is an excerpt from Memories of North Lincoln, written for the Warren
County Historical Society by B. Clary Sill at the request of Edith
Conn. The complete selection can be found in the
Transcribed by Juanita Ott
As North Lincoln Schoolhouse and I appeared upon this earth
within a few months from each other, I have always had a great
interest in it. I was born January 9, 1896 and in a few months, the
rock foundation was laid for the schoolhouse. It cost a few
schoolhouse was built on a small hill surrounded by timber. It is
one of the dearest spots on earth to me as so many days of my life
were spent there.
schoolhouse was much better than the ones around us. The woodwork
and wainscoting were varnished, not painted. The windows were built
high so that pupils couldn't see passing traffic. A short way east
of the schoolhouse was a road that had been traveled so long that it
was quite a lot lower than banks on both sides. Teams and wagons
traveled this road through the timber to cut off quite a distance on
the real road. When a heavy wire cable was put along the south and
west side of school grounds the sounds of harness rattling and wagon
creaking were heard no more. The east side of the school ground was
fenced by Loper's pasture fence. North of the schoolhouse there were
trees and brush but I can not remember a fence there. A coalhouse
was built in the South West corner of the grounds. Once in a while a
teacher permitted boys to get on the roof and jump off. The outside
door opened on a porch with boards to make a railing. The top board
was wide enough that erasers were dusted there – also that was a
nice place to sit. Several steps led down to a board walk that was
built to a loading stile at the edge of the ground. Here one could
step from the stile into the vehicles alongside. One of our most
exciting stunts was to run the length of the walk and jump over this
stile. Although we landed in dirt, never was there a broken bone!
West of the
schoolhouse were many fine trees that shaded the 3 west windows from
afternoon sun and also made bases for Wood Tag and Pussy Wants a
Corner. Across the old road leading to the timber road was the big
playground. All the years I spent there, I was never in NE corner of
the ground and the only time anyone went to the east end was when a
big boy knocked a ball down there. Every fall before school started,
one of the directors would mow the ground and hire someone to clean
For years, the schoolroom was heated by a big stove set in center of
the room. On bitter cold mornings, pupils farther from the stove
were permitted to sit on the 2 recitation benches. These had no
backs but a great improvement to the log benches used not many years
before. The walls of the room were papered. Kerosene lamps on
brackets on window frames was only light. Teacher's desk was in the
front of the room...
The only time
in my life that I fainted, I was working arithmetic problems on the
board when I became dizzy. When I fell, the teacher, Edith Loper and
pupils crowded around me. When I opened my eyes, I couldn't think
why they all looked so frightened. And I came to my senses just in
time as a boy had the wash pan of dirty water ready to pour on my
unknown (to us) reason, the Lincoln District was made extra large.,
the south boundary being what is now the paved road west of Milo,
the northern boundary was north of Otter Creek, the eastern boundary
was ¼ mile east of our homestead and the western boundary was just
west of what was then the Devrough Farm a few miles east of Brown's
schoolhouse was built first. The old secretary book, that I have,
starts at 1876 with Wm. Loper as sec. It has record of
"money on hand" and "money paid out" but only
purchase listed is for coal $2.00 in October 1877.
The first teacher
recorded is for 1880, Carrie Flager, who received $20 a month.
Because of large farms in southern part of the district, there were
few pupils while in northern and smaller places and more families
accounted for many more. I don't know where any of these went to
school, but I do know my sister Jessie and cousin Ethel Clary,
walked through the timber, crossed Lick Branch on a fallen tree and
went to McClelland east of us until North Lincoln was built...
after North Lincoln was finished, the entire neighborhood turned out
to have a picnic and clean up all the place. This picnic was a
tradition on the last day of school for many years. The teacher and
pupils prepared a program. Most of the fathers that came would leave
after eating but the mothers remained for the program. The men drove
stakes and nailed a board across and fixed for a long table back of
schoolhouse. Mr. Loper always had native lumber that he brought and
placed on three supports. Mothers brought so much good food but
there was no potato salad as that recipe didn't reach our corner of
the world until a few years afterward. Lopers had an ice house and
cut ice from Otter Creek to use in summer. They usually brought a 5
gal. cream can of lemonade with ice in it. Nowadays we would not
think of using river ice, but we knew no better!! Mrs. Loper always
brought a white layer cake with lemon filling and frosting. Mrs.
Freeborn never came to any meeting but she always sent a yellow cake
with tiny colored candy in the frosting. We youngsters would almost
fight for a piece of that cake! As no one else had ice nor
refrigerators, I would think chicken was the meat served. I can't
remember all the things we had but do remember all the things we had
but do remember it was a bountiful meal...
