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Jersey County Schools History
The following is from O. A. Wilson, Jr., past Superintendent of Jersey County Schools. His writings were about the education in Jersey County, Illinois, 1818 – 1977. Not all of his draft document is included. There will be typographical errors. Contributed by Marty Crull, transcribed by Judy Griffin.
Foundations of Public Education
Almost from the beginning of American sovereignty over the Northwest Territory it was intended that there would be a system of free public education. The Northwest Ordinance of 1785 by the Continental Congress stated that “Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The Congress also provided that a part (Sec. #16) of each township was to dedicated for the support of public schools. In the Congressional Enabling Act preceding Illinois statehood in 1818 three per cent of the money raised from the future sale of public lands in Illinois (part of the 5% returned to the state by the Federal government) was to be used for education. Counties had Commissioners of School Lands for this purpose. “School Townships,” with Township Trustees and Treasurers were set up to receive and administer these funds, usually by investing them and collecting interest to be used for schools or added to the funds.
Within the School Townships the people set up “Common School Districts”. They were the operating agencies for the schools. They were formed by parents and other citizens who saw the need for schools in their immediate neighborhoods. These people would lay out their district boundaries and seek recognition from the Township School Trustees. They would elect a three-man Board of Directors who would erect and maintain a building, hire a teacher, and generally manage the school. Tax levies were voted by the people of the district. The Board of Directors did not handle its own money.
Taxes were paid to the County Treasurer, who sent the money to the Township School Treasurer, who kept the money and paid the teachers’ salaries and other school expenses on warrants issued by the District Boards of Directors. This arrangement continues for approximately 100 years and was probably a very good thing for most of that time, when districts had only a few expenses. It kept the accounting in the hands of a few supposedly qualified Township Treasurers. It grew unsatisfactory in more modern times, when the details of school purchasing multiplied.
As the population grew and spread to all parts of the county, so did the need and demand for more schools. Parents wanted schools available to their children. Starting in the very late 1830’s the people of Jersey County set of seventy-two common school districts, including among them all territory in the county. Most Common School Districts were of such size that it was possible for the children to walk to school from their homes. Most schoolhouses were fairly centrally located within their districts, and most children could probably reach school by walking two miles or less. Tales told by old people of how they “walked five miles to school every morning and home every afternoon” must be discounted, since examination of the map seldom bears them out.
Usually each district operated a one-room school in which children starting at about six were taught by one teacher. When the plan of “graded schools” came into vogue, the course was divided into eight grades, each grade completed indicating a higher level of achievement than the last. many teachers taught all eight grades, although in later years a plan of teaching alternated grades in alternated years made things a bit easier. Pupils were expected to complete one grade each year, but short school terms, frequent absences due to illness or helping at home or in the fields, and sometimes sheer boredom caused some to fail to finish the eight grade on time, creating some situations in which there were students sixteen or seventeen years old still attending school in the upper grades. Other pupils simply dropped out when their help at home or in the fields seemed more important than the things they were learning at school.
Reading, spelling, penmanship, and practical arithmetic constituted the basic curriculum. As time went on other subjects were added, especially in the upper grades, such as grammar, history, geography, and physiology. The materials used to teach reading also did much to pass along the culture of the times, since they contained quotations from great authors, proverbs, folk tales, biographical sketches, historical stories, and stories carrying lessons of diligence, thrift, and honesty.
Additional notes from O. A. Wilson:
The first school in Jersey County was taught in a log house built on the yard of the home of Thomas English about the year 1827. The teacher was John Sloan. It can be assumed that this school was one of the “subscription” type found in frontier communities, supported by contributions from the children’s parents. (For Sloan’s school on English property, see Andreas, Lyter “Atlas Map of Jersey County”.)
Irving Little started the first “Little” school in the Old Red House (also used as a tavern) now the Cheney home in 1833-34.
John Adams of Jacksonville taught in the “old” school house in the yard of Captain John Smith, 1836. (Cooper History of Jerseyville, Illinois, 1822-1901.)
