Michigan One-Room Schools Association
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Vol. XXIII, Issue I
Spring 2017
Spring 2017 ~ The Slate Spring 2017 Newsletter (PDF)
early school bus

MORSA to Meet in Historic
St. Joseph County
by Rochelle Balkam

The 2017 Michigan One-room Schoolhouse Association conference will hold registration and the introductory session in the St. Joseph County Historical Society's headquarters in downtown Three Rivers, the center of nineteenth century Michigan history. Their archives contain the meticulously researched history of all of the oneroom schools in the county. Walking through the community one can appreciate the vibrant restorations that have brought the past into the twenty-first century.

Conference attendees will board a bus for a tour of several one-room schools on the way to historic stone Nottawa School built in 1870. It was originally a frame building. The school's unique appearance draws photographers from all over the country. Authenticity is preserved with original artifacts both in the school and in the annex. There they will be introduced to a typical day in the one-room school taught by a "school marm," and entertained with stories by Warren Lawrence. The annual William Winglar award will presented to the Schoolhouse of the Year-2017.

Nearby historic sites include: the community of White Pigeon, named for the Native American chief whom legend has it, sacrificed his life to warn residents of impending disaster. Other historic sites to visit are the Langley Covered Bridge, the home of Madame Marantette, equestrienne extraordinaire, the James Bonine House which played a significant role on the Underground Railroad, and the Old New York Central Railroad Depot.

Join us for this unique experience!


MORSA 2017 Annual Conference

Saturday May 6, 2017

See information and registration form

Chairman's Column

By Tom M. Johnson

I have recently assumed responsibility for answering the inquiries to MORSA, especially those involving the list of one-room schoolhouses in Michigan on our website that was developed as a long labor of love by board member Sue Daniel.

There were approximately 15 to 20 inquiries that had not been answered. I was going to answer these when I arrived home early in March from a family sojourn in the south, but much to my chagrin, all of the emails in our Inbox had been deleted. We contacted our provider and found there was nothing that could be done about it.

For those of you who have requested information and have not had a response, please "re-request." Many of the requests are worded as follows: Do you have a picture of my school? Do you know the name of the school in which my aunt taught in 1933- 1936? You have the location of my school in the wrong place. Do you know what happened to the_______school?

Sadly, except in rare instances, we do not have any information except that contained in the list.

Board member Larry Schlack is putting together a roadmap for how to find information about specific one room schoolhouses. It will be on our website for your convenience. It should be noted that there are several counties which have outlined in detail every school that existed in that county.

Before I left for vacation I was in email conversations with several people regarding a specific school in their locale. I asked them to provide us with any information about that school that would be useful to someone in the future. By doing this, we can start to build a repository of stories and information about one room schools which will be housed at Eastern Michigan University archives.

In the future when I answer an inquiry, I will encourage people to respond with any information they have regarding their school of interest.

As noted above, this one room school list was a labor of love by a single individual, one of the original board members - Suzanne Daniel. I cannot believe the hours and miles she put in to compile this gargantuan list. Yes, it is incomplete and yes, there are errors, but please help us to correct them. Sue is no longer able to continue with the list, but must be recognized for what she has accomplished, which is a framework on which to build. Sue was a professional school librarian and after retirement was on the board and greatly involved in Greenmead, which is Livonia's outstanding historic site. While compiling the list of schools, she has also become a recognized expert on one room schoolhouse furniture.

On behalf of the board, we celebrate the work that Suzanne Daniel, Board Member Emeritus, has accomplished - the compilation of one room schoolhouses, those that once existed in Michigan and those that are still standing. Thank you Suzanne!

Please keep those inquiries coming - we all learn from them!

Walking to School for Eight Years

By George Harold Bonney

We lived about one mile south of the Rhoads School in Floyd Township, Sanborn County, South Dakota. It was expected that the six Bonney kids would walk to school an back. What else? Not all six were there at any one time, but to see three or four of us marching along the graveled (dusty, muddy) road to and from school was the scene. Once in a while we' get a ride, part-way at least.

Lunch boxes in hand other necessities rounded up, the procession would start- either through the south west enclosed porch, or the east closed porch, or northeast through the yard past the brushy Russian Olive trees, through a gap in the fence with the mailboxes on the right and we head north toward school.

Moods might vary widely. Small, unfinished quarrels might linger-we might be a few minutes late-weather nasty. Or a good breakfast, homework done, bright spring sun-all is well. If the road was dry, the occasional auto would cascade us in brown dust or a pebble spun out by a tire. The Olson boys from a mile east might join us, riding along on their old horse. The horse was sheltered at the Rhoads farm near the school.

