Beartown School; District 13, Towns of Croghan and Diana

School District No. 13 of the towns of Croghan and Diana was located at the easternmost extremity of the Carthage Central area.  This district is traversed by only the Beartown Road and the Texas Road. The Beartown school is perhaps the most remote schoolhouse in the Central District, with only two means of access to it via the Texas Road or North Croghan.

Much of District 13 is forest land including several large swamps and a great proportion of land that was cultivated has been abandoned and allowed to return to the original wild state.

In the midst of this wilderness region stands the Beartown Schoolhouse, on the Beartown Road not far from a corner where the road turns abruptly west toward North Croghan and the Jefferson County line.  Situated on a slight rise, part way up long northward gradient the Beartown Road, it overlooks a heavy forest to the west and east.  At the rear of the school, is a large swamp.  Sitting on the west side of the road, the building presented a near appearance. 

There is now only a handful of residents in Beartown, but it was not always that way - many years ago the region was dotted with homes and small farms, enough to warrant the creation of a school district.  By order of Wayne Clark, school commissioner, a district was formed on May 19, 1862 and was given the number 11.  This was changed to 13 in 1869.  The first schoolhouse was of log construction and was located across the road from the present building.

The old log cabin burned down and a new building- the present one- was constructed.  The new school was built on the lands of Frank Breezee, but he never gave the district a deed to the lot.  Drinking water was obtained from a spring nearby.  A woodshed was built on the rear of the schoolhouse.

Every year the young men of the community watched for the arrival of the new teacher with interest, particularly if she came from outside the bounds of their known territory.  If she was young and pretty, these fellows would suddenly have a revival of interest in their education.  The situation became desperate one year when pupils as old as 22 were attending.  The trustees finally managed to have them barred from attending, so that the teacher could spend the proper amount of time with the younger children.

The Texas Road School District 23 was dissolved in 1937 and part of it was annexed to District No 13.  This did not add, however, the one thing that the Beartown School needed most; pupils.  It had been slowly dying from the lack of pupils for several years, and finally in 1938-39 there was only one left - Robert Breezee, the last one to attend thhe Beartown School.  The school was never closed; rather it did not operate because there were no pupils to attend.  This status was maintained until the time of centralization in 1954.

Teachers before 1914:  Hazel Kelly, Jeannette Stevens, Etta Stevens, Miss Gonya, Calvin Turner, Katherine Turner, Hattie M. Clearwater, Flora Copp, Lizzie Branagan, and Anna Murray

The roll of Teachers beginning in 1914:  1914-15 Hazel Ramsey; 1916-17 Ruby Canfield; 1917-18  Emma S. Peck; 1918-1919 Vera M. Johnston; 1919-20 Vada Carncross; 1920-22 Lena Belcher; 1922-24 Estelle Clark; 1924-25 Monica Whitford; 1925-27 Clarice Gates.

1927-1928: Mercedes Shampine, Florence Arnold; 1928-29 Clarice Gates; 1929-30 Doris Seeley; 1930-31 Inez M. Rowley; 1931-32 Alice Young, Frances Walker ; 1932-33 Marion Leonard; 1933-35 Doris Johnson; 1935-39 Ruth Ryan

 

CRT, August 14, 1958

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Beartown School February 2004