Volume 2, Number 6, Winter 1966
Front of Cedar Bluff school, taken at reunion in 1961.
The little school still stands. It is a busy place for just one day of the year. The last Sunday in September is homecoming day for Cedar Bluff School. Its walls ring with happy voices and laughter as former scholars and their families fill its one room. "Do you remember when?" is the popular subject of the day.
Cedar Bluff school on Flat Creek, between Cape Fair and Jenkins, about three miles from where Flat Creek empties into James River. It is also known as Jones school.
The exact location is township 24, range 24, Stone County, Mo. The district no. is 2 and it was organized in 1885. The site for the school was deeded Sept. 5, 1891. The deed for the land was made by Robert Wilson and L. M. Wilson, his wife, and Marion Henson and A. J. Henson, his wife, and John M. Taylor and Clara Taylor, his wife to: Robert Wilson, John M. Taylor, and Albert King and their successors. They were the first directors of the school.
The teachers in the first building were as follows:
1885 - Bill King
1886 - John Scott
1887 - Tom Jennings
1888 - Florence Melton
1889-90 - Mrs. Sarah J. Bilderback
1890-91 - Florence Melton
Then a new building was erected and the following teachers taught:
1891-92 - Thomas S. Howard
1892 - Clara Gunnels (May and June 1892)
1892 - J. Oscar Ellis (Oct., Nov., Dec., 1892)
1893 - Emma Williams, 2 months
1894 - W. S. Goodman, 2 months
-- Enoch Williams, 3 months
1894-95 - J. Wesley Irby
1895-96 - Green Viles
1896-97 - George W. Estes, 3½ months
P.B. Hood, 2 months
1897-98 - Thomas M. Purdom
1898-99 - George W. Hendrix
1899-1900 - J. Loomis Finney
1900-1901 - Faunye Henson and John Laidlaw
1901 - Elsia Williams, 2 months
1901-02 - Alvin Gearhead
1902-03 - James Waddell
1903-04 - Lucy Todd and Roy Threlfall
1904-05 - Roy Threlfall and J. H. Reser, 2 months
1905-06 - J. H. Reser
1906-07 - James Reece
1907-08 - Gertie Ellis
The school was consolidated in Dec., 1950, and closed in April, 1951.
My mother-in-law, Rosa Wilson Steele, went to Cedar Bluff School when she was a girl. She likes to recall the "good old days" and tells us much of her girlhood. I will recall some of the incidents she has told to me.
Rosa lived on the farm below the school with her parents, the Bolin Wilsons, a sister and six brothers. The farm is now owned by John Asher, but it is always "the old place" when Rosa talks about it. Her father, mother, grandparents, and two little sisters are buried in the old cemetery on the farm.
Thena Asher Cope - taught school at Cedar Bluff 1935-36.Picture taken at Cedar Bluff reunion 1964.
Rosa Wilson Steele and Grover Steele, taken on his 77th birthday.
Rosa started school about 1889. The records show the teacher was Sarah J. Bilderback. The school was built of logs at that time. Even the seats were made of logs. They were split open and placed split side up on legs made of posts and held together with wooden pins. There were no desks; the pupils held their books on their laps to study. The subjects studied were reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling.
There was a rail fence between Rosas home and the school. The bluff below the school served as bathroom; the boys having one section, the girls another. They also played on opposite sides of the school grounds. Games played were the favorites of children of all times, such as London Bridge, blind mans bluff, drop the handkerchief, go in and out the windows, and many, many more. Water was carried to the school from the well on the Bolin Wilson farm (Rosas home) until a well was drilled on the school property some years later.
A favorite pastime of those days were the recitations given in school. Each child would be called upon to sing a song or speak a piece. Rosa recalls one of these recitations, about the year 1891, when Thomas Howard was teacher. "Little Jim Asher" was called to speak his piece. This is the piece he spoke:
Lord of love, look down from above, on us poor scholars. We hired a fool to teach our school, And paid him forty dollars.
She doesnt remember what happened, but I am sure the piece made a hit with the kids if not with the teacher. I wonder if "Little Jim" was called upon to speak any more pieces in the near future!