The first free and integrated school in Illinois, (Otterville) possibly in the Middle West or even the United States, as built was founded and built on property owned by Dr. Silas Hamilton. In 1835 after the death of Dr. Hamilton in 1834, a two-story, four room stone building replaced the original building, and about 1958 an additional building containing two classrooms and an “all-purpose” room was added.
In 1849 Miss Mary Farley erected at her own cost a large two-story frame building for school purposes, and an excellent private school for young ladies.
In 1872 there was “a color school, taught by Mary J. Paul” in Jerseyville, see Andreas, Lyter “Atlas Map of Jersey County: This school, located at Washington and Exchange Streets and later on Spruce Street near the C. & A. railroad tracks, continued until 1920, teaching “all grades, Primary through High School, as needed”. In his Annual Report for the year 1917-18, County Supt. Joseph W. Becker made a forthright and forceful statement recommending that the “colored school”, which had only eight pupils, be closed and the pupils sent to the regular school. He urged this for two reasons (1) to eliminate the unnecessary expense of maintaining a separate school for eight pupils and (2) to offer the colored children education equal to all other children. The school was closed soon afterward. The Jersey Township High School apparently admitted all children equally from its beginning (1916). There were two black high school students in 1917-18.
Jersey County Superintendents of Schools:
William R. Herdman, 1859; C. H. Knapp, 1868; W. H. Lynn, 1873; Lott Pennington, 1877; Otis Leach, 1886; Richard Kiely, 1890; Thomas A. Case, 1894; James W. Roberts, 1898; Joseph W. Becker; L. E. Groppel, 1922; Harold Cooke, 1926; L. E. Groppel, 1930; Charles H. Daniels, 1934; O. A. Wilson, Jr., 1950; David S. Mills (Calhoun-Jersey) 1974.
[Missing material from Wilson’s draft document.]
The Community Unit District proposed by the County Survey Committee came up for vote on June 5, 1948. . . . The new district was designated #100, thus creating a problem for future historian as to what happened to districts #75 thru #99. A Community Unit Board of Education was elected on June 16, 1948. It included several members of the Survey Committee. . . . Many people did not understand the proposition but voted for it simply because “Chuck Daniels said it would be good for the schools.” . . . Most of Ruyle Township and large parts of Fidelity and Piasa townships, all along the eastern border of Jersey County, were not included in the new Jersey County Community Unit #100. These territories were included in Southwestern Macoupin County Community Unit #9, formed around the villages Brighton, Shipman, and Medora. There is some territory in Ruyle Township which is included in Macoupin County Community Unit #9 according to Macoupin County records and is also included in Jersey County Community Unit #100, according to Jersey County records. The County Clerks and tax collectors of Jersey County have chosen to treat the territory as part of the Jersey County district and ignore the Macoupin County claim, if, indeed, they have ever been aware of it.
. . . the new Community Unit District #100 came into existence in Jersey County on July 1st, 1948, and prepared to operate the schools as a single system. The newly-elected Board of Education chose William Sullivan to be District Superintendent. Principals of the three largest schools, Gus F. Roth of Jersey Township (now Jersey Community) High School. P. P. Downey of the Grafton Schools, and O. A. Wilson, Jr. of the Jerseyville Grade School remained in their respective positions. A great deal of work was done, much of it by the Board Members themselves, to set up bus routes to transport children to and from school. Buses were purchased and drivers employed. Some rural schools were closed, more than many people expected to be closed the first year, and their pupils transported to other schools. Many people did not realize how much of a change had come to their school system until they saw the long line of school buses entering Jerseyville every morning and leaving every afternoon. Being visible, the school buses were objects of resentment to some taxpaying townspeople for many years.
