One-room country schools had deep roots in Boone Township

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The Booneville school was in use as an American Legion Hall until 1970.

This article comprises research conducted by Sue Leslie, Myrna Griffith and Deanette Snyder.

Boone Township is located in the southeast corner of Dallas County. According to the 1970 “Van Meter Centennial History,” which also includes history for Booneville, the Fox and Sac Indians roamed the territory for centuries.

A treaty signed in 1842 ceded the land to the U.S., with the Indians allowed to occupy it until 1845, when they were sent to Kansas. Although settlers were prohibited from staking claims, evidence shows many of the first pioneers had been on their land before the signal date.

Boone Township’s first settler and cabin builder was John Wright, whose cabin was located near the center of the township. In 1847 a caravan of covered wagons arrived from Indiana.

Among the settlers were Priscilla Goodson and her husband, Joseph. Priscilla would become the first teacher in Dallas County. In the 1879 “History of Dallas County,” Miller School in Adel Township is named as the first schoolhouse in the county. Because the Goodsons held church services in their home until the Fairview Church was built, it can be supposed that Priscilla taught children in their home as well.

Besides the church, the young settlers soon built log cabins and a school house on the west bank of Johnson Creek. Other schools followed: on the farms of George Reeves in Section 11, Henry C. Robinson in Section 3, William Mullis in Section 21, Charles Rehbein in Section 17, Charles A. Hubbard in Section 35, Calvin W. Burt in Section 23 and Anthony Forret in Section 19.

These schools were used as religious and social centers as well as for education. The last years of the one-room schools cost the township $13,000. When the schools consolidated in 1949-1950, there were nine schools, with the tenth already consolidated with Waukee.

In 1930 Sarah Boone Mussen, then 91, recalled that “when the land was cleared and the crops planted and later as the village grew, a log school house was built. It also became the center of activities for the older folks. They went there once a month for a night of singing. For a change, once in a while they would have a taffy pull. This attracted people from miles around.”

This log school that was located north and east of Booneville was burned, and a red brick school replaced it. The year 1949 marked the final year that Booneville #5 would serve as a school. In years to follow, pupils of the area would be bused to Van Meter Consolidated School.

The ground for Booneville School was purchased in 1876 for $100. A school was moved from a hill northeast of Booneville to a location on the southeast corner of the town, and it served as a school until 1949, when it was sold to Booneville American Legion. In 1970 it was being used as the Legion Hall and Community Center.

In an ongoing effort to preserve the history of our township schools, we are seeking details on the names and locations of the other schools in Boone Township. If you have any information about these schools, such as their location or stories of students who attended them, our group would like to hear from you. Please contact Myrna Griffith at wpldirector@minburncomm.net, Deanette Snyder at deanettesnyder@gmail.com or Sue Leslie at densueles@aol.com.

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