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From the “Scratcher” or notebook of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Philetus Fales:
July 24, 1868: “Wrote notice for first school meeting for Dist. No 53. Also wrote to State Sup’t in regard to charge of C. Treasurers for collection school moneys from sale of School land. Also wrote to District building new houses in regard to Seats.”
Jan 13, 1869: “Visited school in Dist. 53. School taught in house of Dr. Wharton by Mrs. Wharton. District new & school small, but teacher first class.”
Feb 17, 1869: “Revisited schools in district 5 & 6. Teachers not up to the mark. Multiplicity of text books also a serious drawback.”
Jan 21, 1870: “[Term began] Nov. 29. 3 mo. Julia Wharton. Jan 21, 1870, School doing well. 20 in attendance.”
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 2 January, 1992.
Fairview School, District 53, was located about 3 ½ miles west and 1 ¾ miles south of Centropolis on the west side of the road. This district was organized in 1868 and the school closed in the spring of 1942, as the nation became fully engaged in World War II.
The last teacher, 50 years ago, was Betty Catuska. Others known to have taught at Fairview were Lena (Wells) Brown, Velma Ward, Ray Nitcher, Julia Wharton and Ida Winkler.
The last students to attend were James and Peggy Bunyan, Richard Dillon, Richard, Mary and Jean Martin, Emma, Fern and Martha Barton, and Mary Teft.
Former Fairview pupils still living in Franklin County include: Cleve and Kenneth Baxter, Wilma (Baxter) Thompson, Margaret McNees, Don Fleming, Harold Bennett, Ray Brown, Clifford and Richard Fritts, Gladys (Fritts) McIntire, Ruby (Fritts) Rice, Lawrence Dyer, Bob and Richard Dillon, Mary (Steele) Petefish and Howard Steele.
Cleve Baxter said his grandfather told him of an earlier Fairview school building that was located on their property, but about a half mile east of the last one used. The older building apparently pre-dated 1903.
Ray Brown, Ottawa RFD 3, recalls: “Occasionally, during cold weather, someone would put their tongue on the pump handle where it froze tight until the handle could be warmed or it was yanked loose, leaving some skin behind. Either way, it was a painful experience to be long remembered.”
He continued, “one of our favorite games was playing ‘shinny’. We used a tin can for a puck until someone brought a piece of rubber, cut from a solid rubber truck tire, which was better and lasted a long time.
The game was well-named, as anyone who has played can testify. If you didn’t play it right, then you could end up with bruised shins. Sides were chosen and any number could play.
The game was like hockey, only on the ground instead of on ice. Imaginary lines were established for goals. Everyone had a stick to hit the can with. After the can was hit umpteen times, it ended up being a little ball of iron and a wicked missile to avoid being hit with. It was great fun without OSHA around.”
The last Fairview school building was sold at auction to the George Dillons, who moved it a quarter mile north to their farm where it was converted into a garage and is still used by son Bob, and his wife Lois.