In the school year 1917-18 there were 196,000 one-room schools operating in our country which represented 27% of all the country’s school buildings. By 1930, the number had dropped to 114,000; by 1952 there were 51,800; by 1954 the number of schools had dropped to 45,000 …and the number was sinking at a rate of 10 a day.

McCLUNG SCHOOL — In 1839 a school house built of logs was erected on land owned by John McClung, located 3.5 miles west of Jamesport in Auberry Grove. It was said the fireplace and building was covered with clapboards and the structure featured sliding windows and a heavy walnut door. Seats were made of log slabs with two legs on each end. Two of the first teachers were Robert Williams and Frank Callison, attending classes for the families of Gillilian, Gay, Foster, Hill, Miller, Caraway and McClung. Just west of this school was an Indian camp where many Indian graves could be seen on top of the bluff at a nearby spring.

Town schools had more to offer students. The one-room schools were replaced by classes of equal age peers in addition to better transportation, better trained teachers, and better school facilities and materials. Cost was also a factor. School boards found it was cheaper to transport pupils than to maintain outdated school systems.

Problems mounted. The number of incoming school students in 1955 exceeded the rate facilities built and new teachers trained. The number of students in the elementary schools at this time was approximately 1,200,000 more than the previous year. Taxpayers paid $250 for every new pupil in a public school plus extra expense for books and supplies.

In many parts of the country, instruction was on a make-do basis. Nearly 1,000,000 grade school students across the nation received one-half day instruction. Most of the others sat in crowded classrooms where 2/3 of them exceeded the recommended class size of 30 pupils.

In order to help solve this problem in the Gallatin school system, a new age limit was set for the first grade entrants by changing the age limit for admittance from January 15 to December 1. At the time, it was thought that those students who started early were retarded during the first grade and seldom “caught up” in later grades. Surveys showed students enrolled at age five instead of age six didn’t make as rapid progress.

A personal interviews revealing some experiences of those who attended one-room schools in Daviess County are as follows:

  • HAW BRANCH (BLAKELY) SCHOOL — Edgar Muller, Gallatin (interviewed on Dec. 11, 2003) — Edgar Muller attended the small country school named Haw Branch, located southwest of Gallatin on an acre of land donated by the landowner. The school was taught by a lady who rode her horse to school. The school had an iron stove and a pot was placed on it for soup made daily for the children. The school year lasted eight months. The first four grades were taught every year, while the four upper grades were rotated every year so all the fifth and sixth graders were taught together. The seventh and eight grades were taught in the same manner. During his eight years at the school, Edgar had the same teacher for four years. At the end of the eighth grade, a student had to pass a county examination test before he or she could advance to high school.

    This photograph is marked “Haw Branch School,” also known as Blakely School. (date unknown)

    In 1912 the Haw Branch (Blakely) School served the families of Cox, Dunnington, Tarwater, Biddle, Lay, Pierce, and Hobbs among others. The teacher shown is Eben Dunlap. Students, back row from left: Julia Cox, Elsie Biddle, Ollie Cox, Tom Dunnington, Genira Hobbs, Mary Pierce, Dewey Tarwater, Ollie Pierce; front: Adah Lay, Fred Cox with the remaining unidentified.



    Prairie View School Students 1908: This photo of students was taken in Gallatin the day that the Daviess County Courthouse was formally dedicated — Oct. 5, 1908. Shown, back row, left to right — Ned Johnson, Leta Maharg, Vula Johnson, James ?, ? Nichols, Flossie ?, Otis Nichols, Ora Maharg, George Oral Caldwell, teacher Grace Nichols (Mrs. Irwin Eads); 2nd row — Tom Maharg, Roy Nichols, Nannie Belle Nichols Green, Addie Maharg Morgan, Mabel Nichols Day; Front row — John W. Macy, Dewey Maharg, Eva Hamilton, William Macy, Lois Johnson Cook, Nina Johnson Ayers. [Shultz Studio, Gallatin; courtesy Mrs. Roy Day]

Prairie View School Students 1911-12: front from left — Mumsey Johnson, Robert Macy, Mary Warnes, Orpla Johnson, Lois Drummind, Armond Hamilton, William Macy, Frank Nichols; back row from left — Nin Johnson, Nannie Belle Nichols, Lois Johnson, Era Hamilton, Mabel Nichols, Teacher Lou Etta Morris and Mrs. Charles Hemry, John Macy, Roy Nichols, Macy Knight.

