I am indebted to Anna Lee Cousins and members of the Ridge
family for access to the clerk's and teacher's records for information
for this report.
The earliest record is dated April 2, 1895. The district number was given as No. 6, township 65, range 31. It is assumed that the district was named for someone by the name of Hurst but that name did not appear in any of the enumeration lists until 1905.
The items that were voted on at this first meeting on record were the election of a man to serve on the school board for a three-year term, the length of the school term, a contract for someone to furnish wood for the school and the amount of tax to be levied in excess of the forty cents per $100 valuation that was required by law. They voted on whether to have a six-month or seven-month term with the six-month option being voted by nineteen to eight. The wood contract specified 10 cord of hard wood, with one-half split, to be corded at the schoolhouse by September 1. The contract was let to P.G.Claypool at $1.15 per cord.
The first clerk's record extended to 1905. Each year the voters determined the length of the school term at the annual meeting. Usually six or seven months were chosen but one year they voted for nine months. The teachers during that time were B.H. Votah, C.B. Dubois, W.C. House, Louella Tandy, Rose Downing, Elbrage Ridge and John Cox. The book showed two contracts signed by E.M. Henton, one for six months and one for three months dated March 20. Lillian Howell was the last teacher listed in that book.
There were some changes made in the second record. September 14, 1907, an item showed a payment to B. Prugh & Sons for a stove at a cost of $30.25. After that time there was no need for a contract to furnish wood but there were payments for coal and payments to some of the men in the district for hauling coal. During the year 1909 the district number appeared as No. 43 instead of No. 6. E.M. Henton appeared again as teacher with one contract for seven months and a second for 1/2 month, the second one to begin on March 19. Other teachers listed were Melville Lamb, Roy Lewis, Elbrage Ridge and Maud Milligan.
The clerk's records had pages to show the enumeration lists of persons in the district between the ages of six and nineteen, inclusively. Unfortunately, these were not always dated. At first, the ages of the children were not given but later lists showed the ages of the children. The third book supplemented by a teacher's register for the same period of time listed the following teachers: Gertie Getz, Ivor Shipley, Chas. Jonagan, J.F. Hunter, Mayhew Saville, Gaynal Wayman, Ruth Foland, Elta Eaton, Mabel Barnes, Georgia Campbell, Deane Craven and Hazel Ridge Cloud. A time in the teacher's register indicated that the school was dismissed for the year on March 7, 1919 because of flu.
Elton and Kathryn Ridge gave me a list of teachers later than those given in the last clerk's record that was examined. They were Chloris Ridge, Henry Havner, Ruth Pendleton, Kate Oehler, Bessie Elliot, Erdley Beauchamp, Gynetha Parman and Neva Churchill. The last year that classes were held in the building was the school year of 1940-41. The building was destroyed by the same tornado that devastated the town of Worth on April 19, 1947.
Records from newspaper accounts tell of an incident that took place at the Hurst schoolhouse on January 6, 1899. Clarence Lockhart and Marion Richardson were the two young men involved in the incident. The two young men had a disagreement over a trade that had been made the summer before. Lockhart had traded a bicycle to Richardson for a saddle. Richardson claimed that the bicycle was not as good as had been described and wanted Lockhart to make some adjustment.
People had gathered at the Hurst schoolhouse on this January evening for a spelling bee. Clarence Lockhart had gone into the building but Richardson was outside and was loudly telling everyone who would listen how he had been cheated. Lockhart's younger brother, Arthur, heard some of Richardson's threats and offered to go into the schoolhouse and get his brother.
Clarence came out and the two young men resorted to fighting. They were behind the schoolhouse and testimony from witnesses spoke of how hard it was to see in the dark. Some said Lockhart hit Richardson with his fist and knocked him down. Others said he used a board. In the wrestling match that followed, Richardson used a knife and severed Lockhart's jugular vein. Lockhard died within a few minutes.
Young Richardson was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary for the crime. One item in the Worth County Times gave a stern warning to young men about their conduct at public affairs. It admonished that when people were gathered for an evening of entertainment the young men should respect the rights of others and should not use the occasion for trying to settle quarrels about other matters.
Richardson's age was given as 18 and Lockhart's as 19. However, in the notice of Lockhart's funeral, his birth date was given as February 25, 1880 and his death was January 6, 1899 so he had not yet reached his 19th birthday. His funeral service was held at the Methodist Church in Allendale and he was buried in the Allendale Cemetery.
I found no record of Richardson after the sentencing. Whether he served the sentence and returned to the community I do not know.
Chloris Ridge Bressler has written some of her memories of the Hurst school. She mentioned that she and her sister, Hazel, started off to school in the fall wearing their shoes to protect their feet from the stubble in the schoolyard. The stubble would be from six to eight inches high and left behind when the directors brought the mowing machine to cut the tall weeds.
"There were two frightening places during that school
year. One was the old wagon trail that ran parallel to the road.
Mother always cautioned us about the old trail being a camping
site for gypsies and tramps. Hazel and I would race past that
place so fast we could hardly catch out breath. The other frightening
place was located on the northeast corner of the outside of the
schoolhouse. There, according to the older boys, a fight had taken
place. There, too, the conqueror had etched his initials on the
building with the blood of his opponent.
Since spelling bees were so popular in that day, The Hurst school challenged the Center South school to a spelling match. The girl from the Center school was the best speller in the teenage group, but she was spelled down by a little nine-year-old girl, Hazel Ridge. Since Grandma Ridge was a widow, and lived near us, Hazel stayed weeknights with her. Grandma had an old Webster's spelling book and each night she would pronounce words for Hazel to spell. Soon Hazel could correctly spell every word in the book. Thus, it was mainly Grandma Ridge's coaching of Hazel that led to the victorious spelldown for the Hurst school.
Another important detail about the Hurst school was the musical talent in our district. We had a Literary Club at our school. We had a good quartet composed of Oscar Taylor, tenor; Francis Taylor, bass; Elbridge Ridge, baritone; and Vada Mae Ridge, alto. Vada Mae also played the pump organ. Some of out favorite songs were: Sleep, Kentucky Babe, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground and Irving Berlin's Alexander's Ragtime Band.
Another source of entertainment for our Literary Night were the plays produced by local talent. The most popular were; The Man Who Wore Seven Coats and The Dinner Table Conversation. Joseph Black was an outstanding character who depicted the Englishman who continually exclaimed, "Is that so? Well, by Jove."
As time went by there were a number of educators who were anxious to break up the old one-room school. However, that school had many merits, not the least of which was a generation that could read, spell and write."
(Notice that Chloris spelled here father's name Elbridge. In earlier records it appeared as Elbrage.)