Looking Back at the One-Room School
By Helen Boertje
Special to The Pella Chronicle
Location: Lake Prairie township, sec. 1
The first Plainview School was built in 1875 on a farm owned by J. Markel; one mile east of Pella on the Vermeer Road where Vermeer Manufacturing corporate offices are now located. Plainview was appropriately named because it was built on flat land offering a clear view of the surrounding plain.
By 1880 farmer Markel no longer wanted the building on his land and it was moved 3/4th mile north. In 1883 a new school house was built at a cost of $460.26. This figure comes from the carefully kept school board records which also show that the first teacher¹s salary was $25 per month while the last one was hired in 1955 for $255 per month.
The first reunion of former students and teachers was held in 1972. For this occasion, Mr. T. T. Verros, then 87 years old, wrote memories of his school days at Plainview. On his first day of school in 1890 neighbor girls Marie Schakel and Sara Schippers took him to school. A few days later when they stopped by to pick him up he decided he didn¹t want to go to school. His father who happened to be in the yard picked up up a piece of harness strap and gave him one good lick. He changed his mind about not wanting to go to school.
Mr. Verros said that in the fall of the year students often left the school yard during the noon hour to gather hickory nuts in the nearby Vermeer timber. One noon hour Henry H. Vermeer, John Vande Lune and Mr. Verros lingered too long picking up nuts under an especially good tree and returned a half hour late. As punishment the teacher told they would not be allowed to leave the school yard for the rest of the year. However, by the next week the boys followed the other students into the timber and the teacher said nothing. (Most of us have probably taken a privilege away from a child and later changed his/her mind as did this teacher).
John P. Vermeer who attended school in the 30's recalls that the well water on the school yard was so poor that students were sent across the road to his parents' farm for drinking water. In the winter the students often enjoyed ice skating on their farm pond. This is the pond that was the site of annual tug of war between the Central College freshmen and the upper class men.
During World War II the school children of Plainview conducted a scrap drive using ponies and a cart to carry scrap from neighboring farms to the the school house. A Chronicle picture shows Arie Boot on his pony Goldie and Vernon De Vries on his pony Foxy along with 11 other students and their teacher Emily Hiemstra. They expected to sell two tons of metal to purchase a globe and other supplies for their school.
Teachers at Plainview and the year hired: Miss Doolittle 1875, Maria Davenport 1876, Miss A.M. Dana 1878, Ida Dunn, Miss Wilson 1880, J. J. Stoddard, C. S. Pruit, E. Vingari, G. W. Kimmel 1882, Sallie Martin, Sadie Lacy 1883, Frank Vande Ven 1884, Minnie Edmand 1885, Frank Vande Ven, F. Wright 1886, Aletha Davenport 1887, Anna De Haan 1888, Minnie Forsythe 1889, Nora Boswell, Kate De Haan 1890, Anna Dunnink 1894, Jennie Kuyper 1898, Dora Thomassen, Sylvia Platt 1899, Nellie Vander Sluis 1900, Katie Boland 1902, Avis Veenschoten 1903 Katie Boland, Cora Hoogenaker, Cornelia De Cook 1905, Cornelia De Cook 1906, Tille De Wit 1907-08, Bertha Dykstra 1909-10, Bertha Dykstra, Elizabeth Verheul 1911, Edna Verheul 1912-17, Meda Heki, Agnes Vander Hart, Alice Tysseling 1919, Cornelia Gosselink 1917, Janet Grootveld, Elva Brummel 1936, Esther Grootveld 1937, Ardella Grandia 1938, Beulah Grandia 1939, Emily Hiemstra 1941, Betty Vriezelaar 1943, Mildred Gosselink 1944, Betty Vander Beek 1950, Thelma Grandia 1952, Joyce Leydens 1953, Mrs. William De Bruin 1954, and Gloria Daggey 1955.
Originally published in the Pella Chronicle July 25, 2008. Reprinted by permission.