Harveys Lake
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The Lake Township School System

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The Outlet School and the Lake's Early Schools

The Outlet School is the sole surviving structure of the lumber ghost town of Outlet Mills. It is also the oldest surviving school-room building in Lake Township, located one mile below the outlet of Harvey's Lake at the intersection of Outlet Road and the Lehman-Outlet Road.

The name Outlet signifies the outlet stream, Harvey's Creek, of Pennsylvania's largest natural lake, Harvey's Lake in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The Outlet was the Lake's original settlement area when the Hollenback interests created the lumbering town of Outlet Mills along the creek in 1839-40 four-tenths of a mile below the Lake's outlet dam. Matthew Hollenback and later his son, George Hollenback, owned vast tracts of land from Wilkes-Barre to Elmira including much of the Lake region. In 1841 Lake Township was created from parts of Lehman and Monroe Townships in Luzerne County. In 1842 a portion of Lake Township in the Ruggles area reverted to Monroe Township when Monroe was included in a new Wyoming County.

The Hollenback and Urquhart mills along Harvey's Creek near the Lake were water-powered and capable of manufacturing one million board feet annually. The Hollenback company apparently had a company school house at Outlet Mills since the first Lake Township elections were held there on October 11, 1842. The earliest supervisors of the township were Jonathan Williams, Stephen Kocher and John Fosnot (or Fosnock), the latter an agent of the Hollenback interests.

The earliest township school was in the Otis Allen home at Allen Town, later renamed Loyalville, in 1842-44 with Jonathan Williams as the teacher. In 1844 a school was built on the Henry Ide farm. (The Ide Road is along Route 29 midway between Loyalville and Pikes Creek). School classes were held in the Nathan Kocher home at the West Corner in 1847-48 and 1848-49 until a school building was constructed there later in 1849 with Eliner Montross as the teacher.

The township's Outlet School was created in late 1849 to serve the 1849-50 term with Jonathan Williams as its first teacher. Williams was the son of a ship builder Jonathan Williams from Connecticut who moved to Peekskill, N.Y., in 1866 where the son Jonathan was born. The father died six weeks before his son was born.

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Jonathan Williams

There is little information about the Outlet School for its early years. The township was very rural and its population in 1850 was only 303. By 1870 the population was 597; in 1880 it was 863. By 1890 the population was 1,144 due to the Lake's growth with a railroad increasing its access to the Valley.

By 1860 the entire township was still largely forested with pine, oak and hemlock. Only one-eighth of the township had been cleared to support farming and lumbering was its main business with 5 saw mills, one planing and lath mill, and one grist mill. There were no churches as services were held in schools.

In October 1929 Charles D. Linskill, a prominent Wilkes-Barre newspaper man, received a letter from a boyhood friend, J.C. Mullison, who recounted teaching at the Durland school in Lake Township:

I want to write to you for it is just sixty-eight years today since my father said to me: "Jable, there is a teachers' examination today in the Goss school house in Dallas. I want you to go to it and stay all day and see what you must learn in order to pass examination for a teacher's certificate." Neither he nor I had any thought of trying to be examined, so I went. Abel Marcy was county superintendent and he referred several questions to me for a different answer and when the day was done he gave me a certificate. It was October 5, 1861, and I lacked two weeks of being sixteen.
When I got home my mother said: "Now Jable, you can teach school this winter." You cannot imagine how strange it seemed - big boy as I was - to think really of teaching school. But Father and Mother and I went to Loyalville, Lake Township, and I got the Durland school to teach. I taught that school two winters. In those days I taught twenty-four days for a month and received a $16 a month and "boarded round." That is I boarded a week or more at the home of each pupil.

In September 1866 Outlet teacher C.E. Case had 16 male students; four each were from the Urquhart, Hoover and Kocher families. Student ages were from 4 to 16. The subjects were alphabet, spelling, reading, writing, mental and written arithmetic, geography and grammar. The following September 1867 Outlet teacher Evan Linskill had 23 males and 17 females. Nine of the children were Kochers and 5 were Hoovers.

