from Kentucky in 1847 and purchased land from the government. Later, a log school house was built on his land. It was a subscription school and was built by the people of the community. It was known as Hutchinson School.
In 1867 Charles Harriman, gave an acre of land for public school purposes. This site, one-half mile east of the old one, became known as district one in Township 56, Range 24. It is located three and one-half miles northwest of Chillicothe.
The building was approximately 30x24 feet, weather-boarded and with a shingled roofs. It faced the east with a door in the front and three windows on either side. The blackboard, which was made of wide boards painted black, extended across the west end of the building. The seats were hand-made and were used until 1880, when manufactured desks were installed.
Drinking water came from a cistern on the school grounds. Lanterns, brought by the school patrons and hung on nails along the sides of walls, supplied the light necessary for evening entertainments at the school.
Patrons of the school in its earliest years included the names of Lucas, Bergdell, Harriman, Hutchinson, Anderson, Sims, O'Neal, Conway, Graham, Gallatin, Abshire, Flaherty, and Smith.
George Hutchinson and Eliza Bennett were two of the early teachers in the little log school. Pupils included Press Hutchinson, Mose Hutchinson, Sam Lucas, Tom Lucas, John Lucas, and John Sims.
Mr. Smith's first teacher was Miss Bettie Hutchinson. He started to school in 1880. Miss Hutchinson was the daughter of James Hutchinson, who lived a mile from the school. She boarded at home. Other early teachers in the public school were Mr. Broyles of Chula, Scott J. Miller and Miss Annie Stewart of Chillicothe, and Tom McCarthy, who lived in the district. Also there were teachers by the names of Rufleld, McMichael and Massie.
Miss Cora Anderson, a schoolmate of Mr. Smith, later became his teacher. He explained that it was possible for students finishing the eighth grade to teach the following year.
It is thought that Amos Bargdoll, James Hutchinson and Charles Harriman were the school's first directors.
Subjects and textbooks used included the five McGuffey readers, Blue-Backed spellers, Harvey's Grammar, Montieth's Geography and Ray's Arithmetic. Mr. Smith said that the older boys and girls often continued to attend school by reviewing certain subjects, which they had completed. He was allowed to study bookkeeping the last year he attended, because he had exhausted the study of all subjects the school had to offer. Slates were used exclusively for the pupils' handwork. Mr. Smith has the first slate he ever used, also first and fifth McGuffey readers.
The neighborhood was greatly interested in the entertainment and exhibitions given at the schoolhouse. Several of them are especially remembered by Mr. Smith, one was a
Christmas program. It was a community affair. Those taking part in it rehearsed for more than a month. Several, who played violins, banjos and guitars, furnished the music for the program. The top of the Christmas tree touched the ceiling. To him, its beauty was breathtaking, for it was the first one he had ever seen. It was heavily laden with presents and held a pocket knife for him, which he kept for many years. When he was thirteen a school exhibition was given which included the “Indian's War Dance.” For the shooting part, the performers used revolvers with blank cartridges. Mr. Smith declares the audience was so fascinated with its thrills as people are now when viewing movies and television.
In the course of his 25 years of teaching, Mr. Smith taught Woodland School three different terms. All the years of his teaching, except his first, were spent in the schools of Livingston County, including Blackhill, Willard, Gibbs, Prairie Valley, Green Grove, Minor, Happy Hollow, Hosman and Pond.
His first year’s salary was $30.00 per month. He received $75.00 per month his last year of teaching, which was at Blackhill School. He paid on the average of $2.50 for room and board.
Mr. Smith is a graduate of the Chillicothe Normal, having completed two years of teachers’ courses and he took a scientific course his third year. He also attended five summer terms of school there. His mother, Nancy, was a scholar before him. She was a graduate of McGee College in Macon County, known in history as college mound. This Presbyterian school was closed during the Civil War when soldiers took possession of it for a camp.
The first available record book of the school which has been preserved, began on July 1, 1895, it lists James Gregg, David Owens and Jesse Walton as directors, and Amos Bargdoll as clerk, a position he held until his death in 1895. Hoge Hutchinson was then clerk until he moved to Chillicothe in 1919. At that time Mr. Smith was elected clerk. Except for a few years when he was teaching, he has held this position through the years, being clerk of the district for the present term.
Miss Laura Moore is listed as the teacher for the 1895-96 term. She taught the five-month winter term, which began the first Monday in September.
In the minutes of the director’s meeting of April 6, 1897, it was voted that the schoolhouse was to be used for church and Sunday School activities, since the nearest church was six or seven miles distant. It was at Woodland School that Mr. Smith heard his first sermon.