At that time
and for many years, the school year consisted of 3 terms: 2 months
fall, 3 months winter, 2 months spring. Many years we had a
different teacher every term. Minnie told me the directors feared
she couldn't manage the big boys that came in the winter so hired
Pope that first winter. But Minnie taught many terms and also winter
terms. Girls went to school as long as they wanted to. Big boys had
to help with farm work spring and fall but came to school in winter
until they were 18 or 19 years old. That is, some boys did. I was
astonished to learn years after I left school that
in the woods was a hard school to teach!!
morning in 1900 my education began when, with sister Jessie and
brothers John and Fred, I trudged the long mile from our home to
. Minnie Holcombe was again the teacher as she was for many terms.
For a few years I did not attend the winter term as every winter I
had "Lung Fever" (pneumonia). l But I remember one winter
morning when Minnie's brother Charlie, a big boy, put me on his long
red coaster and pulled me to school. It was the only coaster in
school that was not home made. The Queen of Sheba could not have
been prouder than I!
until I took 8th grade examination in the summer of 1909.
June Loper and I went to Indianola for 2 days to take the
examinations. That fall I went to
to live with Sister Jessie and attend High School. But the next year
my parents didn't feel able to pay my tuition. Therefore, I came
for the next year. It was that year that
legislature passed a law that a school board must pay tuition for
any pupil attending high school. I graduated in May 1905 and that
fall taught my first term class at
. At that time the 7 months school year consisted of 3½ months in
the fall and 3½ months in the spring. I was to teach the spring
, Mr. McGee sent me to another school where the teacher was ill and
I stayed there the rest of the year...
called the roll every morning and we answered with a memory gem.
Some I still remember. Often we sang a few songs. When Alice or
Edith Loper was the teacher, they brought an organ and our music
sounded a little better.
As there was
no water on the school grounds we carried water from the Loper farm.
Someone would ask to go for water in the morning and again
afternoon. That person would choose a good friend to go to help.
Once in a while we had a teacher who sent the pair before school
started but usually it was during school hours. When the water came,
someone asked to "Pass the water" and with one, or
sometimes 2 tin cups, he passed up and down the aisles, everyone
drinking from the same cup. Then someone asked to "Pass the
wash pan." Everyone used slates. We would have one tablet that
was used for language or grammar work. The Loper children usually
had sponges but the rest of us had a rag with which to clean our
slates. As the pan passed, everyone dampened the rage. During the
last year I attended
we had a water cooler and many had folding cups to use.
was rather accident prone and twice he was injured and Dad took him
to the doctor. Both times he brought back something for the whole
school, one time mumps and one time whooping cough. By using the
same drinking cup, soon everyone, except a very few who were immune,
was having swollen jaws and coughing until we thought we could never
get another breath.
During the 15
minute recesses morning and afternoon and the noon hour, we had fun
playing games. Some we played were Sheep in my Pen, Hiding and Seek,
Red Man, Black Man, Steel Sticks, May I, Ante Over the Schoolhouse,
and the heavy cable was a great place for little ones to play Skin
the Cat. When a fresh snow fell, the first ones to school marked out
a Fox and Geese ring and what grand times we had. When weather was
too bad, we played games in the schoolroom. When we played work up
ball, everything was fine but as soon as teams were chosen, then
quarrels began. We little ones never got more than one swing at the
ball, then we were out and were sent out to be fielders. The big
boys were batters 9/10 of the time!
winter, all sleds in the neighborhood were brought to school and we
were fortunate to have a big hill nearby. Sometimes all the sleds
and coasters were tied together, a big boy acted as driver, and rest
piled on 2 deep, and down the hill we went and part way up the hill
where schoolhouse stood. The only accident I remember is when sleds
upset at foot of the hill and Wayland Halterman cut his upper lip
through to teeth. The teacher sent a big boy home with him.
One winter the
teacher let us bigger ones go to a bayou about one half mile west of
the school grounds to skate. None of us had watches and we seldom
got back by 1 PM when school took up. Then one day it was nearly
time for afternoon recess when we came in. The school board heard
about this and we were not permitted to leave school grounds
afterward. Sometimes when we had coasted and made the hill so slick
that teams couldn't get up the hill, then we had to quit for quite a
always told all 5 of us that if we got a whipping at school he gave
us another that night. Needless to say, none of us ever was whipped
as we very rarely wished a whipping from Dad as we knew what it was.