Other known schools in 1866-1870 were the Durland, Lewis, Rock and by 1875 the New (perhaps later named Red) schools. The Durland school was at the intersection of Mooretown Road and Route 29, now a forested plot. The Lewis school may have served the Lewis family settlement at Pikes Creek, perhaps becoming the Maple Grove school. The New or Red school may have become the Ruggles school. In January 1867 Rock teacher Monerma Gregory had 7 boys, ages 7 to 12, and 10 girls, ages 4 to 13. Five of the children were Kochers. In August 1866 the Lewis school's teacher Rachel A. Lewis had 7 boys and 20 girls. In December 1866 Durland's Mary T. Hawley had only 3 boys and 8 girls: they only attended two-thirds of the school days that month. By January 1870 Josiah Wagner had 19 boys and 18 girls at Durland.

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Ruggles School, March 1903

In 1873 the Lake Township schools, all one-room, were Outlet, Rock (near Ruggles), Allen (at Loyalville), Durland, and Maple Grove (next to the Methodist Church at Pikes Creek).

Beginning in the 1880s news accounts of the Outlet community began to periodically note activities of the school. In October 1884 Outlet school children, under the direction of its teacher Maggie Montross, entertained a picnic crowd at the Lake Grove House, a Sunset hotel. The following term Susie Edwards was the school teacher - with Winifred Perrego as teacher in December 1885.

The 1890s are largely blank regarding the school. In February 1898 Harriet Bridler of Wilkes-Barre was teaching 36 Outlet pupils while Edwin Cobleigh was at the Meeker school in Lehman Township down the Meeker-Outlet road which is still standing in 2018. Cobleigh would transfer to Outlet in 1899.

A rare 1899 Luzerne County map notes 10 one-room schools in the township: Outlet, Maple Grove, Durland, Weintz, Rock, Ruggles, West Corner, Lakeside, Shady Rill, and a Beth Run school along the Lehigh Valley Railroad for the isolated lumbering area near the Mountain Springs/Ricketts area. News accounts for Beth Run occur from 1896 to 1905 when Esther Lamoreaux and Herbert Williams were respectively the teachers in 1903-04 and 1904-05.

In early March 1899 the Lake pioneer Jonathan Williams died at age 99. He had served twenty-two terms as a Lake teacher and over twenty years as a justice of the peace and was most often known as Squire Williams. He is buried at the Chestnut Grove Cemetery at the rear of the Loyalville United Methodist Church. His descendants are still prominent members of the Lake community.

In January 1900 Edwin E. Cobleigh had 27 boys and 29 girls at Outlet but attendance was erratic. The highest attendance - two boys - came to school 20 days but one girl only came two days. Most children came 10-15 days. For the entire term of September 4, 1899, to April 4, 1900, the average monthly attendance was 17 days for boys and 19 for girls. The class was treated to an end-of-school dinner. Edwin E. Cobleigh was very popular with the Outlet community. He later taught at the Loyalville school and then moved to Wilkes-Barre where he became principal of the city's Hillard Grove school. He died in May 1918 from pneumonia.

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Ruggles School C. 1902
Corey Kleintob, Teacher

For the 1900-01 school year the township school board closed the Pond, Durland and Shady Rill one-room schools and built a graded school at Booth's Corners in Loyalville. The Loyalville school was dedicated on September 29, 1900. The Pond school was possibly the Allen school at the now dry Lee's Pond in Loyalville. Shady Rill was at the intersection of the Pine Tree and Loyalville Roads. The one-room schools were ungraded with students combined into a one to eighth grade (or perhaps one to sixth grade) single class room.. The school day was divided into teaching sessions for smaller groupings of grades. Little is known of the two-story Loyalville school. With two teachers there was likely a 1-4 grade room and a 5-8 room. It was the only "graded" township school for the next decade. The Loyalville school still stands at the intersection of Maple Tree and Hickory Tree Roads.

In November 1900 M. Edith Moss was the Outlet teacher with 18 boys and 28 girls and 5 pupils had perfect attendance for the month. For the term beginning September 2, 1901, Norman Lamoreaux was the Outlet teacher. C.S. Hildebrandt taught at Outlet in April 1905 when he had 52 pupils equally divided between boys and girls. When school closed Mabel Anderson (Oney) and Ray Crispell won prizes for "efficient work."

