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Liberty Township, Ringgold County, Iowa

Oak Grove School - Graduating Class of 1902

L to R: Back Row, Danial Grubb, Chester S. Adams, Clarence Sheldon
Middle Row: Ruby Cox, Birdie Knight
Boy in Center Front Row: Dellett Thompson

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa


by Shirley Hickman

This week’s timely sharing comes from Velda Richey (Mrs. Carl) Fenton of Osceola, Iowa, from the treasures of her mother, Ruby Cox Richey. The [above] is of the graduating class of 1902 from the Oak Grove School in Liberty Township, Ringgold County. (Iowa)

Here I would like to share with you one interesting aspect of reading the names off the back of a photograph that never entered my mind. As long as I can remember the names on the back of any of the photos that I have come in contact with have the names listed left to right on the back. Well, you just never know for certain, not anymore, anyhow. People do list the names on the back of the picture so that they would appear on the back of the individual’s head. In other works, if there is a lady on the left hand side of the picture and a man on the right, when you turn it over the lady would have her name on the right and the man would have his name on the left. Nothing is easy! So just for the record, if you might be going through some old pictures and it is not clearly specified on the back that the names are for the individuals in left to right order or you don not know for a fact any of the individuals in the picture, you might be identifying them incorrectly. You might want to check further before putting a name to a face!

The individuals in the photograph which accompanies this week's article are not identified left to right. The girl on the right in the picture has on glasses. I called Mrs. Fenton to make certain of the identity of her mother and she indicated that she did not wear glasses until her later years. So if I had gone with the listing of the names on the back of the picture, I would have had the girl with the glasses as Ruby Cox.

The young man in the front row of the picture is Dellett Thompson; in the second row from left to right are Ruby Cox and Birdie Knight; in the third row from left to right are Danial Grubb and Clarence Sheldon; with the tall young man in the center of the fourth row being CHESTER ADAMS.

Mrs. Fenton writes: "“CHESTER ADAMS had a daughter, Cleo Fouser, living at Ellston for many years before moving to Kansas. Clarence Sheldon moved to Missouri in March (1902) but returned for the graduation, and Danial Grubb later moved to Washington state but has relatives in Ringgold County. Birdie (Bernetta) Knight married Wm. Dove and lived on the old Dove farm in Liberty Township. Ruby Cox (my mother) married Clair Richey and lived in Colorado and later in Mount Ayr. Dellett Thompson married Elva Atwood and was the father of Joe Thompson and Lucile Benson of Mount Ayr."

"I have also enclosed several pages from one of mother's school diaries. You will see mother told of the commencement program and of the taking of the photo. At that time, there were several Mr. Bennetts in the community. I do not know Supt. Bennett's first name. Their teacher that term was Ava Bunker, also with relatives in this area."

"I was born in Colorado, raised at Mount Ayr and after marriage lived in the Ellston area for 40 years before moving to Osceola a few years ago. So you see Ringgold county is still home to me."

The following comes from the diary of Ruby Cox dated Friday, June 27, 1902. "this is the last day of school but I didn't go as I have such a cold I can hardly talk. Ava Bunker was the teacher. The children said that a lot of the boys around were there and there was some awful disorder. Tonight was our commencement night, it has been cloudy and rainy looking all day. Clarence came up as far as Grubbs' yesterday, and him and Dan came on today, so we were all here. Our commencement was held at High Point, we went in the waggon -- we means Papa, Nellie Edna, Lora, Daisy, Pearlie and I. Mamma and the three little ones -- Harold, Alberta and Eldred (the baby) stayed at home, it seemed rather cold to go out in a white dress but I had raps enough on to have satisfied any one. They were most all there when we arrived. The seats were not all full on account of the bad weather, but most all the near neighborhood was there. Us six and Supt. Bennett set up in front. We couldn't help but look nice. I was the first to speak. I surprised me so when he called my name first that I 'ave time to get scared. The subject of my peace was "My First Recital." Birdie wrote a composition and spoke it. Chester also wrote one but he read his. Clarence spoke about "farming by signs of the moon." Dellett spoke about "give to the hungry potatoes", and Dan spoke about Billie's dead and gone to glory so has Billie's sister Nell." Those last three I don't know the exact title to. The High Point choir done the singing. Everybody claimed we done fine. The class colors were pink and lavender. Mr. Bennett put them on our diplomas. By the time the exercises were over it was raining hard and lightning quite sharp. It was so dark we could hardly see where we were going. There must have been a lot of folks wet tonight. So many wore their good hats too. A little back of us there were about a dozen boys on horseback, and such a lot of hollowing as they done. It was all quite exciting. When we got home the folks were still up. I didn't get wet but some of the girls did. After so much we are glad to get in bed."

