Volume 9 , Number 1 , Fall 1985
Another landmark in this community has been removed and although one would not want to go back to the good old days, many will be saddened to see the Oak Grove School house moved away.
The one-room school, Located 2 miles north and ¼ mile west of Crane, had its beginning in 1868, and through its doors have passed boys and girls who have become teachers, lawyers, doctors, ministers, adults in all walks of life. The Oak Grove School is represented in possibly every state in the union.
Mr. T. C. Mitchell, a well-known farmer in the community, helped others lay the foundation for the school, and in later years when another room was added, and a part of the old chimney torn away, a brick was found bearing his name.
The Schoolhouse was used for Church services and Sunday School from time to time, and Mr. Mitchell taught a Sunday School class there, teaching his class, in the summer time, under the large oak tree which stood near. On one such occasion be expressed a desire to be buried on this spot of land, and at his death his wish was carried out. He was the first to be laid in the Oak Grove Cemetery. Today this is the oldest cemetery in this part of Missouri, and one of the most beautiful in the state.
Many well-known persons taught at the Oak Grove school over the years, and the names of a few are: Miss Caroline McCullah; Mrs. W. N. Mitchell; Mrs. Lizzie Crumpley; Miss Eva Lewers; 0. F. Douglas; Mrs: Ella Binion; B. F. Carney; Roscoe Wiley; Lula Wiley; Mrs. Dulcie Gold; C. H. Keith and Tom Howard. We are sure there were many more, whose names we were unable to obtain.
At one time as many as 80 students attended the school, possibly more in later years. At first, and for a number of years, all students were taught together (there were no grades) seated on long benches. Their books and lunch pails were kept under the benches. One young teacher found it impossible to teach so many students in the prescribed six hours, and had to be cautioned not to keep the children in school over that time.
When B. F. Carney accepted the position of teacher in 1909 and 10, he grouped the children into grades, and finally the Oak Grove School offered two years of high school to its students. About that time, perhaps a year or so earlier, another room was added to the building, giving more room and Mr. Carney made other changes inside the building.
It was in this school that Mrs. Mildred Kerr, one of Cranes own school teachers; Rule Scott, well-known Stone County Attorney; the late Willis Lane, one time State Representative; Rev. James Smythe and many other received their first education.
For several years now the building has not been in use, and the problem of upkeep became more difficult. The cemetery, which had its beginning at Mr. Mitchells death, has become the final resting place for both white and colored, and soldiers from the North and South, all sleeping peacefully side by side, their differences forgotten. Here too, are buried the older members of many prominent Stone County families.
Last spring, during a heavy thunderstorm, a large tree fell on the old school building, damaging it extensively, and it was then decided to sell the building and retain the land for the Oak Grove Cemetery.
H. D. Wilson, as treasurer of the Oak Grove Cemetery Association, and many other interested persons, have made it a beautiful and peaceful spot. The graves are kept level, making the grounds one large velvety lawn, the low stones marking each resting place. The graves of the soldiers and the Negro slaves are kept as the others, a perpetual reminder of brotherly love.
The building has been bought by Mr. Sam Lewers of Crane, whose sister, Miss Eva Lewers, once taught at the school. Mr. Lewers plans to move the building to Crane, where it will be remodeled into a dwelling. Perhaps once again the walls of the old building will know the sound of childish laughter.
CopyrightÓ White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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