The mile of road was quite level, almost no hills. On our left was our pasture; right was one of Dad's fields. At the half-way mark, the field had an area for one of our two potato patches. Very important food producer. On the west at the half mile was the cemetery...Bonney cemetery, some said, perhaps because Grandpa Bonney gave the land out of his pasture. But a varied group of families have some members buried there-maybe 50-75 groves including our baby sister Doris May, whom we never knew. There grew the miniature iris we dubbed "Doris May" iris.

Half-mile fences ran east and west, proclaiming that we were now passing Rhoads acres-pasture west and large field east. At that fence stood a large Cottonwood tree-the only tree we passed between our homestead and Rhoads homestead. Prairie!

We arrived at school just beyond the east and west mile road-gravel or course. If it was nice, early kids might play around outside for a few minutes. If it was cold, or we were late or on-time, we would go into the sheltered but unheated ante room, get off our boots, caps, coats, deposit lunch buckets and go on into the (hopefully) warm school room. Hopefully, because it was the teacher's job to start the fire each morning. If she/he was late, or it the fire didn't start well, the room could be cool in the corners. Of course a little of this heat seeped into the ante room-water and lunches didn't freeze there.

After school we would repeat the walk, only things were in reverse. Sometimes we might find things of interest along the road. Once we saw a playing card or two. We felt they were so wicked we hardly dared touch them. So, the walks to school. Some calculations suggest perhaps 2,850 miles in the eight years! Helped keep us healthy, wealthy and wise- maybe.

~Excerpted from An Agrarian Life by George Harold Bonney

Visitors inside of the District No. 1 School.
Lady dressed in period clothing with her son

Black History Month Showcased In One-Room Schoolhouse

by Cheryl Vatcher Martin, M.A.

One doesn't automatically presume that tours related to Black History Month would transpire in a one room school house. But, on February 11th, 2017, the City of Romulus, in conjunction with the museum director, Pearl Varner, organized a tour of our historic buildings, including District No. 1 School, in Romulus, Michigan (circa 1839). The opportunity to learn about local history, or even their own history, presented itself as visitors stepped into the one room school.

This tour, the third event in three years, was held on a Saturday, early in the day so that the attendees who visited where able to see everything during daylight hours.

Some individuals who participated in this event wore a type of period dress reflecting their ancestors or the 1800's time frame, and into the 1900's.

A program was put together in a booklet/ pamphlet for the attendees to read before and along the travel route. Each stop on the tour lasted approximately a half an hour. Besides the schoolhouse and the historic Samuel Kingsley House, they could also see the historic windmill next to the Kingsley House. Behind and adjacent to the school house stands the Pavilion, the restored Caboose, and the original Freight House.

The Samuel Kingsley House, circa 1855, sits across the road from the District No. 1 school house in its present location. This Civil War home was presumed to be a stop on the Underground railroad, when that house was located elsewhere in the City. Also, of relevance, is the fact that these two buildings were moved to the present location on Hunt Street as part of Romulus' Historic Park in downtown Romulus, Mi.

One relic inside of the showcase at the Historic Kingsley House is a pair of shackles or handcuffs which adds a sacred realism to what some of our own members of society perpetuated upon the slaves. It's a sobering moment for all to see such period artifacts. In the District School House, the showcase promoting Black History Month has a variety of items inside it including an old photocopy of the White Church, a Methodist Church that also had a secret room in the dirt cellar which hid escaped slaves on their way to Canada. This dirt room was discovered in 1955 when the Church was moved a few feet to begin work on a basement. A few individuals saw this dugout under the church which was large enough to hold several people. At the time some eating utensils, broken pottery, and hand carvings made out of wood were found there. Unfortunately these artifacts no longer exist, however, one gentleman did a photo documentary with Pearl Varner. His story is a part of Romulus' historical collection.

The one room school house museum is an educational facility. The archives contain one room school house history, and more. Romulus' extensive archives begin in the school house, and the rest are in the Kingsley House. Scholars, researchers, history buffs, and the general public locally and from all over the country have visited to research about the City, their ancestors, and the many one room schools that served the area's populace. Normal hours are held on Sunday from 1:00pm- 4:00pm, and during events such as Black History Month docent tours.

Some of Romulus' history is in the author's recent book, One Room Schools-Vanishing One Room Schools, for $23.00. Her other book that includes Romulus history is Haiku For You: With Some One Room School House History, for $32.00. Contact her at peroinc5@gmail.com for further mailing information.


