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HISTORY OF RABBIT PLAINS PUBLIC SCHOOL

August 27, 1914 - North Vernon Plain Dealer

    As we glance back over the years through which we have passed the places which stand out most prominently in our minds are the scenes of our childhood. No one has expressed this truer than Whittier who said:
The hills are dearest which our childish feet
Have climbed the earliest, and the stream most sweek,
Stooped to their waters o'er the grassy bank
Midst the cold dreary sea-watch, home's hearth-light,
Shines around the helms-man plunging through the night
And still with inward eye the traveler sees,
In close, dark, strange streets, his native trees,
The homesick dreamers' brow is fanned
By breezes whispering of his native land,
And on the strangers dim and dying eye.
The soft sweet pictures of his childhood lie."
    Not least among these pictures is the old schoolhouse where the foundation for our life's work was laid. Fancy carries us back to the little old cabin on the hill, others to the little frame building around which the rabbits played and the cows roamed. Others see the little red brick which still stands in the beautiful grove on the plain.
    In considering the history of what is known as Rabbit Plains School we must not forget to mention the sturdy pioneers to whom we are indebted, men and women of strong purposes. They did not only lay the foundation on which they built their modest homes but they also laid the foundation upon which characher was built.
    Benjamin Merrell was one of the first settlers who came to the neighborhood. He was a blacksmith and his son John, made wagons. Among his decendants now in the neighborhood are the Coles, Fewells, Giddings and Johnsons.
    Among the first patrons of hte school were the Wildmans, Stephensons, Hudsons, Miles, Custer, Grahams, Dentons and Smiths.
    It was among such people as these that the need of a school was felt that the "young idea might be taught how to shoot." In 1850 the first schoolhouse was built on the old Stephenson farm. It was situated near Little Graham Creek on the hill south of where Custer's mill once stood. It was situated near Little Graham Creek on the hill south of where Custer's mill once stood. Miss Place was the first teacher, A. D. Stephenson came next then Gill Cox and last Miss Mary Dolan. Then fire destroyed the little log cabin. The next school was taught by Mrs. Phoebe Stephenson in an old log cabin on what is now the Giddings farm. But as times advanced these sturdy pioneers began to realize that they must have a better building. After many stormy meeting of the people it was decided to locate the building in the green woods where only cow paths led to it. This was done and the first name given to it was "Rabbit Plains." There are many stories as to how Rabbit Plains got its name. The most popular one is that a Mr. Wm. Burditt was hunting and came upon the schoolhouse. As rabbits were numersous and the schoolhouse was on a plain he called it "Rabbit Plains," and thus it still remains.
    Sometime about 1872 the well was dug. Previous to that time water was obtained from the streams in the ravines for drinking purposes and no one ever died from poison taken in water. The first house, the frame building, was built about 1861 and the teachers who taught in it were: A. D. Stephenson, 1861-1862; Juliette Anson, Emma Young, Collins Wildman, A. D. Stephenson, Ursla M. Shuck, Kate Truesdale, Perry E. Owens, William Wilmann, Peter Shuck, Jacob Wildman, Perry Owens, Arthur Rogers and Effie Hendricks. The frame building stood until 1895 when one evening it was discovered to be on fire. Neighbors rushed to the scene but they were too late to saven even a book. The building was gone leaving only ashes and melted glass to tell the story. The remainder of the term was taught in a vacant storeroom.
    In 1896 the present building was built. No longer would wood suffice so the best of brick was bought and a neat little building was put up. This building still stands. It too has had the best teachers that the township could provide. The school has always been among the first. The work was always the best. The study hours were filled with hard labor but the pupils were not bookworms. When study hours were over the playground reverberated with the joyful noise of the players. Games of all kinds were played and when Old Mother Goose had done her work you could see the snowballs fly, yes, and feel them too. Years ago the teachers used to come to school with fear and trembling at times for they were almost sure to find the door locked and locked it would stay until the mischievous boys were sure that there was a treat coming. One teacher tried to bluff his way in with a sack of corncobs but the sham was discovered before he had got entirely in and he was pushed out. Such were the times they had but the great respect for the teacher prevailed.
    Now we are scattered and those good times are past, and are but memories to some of us. But the lessons learned there have never been forgotten. The knowledge that our teachers imparted to us have tended to make us better, have gone into our lives and made us stronger for we can never cease being thoughtful. They have made us what we are? We have followed every occupation and profession of life. Some of us are farmers, others merchants, mechanics, lawyers, teachers and preachers. As time speeds on may each and every one be faithful to his trust. May we realize that this life is but a journey that ends-where?

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