Dry School, District #40
Worth County Reporter--March 1988
By Bill Gladstone & Miss Mary Seat


The Dry district was in the northeast corner of Allen Township. Most of the rural districts were approximately two miles square but the Dry district was three miles square. It is assumed that the Dry district was named for the Honorable Lawrence Dry. As he is listed in the History of Gentry and Worth County of 1882. "He was born and reared to manhood in the state of Illinois. From the year 1853 to 1855 he was engaged in merchandising, and on July 27th of that year he settled in this county on the place where he now resides. His landed estate consists of 415 acres of valuable land, 345 acres of which are under fence. He has an orchard on his place consisting of 100 trees and his improvements are most excellent. In 1864 Mr. Dry was elected representative to the legislature from this county and served for one term. He was again elected to fill that important office in 1872. In 1866 he was one of Worth County's judges, serving for two years. He is a man highly respected in this community."
In a history of the Dry School that was evidently compiled by the late Elsie Harding Zimmerman is an article about the beginning of the school. "We could not find out who the first teacher was for the books were badly torn. The first teacher we have a record of was William H. Conn of Allendale, Missouri. In 1874 he had 50 pupils and received $33 1/3 per month. Mr. Conn was a crippled man and taught 4 terms of school at different times. In those days they just had six months of school. Later they had school 6 months in the winter and 3 months in the spring.
There was a month's vacation during the month of March before the beginning of the spring term the first Monday in April. Most of the rural districts had a two-month spring term but the Dry had a three-month term which made it well toward the end of June before school was out.
Some teachers planned an elaborate last day of school program. One year a platform for the program was built in a grove on the Charley Brewitt farm. I don't know what they used for seats for the audience but they were probably bridge planks on concrete blocks.
I remember one year we held our program in the Isabelle church house. We walked there one afternoon to practice. The church was about one-fourth mile south of the school. Patrons brought a basket dinner at the noon hour and the program was given in the afternoon.
It seemed that most often during the early days, one teacher was hired for the winter term and a different one for the spring term. I suppose it suited a man, who was also farming, to have the spring term off to get crops planted.
My father told of one director who wanted to hire a woman to teach the first month of the spring term and to let her continue the other two months if she was satisfactory. Her salary for the first month was to be $35 but there was no mention made about the last two months.
At the end of the first month the teacher took her monthly report to collect her salary of $35 and an application to teach the remaining two months of the term for $40 per month. They probably had an emergency board meeting to consider her new application but they needed a teacher for the following Monday morning so there wasn't anything else they could do but pay her the extra salary.
By the time I entered school in 1913 most of the teachers taught the full nine months but we had the March "vacation" for at least a few years more. I was not able to find out when the school year was changed to eight months but I know that the nine month's term lasted for several years after I finished my grade school term.
Mrs. Zimmerman describes the new building that was built in 1891 as being 24' by 40' with 4 windows on each side and 2 doors in the south. That description would fit most of the rural schools built during that time.
Some of the schoolhouses had a platform about six inches high for the teacher's desk and there was always a slate blackboard behind the teacher. On the back wall were rows of boards with hooks or nails on which the children could hang their coats along with a shelf on which they could put their dinner pails. Many schools later added a cloakroom.
The last new school was built in the summer of the 1917. The style was much different from the old one. There were six windows along the north wall and three small ones high on the west wall. The door was in the southwest corner of the room. There was a window between the door and the door to the cloakroom. Later, they were told to keep the door closed and the blind over that window to eliminate the cross lighting. Many schools with windows on each side closed the windows on one side for that same purpose. The south side of the building had a cloakroom and a small covered porch. After the building was no longer used for a school, it was torn down and material used in the construction of a residence.
There were many students in the school before I was old enough to go and I do not know who all were enrolled. Pupils by the name of Stevens from three different families were in school when I was. Children by the name of Hill were in school for many years. Others that I know about were: at least three generations of Gibson children, Robbins, Seat, Barnett, Moreland, Wood, Williams, Miller, Stephenson, Pendleton, Findley, Kinney, Lynch, Spillman, Scott, Brewitt, Harding and Zimmerman. If there are people that I should have included, just overlook an old woman's faulty memory.
Archie Findley was the last teacher and had five pupils that last year in the school year of 1951-52. The few remaining pupils were transported to the Allendale school the next year.