The Rural One Room Schools
We have all seen them. Small rectangular buildings usually frame but sometimes brick. Often they are found at an intersection, sometimes back in a field. Sometimes they still have a tell-tale bell tower or two front doors. Some are preserved as a residence; some are being repurposed as storage sheds. One room school houses were a testament to the value we placed on education even in the rural population. They were placed every two or three miles, depending or the rural population, so that every child could walk to a school. They all had a name, usually that of the farmer who donated the land or owned the property where they school was located but sometimes for a near-by town. In Waterville Township there was the Hutchinson School (gone without a trace) on the Hutchinson farm, the Long School on the George Long farm (brick and crumbling away at the corner of Heller and Neowash Road), the Neowash School (also gone) that was a mile up the road from the town of Neowash and many more. The Box School from neighboring Providence Township has been preserved and restored by becoming part of the Maumee Valley Historical Society museum complex in Maumee. There one can see, and at times experience, what it was like to be educated in a one room school with one teacher (schoolmaster or schoolmarm) who taught all grades. The names and location of these schools can be found on the old maps and atlases found at libraries and archives throughout the country and locally at the Wakeman Archives.
The administration of these schools was handled by a district school board that was either appointed by the township supervisor or elected by the farmers in the district. School districts were formed by the township government as needed and an annual pupil and family count maintained. In the early years a per pupil tuition was charged each family. The names of these pupils and their families make an interesting historical and genealogical record. The complete record of the founding and ten or more years of Waterville Township school district number 4 can be viewed at the Wakeman Archives.
These rural one-room schools, some still used in the 1930s, are part of our historical and cultural heritage. Some of us may have a grandparent who attended such a school. Watch for those remaining old schools as you drive through the countryside and know you are looking at an important part of our history.