Butler District #1, more commonly called the Lott's Grove School,
or simply the Grove, was in the far northeast corner of Worth
Of course, the name Lott's Grove had reference to the first white settler of Worth County (then Gentry County), Henry Lott, who came into the area from near Albany in 1840. Lott's first log cabin stood perhaps another mile east in the extended grove of what is now the cemetery hill. Indeed, it was a vantagepoint as a lookout site but was not near a source of water.
Lott moved his family consisting of his wife, his son, and his stepson down the hill southeast to a free-flowing spring site. Until just a few years ago the rocks of his cabin's foundation and chimney stood in the backyard of Orval "Bob" Rinehart's farm. Incidentally, the ever-flowing Lott's Spring is still a source of water for the Rinehart family.
For about three years the family were the solitary settlers of the area. Lott had plowed a small garden site, and supplied the meager needs of the family by hunting and trading with nearby Indians. When more white settlers and hunters began to move into the area, the Indians moved north to the Red Rock area near Boone, Iowa, and Lott moved his family along also, continuing to exist by trading with the tribes. Lott's Grove extended over the entire wooded ridge westward to the site where the school was built.
As we locals remember, the Butler School stood just east of the crossroads of present route O about 4 1/2 miles north of Allendale. The box-like frame building, typical of most rural school buildings, stood south of the road that leads to the Lott's Grove cemetery. Just to the west stood the Hudson City Post Office. (Ed. Note: The Hudson City Post Office was in at least two different locations, depending who the postmaster was.) Across the road from the schoolhouse was a shed where horses ridden by the teacher and several of the pupils were kept during the school day.
Harley Combs, nearly 93 years of age, who attended school at the crossroads site remembers a family living in the dilapidated cabin.
The first frame building burned in the late 1940's and was replaced by a smaller building as enrollment had dropped from the regular thirty to sixty-one pupils as shown in the accompanying picture. Both Harley Combs and Verne Rinehart stated that as spring term before the larger boys dropped out to do farm work there had been enrollments of as high as ninety pupils. All grades, all ages and only one teacher.
Personally, I knew little about the Lott's Grove school until I started asking question, triggered by a picture Evelyn Myers brought me showing her late father, Weldon Brown and his brothers and sisters. It was with joy that I spotted my late husband, Pat Rinehart, as a small youngster. This picture must have been taken about 1918 as Miss Susie Swift (Combs) was the teacher. There were thirty pupils in the picture.
However, I was fortunate enough to secure a picture from Jessie Dehart's daughter, Nancy Basile, who lives in Nebraska. This picture was taken in 1915 and shows 61pupils.
Miss Swift, sister of the late Irvin Swift of Grant City, had been teaching at Lott's Grove for several years and was considered one of the best teachers in the county. I was attending the Eureka School and my father, Shan Craven and Riley Ross, directors, offered Miss Swift a much higher salary to come teach the Eureka. They succeeded, but not until later in the summer did they discover that the extra salary was not the enticement but rather it was Harley Combs, who ran a produce house in Allendale. Before autumn they were married and she could more conveniently live in Allendale and go out to the Eureka than she could go to the Butler. She was my third grade teacher.
When I was a child we often visited in Charley Combs' home, the Butler place, which stood just off the road about due north of the school building. My mother, LuElla Wilkinson, had taught two school terms there. She would point out the schoolhouse and horse shed as she related a near tragic incident that occurred when she taught there.
While she and some older girls were sweeping the room at the close of the day, one of the older pupils breathlessly rushed in, asking Miss Wilkinson to hurry quickly to the horse shed for some older boys had hanged a younger boy to the shed rafters with his halter rope.
On arriving at the scene Mother grasped the boys body to slacken the rope, telling the pupils to untie the knot and urging other students to run to a nearby house and bring help. The excited pupils could not untie the knot but luckily some boy produced a pocketknife and cut the rope.
Mother shook the limp body, pounded him, blew into his mouth and he finally gasped for breath. By the time help arrived the boy was breathing regularly although he had some rope burns around his throat.
As mentioned in the Nation school article, this feuding among some families was common. A larger boy from the Nation area had visited the Butler school that afternoon and he had been responsible for agitating the larger boys against the defenseless younger boys. Lest the feuding resume, the young boy's parents and school board members were at school the next morning to confront the "hangers", who were promptly expelled for the term. This incident occurred in 1905 or 1906.
In the accompanying picture many members of the Brown, Dehart, Rinehart, Murray and Manning families have been identified. Hopefully, someone will identify others. Harley and Cleda Combs (Daniels) and Velma Rinehart (James) assisted in the identification.
They were also helpful in naming other teachers. Other teachers named were: Oscar Fletchall, Chris Evans, Ethel Adams (Miller), Dorsey Gentry (Oehler), Dorothy Rowlett and, of course, Zene Hammer who taught there at least eight years. Those who taught there in the new Butler building included Janice and Inez Murray, Dolly Blake, don Davidson, Margaret Thompson (Locke) and Evelyn Brown (Groom).
The Butler school was closed when Worth County schools were reorganized. When the school buildings were sold at auction by the R-I directors, the Butler building was purchased by Jerry and Opal Carr and moved into Allendale to the location just south of the Saints Church where they remodeled it into a "retirement to the old hometown dwelling". The Carr's lived in the building about three years until Jerry died in July, 1959. Opal soon moved back to Omaha to be near her family and the building sold to Ed McCleod. Mr. McCleod did extensive remodeling, adding two bedrooms, as a home for his mother.
Today, the Butler/Lott's Grove building quietly houses Kay's Quilting and Crafts Shop. Only the well and some foundation rocks show where the building stood in the Butler neighborhood.