Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for October, 2020

Great Western Schoolhouse Keeps One-Room School Memories Alive

Reading ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic, the three Rs, were the basics taught in those early one-room schools that stretched across Ohio in the 1800s. Not many are still left standing today but those that are, hold special memories and can teach us lessons from another era.

Great Western School

On the campus of Ohio University-Eastern near St. Clairsville, Great Western Schoolhouse has been restored for just that purpose and still stands in its original place 150 years later. Back in 1870, this school was built by Clark Construction Company of bricks made from the clay found on the banks of a nearby farm pond. The walls are three bricks thick with roughly 30,000 bricks used. It was proudly named for the first steamship, “The Great Western” which crossed the Atlantic in 15 days.

During those early days, attendance was not required but encouraged nevertheless. Most of the time, there were eight grades in one room taught by one teacher. Classes were often held from October through April, a time when students were not needed as frequently for farm work.

Great Western School - 1940 when brick road ran below it
The brick Old National Trail ran below the schoolhouse in 1940.

Great Western School was continually used until 1952. It is one of the very few one-room schools still standing on the National Road. Ohio University-Eastern uses this school to help students and children understand the schools of pioneer times.

These students were the last class to attend Great Western School.

In 1975, Dr. Robert Bovenizer of Ohio University asked the National Trail #348 of International Questers to consider restoring the building. They receive donations from former students and area residents as well as the use of grant money to complete the restoration project. An open house was held in 1976 during our country’s bicentennial.

Great Western - Finished Repairs
Repairs on the brickwork of two sides of Great Western School have been completed.

Improvements continue to be made each year. Recently a new tin ceiling was installed in the school, and the interior walls were restored and painted along with some of the schoolhouse benches. This considerably brightened the classroom. Two sides of the exterior brickwork were restored last fall and look wonderful.

great-western-mrs.-skaggs
Mrs. Skaggs taught at Great Western for many years.

The school still has recitation benches, chalkboards, McGuffey Readers, the original schoolmaster’s desk, two outhouses, and a potbelly stove which was fired by the stronger male students. The wooden students’ desks were donated by another school.

Ann Rattine, schoolmarm, teaches students

When Ann Rattine began teaching in St. Clairsville in 1976, she visited the newly restored Great Western Schoolhouse. Ann recalled, “When I stepped over the threshold, I thought this would make a nice field trip.” At that point, she became an important supporter of the school’s development.

One-Room School Flag
Most one-room schools had a flag above the chalkboard as well as pictures of Presidents Washington and Lincoln.

When Ann retired, she accepted the role of schoolmarm in the restored school. Visiting groups spend most of the day at the school, beginning the day with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer, and a Bible story – all things that were done in those early days.

Great Western - typical child
This young lady appears as a typical child at a one-room school.

Large groups of children visit here each spring to have spelling and arithmetic lessons on the old-fashioned slates. Last year nearly 500 students attended. Students are introduced to the ‘dunce hat’, which originally was used if a student didn’t know his lessons.

McGuffey Readers were used by students at all grade levels.

Old-fashioned games are also played. A Spelling Bee gives a break from traditional studies. Outside students might play Jacks, Tug of War, Drop the Handkerchief, or LeapFrog.

One-Room School Desks
The schoolmarm keeps the school in perfect order.

Ann Rattine gives new meaning to the word ‘dedication.’ Not only is she the schoolmarm, but she also does all the jobs that a schoolmarm did at the one-room school. She sweeps the floor, cleans the desks with Murphy Oil soap to have them shining, and puts the classroom in perfect order. Even the pot-bellied stove shines, although it is no longer in use.

One-Room School slate and reader
A typical student’s desk would contain slate, chalk, eraser, and reader.

Former students are encouraged to reminisce about lessons learned, pranks played on teachers and other students, lunch boxes, and stories of how they got to school. Many remember the ‘hot school lunch’ provided by parents during the cold winter months. A large pot would be placed on the pot-bellied stove, and parents would contribute meat, potatoes, and vegetables. At lunchtime, students would fill their water cup with a dipper of warm stew.

Great Western School -Lentz Tavern front
Lentz Tavern, next to the school, provided a place to get water and also a place for teachers to get their room and board.

Drinking water had to be carried from the nearby tavern, where teachers often had their room and board. The water was poured into a large container at the rear of the class. Some students drank out of the same dipper, but most had their own cups to be used for water and stew. The boys often had collapsible cups in their pockets and would get a drink of water at recess from the pond.

Great Western 192 0
Students dressed their best for a 1920s class picture.

Christmas celebrations included the entire community, not just students and parents. This was always a grand occasion. Last Christmas, Great Western Schoolhouse took part in the Noon Rotary Tour of Homes in St. Clairsville to show community members how Christmas was celebrated in the one-room school. Decorations consisted simply of a Christmas tree and lanterns in the windows.

When folks traveled to school in their buggies, they would use a lantern to light the way. Once arriving at the school, those lanterns were set in the windows to give light to the Christmas celebration since there was no electricity. Decorations for the tree were made by the students and included strings of popcorn, homemade gingerbread men, and dried apple slices. 

