Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Old National Trail’

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.

Middlebourne – Half Way Between on the Old National Road

Middlebourne Entrance

Today Middlebourne is a small, quiet town but still has businesses at the edge of town.

The small town of Middlebourne, originally called Middletown, was relatively centrally located between Zanesville and Wheeling along the Old National Trail, today known as Route 40. When Benjamin Masters discovered that the National Trail was going to run right through his farm, he laid out a town believing that it would be a prosperous place.

That Old National Trail is often considered to be the road that helped build the nation. It was the nation’s first interstate highway crossing six states as it stretched from Maryland to Illinois.

Hays Tavern 001

In 1826, Hays Tavern was one of the best known hostelries on Turnpike Street in Middlebourne.

In 1828, William Hays established Hays Tavern, a hotel and barroom in Middlebourne. It was one of the best known hostelries on the National Trail, also called Turnpike Street, because of its bountiful meals, barroom, barns for wagoners, and lots for the drovers’ stock. Even Henry Clay stopped here occasionally on his way from Kentucky to Washington.

Bridgewater Bridge 001

The stone Bridgewater S Bridge, just west of town, was built in 1828.

A popular stop along the way just west of Middlebourne was the Bridgewater S Bridge built in 1828. When a bridge was needed to cross a stream at an angle, they built a stone arch at right angles to the stream. Then added a curve at each end to make the road meet smoothly. Thus, the S Bridge, which saved money and was a stronger structure.

Their first post office was established in 1829 and operated unto 1917. At this point, the name was officially changed from Middletown, which was also the name of a larger town in Ohio, to Middlebourne.

By 1850, their population was 267 and it grew for a while after that. The village had several stores, three or four churches, doctors, a lawyer, and even a brass band. But when the railroad was built six miles south of town, population seemed to wane. Eventually Route 40 and I-70 bypassed Middlebourne.

Middlebourne Methodist Church

The Middlebourne Methodist Church recently celebrated their 160th Anniversary. Standing in front are Edith Carter, Paul Carter, and Beverly Watson, all faithful members of the church.

The Middlebourne Methodist Church was founded in 1840, but the church was actually built in 1857. A unique feature of the church is its double doors in the front. At that time, women were to enter the church through the door on the right, while men entered through the door at the left. Inside their hand hewed pews had a divider between them to keep the women and men separate inside the sanctuary. The divider has been removed – in some of the pews.

At that time, preachers who delivered sermons in various towns were called circuit riders. Middlebourne services were conducted by circuit riders in the homes of various members until the church became a reality.

Middlebourne Prayer Bears

Edith Carter holds a Prayer Bear, a special project of their church today for the sick and injured who need a hug.

Many walked to church back then, while others drove their horse and buggy. The Old National Road, today’s Route 40, ran in front of the church, so often there might be a herd of cattle or sheep passing by along with a wagon train.

Paul Carter, who grew up in Middlebourne, is the oldest member of the Methodist Churh. When he was a youngster, there were about a hundred people in the congregation and six Sunday School classes scattered around the church sanctury. He remembers delivering the Daily Jeffersonian to his customers in Middlebourne for 18 cents a week back in 1947.

Middlebourne Sign 001Residents recall hearing stories about people getting stuck on the muddy National Road when rains poured down. Local farmers would then pull those early cars out of the mud with their horses for a fee. One local jokester would sometimes pour barrels of water on the road to make it muddy, so he could make money pulling cars out.

Charles Ellis Moore, a U.S. Representative from Ohio, was born near Middlebourne in 1884. Moore taught school in Oxford Township and graduated from Muskingum College and OSU School of Law. He also served as Prosecuting Attorney for Guernsey County before becoming representative from 1919-1933. Bob Secrest succeeded him.

Locust Lodge

In the 1930s when the automobile became more popular, Hays Tavern became Locus Lodge, a Home for Tourists.

Door of Penn Tavern 001

The doorway of Penn Tavern was said to be one of the most unique doorways on the National Road.

Middlebourne Church inside

The only original building is the Methodist Church.

The only original building left in town is the Middlebourne Methodist Church, which recently celebrated their 160th anniversary. While attendance has dwindled, they still love their little church. Small country churches always hold special memories.

Take a country ride and enjoy the small town atmosphere of Middlebourne. Folks are friendly there!

Middlebourne, Ohio is located just off I-70 at Exit 193 along the North side of the highway.

Tag Cloud