Collecting memories from one room schools


As part of the Switzerland County Historical Museum’s “School Days” exhibit, the museum is collecting memories from members of the community who attended a one room school.

Here are some examples of memories that have been collected so far. Want to add your own? Contact the museum or Vevay Newspapers.

– Miss Willetta (Washmuth), certainly has a “story ” telling way to present her memories.

I have so much enjoyed her articles. The one about the one room schools brought back many memories of the stories my Aunt Miss Dorothy Orem told.

I had to laugh after reading the Cincinnati Enquirer in reference to the Hot Line Phone number for the Jefferson Craig children to call for help with the trauma caused by the resent incident at the Jefferson Craig School. Most of the ones I have heard comment wish they had done more.

Well, anyway I was just wondering if I had found out after 50 or more years, the kids who went to the one room school were traumatized one Halloween when “The Big boys” put the school outhouse on top of the school house roof.

– I remember Miss Dorothy would take a soup bone and fix soup with it and whatever the children had at home they would bring be it a potato, turnip, onion, or whatever and that was certainly a hot lunch.


These teachers are now gone but in their day they were highly respected and regarded as pillars of the community, who could do no wrong. They weren’t smoking, drinking doing drugs or attending any questionable gathering.

These teachers were family, involved in all situations of every day life an be it joy or sadness.

Most of the equipment that was used belonged to these teachers from the ball to the phonograph, movie projector, and maybe even a printing machine. There was no federal money or special budget for what was extra.

As with Miss Willetta, I have saved many of the pictures, cutouts, and calendar that were used to decorate the Plum Creek and Center Square schools. Although Miss Dorothy Orem is gone I am sure many people remember her as their teacher. How her heart was broken when the superintendent announced that the teachers could no longer buy each child a Christmas present.

This was her main joy, Christmas presents for others. She always kept a box of clothes if someone needed them she also kept hugs, and squeezes although she was a strict teacher. Of course when you were in the second or third grade you were taller than she was. She was fond of pretty clothes even though they were home made and some from feed bags, high heel shoes make-up and jewelry were also a trade mark with her.

We also had the community drinking cup, the washpan and dipper. The big boys were responsible for bringing in the wood for the pot belly stove.


We have gotten more modern, we don’t have the closeness of neighbors and friends and in most of the small communities the general stores are gone, we can no longer “ring up” on our telephone the operator and ask where someone is today

Miss Susan Orem was another teacher, along with Ellogene Griffith Weales , Mr. and Mrs. Demaree and Mr. and Mrs. Bosaw The County health nurse in the 50s was Loletta Sanders, Barbara Stanton the music teacher, and Ethelyn James the Home Demonstration agent.

Some of the less educated teachers were “required” to take $5 to the trustee to retain their jobs.

– Did you know there are three graves in the Plum Creek School Yard? They belong to the McClintic family who gave the land for the school.


Thanks to Jo Green for assembling these memories.