As the children grew older they also became more daring, as children have a habit of doing. Rosa must have been in the higher grades at this time. She tells that some of the older boys locked the teacher in the wood shed one day. He was kept there for quite some time, perhaps because of fear of the consequences if he were let out before he was made to see the humor of the situation.
At another time during this same year, these boys persuaded the teacher to go for a boat ride down Flat Creek with them, telling him they would return in plenty of time for school. It was late afternoon before they returned. In the meantime the children arrived at school, and in the absence of the teacher, a good time was had by all.
South side of Cedar Bluff school, taken at one of the reunions.Leonard Wilson, brother of Rosa Steele in foreground.Other persons in picture not known.
Mother Steele recalls that some of the boys who took part in these incidents were: Harry Summers, Frank Henson and Asbury Wilson.
Another little incident I found amusing was when one of the boys asked to be excused to go to the bluff. He rushed to the door to find it blocked by one of the older girls. "Darn it, Molly, get out of my way, Ive got to get to that bluff," he is quoted as saying, while dancing about in consternation. The pupils roared with laughter. Needless to say, Molly moved. These were Molly Wilson and Otis Asher.
They also had their social life. A dance was
being held at one of the neighbors house. A couple of boys asked Rosa and her sister to go to the dance with them. The girls father wouldnt let them go as the boys had a reputation for being "kinda rough." The girls were disappointed in not getting to go to the dance, so when a little later two more boys, who were not so "rough," asked to take them, the father consented on one condition. They had to take a light with them as the trail to the dance was around a bluff which was dark and rough. Not having a lantern, they were made to carry a kerosene lamp. Reluctantly they carried the lamp, but it was never lighted.
Mary Asher, Rosa Steele, Ruth Asher, taken at Cedar Bluff reunion in 1964.
During the year 1905, J. H. Reser was teacher, according to school records. He must have known someone would want to know more about the good old days" sometime as he kept very excellent records for that year; eve n a partial weather report. According to his records they had rain the 15th of September, the 21st and 22nd of December, and again the 23rd of January, 1906. Flat Creek was so high the 3rd of January the pupils on the other side couldnt get across to attend school, he reports.
Mr. Resers records tell of the absence of the pupils for various reasons, the chief one being illness. He also kept a record of who was punished and why. One of the older boys and a girl were punished for slapping each other. Perhaps this was their way of showing they were becoming interested in the opposite sex.
The records also show one girl quit school to get married that year. Also, one boy, O. E. Foster, quit to teach a school of his own.
The school was also used for church meetings whenever a preacher happened to come that way. Social meetings, such as Christmas parties and spelling bees, were also held in the little school. Even funerals were sometimes held there.
Tombstone of Bolin and Sarah Wilson in cemetery on John Asher farm, formerly owned by Wilsons.
And so we leave the little country school with its memories. If it could tell of all the things which have transpired within its walls we would have no need for records and the memories of those who have lived before us.
Group that attended program at Cedar Bluff reunion 1964. The only ones I know are Mary Asher, center front row, and Rosa Steele, second row, center.
Her name before her marriage was Rosa Belle Wilson. Her father was Bolin Green Wilson and her mothers maiden name was Sarah Elizabeth Pitts. Her mothers name was Becky Jane Pitts, I dont know her maiden name, also, I dont know Mr. Pitts first name, but he was killed in the Civil War, and Becky Jane married Absalom Blythe. Bolin Wilsons parents were David Daniel Wilson and Sarah (Sally) Eden.
The Bolin Wilsons were the parents of ten children, two of whom died when they were small children. They were Nellie Eferd and Edie Susan.
The ones who lived to maturity were: William Absalom, Julia Ann, Rosa Belle, Noah Alton, Leonard Daniel, Wiley Franklin, Charley Layfette, and Vernie Roscoe. The only ones now living are Rosa, Leonard and Roscoe. Rosa is eighty-one years old.
Rosa Nelson married Grover Steele. His home when she met him, was Galloway, Mo. He passed away last year in May.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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