If some fine day, and the roads easy, you want to enjoy southwest New London township in its winter garb you can discover the size of the old "Tight Bark" rural schoolhouse and meeting place. The log schoolhouse has since disappeared and another rural schoolhouse, Oak Grove by name, stands near the site of the one of early pioneer days, old Tight Bark.

The general community around Tight Bark, torch of learning in those days of pioneering, includes family names well remembered by thsoe of us who enjoy the fruits of those pioneering years. There were the Waugh, the Wright, the Holland, and Caris families, the Simmons, Edger, Andrews, Nelson, Farr, Mallams, Leedham, and others appearing in the historical literature of New London township and Henry county.

The first settler in New London township staked his claim and built his log house in 1834, about three miles east of the spot where Tight Bark school was located by the old settlers. The railroad did not reach New London until 1855.

"Tight Bark" schoolhouse was certainly one of the first of the schoolhouses built in Henry county. It was of logs, one room. The log cabin down in Saunders Grove is an excellent example of the houses, school houses, and the meeting houses of those early days. Indeed the school houses of those days were quite generally used for religious worship, town meetings, and the center of the social activities of the community.

To particularize Tight Bark rural school was located north of the highway running east and west, and near the southwest corner of the east half of the Southeast quarter of section 30, New London township, on the 80 acre farm owned by the George Simmons family, and to this day it remains in the family, and known as the Simmons farm and now owned by Barton Simmons.

Mrs. M.C. Caris of our community, remembers old Tight Bark school well for as a young girl she went to school there for a short time, and just before the new Oak Grove building, was erected nearby. Mrs Caris wrote us the following interesting information concerning Tight Bark:

Mrs. M.C. Caris Knew Tight Bark
Dear Mr. Rogers:
If you have not already located "Tight Bark" school perhaps this will assist you in its location.
"Tight Bark" school was located in New London township near what is now known as Oak Grove school. The old school was located north up the hill from the present schoolhouse and on land which is now known as the Simmons farm.
I do not know on what date the old school was built but I can say that my father, James M. Holland, born in 1838, attended school there as a boy and the school remained there until he was grown and married. I also attended school there for a short time before the present Oak Grove school was built.
I do not know how the school came by the name of "Tight Bark" but I will be interested to know if someone has furnished you that information.
I always enjoy reading your Bystander Notes as many of the places and people mentioned from time to time are familiar names to me.

We wonder if Mrs. Caris remembers the old wagon factory, "Leedhams Wagon Shop", a couple of miles or so southeast of Tight Bark or the rural cemetery some two miles east and a half mile north at the northeast corner of the farm now owned by the Clyde Nugens, and in the early days owned by John Nugen. Likely many of those who attended Tight Bark school, are sleeping in that lonely, "God's Acre."

-- "Bystander's Notes" by Charles S. Rogers, Publisher-Editor of The Free Press [weekly newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, IA] Tuesday, December 9, 1947 p. 4


Wever, Iowa - In your Bystander's Notes in the Free Press of Dec. 4th, you have an inquiry as to the location of the "Tite Bark" School House. This school house is located seven miles east of Mt. Pleasant, one and one half miles south, and about a half miles west, and has has been known for some years as Oak Grove School in the edge of New London township. In the early days it was known as "Tite Bark" and there were a number of folks who attended school there as John G. Abraham, Holly Rinehimer. Just when the name changed to Oak Grove School, I do not know. There are many old timers who attended the Oak Grove School. With those mentioned above, there was Edward Curtis Lynn, who attended Howe's academy and for thirty years was County Superintendent of Lee county, a Republican in a Democrat county. Mrs. Lovlea Holland Caris, Mrs. Mary Summers Cook, Emma Summers, Mrs. Mary Wright, Paola Allsup Connor, Mrs. Mate Holland Gass, Mrs. Geo. L. Tomlinson and Mrs. Jeanetta Lynn, who were teachers there for years.

You mentioned the Political meeting held at Tite Bark school house in 1860 and you can safely state that Major Spearman, Capt. Lot Abraham, with his assistant vocalist, Bill Williford were conductors of this early Republican meeting. These men were all prominent Republicans of my boyhood days and were the "life of the party" at all political meetings. I remember one political meeting at Mt. Pleasant, a torch-light procession, which was several blocks long. I was with the Salem delegation. Some fellow, over in front of where the Temple Theater now is, yelled "Raw for Jeff Davis." A man by the name of Vorheis from Salem handed his torch to a comrade, ran out and knocked the fellow down, ran back, got his torch and into line again as though nothing had happened.

Geo. L. Tomlinson.

-- "Bystander's Notes" by Charles S. Rogers, Publisher-Editor of The Free Press [weekly newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, IA] Wednesday, December 17, 1947 p. 4

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