Bohannon Country School

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Memories of a one-room country school in Macon County, Missouri. Who were the teachers?

Walter Raymond Tiller, who taught Bohannon School in 1926, was a student in the preceding 1913 picture, and went on to become Principal and Science teacher in Madison, Missouri. By 1944 he was the shop teacher at Niles, Michigan High School, where he married the math teacher, Leona Priem Tiller (right), before switching careers to factory work.

Teachers at Bohannon School

Here is a partial list of teachers at the Bohannon School. Most are from newspaper accounts, and were provided by Merlyn Amidei of the Macon County Historical Society. Some are extracted from teaching contracts and student records provided by Ruth Masten. More recent names (from 1948) come from recollections of students, and from school handbooks provided by the Macon County Historical Society. Records are imprecise, and we may have errors, but we have intended to indentify school years by the year in which they ended (e.g. 1897 means 1896-1897). At the beginning, schools had more than one term per year of 6, 8, or 9 weeks. When it is known, the teacher's salary is shown in parentheses.

* 1896-1897: Mr. Thomas Leonard Irvine
* 1898: Miss Lizzie Kimbrell
* 1901: Miss Luella Walker
* 1903: Frank Manning
* 1904: Margaret McCarty (pictured on previous page)
* 1905: Joanna "Josie" Cole-fall semester ($33)
* 1905: S. B. McCollum-Spring semester($30)
* 1906: Iva Shale ($35-$30)
* 1907: Miss Bernice Wisdom($30)
* 1908: Bessie Martin($40)
* 1909(fall): H. B. Wheeler
* 1909: Miss Ethel Georgia Cole($30)
* 1910: Margaret Williams (her contract stipulates:The said Margaret Williams agrees to do the janitor work free of charge)($45)
* 1911: William Brewington(see picture below)
* 1912: W. B. Brewington ($50)
* 1913: Miss Mary Graves (she was there for five years, taught in other rural schools, and for a number of years served as the County Superintendent of Schools)($40)
* 1914: Miss Mary Graves
* 1915: Miss Mary Graves
* 1916: Miss Mary Graves
* 1917: Miss Mary Graves
* 1918: Miss Mary Graves ($55)
* 1919 Miss Fern Overstreet
* 1920 (winter):Miss Bertha Simmons
* 1921: Miss Fern Wells
* 1922: Luther Fristoe
* 1925: Broyles (Otis) McQuary
* 1926: Walter Tiller (Bohannon school switched to 8 month terms)
* 1928: ?
* 1929: Mrs. Gilbert (Virginia) Whiles (First married, woman teacher)
* 1930: Mrs. Gilbert (Virginia) Whiles
* 1931: Manley Graves (11 pupils)
* 1932: Manley Graves
* 1933: Manley Graves
* 1934: Paul O Graves(confirmed)
* 1935: ?
* 1936: Alice Reynolds
* 1937: Virginia Marie Cook
* 1938: Paul O Graves(confirmed)
* 1939: Paul O Graves(confirmed)
* 1940: Paul O Graves
* 1941: Glen M Swisher(paper says Earl Swisher)
* 1942: Earnest Wayne Phillips(son of Everet Phillips, and brother of Lillie Jean Phillips)
* 1943: Muriel M Long
* 1944: ?
* 1945: Roy Icke Jr.
* 1946: Mrs. Willard (Alice) Farmer
* 1947: Mrs. Cecil Turner
* 1948: Herbert A. Graves
* 1949: Jean M. Maupin and Charles Griggs
* 1950: Maudie Ratliff
* 1951: Maudie Ratliff
* 1952: Joe Mitch
* 1953: Mrs. Maggie Davenport
* 1954: Paul Toops
* 1955: Mrs. Maggie Davenport
* 1956: Mrs. Marilyn Angelo
* 1957: Miss Huntsman
* 1958: Miss Huntsman
* 1959: Dorothy Vawter
* 1960: Dorothy Vawter

Merlyn Amidei of the Macon County Historical Society found this story about a box supper in the Macon Chronicle Herald for Monday, October 30, 1933. The tradition of Box Suppers continued at Bohannon School, right into the 1950s.
"PIE AND BOX SUPPER--There will be a program and pie supper at the Bohannon School Wednesday night, November 1. Ladies please bring pies and boxes. PAUL GRAVES AND PUPILS."

