The Stevens School has a permanent home in the 21st
By Bob Weaver 2002
The Steven's School, re-dedicated yesterday at the Calhoun County Park, will likely
be the remaining historic reminder of over 100 one-room schools that once stood in
Calhoun County. It was dismantled and re-assembled by the Calhoun Historical
Society members and lots of volunteers from the community.
A few of the old school structures remain, most in disrepair and decay.
The school contains old wooden desks, the library, wood stove, blackboard, learner's
bench, old maps, pictures and a 48-star flag, among many other items associated
with old schools, including the "enforcer," a wooden paddle.
Dozens of former students and even a few teachers came to the park yesterday to
recall their early days attending the school, which was built about 1885 on Pine
Creek Hill, up the steep mountain from Grantsville.
The rustic, treacherous and steep road remains much the same these years later, in
many ways isolating the residents of the hill and the lower Pine Creek area from the
town of Grantsville.
Elva Yoak, 88, had her first teaching assignment here
Four generations of teacher Alpha Riddle (L to R) Myrna Riddle
Edie of Indiana, Madeline Riddle of Ashland, Ohio (wife of
Alpha) Chloe Tatom and Shannon Tatom of Avon, Indiana
Well-known Calhoun teacher Opal Weekley visited.
"I taught at more than a half dozen one room schools."
Calhoun Historical Society President Bob Bonar said "Many different people have
worked on this project since Jim and Fern Overbaugh first started re-assembling the
foundation about six or seven years ago." The first efforts at re-constructing the
school met with a high wind in 1998 and blew the building down.
Bonar said Society member Roger Jarvis has asked many folks to help him with the
final restoration. "They came forward and helped with the job," he said. "Others gave
money to help with the project. We thank them all."
Bonar said the school once doubled as a meeting house for religious services. "The
people who went to school there have wonderful memories to share, today," he
"The school is much the same when we went there 58 years ago," said Evelyn
Starkey Godfrey and Wanda Lee Godfrey Kelley. The women recalled teachers Hope
Nicholas, Wilma Stump and Alpha Riddle.
Four generations of teacher Alpha Riddle's family came from Indiana and Ohio to
attend the open house.
Long retired teacher Elva Yoak, now 88, said the school was her first teaching job in
1938-39. "I never missed a day," she said.
Evelyn Godfrey and Wanda Lee Godfrey Kelley
said, "It feels just like it did 58 years ago."
Society member Roger Jarvis "fires up" the wood stove
Ronzil Lynch wrote: The stove pictured in the Stevens school is a pot bellied coal stove.
The Board of Education always supplied the schools with an ample supply
of bituminous coal, and most schools had a coal house not to far from the
school house. The schools that didn't have a coal house had a big coal pile
close by the front door.
Some people did burn some short chunks of wood and pine knots in a
coal stove if they were out of coal.
Each school was equipped with a coal bucket, coal shovel, and a poker.
Coal fires need to be poked-up about once an hour.
One student was picked to get to the school early and start the coal fire
which took some good kindling. The student was paid three dollars a month
to start the fire and sweep down ever evening, but all students took turns at
carrying in the coal and maintaining the fire.
Students also shared in the task of carrying in a bucket of water two or three
times a day. Some schools had a well but sometimes just a spring or a neighbors
well not very close to the school
Outhouse view from inside school
Glen Fowler said he attended the school between 1928-1936 to teachers like Levi
Vanhorn, Harry Miller, Ota Mae Marshall, Ira Yoak and Ronzel Francis. "I remember
coming to school one day when the temperature dropped to 40 below zero. "The
teacher circled the chairs around the pot-bellied stove, which was red-hot. At noon
the thermometer beside the blackboard said it was zero. We all went home," said
Ivy Von Yoak said his father Ira Yoak taught school there before his untimely death to
high blood pressure in 1934. "He was so badly affected with it, some of the family
would walk with him up the long steep hill to the school," said Yoak. "There was little
treatment for high blood pressure back then."
Calhoun Historical Society members, with the assistance of Jim Bell and Duck
Stevens, served refreshments at the school site.
Duck Stevens and Jim Bell relocated the "historical outhouse" to site