The Stevens School has a permanent home in the 21st century

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 said.

"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 Fowler.

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