In April 1907 revival meetings were held in the Outlet School. In October 1907 Mrs. Fred Pettebone was teaching at Outlet. This was unusual as teaching positions were usually limited to men, married or unmarried, or unmarried females. The narrow view of rural school directors was that a duty to support a married woman was with her husband and not a school board.

In 1908 the Lake school district recognized that consolidation of one-room schools was needed but it would be six years before a four-room school for grades one through eleven was offered at West Corner. In June 1908 the Lakeside school along the Lake near Alderson was dismantled and its lumber used to construct a new 3-room Laketon school at West Corner with three teachers. The Rock school near the top of East Sorber Mountain had limited seasons in both 1908 and 1909, with no winter classes and only seven months of school classes during the two years. In 1911-12 the Laketon school at West Corner was expanded to 4-rooms. The school year was increased from 7 to 8 months. In April 1912 the district decided to close the Ruggles, Rock, Bowmans Creek and Wentz schools for the 1912-13 school year. The Bowmans Creek school was apparently the Beth Run school. There was also a still-standing Bowmans Creek school in Noxen in Wyoming County. The Weintz school was in the Mooretown area near the Ross Township line. When Lakeside was closed students in the Alderson area attended Dallas Township's Alderson graded school near the Lake's border with Dallas. With an expanded Laketon school children from closed schools including Alderson would now be bused to the new Laketon school at the West Corner.

The 1912-13 West Corner School offered grades 9-10 for the first time in the Lake Township School District. Grade 11 was added in 1914-15 under Principal William Smith. Students who wanted a 12-year diploma had to relocate to a city, usually Wilkes-Barre, for a final year degree to be eligible to attend most colleges, including a State Normal School to become a teacher.

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Outlet School 1906
Clark Hildebrandt, Teacher

In 1916 the school board took measures to enforce the school truancy law including the occasional arrest of parents.

By 1923 the Laketon school at West Corner was already in severe disrepair and was condemned by the State Department of Health. In this year Mrs. Ernest Keller was teaching at Outlet. In December 1923 the local court ousted the three township school directors for neglect of duties in maintaining adequate school facilities. Taxpayers sought court action to prevent closure of the Laketon school and the district reopened Rock school for 38 pupils in September. Rock would remain open through the 1931-32 term. There is limited unclear evidence that a new school- the New Rock-was either built or an existing building fitted for school use near the midpoint of East Sober Mountain Road in this period.

In the meantime a citizen's lawsuit against the school district sought to halt the district from spending $35,000 to build the new Laketon school on West Point Avenue. In May 1925 the court denied the request to halt construction.

In the meantime with the opening of the 1925-26 school year the Outlet School was reduced from 1 to 8 grades to 1 to 6 grades. Higher grades transferred to the West Corner school near Sandy Beach. Clara Stephenson taught the first 1 to 6 grade configuration at Outlet followed by Joseph Parks in 1926-1927. In the final year of the old Laketon school in 1925-26 the school's basketball team won the Back Mountain league championship season with Ben Rood as team captain.

On March 30, 1925, construction began on the new Laketon High School by the general contractor Berwick Lumber and Supply Company. The Laketon school was open for the 1926-1927 year after a May 21, 1926, dedication ceremony led by the Ku Klux Klan and an address by Dr. James Bennett, Philadelphia, who spoke on the work of the Anti-Saloon League.

In 1927 the Outlet School, with its red colored exterior, received both an exterior and interior re-painting. A new concrete front step, presumably the one still in place, was added, along with an additional black board and new flag pole. A coal house was added behind the school and filled with a two-year supply of coal. A second-hand piano was added to the school for morning opening exercises. Only with the new Laketon High School did the district offer a complete 1 to 12 grades.

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Outlet School 1908
Bessie Neely (Hawk), top left, Teacher

For 1927-28 under teacher Elizabeth York the Outlet School only offered grades 1 to 5 as 6 to 8 were transferred to the new Laketon High School.

In 1930-31 the Maple Grove school at Pikes Creek apparently closed and its teacher Eleanor Hughes transferred to the new Pikes Creek school at the Y split of Route 118 and Main Road.

After the 1931-32 school year the one-room Rock School was closed. The last teacher was Genevieve Wolfe with a $100 monthly salary. The Rock School stove was sent to Outlet and the out-houses were donated to the Ruggles M. E. Church.