Not much has been discovered about required teacher qualifications. All for which information is available have been at least high school graduates. Many had some college, most often from the teacher's college in Kirksville, which operated under many different names over the years. This announcement appeared in 1938, and might imply that whatever the requirements, they might not always have been met. The use of exams in place of credentials is also implied.



* 1896-Thomas Leonard Irvine (1858-1943) was the first teacher of record at Bohannon School. The Macon Republican of May 21, 1897, tells us, "Thomas L. Irvine has been employed to teach the winter term of school in Woodville. Mr. Irvine has taught two terms in succession at the Bohannon school, and comes well recommended as a teacher." This means Mr. Irvine's tenure at Bohannon began in September, 1896. The same paper for February 19, 1897, said, " Mr. Irvin will teach the Bohannon school this spring."

Picture of Alva Irvine, linked to Thomas Irvine's Find-a-Grave.

His name was more seriously misspelled as Thos L ??Rvine, in the 1900 census, which listed his occupation as "School Teacher". By 1910 he'd gone into the insurance business with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He moved to Kansas City and retired around 1929. He died in 1943, and his wife in 1952. The 1940 census indicates he had 2 years of college, but we've found no record of where he attended. Ancestry dot com has a family tree for him, listing a wife and ten children.

One additional bit of information about Bohannon School's first teacher appeared in the Macon Republican for April 21, 1906. We learn Mr. Irvine had brought suit against the Wabash Railroad. On May 2, 1905, "Irvine was helper to one of the boiler washers in the Wabash round house at Moberly. While detaching a large filling pipe from a hose the heavy pipe fell on his right foot and mashed some of the bones." The court eventually found, "if the filling pipe was defective the plaintiff had ample opportunity to have known it in the seven days he had been working in the round house." By that time he'd already switched to the insurance business.

Luella Walker Purdy.

* 1898-Lizzie Kimbrell (1872-1964) was the daughter of George and Myrtle Kimbrell of College Mound, Missouri. She taught at several schools in Macon County from 1893 to 1899 when she married a blacksmith/railroad man, Gavin (Guy) Miller. They lived in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama, where Gavin died in 1935. Their son, Kenneth, was a journalist and government employee of some note. He died in 1937, and was buried beside his father. The headstone has Lizzie's name on it as well, but she died in 1964 in Oklahoma where she was living with family at the time. There is no record of her teaching after her marriage.

* 1901-Miss Luella Walker was almost certainly Susan Luella Walker (1878-1966), identifed in the 1900 census as being employed as a school teacher, boarding with the Simon Maupin family, across the street from the Bohannon School. She married Alfred Purdy in 1903, and made her home in Narrows Township, Macon County, Missouri. Her son, Allen, was appointed to the faculty of the University of Missouri in 1938.

* 1903-Frank Manning is probably Francis (Frank) Davenport Manning, born in College Mound, Macon County, Missouri (1882-1959). In the 1910 census he is teaching in a rural school in Chariton, Missouri. He married Flossie Almira Longwith in 1909, and by 1920 was the mail carrier in Bevier, Macon County, Missouri. He seems to have continued that occupation in various Missouri locales. The 1940 census credits him with two years of college.

Josie Cole, Teacher

Death of Josie Cole Lowery

* 1905 (fall)-Josie Cole taught Bohannon School in the fall of the 1904-1905 session. She was the sister of Ethel Cole, who taught Bohannon School in 1909. Joanna "Josie" Cole, was active as a teacher in the Macon County area for several years. She married George Lowery in 1909, and died 8 September, 1910.

Macon Republican, 4/1/1905

Shelbina Democrat, 5/31/1905

* 1905 (spring)-S. B. McCollum signed a contract to teach Bohannon School in January, 1905 for a period of 3 months. He is most likely Samuel Bailey McCollum (1881-1970). The 1900 census shows him living with his parents in Jefferson, Missouri, occupation: school teacher. By 1910 he was in Macon, still listed as a schoolteacher, now married with two children. By 1920 he is still in Macon, listed as a laborer for something called the "Preacher Gang." By 1930 he was a farmer in Bucklin, Missouri.

