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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. This article appeared 25 April, 1991.
Dean School originally was located 6½ miles north and a half mile west of Pomona on the north side of the road.
Exactly when it was organized, in the late 1800s, is not known, but the last school was constructed about 1913 and Dean School closed for good in 1944, and its students were sent to Appanoose Rural.
The first known Dean School building was built of stone and still stands.It was remodeled by Orville Nitcher, a minister, who with his family, lived in it for several years. The Kevin Jackson family live in it now. The last school, a frame structure, was built nearby on the south side of the road.
Delta Ikenberry, Pomona RFD 1, was the last teacher at Dean, working for the school board of R.A. McEathron, Lester Clark and Albert McCain. Ikenberry’s memories are both bitter and sweet. In the spring of 1943, during World War II, there was an urgent call for scrap metal. The students asked patrons for donations and the older students would do their school work as quickly as possible so they could go out with a mule and wagon and collect scrap metal.
“You wouldn’t believe how well some of those kids worked so they could get done before the mule team left. We had two truckloads of scrap metal to sell. With the money, we bought an encyclopedia set and library books,” Ikenberry recalls.
Nowadays, if a school needs to generate some extra income, they would probably just organise a fundraiser via GoFundMe or something similar. Things were not that simple back then, though. This was a great way for the school to boost their income.
When school began in the fall of 1943, the district treasury was exhausted by the end of September. Ikenberry was told she could not be paid until the tax money came in in December.
In early December the board’s treasurer, R.A. McEathron, gave her a personal check for $100, saying he thought she might like to have some money for Christmas. With her January check came money for the months she had not been paid.
Ikenberry weighed less than a hundred pounds. One day during recess outside, she was approached by a book salesman who asked to see the teacher. When she told him she was the teacher, he answered, sarcastically, I’ll bet you are.”
Nina (Hetrick) Hughes of Pomona graduated from Dean in 1915. “I am amused when I hear of school cancellations because of snow,” she said recently. In 1915, school was always held and if you didn’t get there, regardless of how few did, you were counted absent.
“One beautiful snowy morning , it was drifted deep and we could walk over the rock fences,” Hughes said, “My father wrapped me up in warm clothes and we walked over the snow with him holding me by the hand to keep me from falling through drifts. I used my other hand to carry my tin dinner pail. We cut through the fields, as the roads were drifted shut.
There was no heavy equipment for clearing roads, so the farmers used scoop shovels to move snow so the mail carrier and children could get through. We don’t have snows like that any more.”
H.W. Johnson was the teacher at Dean in 1896 and handled 48 students. Freda Reed, Ottawa RFD 2, said there were 52 pupils at Dean one year when she attended.
From the Pomona Republican, April 4, 1918: “By a vote of three to one, Appanoose Township decided to issue bonds to the amount of $12, 000 for the construction of a rural high school. The election was held in the Dean schoolhouse.
The Ottawa Herald reported in 1945 that the Dean schoolhouse was one of four rural schools that went on the auction block. Three hundred people attended the auction and the “Dean Baptist ladies served lunch to the bidders. The schoolhouse sold for $300. Columbia brought $265.”
Other known Dean teachers were: Opal (Ottaway) Neldon, Ray Nitcher and Nina (Ward) Bainer.
The last pupils to attend Dean were Vernon Clark, Artie and Geneva Hufford, Russell, Jo, Joyce, and Esther Kratz, Willie, Donnie and Norma Gottschamer, Dale Schamle, Mary Frances and Marlin McCain, Irene McEathron. Donna Lee and Dorra Lou Magg, Kenneth Wade, Jean Clark, Howard and Clarence Fowler and Dale Ward..
Among former students still living in Franklin County are Iva Jane Huston, Violet (McEathron) King, Raymond Beiner, Alfred Altic, Woodrow Watts, Cecil Anderson, Hazel (Watts) Owens, Russell Wray, Ed Snyder, Freda (Heckman) Reed, Gladys Patton, Dorothy (McCurdy) Lee, Roberta Osborn, Bill Adams, Bob, Dorothy and Joyce Kratz, Margaret McNees, Delta (Wray) Ikenberry, Roy and Glen Woods, Marshall McCain, Dale and Don Dennison and Dale and Don Schamle.