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The Haunted School House

Updated on May 25, 2017
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A father, freelance writer and one hell of a cook, Larry Ray Palmer currently resides in a small North East Missouri farm community.

Photo Courtesy of Jasmaine Mathews
Photo Courtesy of Jasmaine Mathews


There is a place that stands alone, hidden from the roadway. A small building of stone and wood that once housed a classroom. The building still stands, if you could call it that. To be entirely truthful, it leans with age and lack of energy. The school house was once a very busy place, a hub of activity if you will. In truth, even in it’s dilapidated condition, it is still a very busy place... but the occupants have changed considerably.

You can go to this school house now and sit in the old classroom. You can still hear the scratching of chalk on the boards, the rustle of students passing by in the door as the old school bell tolls. You can hear the children giggle and feel the sharp rap of a hickory switch against your knuckles should you dare to move some object that remains on the teachers desk.

You can hear all of these things... but this is where the similarity to the old school house reaches it’s stopping point. It is at this point that the major difference becomes evident. Yes, you can hear all of these things going on just as in the old days but, if you look around, you find that you cannot see them happening. This old school house is haunted by memories of an earlier time and these memories have taken on a life of their own.

A few of the old folks around here remember the stories. Most of them will pretend not to hear you if you ask them to recount the tales. It is simply and silently agreed that the things that happened here should be forgotten. But, occasionally, perhaps due to guilt or perhaps just growing weary of carrying such heavy secrets, one of the old people will recount the tale and the legend of this building is refreshed.

I mentioned guilt as a possible motivation for loosened tongues. It seems that everyone in this town is connected to the things that happened here in some way. While very few of the original wrongdoers are left behind, the younger generation is connected by blood to the crimes that happened here in the early part of the century.

In or around the year 1912, a young woman came to this town. She was a beautiful lady with flowing blonde curls and vibrant blue eyes. She came her to serve as the new school teacher, something that the locals had decided was their best option for insuring the future of the town. Her beauty was noticed by many in the town but she was not the least bit interested in the advances of any of the local admirers until late in 1913, when her and the oldest son of the mine manager began to be seen together. She stayed on teaching for the rest of her life and was a respected member of the community. Unfortunately, her lifetime was quite short.

In 1916, the mine managers son joined the army, not because of a particularly patriotic desire, but to seek the adventure which the school teacher had told him about in her books. Her education had taken her to many of the finer places of learning and she was cultured to say the least. The poor mine managers son was hardly a mental match for her but his personality was amicable and he believed that a bit of adventuring in foreign lands would give him the romantic appeal of the soldier of fortune so he joined the army and when we went to war with Germany in 1917, he was among the first to go into battle.

He wrote to her regularly and she returned the gesture but, after a while, his letters stopped. She was unsure of what to think but she held strong waiting for him, despite the fact that suitors were now visiting regularly at the small cottage behind the school house, trying to take the young mans place and win her heart. Unfortunately, absence leads to loneliness and she began to develop a terrible depression.

One morning in late 1918, the mine manager stood up after Sunday morning congregation and announced that he had received a letter he wanted to read to the town. As he unfolded the paper, the congregation grew silent and a sense of foreboding prevailed. The letter was to inform the mine manager that his oldest son had been killed in the line of duty, a casualty of war. As he read the last lines of the letter, his voice cracked and then he pointed his bent and weathered finger at the school teacher. He bellowed at her, "You... You did this to my boy. You killed him with your books!"

In other times, someone might have stood up in her defense but the mine managers son was well loved in the town and many had known that his reason for joining the army was solely to impress the school teacher. Instead of defending her from the angry attack, the towns people stood by and let the mine manager scream his terrible epithets at her.

As the towns people dispersed to go to their homes after the tirade, the school teacher was left sobbing in the corner of the building. When everyone had left, the feeling of loneliness and depression returned but now she felt even more isolated, more alone than ever. She climbed up the ladder leading to the bell tower, uttered a curse over the school house and wrapped the bell cord around her neck.

The town heard the bell toll in the middle of the day but no one cared to investigate. When the children arrived for classes on the next morning, eight students arrived together. Eight students walked into the doors of the school house and fount their teacher dangling by her neck. All eight of those students died before the summer was over, from illness or unexplained accidents. With each child that died, the now abandoned school house would regain a member of it’s class. They remain there still. The perpetual students who can never graduate and the teacher who cannot leave her post.

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