In 1897, items listed on the annual school report included enrollment, total number of days attended by all pupils, average daily attendance of pupils, number of cases of truancy, number of days the school has been maintained during the school year, number of pupils that may be seated in schoolroom, number of volumes in library, number of trees planted on Arbor Day, number of teachers engaged in teaching who have been trained not less than six months in either of the state normal schools, number of teachers employed in the district, average salary of teachers per month, estimated value of school property, assessed value of the taxable property levy in cents on the $100.00 for school purposes.
At a special school election on July 16, 1904, it was voted to borrow $800.00 to build and equip a new schoolhouse. Four bonds to the amount of $820.00 were sold to Mrs. Ida Ralston.
Labor bills paid were as follows: to W. Garver for schoolhouse plans, $10.00; to George Wilson for work on the stone foundation, $13.50; to B. C. Schmidt for removing old schoolhouse, $8.70; to Madison Wells for painting the building, $34.00; to Ed Starke for building and plastering a flue, $34.00. Since J. H. Altman was the lowest bidder, he was awarded the contract to do the carpenter work on the schoolhouse for $108.00. The schoolhouse was built on the old foundation.
Miss Ethel Terrill taught the first winter term in the new building. The schoolhouse is still in use.
In the minutes of the annual school meeting of April 5, 1910, the district is recorded as No. 43 for the first time, though no mention is made of as why the number was changed.
Because of the number of trees in its yard, the school became known as Woodland. In the following incident, John Gallatin of Chillicothe, a former pupil and teacher at Woodland School, associates these trees with a lesson in grammar. The teacher for safety’ sake, included in a set of rules for the school that anyone climbing the trees would be punished. One recess, after an enlightening lesson on the correct use of prepositions, some of the boys began to wonder if there could be a way to get the trees without climbing them. A rope was found, a large stone tied to one end of it, sailed over a limb and lowered, enabling one boy to hoist another boy at the other end of the rope up to the limb where he could scramble into the tempting branches. Soon the tree was swarming with boys. Seated in a row on a recitation bench, later in the day, they faced judgment. However, their finesse in convincing the teacher that they had not broken the letter of the law, since they had climbed the tree and not the tree, preserved the long, keen switch which she had been flexing as she listened, for future rule-breakers.
This school has had several pupils who grew up to be outstanding citizens in their respective communities.
Charles Graham was a member of the Kansas City Star’s staff for many years.
For a long time, Miss Bessie Abshire served Livingston County as deputy circuit clerk, then as circuit clerk, again as deputy, which position she held until her recent death.
Judge John Gallatin of Chillicothe has an outstanding record, first as a teacher in the county for fifteen years, during which time he served as superintendent of schools at Utica, Chula and Wheeling. He was elected county superintendent of schools in 1919, and served until 1926. He was postmaster at Chillicothe for eight years, having commissions from both Coolidge and Hoover. He took office as probate judge of the county on January 1, 1935, and in 1947 also was made magistrate judge. He is a graduate of Chillicothe Normal, holds a 60-hour diploma from Maryville State Normal and studied at Missouri University in 1904. For 26 years he was a teacher at the Baptist Men’s Friendship Bible class, which had an average of 200 membership for ten years.
In addition to his school activities, which have already been mentioned, C. B. Smith has been active in church affairs at the Olive Branch Baptist Church, near his home ever since it was established in 1909. He has taught every class that has been organized in it. He served as Sunday School superintendent for 35 consecutive years and is now teacher of the men’s class.
Claude Hutchinson, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. M. W. Hutchinson of Chillicothe, was a member of the faculty of Cornell University at Ithaca, New York for six years. He then served as director of agriculture at the University of California for two and one-half years. In 1922, he was granted a leave of absence for two years to go to Europe at the request of International Educational Association to establish a bureau and schools to introduce modern methods of agriculture abroad, this association was founded in 1921 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Mr. Hutchinson’s headquarters was in Paris. He remained abroad for five years, returning to California to become head of the Glanni Foundation at Berkeley. He resigned last year and is now dean of the state college at Reno, Nevada. The information about Mr. Hutchinson was supplied by Miss Georgia Walsh.
Miss Grace Van Katon is Woodland’s present teacher. She lives in the Oak Grove neighborhood, south and east of Chillicothe. There are 23 pupils enrolled this year in the first, third, fourth, sixth and eighth grades. The eight-month term began September 1, 1952. John Yeomans, C. B. Smith, Robert Christisen and Lee Manning are directors.