"Saturday, June 28: Yesterday we made it up to go to town today to get our pictures taken, but as it looked so dark and rainy and misting some, I hardly knew whether to go or not. As Papa was going I was to go with him.. At last I got ready intending to go as far as Knights and see if the rest were going. When we got that far they had all gone. (It was only in the afternoon.) the roads were so muddy we couldn't go very fast. When we got there they were waiting on me and were getting afraid I wouldn't come. We went strate to the gallery. We were afraid it would be too dark to take pictures but they said they thought they could take them. Birdie brought in a lot of red roses so we each had some pined on us. We had a little dispute about what kind of picture we were to have. Birdie and I wanted the whole of us, while the boys wanted only our heads. At last we give into them and got some two dollar pictures with only our heads and shoulders. We gave one dollar and fifty cents for six which made the a quarter apeace. After we got through I done a little trading and then we got home a little before dark."

"Later -- Our pictures were several weeks getting done but when we did get them they were just fine. We couldn't have asked for better. I got a large gilt frame for mine and have it hanging in the front room."

Please direct all contributions, comments, corrections and inquiries to Shirley Hickman at 515-464-2634 or write to Preservation Partnership. RR 2, Box 18A, Mount Ayr, Iowa.


NOTE: I have had this article and a newspaper photograph since Aunt Cleo (Adams) Fouser gave me a copy before she passed away in 1993. Recently, about 3 months ago, I was re-reading the story, when I noted the name of the lady who had submitted the photo and article to the Mount Ayr Record News. I wondered if it would be possible that I could contact her and see if she still had a copy of the original photo. I was thrilled when I located her son, Mr. Carl E. Fenton in Urbandale, Iowa. After telling him the story, he said he would ask his 90 year old mother if she still had the photo. He thought he might find the photo in her belongings in Osceola, Iowa. (She has recently had a stroke, and moved to Urbandale.) Last Saturday, June 16, 2007, Mr. Fenton called me to tell me that his mother had located the photo in a box of photos she had at her home in Urbandale. He was so kind as to send a copy of the original photo for us to have. He remembered riding the school bus with Aunt Cleo's daughter, Bertha Jane when they were in school. He remembered my Uncle Tom Fouser (who like so many Iowa farmers was missing a few fingers). Carl's parents used to play cards with Aunt Cleo and Uncle Tom and he, like I was always amazed at how Uncle Tom could hold cards with only 2 fingers and a thumb on one hand. It goes to show how important it is to keep old photographs and to write names on the back.

My grandfather, Chester Adams' diploma from the Oak Grove School, is hanging on the wall in the Columbia Schoolhouse at the Kearny County Museum, Lakin, Kansas. The museum folks were kind enough a few years back as to make a copy of this diploma for us to keep. Aunt Cleo had donated the diploma to the museum.

Contributor's Note: Copy of an article in the AYR VIEWS section of the Mount Ayr Record-News, Mt. Ayr, Iowa. This article was one that Aunt Cleo (Adams) Fouser 1908-1993, had.

Information copied and submitted by William B. Adams, Grandson of Chester and Bertha (Roberts) Adams, January of 2011

To contribute to Ringgold County's school pages,
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