HunnewellGraphic, 8/18/1905

HunnewellGraphic, 12/8/1905

S. B. McCollum appears frequently in local news stories about the schools, but the record is confusing. In October, 1904, he authored a newspaper column in which he reviewed the first few months of the term at Hunnewell, signing himself as, "Principal." In January 1905 he went to Bohannon. By May of 1905, at the end of his contract, a news article called him "Prof-S. B. McCollum," of Bethany, Missouri, saying he'd been selected to be the principal of schools at Hunnewell (apparently again). In 1909 he is listed as, "not teaching," among local teachers in Macon County. In 1910 he authors a Teacher's association resolution calling for, among other things, endorsement of prohibition. In August of 1911, he is speaking at the Macon County Teachers' conference on "Shall We Do High School Work in the Country Schools." In 1912, while teaching at Oak Grove, he wrote a long, highly articulate letter to the Macon Times-Democrat on a now arcane political issue involving William Jennings Bryan and the "Clark" issue. A 1915 news account notes he is a rural mail carrier. A 1920 news account notes S. B. McCollum was formerly the principal of the Elmer High School. Census records credit him with 3 years of college.

Iva Shale

* 1906: Iva Shale (1885-1983) was from Clarence. She attended the teacher's college at Kirksville for some period of time prior to teaching at Bohannon. She married Cleve Adams in 1907 and lived in Clarence all her life.

Macon Times Democrat-June 27, 1907

* 1907-Sometimes called Burna Wisdom, Bernice Wisdom was born in Hudson, Macon County, Missouri (1888-1972), was listed in the 1910 census as living in Hudson with her parents, and was frequently employed as a school teacher. By the 1930 census she was selling books, and the 1940 census lists no occupation. She apparently never married.

* 1908-Bessie Martin: no further information available yet.

* 1909 (fall)-H. B. Wheeler: no further information available yet.

Ethel Cole

Harris Family

Ethel Cole certified to teach.

* 1909- Miss Ethel G. Cole, daughter of Samuel H. and Lettitia Cole, was born 23 July, 1888, and resided with her parents in Anabel, Missouri. Her childhood home is the Samuel H. Cole farm on the 1897 Plat Map of Round Grove (Anabel) Township, section 16. The 1910 census lists her as a school teacher. She received her teaching certification on 29 June, 1907. In 1912 she was attending the Gem City Business College, in Quincy, Illinois. We don't know what she was studying, but the school offered instruction in teaching. On December 23, 1913 she married George Leonard Harris in Quincy. Harris, referred to in the newspaper as Leonard, was from the Bethlehem area of Middle Fork, Township, Macon County, Missouri. His childhood home was the farm of J. F. Harris in section 4 of the 1897 Plat Map. By 1920 Ethel and her husband were living in Sweetwater, Montana, and later in Alliance, Nebraska. She passed away in Los Angeles in 1977, and is buried in Alliance, Nebraska. The Harris family was prominent in the Macon County area, and the Macon Chronicle Herald ran a feature on them for its centennial publication in 1937.

* 1910-Margaret Williams: no further information available yet.

* 1911-There was a William Brewington living in Clarence, Missouri, and one living in Twelvemile, Missouri, at about the right time. The one in Clarence was a mail carrier after 1920. There is no indication either of them taught school.

Mary Graves.

* 1913-Mary F. Graves (1892-1971) was born in Macon County, Missouri, and made her career as a teacher and school administrator. In the late 1940s and 1950s she was the competent, personable, and highly respected Superintendent of Public Schools, for Macon County, largely repsonsible for hiring and managing the Bohannon teachers. She visited Bohannon school annually during that time, and always mentioned having been a teacher there. According to the Macon Chronicle-Herald, she earned $127.80 per month in 1947, and $190.10 per month in 1949. In 1937 she wrote a brief history of Middle Fork Township, which gives us some insight into her personna. The only picture we have comes from a group shot of the Rural Club of Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, 1917. She wasn't a student that year, since she was teaching at Bohannon. Interestingly the Rural Club was instrumental in promoting a road show for a play on the importance of rural schools. The play, "Vision of Homeland" was written by a Kirksville student named Oliver C. Perry, and was produced in thirteen Missouri and Nebraska high schools. We lack adequate biographical information on Mary. Perhaps someone can send some along.

