From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Dec. 26, 1867: “Visited School in Dist. No. 9. D.B. Moore Clerk & Teacher. School commenced Nov. 11 & is to continue 5 mos. in all. There were ten children present. House a little box on the side hill about twelve ft. square with shed roof. Teacher well informed and competent.”
Dec. 14, 1868: “Correspondence with School Boards about text books. Also conference with officers of Dist. 14 & 9 about school difficulties.”
May 5, 1869: “Visited region north of River near the Usher farm to see about organizing a new district from 9 & 10.”
May 6, 1869: “Visited school No. 9. Commenced April 26. 38 pupils present. Mr. Severson, teacher. Moderate. No uniformity of textbooks. Spent P.M. exploring territory southeast of 9 to see about organizing district off of 9 & 39. New settlement of thirty families from Illinois.”
Dec. 2, 1869: “[Term started] Oct. 5. Six mos. A.C. Hoopes, teacher. Building & appointments excellent. Patent seats, Globe, outline maps, Reading Robarts, Writing tablets, Black board, Diagram of Colors, &c. Rather moderate School. Visited Dec. 2. Revisited Feb. 15. D.B. Moore teaching. Good school. Lectured in evening to a small audience.”
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 6 December, 1990.
Laura and Joel Smith sold an acre of land for $10 for the Middleton School, Dist. 9, southwest of Pomona. The land was surveyed Dec. 6, 1867, and was recorded six years later, in December 1873.
On May 5, 1886, A.C. Ashwell and other taxpayers of District 9, filed a protest against Pomona Dist. 69, which was trying to annex all Dist. 9 land from north of the river. Many school boundaries underwent change during that period.
Exact location of the first formal school building is not clear. It was situated, according to Mayme (Weis) O’Neal, north of “Wadkins Hill” in the Marais des Cygnes bottoms, and was moved to its final location, 1 ¼ miles south of the Pomona city limits and 1 ¾ miles west, in 1902, because of flooding. An acre of land for the new site was donated in 1901 by Ora Middleton.
In 1903, people by the name of Cale drilled a water well at the new school site. They used four horses, hitched to a pole that turned an auger as the horses walked in a circle.
This worked fine until the bit struck blue shale. But they didn’t have enough power to drill through the shale so they bought a gasoline engine to power the drill.
It worked so well that J.W. Weise acquired a gasoline engine too. He used it to drill wells and his son, Bud, used it to saw wood. These were the first gasoline engines in the district.
There may actually have been three school buildings that served this district. Records at the Franklin County Historical Society indicate that there was an early-day Middleton School that was described as a small shed on the side of the hill. It existed before the two buildings already discussed, but there is no information to tell when. The school closed in the early 1960s, and about 1965 the Middleton school board sold the last school building and its contents for one dollar to the West Franklin Club Inc.
The last teacher was Mae Hunter and the last students were Gary Lindsey, Bessie Pruitt, Michael Lindsey, Arnold Pinkston and Jimmy Pruett.
Other teachers included Wilma Stoffer, Lois King, Francis Miller, Letha (Dehn) Figgins and Grace (Dehn) Middleton.
Some of the last school board members were Bert Miller, Roy Miller, Mrs, Lewis Hull, Gerald Lindsey, Clarence Pinkston, Paul Pruett and Tom King.
Some of the former pupils who are still residents of Franklin County include Harlan Miller, Carrol Miller, Pauline Pruett Collins, Lee Figgins, Charles Underwood, Cecile Pruett Weinheimer, Melvin Miller, Richard Towe and Clarence Scott.