Notes from the White County Historical Society

By Charlene Shields

Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."

Copyright ©2000 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."

Teaching in an early school 4/12/2000

If you missed the White County Historical Society program April 3, you missed something. Teachers Trudy Jacobs and Don Garrett and their S*T*A*R*S* students presented "The Celebration of a Century," and it was great. Must have taken untold hours of preparation.
Last week, the reminiscences of Dr. Daniel Berry's young manhood were quoted from the local 1913 newspaper. Coming from the East, he considered Illinois to be the "Wild West." Here he talks about teaching his first school. Evidently this was not in White County.

"The school house was built of logs. There were no desks. The seats for the scholars were made of split logs roughly smoothed on the top side with axes. These split logs were called puncheons. Each had four legs made by sticking four sticks into auger holes. There was a writing desk. This was a long puncheon shelf made fast to the logs on one side of the room by sticking the supporting sticks into auger holes.

 "But the fire place--I wish you could have seen that. It was six feet wide and three feet deep. It was entirely outside the square of the room. The chimney was what was called a stick and daub chimney: that is, it was built up of mud held together by split oak sticks. These sticks were about one-half inch thick and two inches wide and long enough to reach across the sides and ends of the opening: but there were two layers of these sticks, one on the outside of the flue, another on the inside. These sticks were about two inches apart in the height of the chimney. The wall of the chimney was about a foot thick. The mud to build it was made of yellow clay, common to all that region. You will understand this better when I tell you that farmers, for miles and miles in that country, can plough day after day and never strike a pebble.

"But I had a good school. Books were scarce, but I induced the parents to provide a blackboard, and with this I made some progress in teaching. It was surely the Wild West. The school house was on the edge of Wolf Prairie. Many times, in the morning, I started up a gang of deer--thirty or forty of them. After teaching about one year, I decided to see what the farther West had to show."

Dr. Berry then continues with his experiences of meeting Texas cowboys and helping drive herds of cattle, and other experiences which must have been, indeed, in the Wild West. But we will not relate them here.

I heard it somewhere: A life is a little gleam of time between two eternities.

The Genealogy Library is open from 11 to 5 Wednesdays.

Gen Lib typed 4/12/00
barry's mac

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