Macon Chronicle-Herald, 1928

* 1919-Fern Overstreet appears in the 1920 census, boarding with the Simon Maupin family, across the street from Bohannon School. Her occupation is school teacher, but her age is not given. Classroom records from Bohannon School confirm her as teacher in 1920. In 1910 a Fern Overstreet lives in Middle Fork Township, daughter of Henry J. Overstreet. She would have been only 15 in 1919. Newspaper accounts list her as graduating from 8th grade in 1919. By 1922 she was living in Excello, MO, where she married Monroe Dye. The 1940 census credits her with eight years of education.

Macon Chronicle-Herald, June 25, 1920

Macon Chronicle-Herald, February 4, 1920

Clarence Courier, December 1, 1920

* 1920-Miss Fern Wells is Fern Ethel Wells (1900-1998), born in Economy, Macon County, Missouri. She married Stanley Burnette in 1924. The 1940 census has her living in Macon, Missouri, working as a Practical Nurse at the Sanatorium. Stanley passed away in Phoenix, Arizona in 1958, after which she married someone named Hartman.

* 1920-No clear record of Bertha Simmons has been found, except for the Clarence Courier clipping nearby.

Luther Wesley Fristoe.

Luther Fristoe

* 1922-Luther Fristoe is probably Luther Wesley Fristoe (1894-1982), born in Shelbina, Missouri, and listed as a school teacher in the 1920, and 1930 censuses. The 1940 census gives his occupation as Superintendent of Public Schools in Linneus, Missouri, and indicates he had over five years of college which probably makes him the best educated teacher at Bohannon School to that time.

Teachers at Bohannon School (continued)

Otis McQuary

* 1925-There were several Otis McQuarys in the area, and at least one Broyles McQuary. The McQaury that taught at Bohannon is probably Broyles Sumner McQuary (1904-1993) of Macon, and later Dexter, Missouri. The Macon Republican identifies the Bohannon teacher as Broyles McQuary, and the Macon Chronicle-Herald identifies him as "Otis" McQuary. There were several men named Otis in the McQuary family, and it's possible Broyles McQuary was

Broyles McQuary

Broyles McQuary April 26, 1926

Broyles McQuary August 27, 1926

known as Otis, but whether anyone but the Chronicle ever thought so, we don't know. He graduated from Macon High School in 1925 after an active year in theater and society. He apparently went into teaching at once, and followed Bohannon with a stint at Oak Ridge rural school the next year. Later he went into the insurance business as well as working for the post office.

Walter R. Tiller.

* 1926-Walter Tiller is undoubtedly the person of that name in the 1913 school picture, the son of Robert and Emma Tiller, who lived in section 15 of Middle Fork Township in 1918. Walter Raymond Tiller (1903-1979), was a farmer in 1930, married to Hazel, with son, Eugene. By 1940 he had four years of college and was the Principal and Science Teacher at Madison, Missouri. In 1945 he is listed in the Niles, Michigan High School Annual as the shop teacher. Evidently he was no longer married to Hazel, because he married Niles, Michigan math teacher, Leona Priem in 1944. Leona remained at the high school, but Walter went to work for Tyler's Automotive. By the late 1950s he was doing factory work. The 1944 yearbook indicates Walter had a B. S. degree from Kirksville State Teacher's college.

Click to see the entire 1918 plat map of Middle Fork Township. Bohannon School is in section 14, upper right.

Virginia Tiller Whiles

Manley Graves is buried in Hillcrest Memorial Gardens, in Macon, Missouri.

* 1928-29-Mrs. Gilbert (Virginia) Whiles was Walter Tiller's sister, Virginia Mae Tiller (1908-2002). She married Gilbert Whiles on August 28, 1928, just before the 1929 school term. By the 1940s they were both remarried, Virginia to Roy Butner. She had four years of high school, according to the 1940 census.