MORSA 2017 Annual Conference

Saturday May 6, 2017
Sessions from 9:00 A.M. TO 3:00 P.M.

8:30 Registration will be at the St. Joseph Historical Museum
34 N. Main Street
Three Rivers, Michigan 49093

The annual conference is an open and friendly opportunity for all participants to see - talk - learn - eat - reminisce as we celebrate the heritage of Michigan's one-room schools

Conference attendees will:

  • Board a bus for a tour of several one-room schools on the way to historic stone Nottawa School built in 1870.
  • Enjoy a typical day in the one-room school taught by a "school marm,"
  • Be entertained with schoolhouse stories by Warren Lawrence

The annual William Winglar award will presented to the Schoolhouse of the Year-2017.

For information contact
Rochelle Balkam, MORSA Vice-Chairman
222 Wildwood
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103
Phone: 734/668-6294 Email: Balkamhp@gmail.com

Please register now as our exciting event is fast approaching

Places to Stay Three Rivers MI


Voyagers Inn.
0.3 miles from City Center
210 East St.
Voyagers-inn.com 269/279-9260

T&R Inn Between the Lakes
6.0 miles from city center
in between the lakes.com 269/244-5620


Holiday Inn Express Hotel
1207 W. Broadway 800/465-4329

Americas Best Value Inn
1211 W. Broadway 269/273-8100

Super 8
689 Super 8 Way 269/279-8888

For further information: www.rivercountry.com

The Juddville School (Shiawassee Co.)was one of the earliest schools built in Hazelton Township. It was built in 1854 on the NW corner of the NW 1/4 of section 34 (the southeast corner of Durand and Juddville Rd.) It was a log school and Miss Jane Judd was the first teacher. School had been held previous to this in a log cabin in section 22.

John Judd had moved to Hazelton in 1853, purchasing 400 acres in the area. He was instrumental in starting the school and it was named in honor of him. He also started church services in the log school.

The log school was used until 1884 when it was replaced by a brick building which has been re-sided with white siding. The school was closed in the early 1960s and the district was annexed to the New Lothrop and Corunna School Districts. The school stands today (1989) and is owned by Irene Turk.

~"Schools of Yesteryears, Our Heritage," presented by The Shiawassee County Historical Society.

Herding Cats
Trying to find a time when all MORSA board members can meet to carry on business is ever a challenge for MORSA Chairman, Tom M. Johnson. The following note arrived one day in our email inboxes from our excellent leader:

"Well, it turned out that some could come one week and some could come the other. Then some could come anytime and there were some who could come one day and not the next. There were even people who couldn't come any day..."

~Tom M. Johnson,
Chair of MORSA

And that was inspiration for this poem that follows:

The Meeting Time
It was time to have a meeting,
The date, it must be set.
But try to find a date for all-
It's not been settled yet!

For some, they could come one day-
And no other day would do.
But then others said that anytime
Would work-sky gray or blue.

Then there were some who couldn't
Come to any get-together.
So Chairman Tom, forever calm,
Announced his whither-whether:

"We'll have to meet another time,"
Said he-"It shan't be long!"
But like herding cats, he'll find that
They'll scatter and be gone.

~Hannah Geddes Wright

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Haiku For You
By Cheryl Vatcher-Martin

School bell rings now Historic one room school house Red brick structure there

Three students on bench A solid wood seat for them Part of the school house.


Schoolhouse Stamps for SALE

nottawa school Stamp

MORSA continues to offer schoolhouse stamps for sale. The most recent stamp is of the Nottawa School, St. Joseph Co., MI. The cost is $25 for a sheet of 20 stamps. The cost is $25 for a sheet of 20 stamps.

Contact Larry Schlack:
Email: lawr@net-link.net
phone: (269) 388-9136
Mail: 2906 Woodgate Lane, Kalamazoo, MI, 49008

bulletin board email address - hannah47_c@yahoo.com

bulletin board

Jokes for the teachers



Facebook Page Added To Promote
One Room School Houses in Michigan

By Cheryl Vatcher-Martin, M.A., (MORSA board member)

Facebook is a social networking site that attracts users of all ages to find friends, as well as promote local businesses and events. Additionally, many people look for local businesses and non-profits on facebook to find out about upcoming events and exhibits.

This facebook page is called, “Michigan One Room School Houses,” and can be located by typing in the aforementioned title on facebook. You do not have to have a facebook page to access this page that I designed and developed for those who are interested in one room school house history in the area. I have had pictures posted by users from other one room school houses in Michigan.