In 1951 some parents in the Kane school district and several other nearby districts in Greene County but adjacent to Jersey County Community Unit #100 across the Greene-Jersey county line petitioned to have their districts annexed to Community Unit #100. Kane had maintained a small high school for years, but the petitioners apparently wanted to make available to their children the wider choice of courses and other advantages of the much larger Jersey Community High School. They were opposed by many residents of Kane, who did not want to lose their high school, and by other Greene County residents who hoped to see the Kane area included in a future Greene district, probably a Community Unit based on Carrollton. . . . The referenda were held Jan. 26, 1952. The voters in Community Unit #100 approved the proposed annexation easily, 262-71, but the referendum in the Kane area developed into a first-class political brawl. When the votes were counted it was found that the annexation had carried, 209-167, and the territory became part of Community Unit #100.
With the end of the 74 old school districts there was little need for the Township Trustees and Treasurers, since most of them had no funds to handle. All the money was handled by the Treasurer of the township (Jersey) in which the new Community Unit had its headquarters.
In the early years of Community Unit #100, starting in 1948, a number of rural schools were closed because their enrollments had declined so that the cost per pupil had become unreasonably high, and because it was hoped that instruction would be improved by teaching fewer grades in each room, with the long-range goal of each teacher teaching one grade in one room, with enough pupils in that grade to make the plan economically feasible. All sorts of improvisations were tried. At Dow the two rooms in the schoolhouse were used for the “primary” (1,2,3) grades and the “upper” (6,7,8) grades, while the “middle” grades (4,5) were bussed to a rural schoolhouse about two miles away. At Fieldon the two-room schoolhouse was used for grades 5,6 and 7,8. The third and fourth grades met in a rented church, and grades 1,1 (sic) occupied the Village Hall. In the Rosedale-Nutwood area, southwest of Fieldon, grades 1-4 were taught at Teneriffe schoolhouse in Nutwood and Grades 5-8 at Rosedale. At Delhi two rural schoolhouses were moved bodily several miles onto the Delhi school grounds, making possible primary, middle, and upper grade rooms. A fourth building was built on the grounds a few years later by the pupils’ parents to house a hot lunch program. This room could also be used for public meetings, special groups or programs such as music, and for school entertainments.
The closing of many rural schools and the transfer of many children to buildings distant from their homes, along with the desire to make secondary as well as elementary education available to all gave rise to an extensive and sometimes complicated system of bus transportation. Buses would pick up students bound for village schools as they moved toward the villages and then pick up other pupils as they returned to Jerseyville or Grafton. There were local buses and express buses; rendezvous and passenger exchanges made in village school yards, and occasionally at road intersections in the open country. There were many who felt that the roads were not good enough for such a program, and indeed there were great great difficulties in bad weather. The county and township road makers complained that the transporting of school children was forcing them to build and improve roads faster [than] they had planned. This was probably true, and it was probably a good thing.
With the movement toward centralized village schools arose a desire on the part of parents to have hot lunches available to their children at school. Several teachers in one-room rural schools had been improvising hot lunch programs for several years, and now the parents of the children in the village schools started setting up such programs through their Parent-Teacher Associations. The first such programs were at Delhi, Otterville, and Fieldon. At Delhi the parents actually built a concrete block building to serve as kitchen-dining room. At Otterville a large basement room in the existing building was equipped as a cafeteria, and at Fieldon a good kitchen and dining room in a local church basement were used. Other schools set up milk programs for their pupils. Both the hot lunch and the milk programs received small subsidies from the state and federal governments, and the lunch programs received “surplus commodities” food. Eventually the Board of Education sponsored hot lunch and milk programs in all the schools.
