Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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Location: Missouri

I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rural Schoolhouses

Last time I talked about what I call relics of the rural past; one-room schoolhouses, rural post offices, and crossroads general stores, for example. Following up on that post, I dug out a detailed topographic map, dating from the 1940s, that used to belong to my dad. It was part of a series of such maps put out by the U. S. Geological Survey. This particular one covers the northeast part of Greene County, Missouri (including Fair Grove and Strafford), the western edge of Webster County, the southern part of Dallas, and the southeast corner of Polk. I was struck my the number of small, rural schools listed on the map that, as far as I know, do not exist today. They include Persimmon Grove School, Rock Prairie School, and Union Grove School in Polk County; Hasten School, New Garden School, Old Goss School, and Olive School in Dallas County; Bodenhammer School, Goss School (not to be confused with Old Goss School), Holman School, and Minor School in Webster County; and Bell View School, Hickory Barren School, Ingram School, Liberty School, Locust Prairie School, and Whitlock School in Greene County. And this, mind you, covers just a small area of about 18 by 14 miles.
Of the schools mentioned above the one that was closest to Fair Grove, where I grew up, was Hickory Barren. (Actually Old Goss School might have been slightly closer, but it was in Dallas County.)
I well remember when Hickory Barren closed and was consolidated with Fair Grove. I was starting third grade when the kids who had previously gone to Hickory Barren came to Fair Grove; so this would have been the fall of 1954. Most of the others probably closed about the same time or even earlier. If anybody knows anything about any of the other schools I've listed above, I'd enjoy hearing from you.
By the way, Elkland in Webster County, also falls within the boundaries of this map, and it used to have a high school that, sometime in the late 1950s, consolidated with Buffalo, Fair Grove, and Marshfield. For many years after that, it had only an elementary school, which was part of the Marshfield school system. I'm not sure whether Elkland still has a grade school or not.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wood:
I seen that you are interested in Robbie Camden. I live in Reynolds County and have some information about him. My husband's mother, who has passed on now, remembered seeing him when she was young. My mother went to Centerville with her parents to see his trial. My mother has passed on now too, but I have written some things down about him. I share your interest in small town history. Paula

January 11, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

Yes, my new book due out late this spring will have a chapter on Robbie Camden. It's probably too late for me to put any info you might give me into the book, since I've already submitted the manuscript, but I'd still be interested in hearing what you have to say about Robbie. You can email me at lwood@joplin.com if you want.

January 11, 2011 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Cassie said...

I live in the old farmhouse at the end of Hickory Barren Lane and was interested in the history of the place. I had been told that there used to be an old schoolhouse out here and that the creek had been a popular stopping spot on the way into Springfield. I grew up between Strafford and Fair Grove, very near Locust Prairie schoolhouse. My grandpa went to school there. When I was a kid they hosted music parties with some of my grandpa's old buddies at the old building. They would meet on Saturday nights for "pickin' parties." Those are fond memories for me. My great aunt still lives at the Murrell century farm just down the road from there where Grandpa was born in what is now the old chicken house.

April 5, 2011 at 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,
I have been reading your blog - http://ozarks-history.blogspot.com/2011/01/rural-schoolhouses.html - just one of the many stories that you have written. I was wondering if you have ever heard of Meta Given and if you have done any research on her life? She wrote two cook books "The Modern Family Cookbook" (1942) and "The Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking" (1947). I am most interested where she may have gone to high school as she started teaching school herself at the age of 15. Any information would be appreciated. Danette

October 20, 2013 at 4:17 AM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

No, I don't know anything about Meta Given. In fact, I wasn't even aware of her until I read your comment. Sorry I couldn't help.

October 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM  

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