But one term, Annie Baysinger had few books. As she was in some of
my classes the teacher had her sit with me to study, which we would
do for a while, then we would begin giggling. The next thing we
knew, we were standing in the front of the room in a circle drawn
with chalk, just large enough for our four feet and we didn't dare
step over that circle.
traveled at his own speed in all subjects. He might be in 6th
and 3rd grade Arithmetic. When a boy or girl had attended
the required years, they just quit attending.
southeast corner of the school house was a tree that had a hole
about 1/3 of the way up. Here the only flying squirrels that I ever
saw furnished entertainment for us as we watched them fly from limb
Back of the
schoolhouse some distance was a pile of large rocks. Also there were
big lovely pine trees that had shaded the home of the Byers. Part of
the foundation of the home was still there. Many times, especially
on Arbor Day, the teacher and we pupils took our dinner buckets and
hurried through the timber and down a hill to this spot. The first
ones there were the lucky ones who sat on the rocks to eat dinner.
It was a lovely spot but lonely, knowing the home and family were
gone and the grave of an infant by the rocks added to this feeling.
The rocks are now covered with a pond but I do not know about the
trees. Several times we older pupils waded snow at Christmas time to
get pine branches with which to decorate the schoolroom.
In the winter
we would have a program and box supper. Girls would cover a box,
usually a shoe box, with bright paper and fill it with chicken,
sandwiches, cake or pie, apples or oranges which were a great treat.
Some man would auction off the boxes and the money was used to
purchase something for the schoolroom. If a boy knew which box was
his sweethearts he might pay $2.00 or more for it. That was a
magnificent sum then.
One year the
just east of
bought a big bell and a belfry was added to the school house and the
bell hung. On still days we who lived east of
could hear the bell. Of course we pupils were very anxious to have a
bell on our school house so we had box suppers and pie suppers that
winter until we had accumulated the necessary amount.
It is a
mystery to me now why the school board built the belfry on the back
end of school house and hung the bell – a very amusing sight. If
anyone knows why this was done, I would like to know. A hole was
made through roof and ceiling and a rope attached to bell hung down
in the back of the school room. Needless to say that it was a great
honor to ring the bell when time for school hours.
We also had
Spelldowns and Ciphering in the winters. Some of the parents would
consent to be drawn on one of the 2 sides competing. One night a
group of pupils and their teachers came. The teacher was chosen on
one side. How shocked we were when the teachers misspelled a word
but when the one pronouncing the words asked her to spell it again,
as she wasn't sure it was wrong, the teacher spelled it correctly
and insisted she had the first time. No political scandal of this
time ever shocked and disturbed a group more than that did us
pupils. At that time, teachers were held in respect.
was the only one who conveyed his children to and from school in bad
weather. He wanted us all to receive an education. When a hard rain
or heavy snow came in the morning, he would hitch the old gray team
to a spring wagon, lumber wagon or sled and take us to school. If a
storm came in the afternoon, we knew Dad and the gray team would be
waiting at the loading stile when school was out. As most of the
pupils lived east of the school house everyone that could crowd in
rode to the corner. One winter the snow drifted over the fences and
road was blocked. Dad walked with us through the fields and over
fences to see us safely to school.
The memory of
a May evening in 1908 has remained clear all these years. Sister
Jessie was the teacher. It was the last week of school and we had
the program prepared for the annual picnic. It wasn't raining when
we were dismissed but Dad and the gray team were waiting for us.
Brother Fred had been ill for 4 years but had become worse and the
doctor said his time here was short. Dad had contacted the other
directors and they said for Jessie to dismiss for the summer. On May
28, 1908, Brother Fred left us forever. I don't remember of any
other death of a pupil all the years I attended
One winter we
had a teacher who kept one or more of the big boys in after school
nearly every evening. She would tell the rest of us to go on home.
But we would go to the foot of the hill to wait for the boys.
Sometimes one of the big boys would have matches and he would start
a little fire. Any crust or apple left in any dinner bucket was
stuck on a stick and roasted.
Some of our
teachers had a cardboard 5 point star and a box of colored chalk
and, believe it or not, these made better spellers of us! Our names
were written on the front blackboard and a star drawn after it.
Every time we had a perfect spelling lesson, a point of our star was
colored. Sometimes we were even given the privilege of coloring it
as we liked. Every week we could have a whole star colored!
