The one-room schoolhouse on State Route 243 in Deering has seen better days. Our district has recently contributed $3,000 for supplies to help preserve the structure. We are now asking for volunteers to finish the work. A recent article was published in the Ironton Tribune regarding the one-room schoolhouse. www.irontontribune.com/2010/10/02/dawson-bryant-district-hopes-to-preserve-school-house/
We were provided with an article “A Place Called Deering” by Marion Harrison which details the history of the one-room schoolhouse.
A PLACE CALLED DEERING
The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought a streak of luck to James M. Deering. In 1854, he returned to the Ohio Valley with a bag of gold. That gold was changed into rolling hills and green meadows when James M. purchased a spacious tract of land which was named Deering after its found. James M. Deering was a man of vision. With thoughts toward the future, he donated a four acre tract of land which was to be the site of a school and a townhouse. If the land ceased to be used for community purposes, it was to revert back to the Deering heirs. Approximately between the years of 1885 and 1860, the one room school and townhouse was constructed.
The seats were made of split logs with pegs as legs. In the middle of the room sat a pot bellied stove which was used not only for warmth but to heat various foods such as a luscious piece of cornbread dripping with fresh, golden butter. Decorating the front of the room was a long recitation bench where each class, grades one through eight, performed to show their knowledge of the three R’s - - - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, which was taught to the tune of a hickory stick.
In the corner of the schoolroom were several long hickory switches which were used to keep unruly students in line. At recess various games were played. The favorites were anti-over and shinny.
Buckets of fresh water were carried from the closest neighbor’s house. A treasured treat was to be the one allowed to fetch the water. Everyone drank from the same tin cup.
Adjacent to the school was a large building about forty feet by eighty feet which was used for community social events. Also, in the same area was a huge platform. Many people, young and old, square danced to the music of an old time fiddling country band. Apparently the platform was built several feet above the ground, because a young lad, James H. Deering, son of James M. observed with awe as he stood on tip toes and watched feet flying as people square danced.
The area where the school, townhouse, community building and platform were located was known at the Deering grove. It was the scene of many political rallies and camp meetings. The grove was visited by famous personages who gave political speeches. Some of the famous people of distinction were President William Henry Harrison, President Ulysses S. Grant, President James A Garfield, Senator H. A. Honoker, Mark Hanna, and Colonel William N. Nye. These distinguished people were guests at the beautiful home of James M. Deering. This house stood at the site where Baker’s store is now located.
During these political rallies and camp meetings freshly butchered beef was roasted over a hickory fire. Also, peacocks with tails spread like colorful fans freely roamed the grounds.
The Deering Grove was so named because this tract of land was dotted with virgin timber such as white and black oak and some hickory trees. The diameter of these trees was four to five feet. It was told that one had to lie flat on their back to see the top of these massive giants.
The one room school was used during the summer as a subscription school were prospective teachers were trained. Later the subscription school was known as normal school. One of the early professors was Doctor Hoss Burton who later went to study medicine.
The Lawrence County Fair was held at the Deering Grove. The merry-go-rounds were drawn by teams of mules and horses. A big event each year was the spelling bee. All grades participated. Mary C. Deering won the contest in 1883 – 84. A sketch of the school was presented to her by her teacher, A.W. Alford. The last instructor at the one room school was Shirly Bryant Large. Although the school has ceased being used as an educational facility, it is still a place where character and knowledge is cultivated. It is the weekly meeting house for the boy scouts.
If one listens very closely on a clear, quiet day you may hear the busy chatter of happy children playing games at recess and also, the sharp ting-a-ling of the old school bell ringing to gather the children back to their task of learning.