  • FAIRVIEW SCHOOL — Norma Johnson (interviewed on May 8, 2004) — Norma’s family donated an acre of ground for a school to be built. When she was in the elementary grades, there were 42 students in the eight grades taught by one teacher. She was also responsible for keeping the building clean, the school warm, etc. The children arrived by walking, riding horseback, or by horse and buggy. They left their horses tied, but brought their own feed for them. When Norma was in high school, she lived eight miles away. In order for Norma and her sister to attend, they worked for families in lieu of paying their room and board. Justin Holt, Gallatin (interviewed on July 9, 2004) — Justin attended Fairview School where grades 1-8 were taught by a teacher about 20 years old. Justin had to walk 2-3/4 mile to school because the school didn’t have busses and most families couldn’t afford to use them if they did. Kids learned from each other; every Friday students completed in ciphering matches in spelling, math, and sometimes history. Not many of the children were lucky enough to go to high school. Those who did rode horseback or boarded in town. In 1939, there was a paneled truck available to transport the children. There were wooden benches along its sides.

FAIRVIEW SCHOOL in 1906. Shown back row from left are Edna Benham, the teacher J.O. Dickerson, Merle O’Hare, Grover O’Hare, Verna O’Hare, Minnie Thompson, Hargus Hoover, Virgil Williams Bolene Ellis; middle row — Ruth Ellis, Paul Ellis, Lizzie Hoover, Luna Ellis, Beulah Ellis, Cecil Ellis, Belva Ellis, Mary Dickerson, Erma Evans; front row — Glen Trimble, Lee Hoover, Omer Pyles, Sam Evans. (courtesy Earnest Dickerson, Pattonsburg)

School wagons drawn by horses rather than motor carrier transported children to public schools in rural Missouri well into the 1930s, sometimes even later. Shown above is James Douglas Lollar, driving for the Altamont School about 1936. The “bus” sported a heating stove for those long, cold trips.

  • Pearl Robinson (interviewed on Sept. 1, 2003) — Pearl’s neighbor had to let her children take turns going to school. They had to ride a horse, but didn’t have enough for everyone to ride. If there was both a third grader and a fourth grader in the family, the third grader went to to school one year and the other stayed home. Then the following year, the one that stayed home the previous year went to his/her grade and the one that had gone the previous year now stayed home.

These students were attending classes at the Magill School in Daviess County, MO, in 1913.

Students and teachers at the Magill School in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)

  • Wilbur Bush, Gallatin (January, 2010) — Wilbur attended a small school in Leonard, Mo., for the first three years of his schooling. Grades 1-4 were taught in one room by one teacher; grades 5-8 were taught in another room by one teacher. There was a study hall and several high school rooms and the superintendent taught one or two classes. There wasn’t any kindergarten nor special classes in art or music. There wasn’t any indoor plumbing; the water supply consisted of an outside well. Water was packed to a fairly large, glass drinking fountain inside the building. The gym was located above a large store two blocks from the school. Wilbur’s first grade class had three students. The teacher rode to and from school by means of a bus. Sometimes, the bus left early and a high school student was sent into the room to supervise.

— written by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin


This road map of Daviess County locates rural schools throughout the county in 1940. The map was prepared by the Missouri School of Mines at Rolla, MO [revised in 1941]

PRAIRIE HALL SCHOOL DISTRICT No. 57, was located south of the junction of Hwy. 69 and I-35. This photo was taken during the 1925-36 school year when James O. Dickerson was teacher. Dickerson graduated from Grand River Academy at Gallatin in 1933. He was a country school teacher for 28 years and also worked for Shultz Studio in Gallatin. (courtesy Earnest Dickerson, Pattonsburg)

MANN SCHOOL: Serving Daviess County during the early part of its educational system was Mann School (ca 1900). It was located 5 miles east of the junction of Hwy. 13 and Route M, then 1 mile north and .25 mile east on property owned by Boyd Carpenter at the time this historical survey was conducted in 1979.

