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From “the hitching post…” a 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 listed)
Bruce Fleming’s wife, Ruth (Nitcher) Fleming, was a teacher at Coal Creek School, Dist. 60, in 1943-44, and collected most of the school’s history. It was located two miles east and five miles south of Pomona on the northeast corner of the intersection (see locator map).It derived its name from the coal mining activity in the area. The John Gettingers donated a corner of their farm for the school grounds, specifying that when it was no longer needed for a school, the land would revert back to the owners of the farm.
The six Gettinger children all attended classes at Coal Creek, as their home was only a quarter mile away. Many Coal Creek teachers boarded with them. One of the Gettinger daughters, Merle (Gettinger) Miller, 1420 S. Hickory, said she thinks the schoolhouse at this location (the second) was built about 1897.
She remembers well the blue wainscoating that circled the classroom, and the two long blackboards where pupils stood to do their drills.
This school, she said, replaced the original one that was located a half mile to the southwest. Lewis Rice, the father of Bill Rice, 515 W. 13th was the only former pupil of the original school whom anyone can remember.
Riding a horse was the popular way to get to Coal Creek School. Three former students who did were Marjorie (Chambers) Kitts. 431 Beech; Dorothy (Van Horn) Ingle, now of Topeka, and Marjorie (Van Horn) Atkins of Tulsa.
Atkins recalls that when she was about 7, she rode a working horse 1 ¼ miles to school. She rode bareback, which was considered safer than using a saddle.
When she got to school, she dismounted onto the top of a gate, tossed the reins over the horse’s head, and gave him a slap on the rump, sending him back home to help with the plowing.
Several former students remember the soot and smoke emitted from the coal-burning heat stove.
Freida (Fischer) Hermreck, a former Coal Creek student and teacher, now of Williamsburg, remembers that were no discipline problems and that there was no need even to lock the school doors at night.
She said students enjoyed riding their sleds down Geiler’s Hill in the winter.
Members of the last school board were Vernon Fitzgerald, Harold Van Horn and George New.
Leo Fischer, a former Coal Creek student, now owns the Gettinger farm where the school once stood. Although the school was torn down, the horse barn on the school grounds was moved three miles north to Greenwood School. Later it was moved to an adjoining farm where it now serves as a garage.
Other Coal Creek teachers were: Millard Wren, Rowena (Hale) Abersold, Edna Hamilton, Frances (Mages) Turner, Helen Good, Marjorie (Meagher) Cochran, Mildred Harr, Alice (Swallow) Chambers, Maude Springer, Ray Nitcher, Carolee Ferguson, Minerva Hockett and Mary B. Davis.
Some former students still living in Franklin County are: Arthur Blackburn, Vernon and Raymond Fitzgerald, Harold Cade, Margaret (Cade) Cain, Milton Hackett, Kay (Chambers) Massengale, Gail and Virgil Chambers, Ted and Larry Smith, Cleda (Smith) Rea, Betty (Smith) Whitcher, Flora (Ralston) Smith, Elmer Malburg, Katherine Malburg, Jerry (Graffham) Abbott, Betty Joyce (VanHorn) Hamilton, Wayne New, Betty (Bittenbender) Randall and Leo and Bernard Fischer.