In August 1932 the school board formalized its policy of prohibiting married women from teaching positions by a 3-2 vote. Voting against the resolution were directors Elwood Oney and I.A. Rood. The board also authorized a church group to hold services in the Outlet school during the 1932 Summer. In July 1933 the board apparently failed to adopt a resolution that a woman teacher who subsequently marries voids her teaching contract.

Major topics of Lake Township School Board meetings were concerned with the annual appointments of teachers, and the awarding of bus route contracts - generally for a three year term. In July 1936 the board awarded bus contracts for five different bus routes: Pat Elias for Alderson to Laketon High at $129 monthly; C.E. Shaver from Lehman line via Outlet to Laketon at $137 monthly; George M. Anderson from Sorber Mountain to Tulips Corners to Laketon at $95 monthly; R.H. Williams from the Weintz farm to Loyalvile and Outlet to Laketon at $160 monthly; and Bruce Crispell from Warden Place to Sunset and Point Breeze to Laketon at $150 monthly. Otherwise, the board decided both large and small issues: repairs to schools, furniture purchases, size of tires on certain bus routes, even purchases of toilet paper. The array of minor issues before a rural board of an earlier era would be impossible for a present-day board to manage.

The issue of bus transportation in Lake Township reached the court system in 1931. The public school code at the time required the school district to provide bus service only to children who lived more than 1.5 miles from an elementary school. Otherwise, children walked to school. A Lake Township father sued the Lake school district because the bus did not stop at his home and the father paid tuition to send his children to the Dallas and Lehman schools to preclude the long walks to the Lake schools. The father wanted the court to order the Lake district to reimburse the father for his tuition payments. In December 1931 Judge W. A. Valentine ruled against the father holding state law did not required the district to provide door-to-door service nor a bus service to avoid the 1.5 mile walk for even young children.

Before 1937-38 the Outlet School had also transferred fourth grade to Laketon. In 1937 a new State teacher's tenure law was adopted by the State legislature. It constitutionality was attacked by school boards but upheld by the Courts. Albert Crispell was retained as Outlet's teacher in 1937-38, 1938-39, 1939-40, and 1940-41 but he was drafted very early in the school year. Beulah Anderson Bronson was retained for Outlet for the balance of the school year and for 1942-43, and the school was officially closed by the school board after the school term on August 9, 1943.

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Laketon High Class 1917
George A. Robinson, Principal

Pikes Creek was also closed after the 1942-43 school year. Among the last Pikes Creek school teachers was Esther M. Sutherland, age 23, who died in late July 1941 after an illness. The last teacher was Mrs. Mildred A. Garinger. The Loyalville School which then had grades 1-6 was closed after the 1946-47 term. The last teachers were Genevieve King and Thelma Culp. With these closures the Lake Township School District had consolidated its school system at Laketon High School, which was lost to an arson fire in February 1979. The Lake-Noxen Elementary School was built on the site and dedicated on May 31, 1981.. The Lake-Lehman Junior-Senior High School, opened for the 1963-64 school year, now covers the higher grades.

In October 1948 the Outlet School was sold by the township school board to Walter "Base" Sorber, a school neighbor, after the school board donated the school's stove to the Ruggles Church Hall. At one time Base was an employee of the Lake's steamboat company. He leased the school to Elston and Gould, a Dallas business, who stored tires in the building after opening a side of the school for enlarged doors. The building was later purchased by Floyd B. Milbrodt in August 1978 who sold it in May 1979 to James T. Murphy.

During these years of private ownership and after Elston and Gould's tire storage years, the school was leased for private housing. A World War II veteran, Guy B. Siglin, rented it. Then Wilbur and Nellie May with their family lived in the school, partitioned into living and bedroom areas. They used a wood-burning stove and hauled water from springs along Bear Hollow Road. Finally, Ed Shilanski, once a student at the school, lived there. In May 1988 the school was purchased by Albert and Rachel Crispell. Albert Crispell was a former teacher at the school.

