Saturday, June 21, 2008

Piney Fork School

Our one room community school houses of long ago, are so much of our past history. They were the center of the community and a special place for us all. Here is some history about the Piney Fork School.

Piney Fork Schoolhouse was a one room, weather board structure located about six miles southeast of Marion of Piney Road, now State Road 506.

It was a very historic area of the county because tribes of Indians often battled in the area for the rights to the wild animals that were abundant in the the early days of our county. The trail the Indians made coming to this area from Tennessee was known as the Chickasaw Trail. In later years it was renamed Flynn's Ferry Road, for George Flynn that operated the ferry at Weston. Today in 2008 it is the Copperas Spring Road, named for a copperas spring that is located near by. The road was heavily traveled in the early days, as it was the main route north for pioneers looking for new land and the only trail that lead to the Ohio River at Weston to transport and received goods.

The descendants of Hice Phillips tell the story about the founding of Piney Fork's first school house. Mr. Phillips was a farmer, a school teacher and a fair carpenter. He felt the children had too great a distance to walk to any of the surrounding schools. Others agreed to this and with the support of parents he built the first school house just below the campground of the Church. This was about 1893. Mr. Phillips was the teacher at this first school.

All eight grades were taught by one teacher. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the basic taught. In wintertime the building was heated by a potbellied wood or coal burning stove in the rear of the room. Drinking water was carried by the boys and girls from a well about 200 yards away. This was considered a desirable task as it took them away for the classroom for a brief period. At recess in mid morning and during the noon hour when the pupils ate their lunches brought in a lunch box, games such as tag, three-legged relay races, broad and high jump, fifty yard dash, hide and seek and town ball were played.

Some of the teachers were Annabell Alexander, Herman Boucher, Ben Crider, Grace Crider, Braxton McDonald, Lela McMican, James McNeely, Rowena McNeely, Rudell Nunn, Vera Stembridge, Raymond Thurman and Randall Woodall.

Names of some of the families in the area were Alexander, Bebout, Bond, Boucher, Crider, Cruce, Etheridge, Hill, Hughes, Hunt, James, Lamb, McConnell, McNeely, Riley, Stone, Thurman, Wiggington and Woodall.

The school was closed in 1958 and the land went back to the Virgil Alexander family. The school house today has been covered with a barn and is used for stock and farm storage.

From The Crittenden Press, Sept. 22, 1933 an article tells of the Piney Fork School News.
  • Thirty-six pupils are enrolled in the Piney Fork school this year. Practically all of them are attending every day and are showing great interest in their school work.
  • Monthly improvement records of playground activities, such as the hundred yard dash, chinning the bar, jumping, running and other games are kept and are creating much interest.
  • The schoolroom has been painted and redecorated. New window shades and curtains have been added. Some of the furniture has been varnished and appropriate pictures placed on the walls.
  • Chapel has been brightened the first two months by a study of over two hundred beautiful copies of world famous pictures.
  • If you want to see pupil work and enjoy school just come out to Piney Fork.
  • Braxton McDonald is the teacher at the Piney Fork school this year.

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