Gathering shares school memories

HARRISVILLE – Former students and teachers who attended one-room schools in Ritchie County have been gathering to share memories for the past two years.

The third annual Ritchie County One-Room School Reunion will be noon-6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Ritchie County 4-H campground near Harrisville.

Carole Jones, the event organizer, said lunch starts at noon and attendees are urged to bring a covered dish and pictures of their schools.

Following the lunch, there will be a program about one-room schools. Door prizes will be awarded for oldest one-room school student or teacher present, the youngest, and the one who travelled the farthest. Prizes will go to those who actually attended or taught at a one or two-room school in Ritchie County.

Quentin Beha of Parkersburg has built a replica of a one-room school which will be displayed at the reunion.

Jones said more information about the event is available by contacting her at 304-481-1766.

Jones said she was born and raised in Pennsboro and became interested in her family’s history, including their attendance of one-room schools. Her mother attended the Victory one-room school on Goose Creek Road, which offered first through eighth grades.

“I don’t recall her saying much more about the school and I didn’t pay much attention anyway as is the usual case for children. Now I wish I had, which is also the usual case. I became interested in my family history a few years ago,” she said.

Four years ago, she started writing stories about people who attended one-room schools in Ritchie County. She became interested in doing it as a result of hearing many of them talk about their childhood memories and growing up in the country.

“So far I’ve written about 30 stories,” Jones said. “I found three one-room school teachers. The stories are all different. Some talk about the harsh winters and their two- or three-mile trek to their schools out in rural Ritchie County. Apparently the weather was no hindrance to their education. One of the teachers accidentally burned down her school on her first day of teaching,” she said.

All of these families raised most of their own food and there was work and chores to be done by the children before and after school, Jones said. They were all universally satisfied with how they were raised and were all successful as adults. Success for them meant instilling their children with the right work ethic and personal responsibility for choices they would make for themselves and their own children, she said.

Jones decided to start a one-and two-room school reunion in 2012. The first was held at the Pizza House in Harrisville and about 20 people attended. For 2013, she rented the dining hall at the 4-H grounds near Harrisville and about 140 people showed up.

During this year’s event on Aug. 23, David Scott, past president of the Ritchie County Historical Society, will talk about the one/two-room schools in Ritchie County. At one time there were more than 160 such schools in the area, but only a handful of the buildings are left, she said.

Jones also compiled a cookbook based on input from the former school kids and is in the process of making a revised version including more school pictures and recipes of the “good old days” in Ritchie County.