As enrollments increased and improvisations with existing classroom facilities reached their limits it became evident that a building program would be necessary. The original plan called for expansion and improvements at the Jersey Community High School, additions to the elementary schools at Jerseyville, Otterville, Grafton, Elsah, and Kane, and new elementary buildings at Fieldon, Delhi, Dow, and in the southwest part of Jerseyville, and a centralized junior high school for grades 7,8 or grades 7,8,9. . . . [A] proposition [was presented] to the voters on December 18, 1954, and it passed. The bonds were sold, and the new buildings and additions built and occupied by the end of the 1956-57 school term. There were new elementary buildings at Fieldon, Dow, and Delhi replacing the existing buildings. A large new elementary building was built on the west side of Jerseyville. Besides classrooms, these new buildings contained offices and large “all purpose rooms,” with kitchens, usable for hot lunch programs and also for physical education classes and public meetings. Since Grafton already had a good gymnasium left over from the years when it had a three-year high school, no all-purpose room was built there, but the original buildings were kept and a new building with office, classrooms, and a basement cafeteria was added. At the Jerseyville Grade School, now called East Elementary, a new building for the upper grades had been built in the late 1930s. Besides classrooms, this building had a large gymnasium which both the grade school and the high school used for basketball games. A cafeteria wing had been added to the old (1871) building in the early 1950s. The addition to the Grade School, or East Elementary, under the 1954-57 building program was a modest one, consisting entirely of classrooms. At Jersey Community High School a small classroom wing had been added to the original (1916) building in 1936. In the 1954-57 program there were added a laboratory-classroom wing including Home Economics facilities, a new office area, a large gymnasium, and a large band area. Improvements at Otterville were relatively minor, two classrooms and a small “all purpose room;” the lunch facilities remained in the basement of the older building. At Elsah a large room was built for the lower grades.
The 1954-57 building program made possible closing all the remaining one-room, rural schools and teaching all elementary pupils in graded rooms. It was not quite possible, however, to fully achieve the goal of eliminating all multi-grade rooms. A few two-grade rooms still existed at Delhi and Otterville, and at Elsah there were only two rooms for eight grades. Enrollments continued to increase, and new programs such as special rooms for handicapped children, remedial reading, additional vocational training, and guidance services were either waiting for space or struggling in makeshift facilities. . . . The advocates of the new program looked for an issue that could be made real to the voters, and found it in the old (1871) building that still housed grades 1-4 at the Jerseyville East Elementary School. Following a disastrous school fire in Chicago, the Superintendent of Public Instruction had required that all school buildings be surveyed under a new Life Safety Code and brought into compliance with that Code as soon as possible. The old building at East Elementary was of brick with wooden floors and roof. Although well-kept, and although steel fire escapes had been added, the building could only be made to meet Life Safety Code requirements at a prohibitive cost. The issue of building safety was simple and powerful, and on the referendum March 18, 1967 the program passed. . . .
The new junior high school, named “Illini,” opened in the fall of 1941. Its program, known as “open education,” had many new features. . . . on the night of Feb. 21, 1975 six boys broke into the school building and built a fire in the library, using a large pile of library books and 1 1/4 gallons of gasoline procured for them by two other boys. The entire academic wing, about half of the building, was destroyed. The rest suffered smoke damage.
The Community Unit was faced with the need to replace the destroyed section of the junior high as soon as possible. Long-range plans before the fire had called for additional physical education facilities and several additional classrooms at the junior high school, the same at the senior high school, and the eventual replacement of the original part of the senior high school built in 1916. It was believed that the people of the district would accept the rebuilding of the junior high as a matter of necessity, even if there was some cost which could not be met by insurance, but that the rest of the program might not receive voter approval for many years. It was decided to submit the entire program to the voters in one referendum, hoping that the need to rebuild the junior high would carry the entire proposal. The entire package was approved on the first referendum, May 17, 1975.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, and to some extent before that, teachers in Jersey County were regarded by many as objects of charity, people who fed at the public trough and were lucky to have jobs. Many were spinsters or widows who had no other means of support, and School Board Members and other influential citizens would help such people get positions teaching so they would not have to go on relief. Married women in teaching were few, because of the feeling that there should not be two jobs in one family, and unmarried woman in teaching were discouraged from getting married. In general, teachers went along with the prevalent attitude. Their qualifications were generally low, there was a depression on, and most agreed that they were lucky to have jobs. Salaries were low but there were other compensations. Teachers were regarded with certain respect. The schools were objects of community pride, and many of them took pride in their work and in the progress of their pupils.