One year we
had a teacher whose entire education had been obtained in Indianola
schools and she had never been in a rural school room. The first
week many in the upper grades had never recited one lesson as she
began by having either ½ or ¾ hour recitations! She didn't see how
she could have 8 reading classes and 2 history ones in the period
from 9 AM to 10:30 AM when recess came. Then all the arithmetic
classes from 10:45 AM to noon when we had an hour in which to eat
our cold diners and play games. At 1 PM some kind of instruction was
given the 1st and 2nd graders then the other
pupils had language or grammar classes and upper grades had
physiology. If enough time, we had writing exercise. Recess was from
2:30 to 2:45 PM Then 1st and 2nd usually had
story telling time or something then, in nice weather they often
were sent outdoors and the other pupils had geography and spelling
lessons. School was dismissed at 4 PM.
especially in winter, we had Spelldowns or Ciphering after the last
recess. As young people can see, we had no field trips, no bands, no
time out of schoolroom for fun learning. During my last years in
, Civics and a little instruction in music were squeezed in
somewhere in the week. I'm certain none of today's pupils enjoy
their music more than we did as we sometimes had a Sing-a-long when
school first "took up" and though many might be slightly
"off key," we enjoyed it.
Many times we
had a teacher who began the day reading from the Bible, something
which has been declared unconstitutional, much to the disgrace of
One of the
highlights of the school year for me was when a girl friend came
home with me or I went home with her to spend the night. The two
friends with whom I shared this pleasure were Lula DeVore and James
the big boys in the neighborhood had located several piles of fence
posts and that night carried them and piled them on the school house
porch. I don't remember how Dad got the word that the teacher
couldn't get into the school room the next morning but I know he
helped remove all of them.
there was a big key that folded for the door and all the windows
were high from the ground and locked, sometimes a tramp broke in and
spent the night. Teachers usually had buckets of coal carried in for
morning and he would use the coal during the night. I can't remember
of anything being harmed except one time when all the old registers
had been burned.
was destroyed there were few people passing the schoolhouse. It was
in a lonely spot as no homes in sight. Often during the summer, many
window panes would be broken. Therefore heavy shutters were
installed on all windows.
started to school I remember sitting on Minnie Holcom's lap while I
lived at east edge of
and therefore was in McClelland district as was the Holcombe farm.
But because it was closer to North Lincoln, Minnie told me that one
winter Handy and Minnie drove an ill matched team to North Lincoln,.
I think one had a pony and one a horse...
district was so large, many pupils had a long way to walk. We had a
mile but we were the only family whose father took us to and from by
a team and wagon or sled, At one time, a family of Clarkes, Mae,
Edith, Arthur, lived near Lick Branch in NE corner of district and
had a long way to walk. Nancy Baysinger lived in NW corner and
walked the long distance for a short time. Others living near her
home on the road west of
had a long way. At one time, Carl and Annie Baysinger lived in a
house on a creek off the road south and west of
. It would have been a very long way by road but they cut through
fields, pastures and timber and came out to road east of the
schoolhouse. Sidney Freeborn also lived a long way south and should
have had a long way by road but he also cut through and came out
across the road south of school house. He was seldom late but if he
happened to be he wouldn't come in, he would sit on the porch until
recess. The ones across Otter Creek south part of district received
transportation money if the parents brought them or if they rode
horseback. The old register shows that sometimes they attended
, school south of
. Minnie Holcombe married Ray Wilbur, went to
to live for a while. When they returned to
, they lived with her parents and she taught
for a while. It wasn't always open as too few pupils in southern
The only man
teacher I ever had was Elmer Jones. His sister
, also taught
. Both were well liked.
took some of the larger girls to her home in
on weekends. That meant a train ride from Indianola to
and being in a city – a grand treat to the ones who went. But the
weekend I was to go I was sick – and very disappointed.
One October 1st
the teacher took us larger ones through Harley Van Syoc farm to Lick
Branch. It was a beautiful place at that time – a natural road
bridge – the salt lick where deer came for salt – lovely trees.
really embarrassing incident I remember was when a girl was leaving
the room and about halfway between the front seat and hall door her
petticoat came unfastened and dropped around her feet. She picked it
up and fled out the door.
was Superintendent of schools. One of his duties was to visit every
school in the county once a year. As his only means of
transportation was a brown horse and a top buggy, it is doubtful he
accomplished this. As I see it now, his visit couldn't have been an
evaluation of the teacher's ability as we had no classes while he
was there. The teachers always asked him "to say a few words to
us," which he did and would then leave. One picnic day he
brought his wife and 4 children to partake of our bountiful dinner.
returned in 1929 to teach
, the school year was 9 months with one teacher. The hall partition
had been torn out and also the shelves where dinner buckets, water
bucket and wash pan had been set. And the small porch had been torn
off and a room built to the south. There were seats, or shelves,
built on east and west walls. Here dinner buckets, water cooler and
wash pan were placed. In severe weather, our dinners and our
overshoes froze out there, something that never happened in the
register lists quite a bill for lumber in 1927 and I assume that was
when the new room was built. 1934 was last entry in old register and
just the last few years it was given for what the money was spent.
