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first school in Springfield was located on the northwest corner
of what is now the intersection of College Street and Main Avenue.
The legal location was NE 1/4, SEC 23, T29, R22W. At the time the
historical marker designating the site of the building was erected
in 1921 by the Springfield Public Schools, the corporate city limits
of Springfield did not include the site of what is now designated
as the location of the "first school in Greene County". At that
time the latter site was about 1 1/4 miles west of the city limits.
Now that the city limits have been extended to include the "Greene
County" site, it could be argued that the school at College and
Main was the "second school in Springfield". However this is undoubtedly
a moot point.
The permanent concrete marker is located on the corner of an empty
lot (formerly occupied by a service station); it is in excellent
condition. The text of the marker reads as follows:
"SITE OF FIRST SCHOOL IN WHAT IS NOW SPRINGFIELD, BUILT BY
PIONEERS, 1832, OF SMALL LOGS WITH MUD AND STICK CHIMNEY, LOOSE
PLANK FLOOR, AND THREE-LEGGED BENCHES. JOSEPH ROUNTREE FIRST
TEACHER. MARKER ERECTED 1921 BY THE SPRINGFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS."
There is evidence that the building constructed in 1832 at College
and Main was an improvement over that built in 1831, 1 1/4 miles
west and identified by a marker as "the first school in Greene County".
A Mr. John H. Miller described the 1831 school as having "a dirt
floor; one log cut out for a window; no shutter to the door and
no chimney!" Mr. Miller reported that the new building at College
and Main "had a loose plank floor; a door shutter, and a mud and
At both of the locations, the teacher was Joseph Rountree. Some
of the pupils taught by Mr. Rountree included Henry Fulbright and
some of his younger brothers, the Rountree boys, John Miller, J.J.
Weaver and his two older sisters (Louisiana and Jane) and a few
others. One source indicates that there may have been a total of
eleven pupils. Little information exists regarding the curriculum
of the first school, but one written source says the pupils taught
by Uncle Joe "learned to spell, read, write and cipher in Pikes'
arithmetic, on three-legged benches."
Miriam Brown, The Story of Springfield
George Escott, History
and Directory of Springfield
Jonathan Fairbanks, Past
and Present of Greene County, 1915.
--Prepared by Owen Case
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