Salem Hill #11

Section 9, Township 16S, Range 21E

link to locator map

From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:

Feb. 1, 1868:  “Rode to Dist. 11 on request of Dist. Board to inquire into difficulty between Dist. and Clerk, Mr. Carpenter.  A special meeting was held 1st July & tax voted, notice of which neither reached Sup’t nor Co. Clerk.  Consequently no tax was levied.  dist. Disposed to hold clerk responsible to extent of fine, $50.  Mr. Carpenter says he reported to Sup’t through Ottawa P.O. after having called at house of Mr. Harris & found him absent.  He proved by wife & a neighbor that he started to bring report to Ottawa.  I recommended that under the circumstances Mr. Carpenter be held excused.”

June 10, 1868:  “Visited schools in district 11 & 12.  Susie Norris in 12 teaching an excellent school.  Jennie (?) in 11 quite deficient in education but controlling the school very well.”

Jan 7, 1869:   “Visited school in district 11.  35 enrolled, but average attendance low on account of the weather.  Mr. Prather from school in Baldwin City teacher.”

Dec. 14, 1869:  “School commenced Sept.  A. Prather, teacher.  Second term commened Dec. 6th.  Visited Dec. 14th.  Accomodations wretched.  Best school in the county considering surroundings.”

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 7 June, 1990.

Salem Hall School , District 11, was located 3 ½ miles south and a half west of downtown Wellsville, on the south side of the road.

According to Mrs. H.E. Gene Barnett, Wellsville RFD 1, Salem Hall school closed in 1944 and District 11 merged with the Wellsville school district in 1950.

Her mother-in-law, the late Cora Barnett, who died in the late 1970s at age 105, wrote a history for the bicentennial in 1976.

According to her account: “Salem Hall originated with the coming of the early settlers who had a Salem Hall in their former settlement.

“The first school was located about a half mile west of Walnut Creek Cemetery, on the bend of Walnut Creek, where drinking water could be obtained, a task much prized by the pupils.”

Exactly when the school was constructed is not known. What is known is that the building served as a community center as well as a school.

A local cultural organization, The Literary, met at the school each Friday evening for programs of music, recitations, plays and other such entertainment.

The last teacher at Salem Hall was Jean Lytle. Among the last pupils were Areta (Cramer) Latimer; John Alden; Bernice (Bacon) Holden; Mary Lynn (Chilton) Nickerson; Bill, Bobbie, Jimmie and Ruth Hermreck; Mona (Coffman) Benham; Paul Martin Jr.; Rose Marie (Whitley)  Wood; Wayne Leach and Richard Thomas.

Former students still living in Franklin County include Marvin Shoemaker and Gene Barnett, both of whom still live within the old school district; Alice May (Breithaupt) Badders; Roy Lambert; Kenneth Riddle; Annie (Christy) Bell; Mary Ellen (Chilton) Collins; Violet (Chilton) Whitley and Thomas, Latimer, and Leach, mentioned earlier.

The last school board was comprised by Henry Chilton, Verne Alden and Lester Cramer.

Sunday School and church services were also held at Salem Hall School. A circuit preacher would come monthly in the early days to conduct services that sometimes would be spread over three days.

As the district grew, patrons decided that a larger school was needed. In 1899, Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Gregory gave some land for a school about a half mile south of the original location and a new school was built.

Other organizations that met in the school were the Grand Lodge and the Anti-Horse Thief League Association.

In 1914, the schoolhouse was divided into two rooms and two teachers were hired, as the enrollment had increased to 44 pupils.

The partition was removed in 1920 as the enrollment declined again.

Beginning in 1944, District 11 pupils attended Wellsville Grade School as tuition pupils.

When the old district was dissolved, the school building was sold and torn down and the contents were sold at auction. The land was returned to its former owners.

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