Tribune-Courier General Manager
Most of Marshall County’s one-room schoolhouses have slowly crumbled into the earth, with only two still known to be standing. The former Griggs School, established in 1886 and closed in 1956, stands as a museum of the era of one-room schools and is on the campus of Marshall County High School. The other is on Olive-Hamlet Road and now serves as a residential dwelling. Memories of a simpler time are all that remain of the 54 one-room structures which once dotted the landscape of the county.
Two Marshall County residents are working to preserve the history of the schoolhouses by placing signage at the location of each which once served not only as a center of learning in the county, but also as the center of social functions as well.
Gary Teckenbrock and Justin Lamb, both avid historians, have sought the support of the Marshall County School Board to have the signs constructed and erected across the county. With the assistance of the Marshall County Road Department, they hope to place markers at each location where a schoolhouse once stood.
Lamb works in the Marshall County Judge Executive’s office. He said the idea came from Teckenbrock, who works with the county’s special projects team and is an avid historian.
“I’ve heard my granddad tell stories of his school days and as a history buff myself, I jumped on the idea,” said Lamb. “We are fortunate to have a map of all the communities where the schools once stood. The hard work of plotting them has already been done.”
Lamb said Marshall County educator Reed Conder, along with his wife Katie, had mapped the locations before his death in 2012. The map now hangs in the Marshall County Board of Education office as a reminder of the exponential growth of the education infrastructure that has followed numerous consolidation efforts which began with Holland Rose in the 1930s.
“Marshall County was unique in that we had so many schoolhouses,” said Lamb. “It was a policy of the school system in the early 1900s to have a school within walking distance of every child.” In the early 20th century walking distance was defined as three miles.
By today’s standards, the schoolhouses were simple, with students from grades one through eight each receiving instruction in the same room. One teacher would begin in the morning with first grade lessons and work her way through each grade level throughout the day.
Each grade might include as few as two or three students. That simpler time is what Teckenbrock and Lamb hope to help preserve.
Anyone with information about exact locations of where any of the one-room school houses in Marshall County once stood is asked to contact Lamb at 270-527-4750.