[nggallery id=56] Click the first image and follow the right arrows to read the captions.
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 3 January, 1991.
Exactly when Union Center School, Dist. 4 , now District 82, was constructed is not known.
The land was deeded to the district Feb, 28, 1867, for one dollar. It is known that the schoolhouse was built by the men of the district and that it was plastered by Albert Chandler and Michael Bourke.
It was situated on the southwest corner of the Patrich farm, 1 ¼ mile south and 1 ¼ mile west of Centropolis (see locator map).
A county superintendent’s report in 1869 declared, “School commenced on Sept. 6 with Cephos Mosher, teacher. Readers analytical. School in excellent condition. Best school in the county. Five months.”
An 1880 quote from a former student said, “Mrs. Barker was the most conscientious teacher we had, and she would make you sit on the recitation bench until you learned it.
On Dec. 27, 1882, district patrons passed a $700 bond issue for a larger building. The old building was sold to a Mr. Bourke and an additional half-acre of land was purchased. It was at this time that Dist. 4 was dissolved and Dist. 82 created.
According to Delta Ikenberry, Pomona RFD 1, and Margaret (Shipps) Fleming, 1000 S. Mulberry, who provided much of the school’s history , it operated until 1943 and the district was dissolved July 1, 1945. The building and contents were auctioned off by Claude Myers and Ed Smith bought the building.
The last teacher was Lena Phibbs. Other teachers included Mrs. Ikenberry, Wilma (English) Stoffer, Dorothy Coltrane, David Vancil, Gertrude Phillips, Eula (Fleming) Milton and Thelma Turner.
Mrs. Ikenberry taught one year and then announced that she planned to be married. The school board was reluctant to renew her contract because of the problems that its members said might develop if she became pregnant.
Finally, the board relented, but wrote a clause into the contract that read; “It is also agreed that if said teacher should marry, she could be legally dismissed from teaching school on five days notice by the school board members, providing satisfaction is not given to the board.”
In 1941-42, she took the only three students from Columbia District with her to Union Center where they were taught. She was paid $40 for the entire year for both transporting them to and from school and teaching them.
Those three students were Sylvia and Jessie Spurgeon and Jack Wray.
Some students, not previously mentioned, still living in Franklin County are Art and Leland Geiss, Ione (Geiss) Marconette, Marie (Smith) Flora, Martha (Smith) Kinsley, Rosalee, Rex and Harold Simmons, Raymond Brown, Della Barton, Vera (Shipps) Montague, Francis Coltrane, Raymond Kinsley, Doris (Button) Tucker, Raymond Moses and Russell Shipp.
Members of the last Union Center school board were Harris Murray, Everett Simmons and Edward Smith.