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BY MIKE AVITT
Thanks to Lola Link for this week’s picture. We can see the school bell on a small tower to the right of the building. The sign below the bell says, “Walnut Valley – 1906 – Dist. No. 7.” Walnut Valley was in Section 25 of Washington Township. For those of you who haven’t done your homework, the building was just west of Jerry Wimer’s place. After I received this photo, I drove past Walnut Valley and it has fallen in. It was damaged by the 1981 tornado and hasn’t looked good since.
Previously, Walnut Valley had been one of four rural school still standing on their original foundations. The others are: Urbana, Poe Township No. 9; Eighme, Tingley Township No. 9: and Fairview, Clinton Township No. 6.
It is well known that church services were held in the rural schools in Ringgold County’s early years when church buildings were scarce. But, religious services were also held in rural schools in later years, too. A July 30, 1953 Record-News tells us the Seventh Day Adventist were holding services in Flowery Glen, one and a half miles north of Mount Ayr on U, S, 169. The Church of Christ congregation was meeting at Silver Point, Rice Township No. 1, before their building was completed at 401 E. Madison in 1958.
Ringgold County boasts three restored rural schools that are available for tours. The one at Lesanville was originally Liberty No. 7, Mountain Brush. It was moved in place in 2001 or earlier and was the first building moved to the historic village.
Hazel Glen was moved to the Ringgold County Historical Complex in Ellston from Mount Ayr in 1980. Hazel Glen was originally Washington Township No. 8. I believe it is home to the Ringgold County Rural Teacher Hall of Fame. Jackson School, Monroe Township No. 8, was moved to the Ringgold County Fairgrounds in (I belive) 1992. It was restored by 1994.
Dozens and dozens of rural schools were sold, relocated, and converted into various entities. In July 1959, seventeen rural schools were auctioned off in a three day stretch. Gary McCullough bought four of them. Lee Terwilliger bought Liberty No. 7, the one that now sits at Lesanville, for $210.
On September 10, 1960, Orville Van Winkle bought the Caledonia School for $147. 1959-60 was the last year for rural schools in Ringgold County with three schools being open for that school year.