There is no cost to see this page, or become a fan by clicking the “Like” button. I designed this page to promote one room school houses to all who have an interest in this type of history. Many who are fans of the page have not attended a one room school house, nor taught inside of one. My goal is to reach people who are interested in learning about this type of history, and to share my knowledge with others.

If you’d like to contact me directly about accessing this page, feel free to send me an e-mail at: Peroinc5@comcast.net.

Additionally, I am the author of “Haiku For You: With Some One Room School House History,” and you can order a copy from me for $32.00 dollars via, P.O. Box 871692, Canton, Mi. 48187.


The One-Room Schoolhouse by Paul Rocheleau pays homage to this American icon. Award winning photographer Paul Rocheleau has toured the country in search of schoolhouses that still stand. Capturing in exquisite detail the best examples from the forty-eight contiguous states, Rocheleau explores operating schools, schools restored as historic museums and schools converted into private residences. Accompanying the photos is an absorbing account of his travels, his personal experiences and the historical and architectural information about the schools. Available in bookstores.


Yesterday's School Kids of Isabella County
: a History of One-room Schools in Isabella County, Michigan.
by Jack R. Westbrook & Sherry S. Sponseller, ORSB Publishing, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, 2009. Phone: (989) 773-5741, Email: jackrwestbrook@charter.net.

This book is a photographic history of rural one-room schools in Isabella County. It begins with a short history of Central Michigan
State Normal College. The rest of the book provides basic information township by township. It tells when schools were organized or built, where they were located, when they were closed and lists the teachers for the schools. There is a map of each township and several pictures of each school.


Legacy of One-Room Schools
by Myrna J. Grove

Author and photographer, Myrna Grove, has been an elementary teacher in Bryan, Ohio, since the 1970s. She often re-enacts the oneroom school era by taking her class to visit a nearby restored schoolhouse. With a strong interest in history and genealogy, she began her research by finding original locations of early schools in Williams County, Ohio. She then expanded her study to include Ohio and other
states in the Northwest Territory since these school districts were formed in a similar manner.

Legacy of One-Room Schools is available on Myrna’s web site: www.mgrovebooks.com.


Michigan One-Room Schoolhouses book

Mary Keithan’s Michigan One-Room Schoolhouses is a beautifully illustrated chronicle that details nearly a hundred of the state’s early schoolhouses. Together with information about each schoolhouse’s architecture and history, including interviews with former students and teachers, Keithan’s photographs bring these structures back to life and assure their place in history.

Available from the author: makeithan@aol.com.


Country Schools of Bay County, Michigan 1838-1970
By Odeal L. Sharp

“The rural one-room school was the backbone of learning in Michigan. Throughout America it was the foundation of education for more than 250 years…”

This book is a history and timeline of the people, events and sacrifices that helped shape Bay County’s diverse population in the one-room school, and eventually lead to the consolidated system that we know today.

Contact: Rhea Thompson
1911 Borton Ave.
Essexville, MI 48732
Phone: 989-892-4086


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Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Association

2016 / 2017 Officers

Dr. Tom Johnson, Chair

Rochelle Balkam, Vice-Chair

Larry Schlack, Treasurer

Hannah Geddes Wright, Secretary

Board Members

Suzanne Daniel, Emeritus

Dana Deimel

Tamara Gady

Myrna Grove

Dr. Thomas Gwaltney

Yvonne Hafner

Cheryl Vatcher-Martin

Judy Shehigian

The Slate Newsletter:

Hannah Geddes Wright
"The Slate" Editor and board member

Membership Dues

$10 Senior (age 62+) or Student

$15 Individual. $25 Organizations. $100 Life

Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Association
c/o Tom M. Johnson
4815 Barton Rd.
Williamston, MI 488895


The Slate is a biannual publication of the Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Association.

View a copy of our 2017 Spring Slate Full Issue!

Download PDF for printing Spring Slate 2017 ~ The Slate Spring 2017 Newsletter (PDF)

Download PDF for printing Spring Slate 2016 ~ The Slate Spring 2016 Newsletter (PDF)

Abreviated Web Version ~ Slate Spring 2014 ~ The Slate Spring 2014 Newsletter (PDF)

View a copy of our 2013 Spring Slate Full Issue!

Download PDF for printing Spring Slate 2013 ~ The Slate Spring 2013 Newsletter (PDF)

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stamps items for sale larry schlack email address email balkamp