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By Mindy Crandall
Life in the late 1800′s was much different from today. It was a time of “big change” and the start of the industrial revolution. Most families farmed for a living here in Missouri. People were beginning to understand the sting of pain from war, the hardships in getting a good education and the struggle of survival.
This lifestyle was no different for those who lived in Squires, Missouri, except for receiving a good education.
Technically there was never a schoolhouse located directly in Squires. However, the closest was the Kolb School, District 86, which was located about 1-1/4 mile Northeast of Squires. It was originally named Union #86, but after the purchase of land located in Section 8, Township 25, Range 15, by Wm. H. Kolb for $1.00 on August 19, 1899 the name was changed. He made a stipulation that no religious services could be held in connection with the school.
At this time, Charley Moore was president of the board and John Squires, the clerk, and W. L. Thompson was the first teacher.
Other schools in the area were Robertson (Northwest); Frye (Southwest); and Pleasant Hill “Louse Level” (Southeast).
In earlier years, Kolb School was a log cabin and burned around 1895. It was set to the west of the newer frame building erected in 1902 (according to L.W. Walker.) This frame building served as schoolhouse and community building on into the mid 1960′s.
For the rest of the United States, progress was being made in education. More children began going to public school. Twice as many were in school in 1900 as in 1870. The American life had improved between the late 1800′s and 1920. People thought that there soon would come a new age where everyone would have everything they needed.
The number of children receiving an education from Kolb was always high, except one year before the turn of the century when the Kolb and Pleasant Hill Districts combined because both had fewer students and less funds. The Kolb students weren’t thrilled as they had to walk the farthest, but so did their teacher at the time. During that year, the students who lived in the direction of Squires received extra tutoring as they walked home with the School Master, E.G. Warden.
For many years pie suppers, spelling B’s, boxed suppers and even weddings were held at Kolb School, especially while E.G. Walker was teacher and also the Justice of the Peace. He married many former pupils during school hours.
In 1909-10, E.G. Warden was teaching 45 students for an 8 month term at $30.00 per month. In later years around sixty children attended Kolb each year. Several students were from the same family as this one room schoolhouse educated students to the eighth grade. This allowed a close-knit bond to be formed. This closeness was a way of life in this community, which still remains.
While researching and gathering information about Kolb, I was able to meet a few people who had fond memories of this place.
Herval Porter, a former student, brought in several photos of past students who also attended school here. He also shared several stories.
He recalled an incident when a tornado in 1926 or 1927 touched down and caused destruction from the school down to Girdner. It struck part of the Porter family farm. Willie Murray was the teacher and he had all the students scatter once the tornado was noticed.
He also told of his father, Burney Porter, who used to pull a tire with a horse to clear a path in the snow from Girdner to the schoolhouse.
Although, his fondest memory was in 1941. He was 11 years-old and had missed over a month of school due to a ruptured appendix. His teacher, Maude Spurlock wrote him a letter while he was in the hospital and had all the students do the same. He still has these letters today, all boasting the United States Postage 3 cent stamp. There were 42 in all.
Maude Spurlock’s letter reads:
How are you feeling this morning? I was so sorry to hear of you being sick and I hope you can come home soon. Hospitals aren’t very nice places are they?…
My Persian cat that Mrs. Whitted gave me is causing everyone in the neighborhood to keep their eyes open trying to help me find him. He runs away about once a week. Tippy doesn’t like him and they have had a few fights so I can imagine that is one reason.
Ethel and Lela are doing our regular Saturday morning washing while I came out after the mail. I suppose they are still waiting for me to come down and help so maybe I’d better go….
Maude Spurlock taught at Kolb during 1939-1940. She also received her first eight grades of education while attending Kolb Rural School. In 1932 and at the age of 12 she graduated the eighth grade and was ranked number two, county wide, of the Douglas County graduates. Commencement exercises were held in the “new” Ava High School gym and a pleased Maude accepted her reward and held the dream of becoming a teacher. With ambition she fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher by graduating Ava High School with the Class of 1936 at the age of 15 and later enrolling in Summer School at Southwest Teachers College. Maude first taught at Tranquility School in Ozark County before returning to Kolb.
Maude wasn’t the only Spurlock to teach at Kolb School, as did Dorothy (Walker) Spurlock and Lela (Spurlock) Nash. As of now, they are the only two living teachers left.
I was able to spend some time with Dorothy. She is as sharp as a tack! With eyes full of passion, she told of her teaching days at Kolb from 1944-1946. She gave me a detailed list of what a day would consist of back then. The list was thorough and reads as follows: First thing in the morning, the teacher would ring the bell as the students would line up outside to salute and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Two well-built boys would draw up a bucket of water and make a fire in the stove, if cold, as others would file in and take a seat to sing the 23rd Psalm.
A fifteen-minute recess was scheduled and students participated in such games as Dare Base, Black Man, Tag, Marbles, Hopscotch, Ball and Pole Vault. Money was limited so not much was spent on equipment. Usually only one ball was bought at the first of the school year and repaired by the teacher several times during the school year. If lucky another ball would be bought by the District as a Christmas gift.
At noon, the children would line up to wash their hands. Lifeboy soap was shaved and added to water to make liquid. It would be dispensed by one child as another would pour the water into the cupped hands of each student. They would then dry their own hands on a towel brought from home. The towels were then hung on a nail in the wall to dry. Each child was responsible for taking their own towel home on Friday night for washing.
Lunch was usually made into a spread as several students shared and the teacher would bring extra. Many families during this time didn’t have enough resources to feed their children daily and relied on help from other students and their families.
The afternoon was designated for study period and to recite classes. Some would use the blackboard to practice while others would work on spelling words and penmanship. Writing paper and pencils were limited. It was the teacher’s responsibility to help the students keep track of such items. They also furnished most of these items.
Another recess was given before last period. At this time, paperwork was handed in and used for more study time.
If students were good, some Fridays implemented programs, quizzes, and sometimes reading of a story by the teacher. Each teacher was responsible for buying library books.
Dorothy made $96.00 a month while teaching at Kolb. She mentioned that if anything was left in the treasury at the end of the year, most generally, the teacher received that as well.
Over the years the school went through changes. A covered porch was added and windows were moved from one side of the building to the other. This allowed better lighting for children’s eyes. In earlier years, all students sipped water from the same water ladle, but as the government became more aware of the spreading of germs, tin cups were then required.
As well as structural changes and government regulations were the changes in teachers. A few teachers of the past were: E.G. Warden, Edith Wade, Willie Murray, Jesse Irwin, Blanche Irwin, Audie Krider, Amanda Porter, Lloyd Trantham, Bethel Singleton, Flossie Finger, Lela Spurlock and Ethel Spurlock.
The last term taught at Kolb was in 1960-61 by teacher, Ethel (Spurlock) Warden. The school was consolidated with Ava R-1 in 1956.
In 1977 a meeting was held to decide what to do with Kolb School as it was rapidly being torn down by vandals. The building and one acre it sat on was sold to Lawrence C. Smith for $325.00 The money was then divided equally between the Murray Cemetery and Girdner Cemetery to start perpetual maintenance funds.
The school no longer stands. A thing of the past: Kolb School, the one room schoolhouse, leaves nothing but fond memories!