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Albert J. Crispell

Albert Crispell purchased the school in order to restore it to the 1943 era school he once taught. He recounted his plan in a July 27, 1988, article in the Suburban News:

Like a man who has lost his spirit, so is a building that's been abandoned and left vacant. Especially when the building's sole purpose at one time was concerned with children. The one-room schoolhouse located on the corner of Outlet-Lehman and Meeker Roads, in Outlet, is one such building. Where there was once laughter and sounds of young, impressionable minds discovering the wonders of the world, there is now a contrasting silence which is offset only by the stark appearance of an empty shell. Where children once played, there is now tall, overgrown grass; black boards have been replaced by bare walls, and the life once held within those walls has been consumed by the forgotten years.
Many a resident has driven by almost totally overlooking the structure, with a few pondering the question of whether or not the building could once again serve some purpose to the community. It wasn't until recently however, when former area resident, Albert J. Crispell, purchased the property, that much of a future existed for the building that has been abandoned some 45 years. It is Crispell's hope that he, along with other family members and friends, can restore the structure back to its original condition as he remembers it as a young man.

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Outlet School 1988

"While my mother and my aunts and uncles attended school there, I did not, simply because we weren't living in that area at that time. However, I did teach there beginning in September of 1937 when I was only nineteen years old. At that time, there were only three grades in the school; first, second, and third. At one time, before I began teaching, there had been up to eight grades in the one-room schoolhouse. I'll never forget how I was hired for the job. I had heard on a Sunday that the position was open, and school was to start in just two days. There was a school meeting then on Monday evening to discuss the situation. I attended the meeting and expressed to them my interest in teaching at the school. I already had two years of college, and if I didn't get the job, I was prepared to return to college for a third year. When I came home that night, I threw the keys to the school on my parents' bed. That was my signal to them that I got the job. And so I started the very next morning! I guess they must have liked me, I was there for a little over four years before being inducted into the Army in November of 1941."
The position of one-room schoolhouse teacher held many more responsibilities than merely teaching. Crispell, although not in title, also "had to serve as school nurse, administrator, disciplinarian, sports director, sometimes referee, and yes, even water boy and janitor."
"Every morning, I would arrive early enough to open the school and see there was a fresh supply of water for the children," continued Crispell. "We of course, didn't have running water in the school, or even a well of our own for that matter. So, we would get our water from a nearby neighbor, Gertrude [Anderson] May. In fact, she still lives there and I visited her when I was home recently. Crispell currently resides in Levittown. She clearly remembers letting us get water from her."
"There was also no electricity or telephone, so I was pretty much on my own there," he added. "Whatever would come up, I would have to handle it as best I could. Most of the kids would arrive in the morning on the bus, while others from the Meeker area had to walk. There were around nineteen or twenty-one kids in all, or maybe around seven kids in each class. School would begin at about 8:45 a.m., and I would divide the day up so I could give some time to each of the three grades. The courses were pretty well basic, Reading, Arithmetic, Spelling, and English. That's all there was to it, really. When we would hear the bus coming back, usually around 3:45 p.m., we would dismiss the kids, so they could go home."

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Laketon High Basketball Team
Back Mountain Champions 1925-26
Ben Rood, Captain (front center)

"I had thought about purchasing the school a few times in the past," said Crispell. "I guess there have been other owners since it was closed as a school around 1943. From what I could tell, the district sold the building in 1948, and since then, it has been used primarily for storage. I have other ideas for it."
Crispell's plans include completely restoring the structure and even the surrounding grounds to as close to what it looked like some fifty years ago. Once this is accomplished, he would then like to see it opened as a museum for the public's enjoyment.
"It's going to take a lot of time and work, that's for sure," he exclaimed. "After all these years, it wasn't in the best condition, not to mention that some changes to the structure have been added by previous owners. We're already begun mowing the grass and cutting bush, but we have to do all this work a little at a time when we're in the area visiting. I've been going to flea markets also, in hopes of finding items that would help me in the restoration."
"Some of the major restorations will include the replacing of some of the windows," he continued, "I think some of them are the original six-pane windows, while others are not. Also, the chalk boards have been removed, and I need to find the type of desks we had in there. They were the type that screwed right into the floor, and right now, I have no idea where to get these. I also always remember the building as being white. It's now red, so it will have to be repainted. The finished result is certainly something I see as far off."

