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By Mike Avitt
While going through a very large number of Clair Heyer photos, I came across three pictures of Corinth School, Jefferson Township No. 8, dated 1966.
This schoolhouse was located in section 28 of Jefferson Township on county road J-20, two miles east of the Pole Road (P-33). However, a 1904 plat map shows the school in section 27.
Anyway, this picture was a great find as I’m regularly being asked for photos of country schoolhouses.
The best place to find photos of your favorite rural school is the basement of the Mount Ayr Public Library, in what I call the “reference room.”
I believe this collection of history was started by the Ringgold County Genealogical Society. In 1997, Bob and Kay Sickels put together a photo album of rural schools with a little information concerning each photo. The photos are all 1997 showing the school in its current location for that date.
Also in the reference room is a large collection of rural school news, pictures, clippings, and information compiled by Dorothy Main and Bobbi Bainum. This collection takes up two large, three-ring binders. Plenty to see here.
The website iagenweb.org/ringgold has many rural school pictures and information. Town schools may be found on this site, too.
The restored Hazel Glen School, Washington No. 8, is located at the Pioneer Center in Ellston and has many pictures of rural schools and their students. Also a very nice collection of Ellston yearbooks.
Most of the county’s centennial books have pictures of rural schools from their area. Rural churches, as well.
The museums at Diagonal and Kellerton would have some pictures. The Mount Ayr Depot Museum has a handful that were provided by Margaret Bishop a few years ago. And there are pictures in private collections as the Clair Heyer collection has revealed.
I have been collecting information on rural schools for fifteen years and have placed that info in a folder on my computer’s hard drive. My email address accompanies this article if you would like to have that folder emailed to you.
Many of the houses in Mount Ayr are former rural schools.
In 1959, Gary McCullough bought four schoolhouses at public auction: Poe No. 5, Riley No. 5, Liberty No. 9, and Liberty No. 3. Two of these buildings ended up as houses at 204 and 206 N. Cass Street in Mount Ayr, but I don’t know which ones.
Doyle Baker bought Liberty No. 5 and put it in “Bakerville” which contains other rural schools. The house south of the former Don and Fay Sickels home is also a former schoolhouse.
The Mountain Brush School was moved to Lesanville in 2001 and sits on the corner. The original Lesanville School sits on the east side of the road and has been modified as an event center upstairs, lodging downstairs.
Jackson School, Monroe No. 8, was moved to the Ringgold County Fairgrounds in 1992 and was restored. There are former rural schoolhouses all over the county in use one way or another.
On September 6, 1951, there were 37 rural schools open for business in Ringgold County. By summer 1960, there were none. In nine years 37 schools disappeared. Absolutely amazing.
Corinth School, pictured here, was sold at public auction on September 26, 1955. I have enlarged the photo on my computer and can see most of the shingles have been removed. The building was being dismantled as Clair shot the picture.