* 1931-33-Manley Graves, his wife Ethel, and their daughter Bertha Grace, lived across the street from Bohannon School in the 1940s and 1950s. He was living with his parents, Phillip and Altie Graves in 1930, when he taught the school.

Manley Graves

We know he taught the 1932-33 year at Bohannon from the following announcement of honor students in the Macon Chronicle-Herald (February 3, 1933):"Bohannon-Manley C. Graves; Alfred McGee." Manley graduated from Clarence High School, and The 1940 census indicates that was the extent of his education, considerable for the time.

Paul Graves moves on

Paul Graves Improvements

* 1934,38,39,40-Paul O Graves (1912-1971) was the son of Albert Graves, the brother of Mary F. Graves, future superintendent of schools. Whether she was involved in his hiring is unknown. The Macon Chronicle-Herald, November 19, 1933, confirms his presence at Bohannon and gives some student names announcing the spelling honor roll for rural schools. "Bohannon, Paul O. Graves: Vera Phillips, Raymond Phillips, Ernest W. Phillips, Earl Amick and Junior Icke." A pie supper announcement in the same paper from 1931 indicates he was teaching at the Waddell rural school in the 1931-32 school year. We know he was at Bohannon for the 1939-1940 school year, and had been there the previous year, from an announcment in the Macon Chronicle-Herald of September 7, 1939.

Paul Graves 1933

Paul Graves 1934

Paul Graves 1938

The memorial on the Find-a-Grave website says, "Paul was school superintendent at the Bucklin, Mo High School. He also was employed by the LaPlata, Center, Farber, and Sturgeon schools. He is survived by his wife Mattie Layne Graves, his parents Mr and Mrs Albert A Graves, brother Ewell, and other relatives." The picture at right is from the Bucklin High School 1958 Annual. His obituary appeared in the Hanibal Courier.

Alice Reynolds

Alice Reynolds

* 1936: No information has been found on Alice Reynolds, but the Macon Chronicle-Herald of December 21, 1935 does confirm she was teaching at Bohannon that year. It announced the students in rural schools on the honor roll for spelling in the first quarter with, "Bohannon, Alice Reynolds: Ernest W. Phillips, Roy Icke Jr., Junior Marsh, Wilma Icke, and Raymond H. Phillips."

Marie Cook

* 1937: Marie Cook(1917-2013) taught Bohannon School after graduating from Clarence High School. She was born in Ten Mile, Missouri, and married Elmer Proper in 1937. By 1940 the census showed her living in Shelby, County, Missouri, with her husband. It credited her with 4 years of high school. She passed away in 2013, and her obituary included the following paragraph.

"At times she rode a horse to school, other times she roomed in Clarence in order to graduate from Clarence High School in 1936. She then taught at Bohannon School, but met Elmer Proper and was married in Bevier on March 27, 1937. He preceded her in death on December 25, 1996".

Earnest Wayne Phillips, as a junior at Northeast Missouri State Teachers, College, 1947.

Glen Swisher

* 1941: Glen M Swisher (1920-1999) was born in Bethel, Missouri, a small town north of Shelbyville. He graduated from Bethel High School, and Hannibal La Grange College. After his stint at Bohannon, he married Addie Mae Atha of Ethel, Missouri, and then joined the the Navy for World War II. He went on to a career in teaching (we don't know where), and later went into the Missouri State legislature. The Macon Chronicle-Herald documents his year at Bohannon with this brief announcement from, April 23, 1941, "Glen Swisher closed his term of school at Bohannon Friday." He is buried in Centertown, Missouri. Interestingly, the announcement of his hiring at Bohannon called him Earl Swisher, for reasons unknown. Just before Glen Swisher's term began, the paper reported: George Rowe built a new flue at the Bohannon school house.

Earnest Wayne Phillips

* 1942: Earnest Wayne Phillips (February 28, 1924-June 12, 2018) a former student at Bohannon, was the son of Everett and Fern Phillips, and the brother of Vera, Lillie Jean and Raymond Phillips, also students at Bohannon. The Phillips family owned the farm to the south and west of the schoolhouse, some of the teachers boarded with them over the years, since it was a short walk across the fields to get there. When the Trachta family lived in the area, during the 1940s and 1950s, they were friends with the Everett Phillips family, and visited often.

