McLEANSBORO — —
Work continues to identify and commemorate the sites of one-room schoolhouses by the Jefferson County One-Room School Committee.
A sign to designate the site of the former Dareville School was recently erected in Elk Prairie Township, at the corner of Cherryville and Bonnie roads. Most of the signs have been installed in Elk Prairie Township, Members of the committee for Elk Prairie Township are Sharon Nichols, Don Nichols, Jack Bicanich and Jim Laird.
Bicanich is a former student of Dareville School, attending from 1951 to 1958.
"We had fun at this small school," Bicanich recalled. "We were like a family. The girls and boys got along well together. We played mumble peg, red rover and Andy over. We played softball and had foot races. On the school grounds we had a basketball goal, a slickie slide and a merry-go-round.
"At the beginning of the school year, someone would mow off our ball diamond," Bicanich continued. "On year we had to fight off bumblebees who had built a nest on our field. Mr. Osborn would umpire our ballgames at lunchtime recess."
Bichanich said he remembers the days at the school before the water fountain.
"When I first started school, we drank out of the same water bucket and used the same dipper," Bicanich said. "Later, our school had a regular water fountain. We didn't know we were getting one until we got it. We really thought the water fountain was something!"
Bicanich said his teacher during the time he was at Dareville was Jesse Osborn.
"Mr. Osborn was a good teacher," Bicanich said. "He was fair. Mr. Osborn was a firm disciplinarian. He believed in the paddle and it worked. Not only was Mr. Osborn the teacher, he was the janitor. He took out the trash and kept the school clean. He stoked the coal furnace and removed the cinders. He ordered supplies for the school. He was our coach.
"Mr. Osborn would load up as many of us as he could get into the cab and bed of his pickup and take us to neighboring schools for a game of softball," Bicanich continued. "A mother would follow with the excess students in her car. We would travel to Nason, Roberson and Crossroads where we would play our softball games in a cow pasture."
Guns were allowed at Dareville School.
"I remember Bert Lappin's story of how in the late 1940s, the older boys would bring their guns to school and place them in the southwest corner of the school room," Bicanich said. "No one would bother the guns. When school would be dismissed for the day, the boys would take their guns and hunt for rabbits on their way home from school. They were still doing this my first year of school, but it was the last year it was done."
The first day of school has etched itself into Bicanich's memory.
"I'll never forget my first day of first grade," Bicanich said. "The school had received new desks. The old desks had been stored in the coal house. During recess, I watched as the older boys retrieved some of the desks from the coal house. They proceeded to flip the desks over on their tops. The boys then hitched themselves with ropes to the wrought iron legs of the desks and started running around the outside of the school making a circle around the school with a hapless first grader on board. Sometimes, as they rounded a corner, the desk would turn over and dump the rider. They would then pick up the rider and put them back on the desk. If the rider got hurt, a new rider would be chosen. I got my chance to ride and not by choice! A big boy picked me up by my overall straps and deposited me on the desk. Away we went with me holding on for dear life! The northwest corner of the school was the corner where you didn't want to be dumped off. That corner was the dumping ground for the cinders from the coal stove. Needless to say, it was a painful place to wreck."
Riding school desks wasn't the only memorable occurrence at Dareville School.
"Rat stompings happened occasionally," Bicanich said. "The students who were able to look down the hallway would raise their hand if they saw a rat run into the cloakroom. After the teacher called on them, they would state they saw a rat. Mr. Osborn would give the okay and we would mount an all-out assault on the rat.
"Ralphine Lappin would be one of the first on the scene stomping and chasing the rat while most of the girls were on top of their desks screaming," Bicanich said. "Ralphine not only stomped the rat, she stomped our toes! I remember Rita Metcalf squealing every time the rat squealed. After the rat had met his fate and most of us had sore toes, Mr. Osborn would pick up the rat and put it in the trash. We never touched the rat. We would then calmly return to our studies."
Bicanich was in the last class to graduate from Dareville.
"In 1958, the school was closed and consolidated with Waltonville, as did all the other one-room schools in the area," Bicanich said. "Dareville School was auctioned off and sold to Bill and Silvia Shelton. Bill remodeled it and made a nice home for his family. Silvia still lives there."
The sign project is proceeding due to the efforts of more than 24 township leaders and the support of Jefferson County residents. fundraising efforts are still underway in many townships, to cover the costs of the signs.
In addition, the committee is raising funds to purchase two sets of 16 township books, one of which will be kept at C.E. Brehm Memorial Library and the other at the Jefferson County Historical Society Museum. The books are arranged by school and contain a list of all contributors for each school along with stories and pictures that have been received.
A second fundraising effort is to assist in the operation of the one-room school at the Jefferson County Historical Village. The school helps educate young school students about life in the one-room school days.
If you have photographs or stories you would like included in the project about your one-room school, please contact Elizabeth Wilson at 755-4619 or Sharon Nichols at 242-7271. Copies will be made of information and originals will be returned.
Additional information about the projects are available by contacting Larry Periman at 8251 E. Campbell Rd., Dix, 62830.