History of Iuka Grade School

Written and Edited by Kenneth E. Beaver and David L. Hock

black and white image of historical two story Iuka grade school

As early as 1841, education was available in the luka township, for those children whose parents could afford to pay.  It was during this year that Cynthia Cooper, the first teacher in the Iuka community, conducted classes in a "select school” which was held in a log cabin at String Town.  The first schoolhouse, which had been previously used as a dwelling, was purchased for school purposes by District No. 2.  This building was made of split logs, 16xl8 feet.  The first person to be hired to teach there was T. W. H. Miller.

The first building built for school purposes only was the Cooper schoolhouse in Section 8. It was built of unhewn logs and had a puncheon floor.  Samuel Dewel taught the first term in this building in 1845.

The first "select school" within the village limits was a spring term taught by Miss Mina Lear.  A dwelling served as luka's first school which was taught by Mary Finch.

In 1863 a public school building was erected in Middleton, costing $600.  A few years later a second room was added at a cost of $300.  The first teacher in this building was Margaret Dickens. 

In 1886 Miss Rose Mulvaney was in charge of the school.  She was followed by Mrs. Dean in 1888.

In 1889 Miss Mollie McCartan began teaching in this system, where she spent the greater part of her life, which was truly devoted to her children.  By the time Miss Mollie came to luka to teach, she was an experienced teacher.  Records show that she had taught the String Town school in 1880 for a salary of $12.50 a month.  During the terms of 1883, 1884 and 1885 she had taught at Center Point (Snowville) which at that time was District #5.  Her pay vouchers were signed by Thomas Louby and Woods Cheeley.

In the fall of 1889, when the luka School, District #3, opened, Miss Mollie enrolled 59 children, whose ages ranged from 6 to 14.  Children who were six or seven that year were William Beaver, Ada Collins, John Collins, Lige Crundwell, Mona Dabney, Guy Daniels, John (Pec) Fulton, Forrest Gain, Henry Hinderer, Loue Jones, Floyd Kagy, Emma Kneemyer, Nellie Merher, Grace Morgan, William Mulvaney, Fannie McCumber, Florence Russell, and Lyda Russell.  The following year Miss Mollie's salary was increased to $23.  The term of 1893-94 was taught by Maggie Wham and Grace Gain.  The following term Miss Mollie returned to luka, receiving a $40 salary.  She remained until 1897 with co-teachers during that time who were Norman Driesbach, Perry Verner, Mr. Stump, and Fred S. Young.  During the next few years Miss Mollie was to remain at home to take care of her mother. 

In 1898 Fred S. Young taught Room 11, and Minnie Siple, with an enrollment of 77, taught Room 1.  Mr. Young was here again in 1899. 

In 1900 the teachers were Mary Burns, Nona Prudden and Fred S. Young.  In 1901 Byron E. Siple taught grades 3-4-5, and Miss Mollie returned for one year to teach the upper grades.  The following year Mr. and Mrs. Siple were employed.  The following item appeared in the luka Bee, dated Sept. 5, 1902:



"The Iuka public schools opened Monday for the fall and winter term, with Mr. and Mrs. Byron Siple at the helm, Mrs. Siple having charge of the Primary department.  The enrollment on Monday was 70.  A number are not yet in school.  The addition of a cloak room adds much to the convenience of the school building."

It was perhaps the year 1903 that a room above the Fyke Carpenter Shop was equipped to house the seventh and eighth grades.  Mr. George Cox was hired to teach.  J. R. Quayle and Myrtle Wyatt taught the fall and winter terms in the regular school building.  Grace Stonecipher replaced Miss Wyatt the spring term.  George Cox and Grace Stonecipher continued during the 1904 term. 