During and after World War II the teachers’ position was changing. Many left teaching to go into the Armed Forces or into war industries, and a shortage of teachers developed. [The] “baby boom” in the late 1940s led to an accelerated increase in school enrollments in the 1950s. Because of high state requirements for certification and encouraged by salary schedules recognizing and rewarding additional training, teachers’ qualifications were rising, and so was their feeling of pride and self-esteem. With the development of good roads and transportation, there were more and more “commuter” teachers who lived in other communities and took little part in the life of the communities in which they taught, and were not influenced by local social pressures. . . .
Illinois law sanctions attendance of children at private and religious schools which teach substantially the same curriculum as the public schools. St. Francis Xavier Parish in Jerseyville has maintained a parochial school for many years, starting about the turn of the century. This school is located on the church property on South State Street in a two-story brick building which has stood for many years and which has been remodeled from time to time. The school now enrolls 260 pupils in grades 1-8. Recently a large building, suitable for large meetings, dinners, school assemblies, and physical education and basketball games has been added to the plant under the leadership of Father Terry Shea. Because Father Shea is a great sports fan and advocate, the new building is popularly known as “Shea’s Stadium.”
Holy Ghost parish, also of Jerseyville, opened a parochial school just north of the church building on Spruce and Washington Streets on Monday, Sept. 1, 1896. In 1901 this school was still teaching, with an enrollment of 45 pupils. It is believed that this school was closed when St. Francis Parish opened its school and built its building in the early 1900s. In the early 1950s, under the leadership of Father P. P. Heinen, reopened the Holy Ghost School in a new modern brick building, with a large meeting room in the basement. As the school grew two other buildings were added, a one-story concrete block building built largely by the men of the parish, and a one-story prefabricated brick building. The school stands on the original church site, the church itself and the Pastor’s home both having been moved across the street. The school now enrolls 234 pupils in grades 1-8.
Attendance at the parochial schools increased greatly when the public school transportation system was set up, because Catholic children living in the country could legally ride the school buses to Jerseyville to attend the parochial school. This was largely responsible for making the second parochial school both possible and necessary. Both schools are taught by Dominican Sisters, with some help from lay teachers.
The St. Mary’s of the Westwoods parish (Catholic) [at] Fieldon operated a one-room parochial school until recent years. The German Evangelical (now United Church of Christ) at Jerseyville operated a school during summer vacations early in the 1900s.
The First Baptist Church in Grafton opened the Grafton Christian Academy in 1975. 49 children are enrolled in pre-school, kindergarten, and grades 1-8.
Charles H. Daniels of Escondido, California, former teacher and County Superintendent of Schools in Jersey County, recounted his early teaching days here in an article which appeared in the May issue of Elementary English. The writer who has been affiliated with the Escondido school system since leaving Jersey County will be going into semiretirement at the close of the next school year after having dedicated 45-plus years to education.
In recalling early teaching days Mr. Daniels wrote:
This is being written at the request of Mrs. June Bacher, my very good friend and co-worker. She felt that some of the experiences in my early teaching might be of interest to others. It is very difficult to write about ones self for fear that it will not be interpreted by the reader as the writer intended. This is just a narrative account of some things that happened years ago.
I was born on a farm in Illinois in 1905. My father died when I was four years old, and my mother was left with four boys to rear. There wasnt much money, and we were disadvantaged but didnt really know it because there was lots of others just like us. We lived in a small town until my oldest brother had graduated from high school, then we moved back to the farm.
My mother had always stated that she wanted each of us to graduate from high school and to teach school a year. She had taught a one-room country school for four years before she was married and felt that it was excellent training for anyone, regardless of what they might like to do later. We all did as she asked. My oldest brother taught his one year, and that was enough for him. Another brother taught for about fifteen years before entering social service work. My third brother taught for 33 years before he retired, and I am just starting my 45th year.