ROUND TOP SCHOOL held classes in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)

BELL TOWER SCHOOL: The unusual shape of the Bell Tower School (1878-1952) sets it apart from many other schools in Daviess County, MO. The building was octagonally-shaped, a one-room school with windows on six sides. Originally, a tower atop the building featured a large bell, hence the school’s name. (courtesy John Strait)

BELL TOWER SCHOOL: Bell Tower School was built in 1878 in north Liberty Township in Daviess County, MO (in the north portion of the airplane runway at Lake Viking today). It was so named due to a large school bell that hung in a tower atop the building when first constructed. Later the bell was removed onto a post and, during World War II, the bell was scrapped for reuse during the war effort. The last school term was held in 1950-51; Bell Tower then merged into Winston School District. Mrs. Mabel Parker had the distinction of teaching students here the longest. This photo was taken in 1952, just before being razed. (courtesy John Strait)

BELL TOWER SCHOOL: These students studied under the direction of Mabel Parker at Bell Tower School in 1948-49. Students are, front from left: Dorla King, Jenelda Shipers, ?, Mabel Parker, Marvin Wright, Gerald Wright; standing back, Ronnie Buck, Wayne Burris, May King, Frank Shipers, Irwin Shipers, John Strait, Merwin Buck, Donnie Wright. (courtesy John Strait)

CARLOW SCHOOL: This newspaper clipping shows students attending Carlow School in southeast Daviess County, MO, in 1920-21. They are, back frow from left — Woody Burge, Edward Hayes, Maynard Critten, Tracy Bashford, Roy Christman, Emery Poe, Elvin Miller, Loyd Christman, Ray New, teacher Raye Burge, Earle Tague, Mervin Tribbey; 2nd row — Hazel Tolen, Wilma Thomlinson, Floss Allen, Eula Dixon, Velma Carter, Audrey McQueen, Martha Curtis, Sylvia Wise, Irene Carter, Mary Kephart; 3rd row — ? Hayes, Georgia Mooney, Euleta Tague, Dorothy Rader, ? Hayes, Edrie Kephart, Ruby Wise, Garland Burge, Mildred Thomlinson, Elizabeth Fulton; 4th row — Floyd Christman, George Kephart, Lester Dull, Virgil New, Russell New, Harley New, William Tolen, Archie New, Jewell ?.

PRAIRIE CENTER SCHOOL: These students attended classes at Prairie Center School located north of Jamesport, MO, taught by Norma Jean McDaniel. Shown, back row from left, are Forrest Lee Thompson, son of Mrs. Paul Thompson; Jimmie Ed Harrington, son of Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Harrington; Johnce Maxwell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Maxwell; Duane and Charles Thompson, chlidren of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Thompson; Marva Ann Harrington, daughger of the Marvin Harringtons; Roger Maxwell, son of the Fred Maxwells; then at the desk, from left, are Brenda Sue Harrington; Floyd Thompson, son of the Paul Thompsons; Miss McDaniel; and Ronald Terhune, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Terhune. (date unknown)

Johnson School was once located northeast of Gallatin, MO (date unknown)

SELL SCHOOL: Students at Sell School in Daviess County during 1906.

SWISHER SCHOOL: This photo shows students attending Swisher School for the fall term of 1908. Oltiuah Ella McCrary, second from right, is among the many children from the McCrary and Hosman families. Classes were taught by Mrs. Fred Cluskey.

BLACK OAK SCHOOL: Students of various ages at Black Oak School in Daviess County, MO, in 1913.

WHITE OAK UNION SCHOOL: Among the many one-room school houses found throughout Daviess County was the White Oak Union School, depicted here in a painting by Mrs. Ruth Youngman.

CLEAR CREEK SCHOOL was established about 1840, about three miles north of Lock Springs, MO, in Section 26 of Daviess County. The structure was of hewn logs, about 18 feet square, with a fireplace six feet wide in the west side. The east wall featured a “desk” — a rough hewn walnut plank — fastened to the wall with wooden pins. About 1857, weatherboards were added, the fireplace was replaced by a stove, floor and ceiling were added.
The first school on the present site was built in 1874. It was destroyed by fire in February 1899. The structure shown here was erected in the fall of 1899.

GOODBAR SCHOOL: These students once attended classes held at Goodbar School in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)

Students of all ages comprise the typical one-room school during times of yesteryear. (date unknown)

Public schools organized classes by age groups whenever enrollment figures permitted. (date unknown)

Students of all ages comprise the typical school during times of yesteryear. (date unknown)

Students of all ages comprise the typical school during times of yesteryear. (date unknown)

Public schools organized classes by age groups whenever enrollment figures permitted. (date unknown)

Students of all ages comprise the typical school during times of yesteryear. (date unknown)

Attending school often meant a long walk to and from home on dirt roads. (date unknown)

A rural school of yesteryear in Daviess County, MO (date unknown)

School wagons drawn by horses, rather than motorized buses that later followed, transported children to public schools in rural Missouri well into the 1930s or even later. (date unknown)