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Beulah Anderson Bronson
Outlet's Last Teacher

"I want to do this for two basic reasons," concluded Crispell. "First of all, I believe this will be a real asset to the community. I feel it's something they would like to have and could relate to. Many of the local residents in that area have their own memories of going to school there. I also want this to be a sort of memorial to the years of service the Crispell family has given to the education of children. I have just completed forty years in education myself, and my sister, Alma, also completed forty years. My wife and one daughter are also teachers, so you see, it's a very large part of our lives."

Albert Crispell received a teaching certificate after a two-year course at Mansfield Teachers College in 1937. After his service in the U.S. Army in World War II he taught at Laketon High School, earned a full college degree in 1947 and a Master's degree from Penn State in 1948 and later a Ph.D. in Education in 1982. He later taught in Delaware and was a principal at an elementary school in Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, from 1954 until his 1983 retirement.

Albert Crispell restored the Outlet School to a time when he taught Grades 1-3 there in the pre-World War II era. It required structural repairs to the walls, windows, floor and roof. In the Summer of 1988 an arsonist caused fire damage to the rear of the school and Crispell decided to cover the exterior with aluminum siding to protect the school. He acquired furnishings including old desks, slate chalkboards, a flag pole, old school books, and a new cupula and bell. After his passing in mid-February 2001 the school was held in a trust by his widow Rachel Crispell.

In October 3003 the Outlet School was sold to a descendant of the Anderson family, pioneers of the Lake region since 1847. Anderson children attended the school in the pre-World War I era. The Outlet School is maintained in this same manner as Albert Crispell intended.

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Outlet School 1938
Albert J. Crispell, Teacher

Post Script

The closure of one-room schools accelerated in the 1940s both in the State and Luzerne County. There were 53 one-room schools in the county in 1947. In April 1948 voters in Dorrance and Ross Townships approved bond issues to replace 12 one-room schools with new schools. State laws now encouraged closing of one-room schools. In January 1954 Ross Township dedicated a consolidated elementary school in Sweet Valley to replace 7 one-room schools. Later in the year Hunlock Township dedicated a new school and closing 6 one-room schools. By the mid-1950s an average of 250 one-room schools were closing annually in Pennsylvania. State legislation was proposed to close all remaining one-room schools by 1961. By the Fall of 1956 the only remaining one-room in Luzerne County was in Buck Township serving 39 students in grades 1 to 8. Actually, it was a two-room building but only one-room was reserved for a school while the second room was used for municipal purposes. Opened in 1941 the concrete Buck Township School closed after the 1967-68 school year. Its use is now limited to municipal purposes.


APPENDIX: Outlet School Teachers

1849-50: Jonathan Williams
1866-67: C.E. Case
1867-68: Eva Linskill
1868-69: Netti Edwards
1869-72: Marietta Neely
1870-71: Lizzie E. Brown
1885-86: Winifred Perrego
1897-98: Harriet T. Bridler
1898-99: Edwin E. Cobleigh
1899-00: Edwin E. Cobleigh
1900-01: M. Edith Moss
1901-02: Norman Lamoreaux
1904-05: Clark S. Hildebrandt
1906-07: Mrs. Fred Pettebone
1907-08: Bessie Neely (Hawk)
1908-09: Jessie M. Swartz
1911-12: Miss _____ Lamoreaux

1923-24: Maud W. Keller
1925-26: Clara Stephenson (Grades 1-6)
1926-27: Joseph Parks
1927-28: Elizabeth York (Grades 1-5)
1928-29: Iona L. Evans
1929-30: Letha Gordon Bryant
1930-31: Letha Gordon Bryant
1931-32: Marcon Barney
               T.A. Sorber
1932-33: Dorothy Jones
1933-34: Dorothy Jones
1934-35: Dorothy Jones
1935-36: Dorothy Jones
1936-37: Gertrude M. Harris
1937-38: Albert Crispell (Grades 1-3)
1938-39: Albert Crispell (Grades 1-3)
1939-40: Albert Crispell (Grades 1-3)
1940-41: Albert Crispell (Grades 1-3)
1941-42: Albert Crispell (Drafted Sept. 1941)
               Beulah Anderson Bronson
1942-43: Beulah Anderson Bronson
School Closed: : August 9, 1943


Copyright July 2018 F. Charles Petrillo