North Vernon Plain Dealer - August 20, 1914

"On the banks o' Deer Creek! allus my delight
Jes to be around there-take it day er night."
    These lines from James Whitcomb Riley's poem "On the Banks o' Deer Creek" accompanied by a picture of the Deer Creek school house and a cordial invitation to attend announce the home coming to be held on August 29th, and old time exhibition and social will be held. The invitations have been sent to all old-time pupils and teachers throughout the county in as far as their addresses could be learned. On Friday evening, August 28th, an old time exhibition and social will be held. On Saturday the big feature will be a basket dinner followed by impromptu speeches. The committees in charge of the affair are working hard to make things pleasant for those who attend and hope to have a good response in the attendance. Riley sends his greetings to the home-comers and says that his poem about "Deer Creek" is for all Hoosiers who love the beauties of such a place. Those who are arranging the home-coming feel a debt of gratitude to him for his poem, and wish earnestly that he might be with them on this gala occasion.     This article treats of what we may call pre-historic Deer Creek School, the first school in the neighborhood which was known as the Edward's school. Mr. Edwards for whom the school was named, lived where the present country club house is now, and owned much of the surrounding land. Upon part of this land where now the Wicken's Railroad Cut is, the old school was located. The site was probably chosen because of the presence of a fine spring at the foot of the eastern slope. All the surrounding land was covered with timber, including even the present site of North Vernon.
    There was no Zoar nor Oakdale school nor any at North Vernon so the pupils who attended this school came from a radius of several miles.
    The water seeped out of the slate on the eastern side of the hill and after flowing north for about fifty yards made a short turn to the east and into a deep ravine filled with large hackberry and elm trees. This ravine led down to Deer Creek just where the present Deer Creek Railroad Bridge now is. Steps led up the hill cut into the slate at the head of the hill to the old school-house.
    The building was a typical old time school-house, built of round logs, with a clapboard roof, with a huge stone fireplace on the opposite side, and a window made by removing part of one log and filling in the space with glass. It had a puncheon floor. The seats or 'benches' were made of slabs upheld by sticks put into holes bored into the under side. A long desk made also of slabs set up slantingly against the wall was just below the window and was used by the larger pubpils.
    The school term lasted about three months the first twenty-five days being paid out of the District fund and the rest by subscribing patrons. It was what we may call a "loud" school, that is the pubils conned (conning-archaic defination - to learn or commit to memory) their lessons in a "loud" whisper. Imagine the buzz when Georgie spelled, Mary studied her multiplication table, Henry solved examples, Jane read her Geography and the teacher gave commands.
    Philemon C. Vawter, who now resides in West Lafayette is the only surviving teacher of the Edward's school. Some of the other teachers were Jasper Grinstead, Maria Denslow, Mrs. H. J. Vawter, Jane Leach, Mrs. Henry Vawter, Almira Wilson, Mrs. Ezra Whitmore, John M. Grinstead, Mary Peabody and John King.
    The pupils whom we know that attended are: Mrs. W. T. Holsclaw, nee Myra King, who lives on Bear Creek, Mr. Ben Knaub who lives not far away, Dr. Wm. T. Stott ex-president of Franklin College, Louis Knaub of Franklin, and Miles McCallou of Ft. Scott, Kas; Also Rev. and Mrs. Frank Huckleberry, others of whom we know who have passed to the Great Beyond: Cordelia Feagler, Ezra King, James Melvin, Isaac and Jim Potts, several members of the Vawter, Stott and Edward's families, George King who later helped to build the "frame schoolhouse" and became a teacher there, the Blyton family, the Langens, Ira and John Richardson, Bushrod Lewis, Wirt and Marshall Grinstead, John Quinn, Martin Duffy, Wm. and Mary Abercrombie, _____ Metcalf.
    In 1853 when the railroad was laid out the school had to be discontinued because the right of way took off a corner of the school house.
