My Memories of "Little Chigger Hill" School
by Nolus Young Rhodes
as printed in Early History of Pike County, Arkansas,
published by The Pike County Heritage Club
in 1978 and reprinted in 1989.
Used with permission
(Note: The following was written by my mother, a school teacher of the early Twentieth Century. Then she was a woman endowed with all the attributes of a young lady of quality, and now she manifests the wisdom and beauty of her eighty years. Here is her story as she remembers and relives it. -- Dortha Floyd Pickett).
School teaching is by no means an easy job. The rural teacher of long ago, really and truly, in my point of view, had a less complicated situation. The textbook was the standard of education. The main list of studies were listed as reading, writing and arithmetic, As the years advanced other studies were added. In our present age of advanced education, broadening processes had to be adopted in order to cope with the progress of time.
As to the status of the rural teacher, I will say I had the pleasure of being in that category of teacher. The following covers, for me, the sacred time spent in a lovely one-room frame rural school house located in Pike County, Arkansas This was in the years of twenty and twenty-one. I was teaching in other locations, but since my family lived in this district and an opening for a teacher came, members of the school board came to me with good offers in pay and secure backing. Since I had not contracted to continue where I was I accepted their offer. I never regretted the acceptance. I taught two terms there of five months each, terms begining in October and closing in March I had eight grades. This beautiful building, as I have said, was located in a wooded area but near to a good number of rural families giving the school a fair number of pupils.
The real name of this school was Brocktown, but it was commonly called 'Chigger Hill" I have never learned why it came by that "nick-name" but that is what it was.
Entrance to this school comprised of one very well kept dead end country road and trails to accommodate different homes which were neighborly close, all leading to this rustic frame house of learning. It did then and still does stand out as a symbol of early learning for children. These trails were wide and well padded by many, many feet small and adult size--by shoes in the winter months and bare feet of the younger ones during warmer months. I traveled ore of these picturesque trails with a number of my pupils and this seemed to be an honor to them that they could walk that far with their teacher.
The beginning hour for inside activities was 8:00 A.M. and closing was 4:00 P.M. There is nothing to compare to the pleasure of a teacher in a school of that type and age as they, from the first morning and each morning thereafter, look into the trusting end admiring faces of their pupils. I always sad, "Thank you, God, and help us."
After we all became established in our daily schedule I would have a prayer, a simple one but readily accepted by all ages, from seventeen years down to five. I would like to pass it on:
"Father, we thank Thee for the night and for the pleasant morning light. Help us do the things we should, and be to others kind and good. In all we do at work or play, to grow more loving every day Amen"
After prayer I would lead in a brief physical exercise. This, too, became a session to be looked forward to. Then work began preparatory to class expressions. Sometimes, due to bad weather or illness, I would have as few as one or two in some more advanced classes. I had about six eighth graders and other classes varied in numbers, but my beginners' class really rated more. It is readily understandable that schools' registration was listed according to the number of families in the area. During my two terms there the highest enrollment was in the thirties. I had one pupil taking eighth grade work more as a preparatory review for teacher's examination, which she acquired soon afterwards and taught some in Pike County. I also had my youngest sister, Edith Young in the eighth grade.
I remember the first winter I was teaching there a very heavy snow came. The first day my attendance was at least half short. The second day it was still snowing but my sister and I donned our boots and rain coats and went to school. The woods were a picture to see. I have often wished for a picture of that little serene school house nestled in that clearing surrounded with winter's wonderland, not realizing what that picture would mean in years to come Anyway, no one else came so we two had regular class schedules but dismissed earlier than usual.
During the warm months recess and noon hour were spent playing town ball; both boys and girls took part in the games. The younger pupils played their own games, but all were played where I could know how everything was carried on.
At lunch hour, as everyone carried lunches, the girls and I sat on a log of a fallen tree in front of the house. The boys ate mostly standing, getting ready to start their games. The smaller ones always ate as near me as possible
In winter months everyone stayed indoors, especially in severe cold or rainy weather. The house was warmed with a large cast iron box heater. The older boys were always so willing to see that it was kept it going, and plenty of wood was inside the house. They were also diligent to see that drinking water was plentiful in the cooler which was an improvement over the bucket and dipper. The water was furnished by a well on the school grounds. One feature not mentioned about this picturesque, secluded location was, in front of the building, across the spacious play ground was a rail fence enclosing a field which added to the secluded rural location. I do not know what year this school house was built but it must have been in the early twentieth century. Not many years afar I had my never-to-be-forgotten experience there the school was moved over on the highway between the towns of Murfreesboro and Delight. That individual road and well beaten trails have long gone, having been obliterated by time and nature. The
location has gone back to its original place in the surrounding woodland. I want to go back if the chance comes and try from deeply embedded memories, find some evidence of what was there fifty years ago.
Some of the students I remember are Audry Mansfield, the girl studying for her teacher's examination. The older ones were Edith Young, Autry Hill, Grady Henderson, Lola Henderson, the Almond children, Fred Blakey, Herman Head, Linden Head, Nobie Head; and on down to the younger ones, Myrtle Lamb, Avis Lamb, Hobert Lamb, Ruby Mansfield, Troy Mansfield, Felix Mansfield, J. D. Mansfield, Verda Henderson, Doyle Henderson, Dale Stewart, Hattie Stevens (Smedley), Pauline Stevens, Bo Head, Ruby Lamb, Maedell Lamb, Trudie Mansfield, Cecil Mansfield, Leslie Rather, Roy Hill, Clarence Hill, and Iva Henderson.
The school board members were Theodore Mansfield, Edd Stevens and Rush Henderson.
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