Great Western School - Lesson Plans
The teacher’s lesson plan was divided into very short segments.

Perhaps you will want to pay the school a visit in 2020 when it celebrates its 150th Anniversary. If you have a group that would enjoy the experience of attending a one-room school at any time, please contact Ann at schoolmarm2009@gmail.com . You may also receive information by contacting Ohio University Eastern at 740-695-1720.

The modern schools are large and grand and beautiful to see,

But many love the country school treasured in memory.

~Helen E. Middleton

Great Western Schoolhouse can be found on the campus of Ohio University – Eastern just off I-70 at Exit 213 to Route 40. Turn left on US 40 West and the school will be on the right hand side.

Road Trippin’ in the USA at McPeek’s Mighty Maze

If you want to get lost, McPeek’s Mighty Maze is the perfect place with Roadtrippin’ USA as the theme of their corn maze for 2020. Located at the Coshocton KOA Campground on County Road 10, it’s more than just a maze. They have many activities that those young at heart from 0 – 99 will enjoy.

This all began in 2015 after Ryan McPeek had purchased a campground near Coshocton and was trying to create something extra that campers and area residents would enjoy. A corn maze came to mind.

That first year was a learning year and a busy one for Ryan as he married Camille in August. They spent their honeymoon at McPeek’s Mighty Maze! This was a new experience for both of them as they had never created a corn maze before.

The entire Mighty Maze is shown in this overhead view.

The maze is more difficult to create than you might think. First, Dave Phillips of Maize Quest draws the maze for the year. After the corn is planted by Brian Mason in the spring, about July 4 the maze is created while the corn is knee-high, young, and tender making it easy to cut down.

Climb the steps to the platform for a great view of the maze.

Tim Day of Maize Quest then arrives with his tractor, rototiller, and GPS unit. Phillips’ Road Trippin’ USA maze is placed into the GPS and the tractor cuts out the maze in a few hours. Day is very busy as cuts about sixty corn mazes each year around the country.

Maize-O-Vision glasses help you see a special map of the maze.

Since the pandemic has made traveling on vacations a bit more difficult this year, the maze takes the shape of Road Trippin’ USA . You can take a fun road trip right here in Coshocton. The Route 66 logo is in one corner of the maze. Another section features a camper and you’ll find a few mountains along the edge.

Along the way, you’ll find stations to help you explore the USA.

At the end of August, holes were drilled to set up nine game stations. Colored ribbons were placed along the miles of pathways inside to help people find their way. Each section has a different color ribbon to help people know where they are. While at this giant corn maze you will learn a bit of history as you play the games and travel through the cornstalks for answers. Play Word Game and learn about 18 different National Parks.

Enjoy the challenge of the Rat Wheel – similar to what a hamster might use.

There’s also a Kid’s Corn Maze for little ones who don’t want to get too lost. Cornelius M. Quest’s Picture Find has children discovering nine Ohio animals hidden at picture stations inside the maze.

McPeek’s Giant Corn Maze is the best place to get lost in the stalks for the 6th season. Enjoy a tasty treat from their three food carts – mini donuts, ice cream, and special favorites like hot dogs and french fries or lumpia and chicken fried rice.

The Jump Pad is the perfect place to use up some extra energy.

There’s all kinds of Fall Fun available as well as the maze. Their giant Jump Pad will have you bouncin’ for joy. Or you might try your luck in a Rat Roll, which is similar to a hamster wheel. Even adults have fun with these! There’s also a Barrel Train ride for the youngsters. Don’t forget all the pumpkins.

Ryan McPeek enjoys driving the tractor for the hayrides.

A hayride winds through the corn maze as it heads to the top of Mt. Everest. Seating will be limited for each ride to assure social distancing. Some traditional events will not be held this year due to pandemic guidelines. The corn box is closed as well as the playground.

Have a different kind of experience at Flashlight Night, which was held earlier this season. Imagine the darkness surrounding you as the cool night breeze moves the cornstalks with eerie sounds. Be sure to pick up a map so you don’t get lost for the night. Take a Glow Hayride that same evening. You’ll have to come back another year for all the fun!

The barrel train ride is great fun for youngsters.

McPeek’s Mighty Maze will be open four weekends in October on Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 6 so plan ahead for a time of family fun roadtrippin’ through the corn or maybe gettin’ lost in the stalks.

Ryan and Camille will help make your adventure a memorable one. Check their website for further information and additional events at www.mcpeeksmightymaze.com or visit them on Facebook.

All ages enjoy the Duck Race to see whose duck will win the water race.

Admission at the gate is $10 per person with children under 2 free. If you register online ahead of time, admission is $8 per person. Staying at the KOA Campground in Coshocton gets you free admission to the Mighty Maze and a chance to enjoy the night air sitting around a campfire.

Sounds like Roadtrippin’ USA could be great fun for everyone at McPeek’s Mighty Maze. Get lost in the stalks!

​McPeek’s Mighty Maze is located at the Coshocton KOA Campgrounds on County Road 10 just east of Coshocton. You can’t miss their signs!

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