    The Deer Creek Home Coming which occurred on Friday and Saturday, August 28-29th, was largely attended and was successful in every way. By eight o'clock on Friday night the the school house was filled an expectation of the old-fashioned exhibition which had been arranged. The following was on the program Recitation, Eugene Smith; Exercise Eight Little Boys, What I Want to Be: Recitation, Margaret Carson, Deacon Bobkin's Courtship: Recitation, Robert Smartz, Johnnie's History Lesson; Bo-Peep-Drill; Robert Sullivan, The Raggedy Man; Duet James Wickens and Ronald Rich; Reading, Edwin Carson. A Bear Story; Dialog. A Sewing Circlle on Deer Creek; Monolog, Faye Shumaker, Back on Deer Creek; Recitation, The Octoroon, Mrs. Chas. Hall; Recitation, Doris Williams; Orphan Annie; Solo, Miss Beertha Siener, The Silver Threads Among the Gold; Pantomine, Old Folks at Home. Besides these numbers the audience joined in singing "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground and Home Sweet Home and several fine orchestra selections were rendered by the orchestra which consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Simmons and son George and Ronald Rich.
    Before and after the entertainment old friends renewed their old acquaintance and enjoyed a social time. Early on Saturday morning people began to arrive from far and near, the latter laden with "baskets and tubs" and the morning passed quite enjoyable. Just before dinner a circuit picture of the croud was taken by Otto White, the photographer, who had also taken the views for the post cards. Over two hundred people assembled at the dinner tables which were set undeer a large dining tent which was kindly loaned to the Home Comeers by the Ladies Aid of the North Vernon Baptist Church. The tables were laden with all the good things of the season, fried chicken predominating, and they presented a beautiful sight to the eye as well as tempting prospect to the appetite. Hot coffee was served by the ladies to all who cared for it, and we have not heard of any one who was not able to secure all the food that was good for him.
    The base ball game that was scheduled to take place after dinner was abandoned because most of the players felt incapable of the exertion. About three o'clock as many as possible, assembled in the school house and enjoyed listening to communications from several absent ones, short talks by several present and recitation "On the Banks of Deer Creek" by Katie Smartz and "That Was Long Ago" by little Miss dorothy Davenport of North Vernon whose grand-mother, Mrs. J. C. Cope was a teacher in Deer Creek school. After the program the crowd reluctantly broke up and most of them left for their homes feeling that it was good to have been there. A few remained for supper and supper and after supper, a number reassembled and enjoyed and old-fashioned play party. When the evening grew late alll present sang a number of familiar songs and the first annual Home Coming came to an end. Those who were present from a distance were:
    Mesdames Anna Lovett Deery, Anna Dillon Bolin, Bridget Dillon Quinn, Rose Dillon Flannery, effie Graves Thorp and daughter Avanelle May Feagler Smartz and children, Katharine and Robert, Clara King Elliott, Wm. Fitzgibbons, Edna Wickens, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Simmons and son, George, Ed Rosendoll, Robert and Ralph Newland, of Indianapolis, Lewis King, of Columbus, Mrs. Mary Burns Collins, of Mt. Comfort, Mr. and Mrs Everett Vawter and son Wallace and Faye Shumakeer of W. Lafayette, Mrs. Chas. Sullivan and children of Independence, Kan., Dr. I. P. Burroughs, of Westport, Irviin Huckleberry, of Zionsville, Wm. Fitzgibbons, of St. Louis, Mo., Hugh Wickens,of Greensburg and sons, Paul and Justin, Mr. and Mrs. S. V. Williams, of Bedford with their children, Lois, Frances, Doris and Vernon, Maggie Rupp Schrock of Hamilton, O., Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Vawter, of Queensville, M. J. Summerfield Welch, of Kansas City, Mo., Dr. Mary Wickens, of Richmond, Edwin Carson and daughteeers, Edwina and Hazel and Robert White, of Seymour, Phil Vawter, of Milan, Leota, Lewis and Wm. Jordan, of Westport, Mrs. Samuel Ludwig and children, of Cincinnati, Opal, Hazel, Mintiiie, Blanche and Lora Baker and Dona Tudor, of Kirklan, Mrs. Mary Weber, of Tuscola, and Mrs. Rose Weber Gutler, of Collinsville, O.

