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BY MIKE AVITT
A professional photographer, Dave Austin, recently spent some time in Ringgold County taking pictures of the mural at the Mount Ayr Post Office, Eighme School, and barns. He posted many of his pictures on Facebook and it generated much interest. I get asked about Eighme School often so I’ll share all I have on the subject.
Tingley Township No. 9, Eighme School, is eight miles north of Mt. Ayr on Highway 169, and is very visible. An 1894 plat map shows the school in its current location, but offers the name England School. The property on the southwest corner of the intersection, where Eighme School is located, was owned by John W. Smith. Across the road north was owned by Samuel England. I. M. Fletcher owned the land to the east.
A 1915 plat map gives no name for the school, but lists Lena Smith Bastow as the land owner. One might guess that Lena was the widow or daughter of John W. Smith. The land across the road north was owned by L. F. Eighme and Mrs. C. Edwards. A. G. Eighme owned the land on the east side of the road.
My first book, “Pages and Pictures from the Past: Ringgold County Iowa – 1855-2005,” contains a 1935 class photo given to me by Roger Morrison. Roger is pictured with his teacher, Velma Heaton, and his classmates: Reva Ruby, Delmar Shull, John Dailey, Jerald Shull, Raymond Ball, George Dailey, Lyle Shull, Evan Davenport, Harold Ball, Doyle Ruby, Margaret Davenport, and Dorothy Bird.
Roger told me the school closed in 1941 after all his classmates had moved away. His teacher at the time was Maxine Main.
On October 22, 1951, the school was sold at public auction. Herb Bastow paid $665 for the one-room schoolhouse.
Eighme School is one of only two rural schools in Ringgold County that are still on their original foundation. Fairview School in Clinton Township is the other. Urbana School, Poe No. 9, was torn down a few years ago and Walnut Valley in Washington Township, slowly collapsed over the past several years.
Another beautiful, abandoned structure is the Christian Church in Delphos, but it’s not on a public highway so few people know about it. But, now you do.
Dave Austin, who is somehow connected to Living History Farms in Des Moines, has stated his intent to make postcards from some of his pictures and I’ll keep you updated on that.