In 1906 and 1907 M. D. Brubaker and Myrtle Kagy were the teachers.  In 1908 Mr. Brubaker was the teacher in Room 11, and Miss Mollie returned to teach the primary children.  From this time until 1922, Miss Mollie McCartan was to serve as the school's primary teacher, during which time she became one of luka's most beloved citizens.  In 1909 Paul Rogers replaced Mr. Brubaker, who at that time retired from the teaching profession.  During the school term of 1910, 1911 and 1912, the only records found verify that Miss Alice Taylor was teaching with Miss Mollie.

During the spring and summer of 1912 a large two-story, frame building was built, which was ready for occupancy for the school term that fall.  Teachers in the new building were James Cutchins, Mable Wham, Alice Taylor and Miss Mollie.  The only change in the teaching faculty for the 1914 term was that Nora Cutchins replaced Mable Wham.  It was at this time that luka became District #93.

During the following year Nettie Stevenson and Elmer Wilson were teachers in the system. School began in 1916 with the following faculty: Miss Mollie McCartan, Roscoe Jones, Alice Taylor and C. C. Colclasure. 

Then, on a very windy morning about ten o'clock, March 6, 1917, Miss Valerie Dabney saw smoke rising from the schoolhouse roof and ran through the hallway sounding the alarm.  In a short time the four year old building was in ruins. When interviewed in 1991, Hattie (Meador) Sanders, at age 83, recalled the event quite well.  Hattie was in the fourth grade at the time of the fire.  She remembered well that people living near the school brought wash tubs and went into the burning building and raked books into the tubs and carried them outside.  Someone also saved many of the students’ coats by grabbing them off the racks in the hallway.  They finished the school year in the Christian Church west of Hinderer's store.

Immediately, work was begun on a two-story brick building which was completed in October, 1917.  Since the building of the schoolhouse in 1913, an extra grade had been added to the original eight; and another was added at this time, making it possible for the pupils of this community to receive two years of high school education. 

In 1924 the three-year high school became a reality.  This year luka's first high school basketball team played Clay City on an outdoor court and was defeated 19-0.  Members of the squad were Charles Borsenberger, Herman Fatheree, Ted Spangler, Merle Baker, Dempsey Phillips, Glennard Blessing, Herbert Fear, Carl Crippen and Kenneth Beaver. 

In 1925 Mr. Lossie Morris, principal and coach of the high school, was instrumental in making the gymnasium possible, which was built on the northwest corner of the school property.  For many years most of luka's most important events were staged here. 

In 1927 the second floor of the new building was completed to accommodate the high school students.  The auditorium, also located on the second floor, had a large seating capacity and a stage.  It was used for all school functions, community affairs, and public gatherings. 

In 1938 the high school became a part of the Salem High School.  Other high school principals were LeRoy Pickett, Williard Henson, Bruce Glines, Alvin Chandler, Grace Hill, O. A. Anderson, and C. C. Colclasure.  The high school teachers included Irene Sullivan, Bonnie Cooper, Leota Gain, Hattie Blair, Veda Stills Price, Frances Fem Haney, Clellie Oursler, and Kenneth E. Beaver.

In 1939 B. D. Middleton became the principal of the grade school, a position he retained until the end of the 1944 school term.  Mr. Middleton served as teacher and coach of the Iuka Grade School since coming to the system in 1930.

Mrs. Ruth Chapman, who had been teaching in the Iuka system since 1919, served as principal the following year.  By this time Mrs. Chapman had established a reputation for sending the best prepared spellers to the township and county spelling contests. 

In 1946 Kenneth E. Beaver, after having taught for 10 years in high school and five years in the elementary schools, was hired as principal. Also during that year, the Iuka Parent-Teachers Association sponsored a kindergarten under the leadership of Mrs. Frances Beaver.  In 1952 the board of education assumed the financial obligations for this department.

On July 28, 1952, the members of the board of education met to organize the newly-formed Iuka Community Consolidated School Dist. #7.  The districts involved in this formation were Stringtown, Hebron, Woodlawn, Iuka, Prairie Grove, Siloam, Bee Branch, and Redlick.  At this meeting Ermal Meador was elected president and Glennard Blessing, secretary.  Other members were Floyd Bass, Maude Barksdale, Mae Pickett, William Bauman, Jr., and Ben Aumiller.

