By Helen Boertje
Pleasant Hill school is now Pleasant Hill Community Center, 615 Adkins St., Prairie City.
It is on the original site 6 1/2 miles straight south of Prairie City and 2 miles northeast of the former town of Percy and 1/2 mile south of the Jasper county line. The school is shown in this location in an 1875 plat book.
In 1995 the annual Percy Fair published a book called Country School Reunion Memories. The following comments about the Pleasant Hill school are excerpts from that book:
“The day I was supposed to start kindergarten (1937) I had pinkeye and had to sit in the car in front of the house and watch the kids walk by. Rainy days Fonda (Fawcett) threw things from her desk and we scrambled for them. She took kids home with her, usually in two’s. Lola West went down the clothes shoot. She (Fonda) always filled our lunch boxes with lots of good things.” Shirley Walker Funk.
“The boys built what they called the high-dive by packing snow several feet high. We would go down hill on the sled and over this. Once I hit my chin and damaged my lower front teeth.” Oleta “Peg” Rinehart Clymer.
“On passing the school house from the west on one long ago evening in the family car, we noticed an improvised “white flag” being waved frantically out the small west window of the coal room. Somehow Fonda had locked herself in that room in the process of banking the fire for the evening.” Edward L. Cowman.
“Teacher Florence Templeton Miller had a 1929-30 Ford Coupe and all of the children were told not to touch that car. There were 9 Schrader brothers and they formed a ball team called the Schrader 9 and were all good players.” Henry Erskin.
“One of the best childhood memories I have is every year about 2 weeks before school started, our whole family would make a trip to Knoxville. First, we’d go to the County School Superintendent’s office in the Court House and get registered for school. Then we’d be given a list of textbooks and work books we needed for the term. We’d take the list across the street to the book store and get our new books. Sometimes if the same text book was to be used as the year before, you could trade in last year’s books or buy someone’s used book. But then the best best part was the new crayons, pencils, paste, erasers, tablets, maybe a new pencil box and ruler or even a note book. Then we would get some new school clothes and shoes! It was better than Christmas!” Sandra Kain Harsin.
“Teaching at Pleasant Hill 2 years and Collins 3 years was the highlight of my life. My pupils were all such good children and I loved each and everyone so much. I recall one time I asked Wayne Erskin and Hollis Kaiën to break up some coal for the furnace as I couldn’t lift it, so they did and they really had fun.” (She goes on to say she regrets not apologizing to their parents for sending them home covered in coal dust.) Teacher Adeline Herweh Jenkins.
“I am glad I attended country school, 4 generations of us attended Pleasant Hill. My grandmother Lizzie Johnson Wilson, my mother Leo Wilson Walker, me, Coleen Walker Keuning, and two of my sons Donald and Danny Keuning started school there.” Coleen Walker Keuning
“One of the nicest things about Pleasant Hill school was the support I received from director Elmer Walker and the other parents of the community. Another thing I remember well is the heavy population of mice. Actually, there maybe wasn’t that many but two or three were way too many for me. Max Kain kindly cleaned out my desk each day until I got screen wire on the bottom of it.” Teacher Eileen Taylor.
Teachers included Mattie Richards 1881, A. J. Swain 1886, Lizzie Henry, Emma Kain 1895, Emma Kain, P. Edgar Adams 1896, Ona Harp 1898, Robert L. Swearingen 1900, R. L. Swearingen, Maggie Cooper 1901, Maggie Cooper, Pearl Beeman, Maggie Cowman 1902-03, M. L. Wilson 1904, Mable Bush 1905, Mabel Bush, Katherine Finnesy 1906, Nora M. Alexander, Faye Cummings 1908, Viola Oster, Hazel Rice 1909, Frankie Brown, Gladys Webb 1910, Gladys G. Webb, Cora Rankin 1911, Gladys Webb 1912, Marie Webb 1913, Ernest Dowden, Sadie A. Coulson 1914, Leota Godfrey, Maude Martin, Virginia Biggs 1915, Virginia Biggs, Beulah Beckwith 1916, J. J. Hammond 1917, Blanche Perry, Karl Kemper 1918, Jennie Leuty 1919, Kate Erskine 1920, Blanche Van Gorp 1921, Jeanette Schultz 1922, Mollie Passmore 1925, Frances Clark 1926, Ellie Morgan 1927, Abigail Pardee 1928, Florence Templeton 1929, Marjorie Kingery 1930, Merle Taylor 1931-32, Ruth Young 1933-34, Adeline Herweh 1936, Bernice De Graff 1937, Norma Carter 1938, Fonda Fawcett 1939-41, Mrs. Eileen A. Charles 1943-44, Fonda Fawcett 1945, Fonda Fawcett 1947-56.
Please continue to contact me with information/pictures about the remaining country schools of Marion County at 641-628-4716 or firstname.lastname@example.org