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 9 January, 1992.
Silver Dale School, District 68, was founded about 1870, but it was not until 1877 that George B. Edgar deeded to it one acre of land which was a mile east and a mile north of Richmond on the southwest corner of the intersection.
An earlier school had, for a time, been located just east of Richmond (X on the map).
Virginia Cunningham (Mrs. Kenneth), Richmond RFD 1, was the Silver Dale teacher when the school finally closed in 1946. Other teachers included Lucy Wassmer, Mary (Pearson) Carr, Doris (Pearson) Linegard, Lena Hobrook, Ruby (Hoopes) Storrer and Lucille Mulcahey.
Raymond Wagner, Richmond RFD 1, attended Silver Dale eight years and “when the school closed, the grounds and building were returned to our family farm. I have kept hay in the building, which made a great home for the coons to raise their families.
Dorothy May (Horstick) Stumpe, Washington, Mo., remembers that “when sweeping compound was put on the floor, before sweeping, we would run and slide down the aisles between the desks. This helped make the floors brighter and cleaner.”
“The water supply was a bucket that two children carried from the neighbors who lived about an eighth of a mile away. Later we had a crock barrel with a spigot.”
She also remembered that “We had no piano, so the addition of a Victrola was very exciting. Some of the favorite songs were ‘Oh, Those Golden Slippers,’ and ‘Old Black Joe.
“On the walls were the flag, a picture of Lincoln and Washington and of the ship called ‘Old Ironsides’. The seats were small on the south side but double on the north side of the room where a child was allowed to lay down with the teacher’s coat if they became sick. This was a delight because the coat had a nice fur collar.”
Every Friday afternoon Silver Dale pupils practiced their ‘rolls of wire,’ ‘T’s and arm movements – penmanship, in other words.
At potlucks, such as the last day of school and for community meetings, long boards were placed along the tops of the seats and covered with table cloths to serve as a buffet.
Teachers almost always were single women, but Dorothy Stumpe recalls that “Once we had a married woman from Richmond apply for the job, about 1930. She was a widow with two school-age girls, but the general feeling was that a woman with two children was too busy to be teaching school. It was a sad situation because she needed the job.”
The last students to attend the school were Jo Ann Bell, Carol Jane Bell, Cleo Mersmann, Virginia Schrant, Ethel May Sobba, Jo Ann Williams, Kenneth McLeese, Lawrence Mersmann, James Mersmann, Mark Mersmann, Jerry Mersmann and Willis Stubby.
Former Silver Dale students known to be living in Franklin County are Raymond Wagner, Ed Horstick, Anna (Krueger) Conner, Edgar Sites, Ambrose Scheckel, Margaret Sites, Virginia Schrant, Carol Jane Mersmann, Julie (Lickteig) Sauer and Elaine (Lickteig) Ferguson.