In 1955, bonds for $117,000 were approved by the voters of this district, which resulted in the addition of an all-purpose gymnasium, cafeteria, rest rooms, boiler room, and an office.  The building was ready for use the 1956 term of school.  On Aug. 19, 1955, three acres of land were approved for purchase from Clarence Hinderer.  The total school property is now an approximate seven acre tract.  This additional land provided two large baseball diamonds and a place for the disposal plant.

At a meeting on Feb. 24, 1956, the Board of Education resolved that the old gymnasium be declared not needed for school purposes in the luka C.C. #7 and recommended disposition of same to the Marion county school trustees.

On Aug. 10, 1956, Ferdinand Mucci was hired as band director.  Mr. Mucci did an excellent job of organizing the first band.  Other band directors have been Richard Cruise, William T. Jones, Wayne Reynolds, and presently, Mat Webster.

Mrs. Ruth Chapman, after having devoted 40 years to the teaching profession, retired at the end of the 1958 school term.  Mrs. Chapman was truly devoted to her work and was never satisfied with second best.  During her career she tutored 23 township and 23 county spelling champions and sent three pupils to compete in the state finals.  She was guest of honor at the firemen's festival the year of her retirement.

In 1984 the Board of Education of Iuka CC #7 constructed a new office, conference/all-purpose room, and media center.  This new addition was constructed without going to the taxpayers for a tax referendum. 

On April 24, 1985, the Board of Education hosted a reception and formally dedicated the Media Resource Center as the KENNETH BEAVER RESOURCE CENTER.  The Resource Center consists of a modem up-to-date library and computer lab.  The computer lab is used by every student in grades K through 8.  By the time the students are in the 8th grade they are completely familiar with the operations of a computer. 

On July 26, 1988, the contracts were signed for the construction of two additional classrooms onto the existing building. The driveway at the school was also enlarged extending it down the West Side of the existing parking area.

In 1989 the school worked on a special grant with the office of P. E. Cross, Regional Supt. of Schools-Jefferson County, Mt.Vemon to participate in a program for 3-to-5 year olds needing extra help in certain areas.

During the 1991-92 school year the Marion County Sheriff’s Office donated $1,000.00 to the luka School for the purchase of additional playground equipment.

The luka PTO works every year for the purchase of items, equipment, and additional programs that are in addition to purchases by the Board of Education.

Superintendents since 1967 have been Kenneth Beaver, Ben Baggett, Art McCormick, Robert Dupriest, Galen Dalton, David Hock, J.D. Ventress, Matt Renaud, and currently, John Consolino.


Today, strong community involvement in and support for our school is apparent and is considered a valued asset.  The school is indeed “the heart of the community”.  It is not uncommon to see overflow crowds at the school’s special musical programs and sports events.  Parent-teacher conferences are well attended.  Teachers, students, and parents enjoy a cordial, close knit relationship, which promotes the effect of school-home communications.

During the period from 1991-1995 the district experienced an 18+% increase in student enrollment resulting in a number of expansions to programs and facilities.  During the summers of 1995 and 1996, two new relocatable classroom buildings were added at the west end of the main building site.  Each building contains two classrooms.  During that same period of time, existing facilities were expanded by converting three large closet areas into office and classroom space.  All buildings are in full compliance with Life/Safety standards. 

Additional personnel have also been hired to address the problem of high pupil-teacher and pupil-administrator ratios.  Staff expansions include:

•    creation of the position of Building Principal -- cutting in half the previous student-administrator ratio of 320:1

•    addition of three full-time classroom teachers thereby enabling the district to split three large classes of 35-40 students

•    addition of one half-time guidance counselor to address the socio-psychological needs of students

•    addition of a full-time teacher aide to assist teachers as needed due to large class sizes

•    addition of a full-time custodian to staff

In the 2010-2011 the school went back to having only one full-time administrator, with a superintendent/principal combined position.

