From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Mar. 12, 1868: “Spent A.M. at the Co. Clerk’s office endeavoring to arrange boundaries of certain Districts about which there seems to be a misunderstanding. Find map of districts to be quite defective. For instance 44 does not appear, neither does former Sup’t remember its exact limits.”
Apr. 17, 1868: “Received call from School Board dist. 44 & on petition, proceeded to Treasurer’s office to take tax from rolls & divide surplus in dist. 7 proportionately. Tedious operation. Also received petitions for two new districts.”
July 7, 1868: “Attended Court before Justice Dow as witness between district 44, plaintiff, & dist. 7, defendant. Decision of Sup’t in regard to division of surplus funds sustained to wit that they should be divided pro rata according to tax roll of preceding year. Also wrote an order attaching, with consent of Sup’t of Douglas Co, S 1/2 & N.W. 1/4 of S.W. 1/4 of Sec. 15, Township 15, Range 18 to district 44.”
Jan 15, 1869: “Visited school in district 44. Mr. Drew teacher. 20 pupils in attendance. School house a new frame very creditable to the district.”
Nov. 26, 1869, revisited Jan. 26, 1870: “[Term began] Nov. 15. 3 months. Alice Tracy, Teacher. Doing good work but qualifications moderate. Visited Nov. 26. Revisited Jan. 26.”
From “the hitching post…” column in the Ottawa Herald, a series of articles about early Franklin County schools researched by Bruce Fleming and written by Herald Editor and Publisher Jim Hitch.(no date given)
Columbia School, Dist. 44, was located eight miles north of downtown Pomona on the east side of the North Pomona Road (see locator map). It is not known exactly when this school was founded, but the last school year was 1940-41. The district was then consolidated with Appanoose.
The last teacher was Ruth Kinkaid, 1043 S. Ash, Ottawa. The fall of 1940 is still vivid in her memory because immediately after the first day of school she got a call from the county superintendent of schools, Ethel (Rule) Seymour, who notified her that county schools would be closed the rest of the week.
The reason was that several cases of polio had been reported.
The former teacher recalled: “We were told to avoid public gatherings and to stay at home as much as possible. I boarded and roomed across the road from the schoolhouse, so for the remainder of the week I went to my home in Ottawa and studied my textbook lessons through the remainder of the year. Even though we had a small enrollment, we had a living Christmas tree with the students singing Christmas carols as part of our Christmas program.”
Another former teacher is Delta Ikenberry of Pomona RFD 1. She recalls: ”Columbia School may have been one of the first schools to offer hot lunches. During the coldest months of the 1938-39 and 1939-40 school years the students enjoyed a hot lunch once or twice a week.
“The menu was somewhat limited as it had to be cooked on the top of a large potbellied stove. We enjoyed tomato soup, potato soup and ham and beans.
“Each child who could brought milk, a potato or two, and a half cup of beans. And whoever had ham would bring some.”
She would put the beans on to cook before school started and used a small stepladder to add water to the beans.
“The only interruptions this cooking caused,” she recalled, “was from eleven to twelve o’clock. The children kept asking, “What time is it?’ as the aroma filled the room.”
After the closing, the school was auctioned off to Harvey Wray, who tore it down for the lumber, probably in 1943.
The last pupils to attend Colombia were Marion Ikenberry, Leonard Morgan, Dale Ward, Jack Wray, Donald Nichols, Richard Deskins, Cleta Turner and Jessie Spurgeon.
Some other Colombia teachers were Jessie Clark, Iva (Grammer) Turner, Evelyn (Graves) Collins, Stella Gibson, Fay Hoopes, Arlie (Hoopes) Kunard, Kenneth Baxter, Clarence Coffman, Kathryn Tullos, Elizabeth Barnhart, Birdie Thompson, Fay (Hoopes) Page, Ivan McFadden, Ola (Jones) Keith, Bessie (Jones) Barnhart and Julia (McFadden) Heidner.
Former pupils known to still be living in Franklin County are Ruby (Barnhart) Woods, Pauline (Wray) Wilford, Frank Morgan, Ralph Morgan, Ralph Ikenberry, Jack Wray, Ed Snyder and Margaret McNees.