Earnest Wayne Phillips.

In 1941 Wayne attended Northeast Missouri State Teacher’s College (Truman State University) before taking a year out to teach at Bohannon. His studies were interrupted in 1943 when he enlisted in the Navy and served until 1946 in the Pacific theater. He returned to Northeast Missouri State Teacher’s College where he completed his bachelor’s degree in 1948 and where he met and married Ada Rice.

He and his wife taught in the high school at Unionville, MO for 2 years. Wayne also earned a master’s degree in school administration and was a teacher and vice principal at New Cambria, MO for 1 year before moving to Hannibal, MO, where he joined IBM. His 34 year career with IBM took him to Wichita, KS, which included 6 years in Hutchinson, KS. He began his IBM career as a field service engineer for data processing equipment (e.g. key punch equipment, card sorters) and grew with the company to servicing computers, completing his career as a Senior Program Systems Representative (software support). He was active in church as a deacon, an elder, a Bible teacher, and an avid bowler. He enjoyed traveling, especially if he was driving. His favorite trip was in 1989, driving the Alcan Highway to Alaska.

Wayne was one of three surviving Bohannon teachers until his death in 2018. His more recent picture links to a memorial site.

* 1943: Muriel Hope Long (1925-2017) was the daughter of Charles W Long, and Virgie May Long of Middle Fork Township, Macon County, Missouri. Charles and Virgie were long time residents and members of the Bethlehem Church, a rural church in Macon County. Miss Long attended the Waddell country school. Frequently on the Honor Roll, she graduated the eighth grade in 1938. In 1945, about a year after her tenure at Bohannon School, she married James Vernon Jenkins in Clarence, Missouri. She graduated from Northeast Missouri State Teachers College, and taught at several schools, moving to Hannibal, at some point.

The Macon Chronicle-Herald confirms Muriel's presence at Bohannon for the 1942-1943 school year with the following: " Five hundred and seventy-two students were honor students in the rural schools of Macon County for the first quarter of the year. The following list gives the name of the school, teacher, and honor students: Bohannon (115) Muriel Long; Leon Bruner, Larry Walker, James E. Rufener, Barbara Rufener, Ronald Bruner, Donald Bruner, Bertha G. Graves." Since she graduated eighth grade in 1938, she presumably had completed high school by that time. She passed away in Hannibal, Missouri in 2017. You may read her obituary at this link.

Roy Icke

* 1944-45: Roy Icke Junior was the son of Roy and Pearl Icke who lived near Woodville, Missouri. We find him mentioned in some of the honor-student accounts from Bohannon School in prior years. His year of teaching at Bohannon (1943-44) probably followed his graduation from high school. He registered for the draft in August 1944, and was living in Anabel, apparently working for a relative, Sam Icke. He lived in Hannibal from the 1950s, occupation listed as "Blacksmith." He passed away in 1971, and is buried in Hannibal.

Alice Farmer

* 1946: Mrs. Alice McMurtry Farmer (1906-1993) was born in Arkansas, married Willard R. Farmer in Chillicothe, Missouri in 1928 and was living in Macon County by 1935. In the 1940 census she was living in Shelby County, Missouri, credited with four years of high school. According to the Macon Chronicle-Herald, a Mrs. Farmer, probably her, was teaching at another rural school, Hickory Grove, in 1934. She and her husband are buried in Clarence.

* 1947: Mrs. Cecil Turner is confirmed as the teacher for the 1946-47 school year by articles in the Macon Chronicle-Herald, on December 24, 1946 and again on February 4, 1947, announcing the scholarship awards for the first quarter. "Bohannon No. 115, teacher Mrs. Cecil Turner; Larry Walker, Betty Jo Turner, Bertha Grace Graves, Barbara Rufener, James Rufener." We are unable to learn any more about either her or Betty Jo Turner. The only promising lead is available on the Find-a-Grave website, showing a Melvin Turner and Cecil Alice Tuner, his wife, buried in Clarence. Perhaps someon can provide more information.

We received this picture from Ruth Masten, of the Macon County Historical Society. We're not certain which William Brewington taught Bohannon, but this is a picture of him, and the year is probably 1911.

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