My entry into teaching was not the fulfillment of a life-time ambition; it was a purely economic reason. As I said, we lived on a farm and it was a bad year. There had been little rain, and the chinch bugs had worked on the corn so there wouldnt be much to harvest. Frankly, we needed the money. So, in the latter part of August I checked the office of the County Superintendent of Schools about vacancies in one-room schools. There was only one left, and no one had applied for it. He gave me the name of the school and told me where it was located.
The following Sunday my brother and I drove down to see about it. The school was in the Illinois River bottom. Several years before a levee had been built up to keep the river from flooding the bottom land. The big trees had been cut and burned. A few had been cut into logs, and boards were sawed from them to build houses for the people who would farm the land. A school had been built and was pretty well filled with children.
We called upon the President of the School Board and asked about the chances of being employed. He seemed glad to see us and invited us to wait and have dinner with them and then go see the others in the afternoon. Later we went to see the other two members, and they seemed pleased to have an applicant.
Ill remember as long as I live one member was a typical one-gallus-overall man with a big chew of tobacco in his cheek and two weeks growth of whiskers on his face. His only question as to my qualifications was, Do you allow as how you can lick em and larn em? I allowed as how I thought I could and was hired on the spot for $75 a month for a seven-month term of school.
The next day I reported to the County Superintendent that I had been hired. His only comment was to the fact that he hoped Id be able to last out the year as this was quite a spot for running out teachers. He also told me Id need a certificate and could take an examination for it. So I took the examination and got a third-grade certificate. There was a first-grade certificate for those who made very good grades on the examination; a second-grade for those who had passing grade; and third-grade for those who didnt quite make it; and a provisional if you knew nothing at all and a school just had to have a teacher. Subsequently I took the examination and did get a first-grade certificate, and about ten years later a Supervisory Certificate. With present day regulations Id have been left out in the cold.
My first year was a liberal education for me. If I ever get $525 I dont need, I should pay it back to them for tuition.
The School Board bought me a new broom, a box of chalk, a water bucket and a dipper, ten cords of green wood for the stove, and we were in business. It was the only air-conditioned school I ever taught in. The air came in around the loose windows, around the door, and up through the cracks in the floor. The school was set up on concrete piles so that it would be above the water if it seeped through the levee a quarter of a mile away. The next spring the water did seep through. Our well was 18 feet deep, and we had 19 feet of water in it. When we had been to apply for the school, we found it surrounded by horse weeds about eight feet tall. By the time school started they had been cut down and were still lying on the ground. There were no trees or flowers or grass. It stood bleakly in the midst of corn fields.
The first day of school was quite a day. There were 31 pupils in all the grades. I can still see them eyeing me wondering what I was like. Just before nine oclock I looked out to see a boy leading a little girl by the hand. He was as tall as I am and had a kind of Ichabod Crane look about him. He brought the little girl to me and told me, Ma haint never learnt her nothing. I though someone had skipped him, too.
We started school and tried to get books for everyone. No books were furnished. There were some desk copies and pupils shared and exchanged. Each child took up where he had left off the year before. Pupils who had any books of any kind brought what they had, and we passed them around.
Just as the first day was about over a little boy came and asked me, When are you going to lick all of us? I told him that Id found no need to punish anyone. He said that the teacher the year before had whipped everybody every day whether they needed it or not.
“They were a fine bunch of youngsters and seemed to appreciate any notice taken of them. Very early I hit upon a good form of discipline. They just loved to play ball, so we played ball at recesses and noons. Our sides were the girls and teacher on one side and the boys on the other. We always got beaten; this pleased the boys greatly and didnt bother the girls because it was glory enough to be on teachers side, and I didnt care if they did beat us regularly.
