El Dara School - District #118 Derry Twp

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El Dara School
Information & Photos - Contributed by Billie Browning
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El Dara School, District #118, was situated in the original plat of the Village of El Dara in block 2, lots 5 and 6, on Broadway and Cherry Streets in Section 21. The village- plat also includes portions in Section 20, 16, and 17 as the middle of the village is approxi­mately at the intersections of these 4 sections.

The school was only a two- room school building. When high school was held there, it was in one room and grade school in the other. The rooms, since they were large, were then divided with a folding door. Leon Price and Mrs. Murphy were principals at one time. Mona Clark and Mary Margaret McQuire were high school teachers. A vacant house across the street from the school was also used for more room at one time until the state stopped it use. Therefore, the high school students were divided among the other nearby high schools and the 7th and 8th graders were sent to Barry School. This was probably around 1950 or shortly thereafter.

In 1948, El Dara was the only school in Derry Township having all eight grades with an enrollment of 46 pupils with 24 in the lower grades and 22 in the upper grades.

Mrs. Winifred Motley, daughter of Herman and Ethel Garner, taught school at El Dara for 22 years and both she and her mother attended school there. Mrs. Motley, who passed away in April 1994 at age of 86 years also taught at Chase, Collins, Bethel, Crosier, and Barry for a total of 38 years. When the school closed at El Dara in 1969 where she taught 4th and 5th and 6th grades, she went to Barry School where she taught 3rd grade. The school never changed much from the original except for the addi­tion of a nice kitchen and rest rooms.

A bus trip was always held at the end of the school years, either to New Salem State park or the St. Louis Zoo. There was an annual fish fry held which was a good money making project for the school and was so well attended that it almost grew beyond the school's ability to serve. The Christmas programs were memorable and enjoyable very much.

The school finally closed completely in 1969 and was sold to a family who made it into a home. Students were bused to Barry Unit #1

El Dara School - taken 1993
Former El Dara School house taken in 1993 by Ruth Cole

The picture below shows how El Dara School, Dist. #118, of Derry Twsp. looked in its "glory" years and the large group of children that attended this school. It is not known what year this picture was taken but judging from the clothing, it would appear to be in the middle 1910s or early 1920s. The girls are still wearing aprons to protect their dresses and black stockings and some of the smaller boys have short pants and long black stockings also.

Note that changes between the picture taken as a residence in 1993 and this one. The cupola (or bell tower) housing the bell had been removed and some windows added. Also the door has been changed to the front with a small window above whereas a long window was on this building and the door and steps had a side entrance to what was apparently the entrance hall and or/ cloak room. With the exception that the roof line looks the same, you would almost think it was not the same building but believed to be the same.

El Dara School - taken 1993
Picture courtesy of Pike County Historical Museum