Memories of Shurts School, Bureau County, Illinois

This was written by my husband's grandmother.  It was found in a box of her "research" and since it gives such a wonderful description of early school life, I decided to share it.  Below the article is a picture of Schurts school,  Grandma (Elsie Piper) looks to be only about 6 or 7, so it was probably taken about 1915. Grandma had written the students names on the back of the picture so they are printed below.  -- Nancy Piper

Memories in Growing Up

By Elsie Moffitt Piper
(1909 - 1999)

"Well, we all have memories, some good and some not so good, but that's the way we grown, learn - experience - that results in responsibility - that results in our future frome generation to generation, learning this way of life and preparing for another.  My life covers a perios of many years.  These years are rapidly slipping and as I have always wanted to be an author "of some kind", I thought I'd try my pen.  You see I have so many things I'd like to accomplish, my husband says I can't get them done in 200 years.

I was born the third of a family of children in PutnamCo, Lone Tree, Ill.  When I was 3 years old, my father decided to start farming on his own, after working for his uncle Lindsey Anderson for 6 years.  We moved from the old log house into a lovely house 1 1/2 miles south of Boyd Grove Methodist Church.  Now Dad had an acre to farm.

When school started for us, my two older sisters and I would walk down the hill to the Shurts school.  You see, it was in the corner of a field that Dad farmed.  When he rented the farm owned by David Shurts, David Shurts went with the farm, so he was a permanent house hold guest.  Mother boarded the teachers as she needed the money and teacher needed a place to live.  In those days, the teacher had to be boarded -sometimes the member of the school board would help out, but in our district, no one wanted the job.

Our school was average in size with a pot belly stove in the middle of the room.  Sometimes in the winter, one of the mothers would send a nice kettle of bean soup down for dinner.  It was heated on top of this stove. Then later someone gave the school a kerosene stove.  Then came a table to put the wash basin , water pail, etc., on.  Of course the heating and cooking was simple as the children did most of it.  We had a regular chart made - each day a different couple and a different couple to clean up. Also a chart of the boy to keep the cob basket and coal hods filled.  The teacher had to go early enough to have the school room warm before the children arrived.

Thre was a cob-coal house on the property and a place for a hack if we had a teacher who drove a horse and buggy, which we did sometimes.  Oh yes, and two outside toilets way down in the yard.  How cold in the winter!

Our games were "Dare Base" - "Racing" - "Andy Over" - "Tag" - "Baseball" etc.  We had one teacher that taught the girls how to sew.  I must have been in the 5th or 6th grade.  We made a dress all by hand of course.  I even put feather sticking in mine, was very proud of myself.

The teachers desk was in front of the pupils, we had built in book cases in the back with glass doors.  As soon as she would go back to the bookcase, the children would pick on one another along as her back was turned.  Right away she would call them down.  It took a long time for them to figure out she didn't have eyes in back of her head, but could see their reflection in the glass doors.  

Left to Right back Row:
Earl Woodford, Lee Reed, Leatha Reed, Verna Woodford (Austin), Neva Reed (Nellinger), __ Fisher, Carrie Beck (the teacher), Mildred Shurts (Smith).

Front Row:  
Clara Moffitt (Beatty), Hilda Fisher, _____, Marie Snyder (Hall), Mable Moffitt (Wright), Doris Reed (Swanson), Elsie Moffitt (Piper).

Back row:  Earl Woofford, Viva Reed, Verna Austin, Teacher Nellie Monier, Leatha Reed, Mildred Shurts, Lee Reed.
Front row: Marie Snyder, Mable Moffitt, Alvah Piper, Clara Moffitt, Doris Reed, Elsie Moffitt

"I graduated from that Shurts school.  From there it was high school 4 1/2 miles away (in Bradford).  Dad got me a pony and buggy which I drove all four years.  I was considered as one of those girls "from the sticks"."

   Elsie Marie Moffitt Piper's Graduation Picture 1928

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