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 11 July, 1991.
New Union School, District 100, was located five miles north of Ottawa and a half mile east of US-59. It was on the north side of the road on the same location as Oak Grove School (featured in The Herald June 20) one of two earlier schools it replaced, the other being Norwood.
It was built in 1924 when Oak Grove and Norwood consolidated. The school and grounds were bought by Larry Ferguson in 1965 at an auction conducted by Claude Myers, and he remodeled it into a private residence.
Joan Rodgers Paugh of Carefree, Ariz., who now teaches third grade at Cave Creek, Ariz., 30 miles north of Phoenix, taught at New Union in 1957-58.
“I was 21 years old and had a provisional certificate. I went to Ottawa University at night and graduated in 1960. In 1957 I had 20 students and 12 in 1958, with ten boys and two girls.
“The school had a wonderful basement where we played ping-pong. I loved teaching at New Union. I went to school early and came home late. There were no copying machines, so I made my tests with carbon paper.”
The school had a piano, but the mice had eaten the felt off the hammers. Her father restored the piano by cutting felt from one of her mother’s old hats.
“I remember our Christmas program where the boys sang at the top of their lungs. Just before the program it rained, and you should have seen what it did to my freshly waxed floors.
“Once a bee stung me while using the outhouse. I taught standing up the rest of the week.”
Paugh said her salary was $3,000 for eight months and “I thought I was a millionaire.”
She said she loved October when she ate lunch with her students on the school steps. “The trees were gorgeous all around. The girls would swing and the boys and I played softball and football until winter. Then it was ping-pong time in the basement.”
Her students in 1958 were Chuck and Bill Rodgers, Peggy, Bill and Roger Ferguson, Mike and Joyce Johnson, Blaine Scott, Milton Bland, Leonard Shucks, Ray Tellery and Dale Dyer.
The daughter of Mrs. Myron Paugh, Pomona RFD 1, she also taught in Kansas City; Titusville, Fla; Redlands and San Francisco, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The past year was her 34th as a teacher “and New Union has the most special memories of all.”
Judy (Hume) Bennett, 32 Rockwood Drive, attended school at New Union and later returned to teach there.
Other teachers included Grace Defenbaugh and Clara Davis.
Ruth (Collins) Hope of Corvallis, Ore., recalls that Roy Baldwin rode a donkey to school, “It took lots of noontime punishment from the rest of us who leaped on and off its back.” Roy’s brother, Albert, Ottawa RFD 2, said the family acquired the donkey when someone going through the area tied it to a fence and never came back for it.
Ed Ferguson, Wellsville RFD 2, attended school both at Oak Grove and at New Union.
Andrew Collins still has his 1931 graduation certificate of eligibility for high school, listing grades in reading classics, geography, physiology, spelling, agriculture, writing, arithmetic, grammar, U.S. history, Kansas history and civics. The county superintendent then was Fern Streebin.