In 1929, it listed a stove $100. That was the pretty brown finished
coal heater – much more attractive than the old black pot-bellied
stove that had served for years.
one winter we had been practicing for Christmas program. But the
week before program, flu struck our school and many were absent. All
plans for program were given up but we would have our gift exchange
and I would give each one a gift and a sack of candy and nuts and
perhaps an orange. On Friday morning, several of the ones who had
been sick came back to school. Before time for 1st
recess, the stove was smoking and soot was falling over the room. I
turned the damper but that did not help. The coal gas and smoke
caused the ones who had been sick to cough so hard. Windows were
partly opened, gifts given and I dismissed long before noon. When a
director came to see what the trouble was, he found the damper had
stuck straight across the pipe – handle would turn, but damper
wouldn't. I melted snow to clean the room.
Christmas we were offered a large pine tree that grew on farm
northwest of schoolhouse. Someone brought an ax and the entire
school and I went through the timber road. The boys cut it down and
we dragged it back. We had such a time getting it through the door,
then it was too tall and had to be cut again. Then getting it
anchored in something was another problem. It reached the ceiling
and nearly filled the front of the room. But it was beautiful the
night of the program.
Most of the
time I taught, I walked 1 ¾ mile to and fro from Holcombe farm to
schoolhouse. But one fall for a short time I drove our family horse,
Minnie, hitched to the buggy. One morning I had picked up some
pupils on the way. When we were nearly to schoolhouse someone on
horseback came up back of us. Minnie always enjoyed a race and also
running away. So – away she went, even though I tried to let her
know I didn't approve of a race! Just in front of the schoolhouse
she ran upon bank and upset the buggy on the bank, broke harness and
ran one up to top of little hill where a gate went through Loper's
woods. There she stopped, looked back at me and waited for someone
to come for her. Luckily none of us were injured...
One time a
fire broke out in the timber near the schoolhouse and the men of the
neighborhood quickly gathered and put out the fire.
1914 – The
first month I taught at
I received $45.10. The amount determined by so much cash times the
average of the grades on my certificate. The last month I taught
(1931) I received $92,50. The depression was upon the country then.
I had a 1st grade certificated by then and could not
teach for less than a certain amount. The school board thought it
best to hire a teacher with 3rd grade certificate so I
was not hired again. I always wanted to teach my last year there but
that dream didn't come true.
It is strange
how many more memories I have of events 75 years ago when I was a
pupil than of 45 years ago when I was the teacher. No doubt some of
my pupils have more than I have! Could it be that I have few
memories as a teacher because my mind was so occupied with
responsibilities: lesson plans, recitations, discipline, cleaning
school room, carrying in coal and kindling, building fires???
one winter, the teacher, (I think it was either Alice or Edith Loper)
organized a religious club of older girls who met after school and
studied the Bible and had prayer. Each member had a round blue pin
with a gold star in center and the name of the club. It seems the
name was Sunshine, but I'm not certain. I was a little girl then,
not a member. One evening I decided to stay. It was dark when I left
the school house and I remember I was alone and scared. About half
way home I met Dad on horseback. He had become worried about me and
came to find me. I'll never forget how safe I felt when he pulled me
up behind him. l I never stayed again.
when a heavy snow fell, the boys would build 2 snow forts and have
battles with snowballs. We never thought that some of these same
boys would someday be in a real battle, years later. Two of my
pupils, Merle Bown and Clifford Borrall were killed in accidents
while serving in
service. Other served in army or navy but I can't think of any other
did not want the school house moved, I am glad it has the honor of
giving today's generation a glimpse of what school life was at the
beginning of this century... The building will be cared for in its
present location which is a good thing.
feet crossed the threshold of
and pupils scattered over the country. So few of my classmates are
not living and they are scattered from the
to the Pacific. Many lie in graves through out the
Additional notes about
The newest school house in the township was
, built in 1896 by Mr. Fridley at a cost of $450. It was named for a
family by the name of
but was often called the
as it was from Loper's farm that the children carried water.
It was a well built building, tucked away in the woods. Nature study
was easy – a walk during the lunch hour was ideal to study the
leaves of trees, flowers, birds and rocks in their natural habitat.
The large school yard afforded plenty of space for ball games and
other games. The large hills to the east were ideal for sledding.
The school was closed in 1955. Several years later, the owner,
Howard Lester, gave the building to the Iowa State Fair and it was
moved to the fairgrounds and is preserved there.