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Episode OS2 - Sep 1877 - Life in Oak Springs and More
Thoughts turned to the school term
The new school year began
The subscription grade school, grades 1st through 8th, was conducted starting on September 10, with both Miss Teasdale and Mr. McDonald continuing their instructor roles from the prior year. “School bus” routes to the east and the west were resumed, with Karl King again providing the short southwest transportation.
With the start of the school year, planning for a possible High School took on a new urgency. The subcommittees had worked over the summer, but as fall arrived, critical decisions were approaching for the Planning Committee.
The High School Planning Committee sub-committee on enrollment had met during the summer to determine the likely numbers for a High School enrollment for Fall of 1878, as well as projections for the following years, based on current student census information for the valley. They had met with each of the parents, as well, during that time, to ascertain their interest in participating. The first conclusion was that neither of the two students who would make up a “12th” grade class in the Fall of 1878 would be participating, therefore the committee was looking at starting with three classes: 3 in the “11th” grade, 3 in the “10th” grade, and 4 in the “9th” grade. For future years, current numbers were: 4, 6, 3, 5, 4, 2, 7, and 4.
The subcommittee working on instructor needs for the new high school had traveled to several locations and visited with other schools being established. Their preliminary decision was that they needed a Headmaster and perhaps two part-time instructors. The search for Headmaster/Lead Instructor information continued. In the process of searching for information, the subcommittee had discovered that a current member of the community might be a possibility for one of the part-time positions. Mrs. Spencer (Flo) Fields, wife of the Master Stonemason, at the Quarry, was a graduate of Oberlin College, in Ohio, and had taught for a number of years. She expressed interest in assisting here in Oak Springs, if she could fill a need. The subcommittee members appreciated the offer, but wanted to confer with the new Headmaster before making a decision.
Harvest time was approaching
Public Hearing on Schools was held
State Senator Hugh Truesdale and State Representative Lewis Truesdale held a Public Hearing on Schools at the Community Building on Saturday, September 15, at 1 p.m. Both the Missouri House and Senate committees had been holding discussions on state legislation authorizing tax supported school districts for a couple of years. Both of Oak Springs’ elected officials strongly supported some sort of legislation, but expected it would take a few more years to accomplish it, in fact. They decided, with the local interest demonstrated, that holding a Public Hearing would give community interests an alternative outlet as well as providing additional input to their committee efforts in Jefferson City in the next legislative session. As expected, attendance at the hearing was substantial, filling the Community Building. All speakers supported the general idea of state enabling legislation, but several speakers expressed reservations about increasing general taxes as a support mechanism. Others expressed strong support for local control of schools rather than state mandates. Overall, the hearing seemed to provide the elected representatives with positive support for the legislation they were proposing, along with related concerns.
At the close of the formal meeting, Lewis Truesdale announced that he and his wife, Caroline, had agreed to donate several acres of their land along the north side of Patton Road for the new High School. It was located just to the northwest of the current Patton Elementary School building on the south side of Patton Road. The land was currently located just outside the current town limits, but would likely be annexed to the town prior to the school building being built.
Building designs were considered
High School Building subcommittee met and formal Headmaster search began
On September 22, the Building subcommittee of the High School Planning Committee met for the first time. The whole committee had voted to accept the land donation from the Truesdale family and appointed this committee to consider how an adequate building for the high school could be achieved by the following summer. To their surprise, two men of the community asked to meet with the subcommittee at this first meeting. They were Quarry Manager, Roland Muldrow, and Master Stonemason, Spencer Fields. Their presentation, representing the board of directors of the quarry, was that they would donate the stone for a two-story high school building if the labor to move the stone from the quarry to the site and other materials for the construction were donated or provided by other members of the community. With this challenge in hand, the subcommittee set about publicizing the challenge and soliciting other donations of materials, labor, and money. They also moved ahead with specific planning for how such a building could and would be used, both in the short-term and in the long term.
Ralph Campbell, Thomas Crane and Jane Truesdale served as the ‘search committee’ for a Headmaster for the High School. Through the summer, they had gathered the information they needed in order to identify a qualified candidate for the position. They had also reached out to many existing schools, across the state, both soliciting qualifying candidate characteristics and beginning to develop a tentative list of candidates. By the end of September, they felt they had all of their information ready to prepare a ‘job description’ and begin the actual search for candidates for the position. To begin, they shared this information, by letter, with their key contacts at each of the schools they had contacted earlier, as well as the State University.
Jerry Potts led a related project that was stepped up during this high school planning process. He began the project informally as he and Levi Weston had been involved in the Book Club activities they both enjoyed so much. He had begun developing lists of books owned by community residents that they would consider loaning to their neighbors. With the development of the high school project, he began to expand his list to include books that might specifically be considered for use at the High School level that already existing in homes across the valley. He found it both a very interesting project and a possibly very useful set of information as the high school program was being developed. Not everyone was willing to participate, of course, but he was pleasantly surprised how many people were willing and how many of them were very proud to share their ‘libraries’ information with him.
Note from the author
This is the second episode of a new short story (OSx) series, Life in Oak Springs. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This episode is for September of the calendar year 1877, following the 40 episodes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” stories. That series had followed the time period of the “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These OSx episodes move the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.
The first 20 episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into an eBook, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs: The Arrival Months in 1876 Vol 1." The second 20 episodes will become Vol 2. See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”