Stringtown School

By Mrs. Ivah Winegarner

The old Stringtown school house is located near the Iuka road on U. S. 50.  There were seats for almost 40 pupils and often all seats were taken.  Up in front there was a blackboard, a rather small desk for the teacher, and two long "recitation" benches.  A few shelves were at the back of the room.  These were filled with lunch boxes or buckets of various types and also caps and coats.  At the end of the room near the door was the water supply -- a water bucket and THREE TIN CUPS!  In the center of the room sat a box stove which was the source of heat and through the winter this stove devoured many cords of wood, but in spite of this, the floors were ALWAYS cold!  The school yard had no trees, but it did have a well, and two outhouses.  Piles of cord wood completed the landscaping.

Stringtown teachers since 1926 were: Maude Bass Barksdale, Carrie E. Rush, R. R. Woomer, Merle W. Baker, George W. Holstlaw, Clara Mulvaney, Leona Eakin, Neva Millican, Effa L. Featherly, Frances Williams, and Clara Mulvaney.


Donoho Prairie School

Donoho Prairie School District Number 167 lies in the southwest corner of Romine Township and comprises the four sections, 29, 30, 31 and 32, being two miles square and containing 2,560 acres.  The school house was located in the center of the district.

This is a part of Donoho record -- that Marion County was named for General Francis Marion.  The community claims the honor of producing these good doctors -- Dr. Lewis Finn, Dr. Ed Alvis, Dr. Holt, Dr. Arthur, Dr. John Simmons, Dr. Franklin Simmons. 

The first school house was located back in the field about one mile northwest in the Donoho Prairie area.  Some of the first teachers were Isaac Hill, Chessie Donoho, Davis Kell, Myrtle Blankenship Haney, Dave Green, and the following were more recent: Luther Banner, Goldie Pifts, Ethel Mayme Kell, Frances Boynton Beaver, and Mrs. Marie Baker Heflin.

They received free rural mail delivery in 1912.  Prior to that mail was delivered to the Exchange address by rig or someone on horseback, and mail was also delivered to Hickory Hill in the same manner with each family going to these locations to collect its own mail.

The teacher, Davis Kell, resigned and was hired by the government to transport the mail from Kell to Exchange post office and Hickory Hill post office and return to Kell.  His work as such began Feb. 15, 1904.


The Old Log School House

By Mrs. Lottie Magill

I recall in eighteen eighty --                                         Where the church and school house stood,

Where the old log school house stood;                       Was then a timbered scope,

Where the neighbors often gathered                             Where hazel bush was scattered,

When they went to worship God.                               And massive trees of oak


In the autumn weather fair,                                         Now the massive oaks are gone;

Off to school we would gladly go,                              And the hazel bushes too.

Altho we knew when winter came                              And when my gaze has wandered,

We would wade the fluffy snow.                                What different scenes I view!


Then we knew that in the winter,                                No buggies and no horses,

When the crops were gathered in,                              No saddles are in sight,

On the snow and sleigh we'd hurry                            And the cars in which we came

When the meetings would begin.                                Are all equipped with lights.


One minister I well remember -                                              Look on all the faces,

When I was some twelve years old,                           And oh, how few I see,

The name I call to mind,                                                         Which in that bygone day,

Was the Reverend Manifold.                                      Went to school with me.


Next it was Reverend Van Houten,                            And they whose children came

Whose heart was filled with love;                               With them to worship God,

For the work which he was doing,                              For many, many bygone day,

And for God in Heaven above.                                               Have slept beneath the sod.


And one was Reverend Boyer;                                              These children now are growing gray,

And Reverend Murkin too;                                                     As they totter down Life's road;

The new church then was built                                               And remember the Old Log School House,

If my memory serves me true.                                               Where they also Worshipped God.