If lessons were not completed or someone needed punishment, they were kept in at recess and this broke up the ball games; so pressure was put on the erring one to mend his ways by his fellow students. Group pressure helped greatly. When it seemed that a big snow might be on the way, Id tell the pupils I could not play at noon because I needed to get a supply of wood on the porch. You get 30 pairs of arms carrying wood, and it isnt long before you have a porch full of wood and can have a ball game, too.
Being naturally lazy, I sometimes worked it with the sweeping during the winter when the days were short and Id not want to get home after dark. Pupils brought old brooms from home, and wed open the doors and windows to blow out the dust and get it swept in no time. We later found that snow made pretty good sweeping compound to hold down the dust and didnt need to have the doors and windows open.
During the winter it was impossible to keep a fire over night, and a fresh one had to be built each morning. We had cobs for kindling and with green wood it was sometimes nearly noon before it was warm enough to get away from the stove, so we studied and recited around the stove.
When the spring thaw set in, we had M U D. The land around was black gumbo. It raised excellent corn and wheat, but it was bad to walk in when it was wet. Ones feet got as big as you could carry. That spring I wore rubber boots and carried my shoes in my pocket. Usually I carried a barrel stave with me to push off the mud every few steps.
We had a great deal of it that spring, as it was a rainy one. On the way to my boarding place I could walk up the levee and see the water up over my head lapping at the top of the levee. I kept my suitcase packed and under my bed, ready to leave if the levee should break. As I said, we had a lot of mud that year. This black stick, as the people called it, lasted for a long time. It didnt really need to rain for the ground to get sticky; it would happen if it got good and cloudy.
It was a very good year. I dont think I taught the boys and girls much, but I liked them and they liked me.
My salary was $75 a month, less $1 for retirement. Out of that, I paid $20 a month for room and board and laundry; sent $50 a month home, and had $4 left. On Saturdays I worked at cutting corn, husking corn, or helped shelling corn for which I got paid so I didnt make out badly at all.
When there was no work available on Saturdays, Id go rabbit hunting and all the time carried a shucking peg in my pocket. If I saw one of my students shucking corn, Id stop and help him for a while. Id often stay and have dinner with the family. They were very open-hearted folks. On Saturday nights in the winter there was usually a square dance at one of the homes, and we had a lot of fun.
Teaching a one-room school in those days was a real proving ground. You were on your own. If the furnace didnt work, there was no one to complain to but your self. You either learned to live with conditions as they were or got out. No one fought for your rights.
Supervision was unheard of at the time. That first year our County Superintendent complied with the law. He visited the school once. The roads were usually not fit to travel most of the time, so he came early in the fall before the fall rains came. He stayed for about fifteen or twenty minutes. I recall vividly his visit and a prophecy he made. He stated that he was going to tell fortunes by using the waste paper basket. He dumped it out and picked up pieces of paper that had bee written upon. If all the sheet was used, he predicted a prosperous future for that child. He didnt ask the pupils to claim their pieces of paper.
He took up one piece that someone had practice drawing stars on and stated that this person was an idler and a waster. As it happen, that was a piece of paper that Id put there. The day before one of the pupils had asked how to draw a five-pointed star. I wasnt too sure about it. That morning Id tried it out to see how to do it before showing the pupils. The boys and girls [were] real pals; they didnt give me away.
We had a good year. I dont think I taught them very much because I didnt know very much to teach them. They like to come to school and were very appreciative of anything done for them.
The School Board asked me to take the school the next year, and I did. They gave me the biggest raise, percentage wise, that I ever received. The next year I received $90 a month.
I found that I liked working with the boys and girls and we seemed to understand each other, so teaching became my life work. All told, I taught for 13 years, spent 16 years as County Superintendent of Schools in that County. I never did tell fortunes from the waste basket, though, and have served 16 years as an Elementary School Principal in Escondido, California.
If I had it to over, Id probably do the same thing. My only change would be to try to do much better than I have to understand children and help them to learn.
Charles H. Daniels
Principal, Juniper School
According to Mr. Eagleton the school referred to in the article is the former McKinley school which was located west of Columbia Seed Company.
From Marty Crull.