HOW A SCHOOL WAS TAUGHT IN THE PIONEER DAYS
OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI
By S. C. Turnbo

An early school as it was taught In Ripley County, Mo. was told me by W. J. (Bill) Adams of Protem, Mo. He said that his father Renoni Adams moved from Indiana to Ripley County in 1844, during the following year when he was 7 years old he was sent to a subscription school taught by an old man of the name of White. Said Mr. Adams, "The school house stood one mile west of Current River. It was a very small log hut floored with puncheons and contained split logs for seats. A sort of a platform that answered for a writing desk reached across one end of the house, and a split log was used for the scholars to sit on while they were at the desk learning to write. We used goose quills for writing pens and made ink of the inner bark of black jack by putting the stuff in a pot full of water and boiling it down nearly as thick as thin syrup, then strained and added coperas to the fluid and it was ready for use. I cannot call to mind now the names of any of the children who attended this school besides myself, only I remember that some of Mr. Merrill’s children went but I do recollect some of the rules and regulations of that school. We used the old elementary spelling book and we spelled out so loud that we were heard a quarter of a mile from the school house. The teacher threatened us with a big club that he kept by the door. When we become too idle the teacher would grab up this club or long stick and strike the floor a hard blow with it and exclaim in a loud voice, "Get your lessons". This threat would cause us to be quite busy at our books for a while then we would get slack again and he would repeat the stroke with the stick which would encourage us to learn our lessons better for a short time again. He would not punish us but little only he would scold us very hard sometimes."

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