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."

The conclusion of Ernie Fechtig's Enfield school history

(Today concludes Ernie Fechtig's 1979 Enfield School history. Booth
School was the subject at the end of last week's column. The history

A new two-story red brick school building, with white stone arches over
windows and doors, was built on the same site, replacing the frame
building, in 1881, at a cost of $5,000. The brick was hauled from a kiln
north of town. Ira Howarth was the first principal in the brick
building, being followed by principals Robert S. McCullough, Bindley
Gowdy, C.H. Wilson, James Mathew Biggerstaff, Rev. Hodgson, Mr.
Eagleton, Snowdon Garrison, M.J. White, Leander F. Gowdy and J.A.
Campbell. James Bolerjack served as principal 1925-50. Bruce Hardesty
has served as Enfield Elementary principal from 1950 to present.
1950-51 was the last year the old brick two-story building was used.
Classes were held in the gymnasium during the 1951-52 year. Classes were
held at local churches and frame building at the high school (present
Home Ec. Building) for the period 1952-55. During this period, grades
1-3 were held at the high school, grade 4 at the Southern Baptist
Church, grades 5-6 at the Christian Church and grades 7-8 at the
Presbyterian Church (present United Methodist). Classes were moved into
the new Booth Building for the 1955-56 year.

It might be interesting to note that James Rutledge and family including
Ann lived in a log cabin in Section 16 of Enfield Township where Mr.
Rutledge owned and operated a grist mill powered by oxen. James
Rutledge, along with Peter Miller, and James Mayes were the first three
ruling elders of Sharon Church. The Rutledge family was religious and
well educated. James had a 35-volume library. Mr. Rutledge and family,
along with the Rev. John Cameron, then left Enfield in the late 1820s
for Sangamon County, where they founded the town New Salem, and Ann met
Abe Lincoln. John Rutledge (born in Ireland 1739, died 1820) and Jane
Rutledge (1749-1834), grandparents of Ann, are buried in Enfield
Cemetery. The stone marker was stolen from the cemetery several years

In a letter to the White County Democrat in 1905, James "Squire" Gowdy
stated he was born one mile west of Enfield Sept. 11, 1830. Since there
were no public schools, he attended a subscription school, and R.S.
Graham, school commissioner 1841-63, "wrote me a certificate to teach
the seven branches." He further stated "When I got to cube root, I went
to the patch and got the largest turnip I could find and cut it into
blocks to illustrate each part of the process. When I got to geography,
I found a large pumpkin in the field and made a globe of it."

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