LEE COUNTY LOCAL/FAMILY HISTORY DEPT. * DONNELLSON PUBLIC LIBRARY * 500 PARK AVE. * DONNELLSON, IA * 52625
This is the fifth article in the series on schoolhouses in Lee County. Information was obtained by Diane Kruse and Carolyn Dischler in interviews with Raymond Clemenson, Carol Sturdivant and Dorothy Lamm. Other sources used were History of Lee County Schools 1830–1962, a notebook of information on Warren School and Warren Station compiled by Raymond Clemenson and Carol Sturdivant located in the Donnellson Public Library, Genealogy Department Memories of the Past and More Memories written by Howard Hennies, Dorothy’s uncle.
The Warren School District #3, also known as Liberty, was located 3˝ miles west of Donnellson on Highway #2 (previously known as Goldenrod Trail) in Harrison Township, Section 35, on one acre of land. The first structure was a log cabin built circa 1841 when the U.S. government deeded 160 acres of land to Tracy Butler. The deed was signed by John Tyler who was president of the United States at that time. Circa 1868, the log cabin structure was replaced with a white frame 10 building. Grades 1 through 8 attended Warren School.
Dorothy recalls that a long chalkboard stretched across the front wall of the school. The recitation bench was also in the front of the building with students’ desks to the rear. The school was heated with a coal stove; the coal shed was located on the east side of the building. There was a wash basin available for hand washing and a water bucket for drinking water with one dipper shared by all the students.
In order for the school to remain open, the enrollment requirement for Warren School was five students. Once when enrollment fell under the required five, two students (Gary and Beverly Schau) transferred to Warren from Primrose on a temporary basis until enrollment increased to the required number to prevent the school from closing.
Hennies writes in his book that the school year was eight months long, starting after Labor Day and ending in April. School was in session from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. Rote learning was a big part of schoolwork at that time. Students memorized the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs; they practiced the Palmer method of penmanship, practicing each stroke until it was perfect; they memorized the Gettysburg Address.
Ray Clemenson attended Warren School from 1936-1944. He was a 4-H member in the group called Busy Farmers in Warren School District; the girls group was named Prairie Maids. Each year on the first day of school, the teacher would make a list of books needed for the school year for each student. In order to obtain the required books, all students were transported to Primrose School after dinner school for a book exchange.
Ray’s sister Garnett was the only one in her class from the first grade through the eighth. He and his sister walked 1˝ miles each way to school. He stated as time went by, they wised up and planned to leave home early so they could catch a ride part of the way with teachers on their way to school to teach their classes at New Boston. Each Friday he and a couple of other boys helped clean the floor and dust the erasers. Lighting consisted of kerosene lamps with shields to reflect the light.
The students made up many games to play during recess. A favorite game was called Ante-Over, although the same game was called Handy-Over or Hand-It-Over at other schools in the area. A ball was thrown over the roof of the school to a team on the other side and “ante-over” was called. If the ball was caught, that team would try to tag anyone from the opposing team who would then come to their side.
Another favorite was Kick It which consisted of two sticks, one leaning against a step with the opposite end sticking in the groove of the sidewalk. The second stick was held by a player who hit it against the step three times and then called names of children that were hiding. If a player kicked the first stick over, all the children whose names were called were freed and the game started over. Another version of this game was called Wicked Picket. Someone would be ‘it’; a stick was set on a can and the other children were dared to knock it off. Softball games were very popular and a few students enjoyed wrestling and practiced it on a regular basis. In the winter, students enjoyed building snowmen and having snowball fights. Spelling bees were held once a week which most students enjoyed. Every Friday after the last recess, the students took out their geography book and opened it to the map in the center of the book. The children divided up into two teams. Each team would take turns writing the name of a town on the chalkboard and whoever guessed the correct town would be the one to then have their choice and write it on the chalkboard. Highest score of the teams won.
Programs marked special occasions through the year. A community get-together, which consisted of a picnic and potluck, was held monthly at Warren School. Students made and exchanged valentines on Valentines Day. A Halloween program consisted of the students selling home made ice cream, pies, cakes, cookies, etc. to raise funds to purchase school supplies. A program along with a gift exchange was celebrated at Christmas. Students graduated from eighth grade with a formal ceremony held at the high school building in Fort Madison. A picnic was always held on the last day of school and a game of softball was played.
In 1959, Warren School District #3 became a part of the Central Community School District which included the area of Argyle, Donnellson and Montrose. Following the closure of the Warren School, the students attended classes at Donnellson.
When the school closed in 1960, the building was sold and torn down; the land reverted back to its original owners, half to the Robert Sturdivant family and half to the Glenn Jannings family. The property belonging to the Jannings was sold in the mid-90's. The Lamms bought the timber section; Butlers bought the original Jannings house and land next to Butler Cemetery; Sturdivants bought the farm land.
When the Warren School closed its doors for the last time in 1960, a reunion picnic was held on May 29th of that year. Teachers, former pupils, and their families were invited and despite the rain, seventy-six people attended. The school building was razed soon after its closure and the lumber was bought by Gladys Hawes who used it to build a motel and restaurant combination in Argyle. The business was located on the south edge of town and has since been torn down.
Today as you drive along Highway #2, the only indication of where the Warren School once stood is a dirt roadway leading off the north side of the highway into a field with crops growing on either side. Diane and I wish to thank Dorothy Lamm, Carol Sturdivant, and Raymond Clemenson for sharing their memories and written information on the Warren School.
If anyone has additional information regarding the school, special remembrances, or photos, please contact Diane Kruse (319-836-2056) or Carolyn Dischler 12 (319-469-7631). This information, as well as other information received, will be placed on file for reference purposes. ~ Written and submitted by Carolyn Dischler
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