The church, if I recall correctly,         

Was finished in eighteen ninety-one,

But the year of eighteen ninety          

Most of the work was done.              


Metcalf School

The first school by this name was built about one half mile east of where the Old Bethel Church stands.  That building was sold to a private owner and another building was erected across the wooded area near the same road that the church is on, but about one half mile south.  This land was owned by Smith Larimer.  About 1908 the schools were relocated to be two miles apart and Metcalf School building was moved three fourths mile east on land now owned by Orville Porter. 

Early teachers were Miss Ethel Stevenson, Perry Warner, Iva Whitlock, Ida Whitlock, Ida Johnson, George Holstlaw, George Atteberry, Omer Hill, I. C. Jones, Charley McLaughman, Harve Fulton, Doug Fulton, and Grace Blankenship among others.


Rabbit Grove Subscription School

This school was one of the first schools in this area and was a log cabin building where each person attending school paid 25 cents or they did not attend.  It was known as Cochran Subscription School and was founded in 1827.  It was located near the Union Grove Methodist Church in Haines township.

Some of the first teachers were George Smith, teacher and lawyer, Loren Boynton, Kelley Hill, Ellaine Fulton Huff, Albert Kell, and Anna Kell.  The building burned in 1890 and this area group went to school in the home of Mrs. Ellaine Fulton Huff before forming the Cherry Ridge School.


Hebron School

The ground where the school stands, east of Iuka road on Route 50, was donated by Will Robinson.  This was in District 98.  They held a meeting May 20, 1908 when they decided to build.  The directors were Homer Cheeley, Albert Young, and Walter Jolly.

The first school began September, 1908, in the new building with 35 children.  Nolan Howe was the first teacher.  Mr. Howe gave the school the name of Hebron.

The last school was taught by Opal Lutterell and Warren Howe.  Laurence Howe and Delbert Keller were the directors.

The school was closed in 1952.


Prairie Grove (6) School

The School House

By Lenora Smith Purcell

I saw a little school house,

Not so many miles from here;

As I walked across the playground,

Childhood days seemed very near.

In that room, I used to study,

And I felt a thrill of pride

As I peeped in at a window

At the change I saw inside.


That's a furnace in the corner,

Where we used to stack the wood;

More seats occupy the center,

Where the rusty box-stove stood.

Rows of shelves beneath south windows,

Well kept floors -- a glossy brown -

Painted walls, bright cut out pictures,

Just like any school in town.


Strained our eyes to get our lesson,

When the clouds hung close and gray;

Now glass tubes upon the ceiling

Brighten up the darkest day.

There's a fancy water cooler,

Maybe, it's electric, too;

No more passing 'round a tin cup

Like we children used to do.


Bucket "accidentally" tilted,

Most of us a sorry sight;

Looking, as we marched to classes

Like we'd had a water fight.

There was one prim little lady,

Never got her stockings wet;

Never mussed her starchy apron,

We all called her "teacher's pet."


One boy pulled our hair to tease us,

Some were pig-tails, some were curls;

Once he tied two braids together,

They belonged to different girls.

But no tricks were ever ventured,

Nor a book allowed to fall;

When the county superintendent,

Came to make his yearly call.


Yes, we had a few bad moments,

But a lot of good ones, too,

Like the time a mouse was hidden

In the teacher's overshoe.

Or when overcome with giggles,

Should have been at work, I guess,

But instead watched Nan pour birdshot

Down the neck of Mary's dress.


Kate, my pretty little seat mate,

Said she'd like to live some day

On a street of stylish brick-flats,

In a city far away.

Little girl, did nothing warn her,

This school term would be her last

For she'd reached, "That Shining City,"

Ere another year had past.


Little School, fond memories linger,

In the hearts of girls and boys,

Who across your well worn threshold

Stepped to meet life's cares and joys.

Ninety-four, luka Township,

Prairie Grove, for all to see,

That's your name on county records,

But you're "Number Six" to me.