    The Deer Creek Home Coming was a success and was well attended. The old exhibiition on Friday night was presented to a full house. On Saturday was the all day meeting and at noon two tables, forty feet long, were spread under an awning. The tables fairly groaned with the good things, which had been prepared for the occasion. Just before the dinner was served Otto White, of North Vernon, photographed the large crowd assembled on the school house lawn. During the afternoon a program of music, recitation, songs and speaches were given. The speaches by Lewis King, Smith Williams, Mrs. Anna Welsh and Hugh Wickens, were especially enjoyed. At night a party and social was held and all present enjoyed the evening. It is estimated that between three and four hundred people were present at the different sessions. Te wish was expressed by many that this Home Coming be an annual event. It was a means of bringing many together and it was a most enjoyable event. We wish to thank all who so kindly assisted in any way.
    During the years that elapsed between the abandonment of the school near the railroad and the reorganization of the "Frame" schools were "kept" in private dwellings. One taught by John King what held in a double cabin on the line between the Smith and Peak farms, formerly known as the McCarty and Rupp properties. Another was held in the house which now forms part of Mr. W. T. Holsclaw's dwelling. The new schoolhouse was a one room frame with typical school house architecture or lack of arthitecture. Mr. George King owned a saw mill near the mouth of Deer Creek and he assisted by his nephew, another George King, built the school house. This building was just south of the site of the Vawter Feagler house, and was in the valley close to the branch. Like both the other schools it got its supply of drinking water from a spring.
    The names of many of the Vawter and King families are found among both teachers and pupils of this school. The following are the names of teachers as accurately as can be learned, Wm. Fall, Mrs. J. C. Cope, and Lewis Huckleberry, of North Vernon, Ella Vawter Leavitt and Miss Jeanie Vawter, of Santa Monica, Cal., Isaac and Lewis Whitcomb, John and Geo. King, Emma Campbell Shreves, Ida Weber Mayfield, Noah Reynolds, Ursula Smith, Emma Moncrief, Jas. Foley, Wm. V. King, Myra King Holsclaw, Fannie Holsclaw Williams, Cora Vancleave White, and Marshall Grinstead. Some of the above taught summer school. The school also held an important place in the social life of the neighborhood for the singing school and the spelling and writing schools furnished excellent opportunities for the adults and youth to mingle. Besides the regular singing school where tunes and songs were taught they met to practice geography singing, naming all the countries of North and South America and all the states of the Union with the capitol of each and the name of the river (if any) on which it was situated. Mr. Henry Hinchman of Vernon taught a writing school.
    In 1878 the school was removed to the present building, a one room brick further up the creek in the right angle formed by the brnch fed by McDoarell's spring where it flows into Deer Creek. The slopes south and east of the school house were covered with woods. Water was carried from a little spring down by the creek and the pupils used a common drinking cup. This was before the day of germs. Deer Creek had a strong attraction for men and women teachers from North Vernon. There were F. E. Little and W. S. Matthews, attorneys in North Vernon, John Clark, superintendent of the Fifth Division of the U.S. Mail Service, Tinnie Andrews, Amelia Adams, at present a teacher in the North Vernon schools, Zelpha Grinstead Weber, Jessie Whitcomb Hall, and Clarence Pennington, at present carrier on Route No. 4 which passes the school house. Other teachers were Dr. John McGinty, of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and Pat Wickens, both of whom were doubly associated with the schools as pupils and teachers: Scott Morris, Obe Woolman, Smith Williams, Lott Randolph and E. F. White.
    Space does not permit the names of the pupils but there were members of the King, Rupp, Vancleave, Fitzgibbons, Barnum, McDonnel, Simons, Summerfield, Wickens, Stewart, Riley, Feagler, Johnson, Day and Monroe families as well as many others.
    School was discontinued in 1901 for lack of pupils, but it stands ready to re-open its doors in September.

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