MERCER CO., Pa. (WYTV) – Former students of one-room schoolhouses gathered in Mercer County Sunday to remember their time in the small buildings.
Mercer County relied on them for more than 150 years and once had more than 300 one-room schoolhouses. They were all situated so neighborhood kids could easily walk to school.
The teacher had to handle all the students from grades 1-8.
“I think that would be totally confusing as a student and as a teacher,” said bob lark, mercer county historical society. “But they thought that was beneficial — and possibly it was, I don’t know.”
Former students say having several grade levels in one building had many positives.
“The bigger kids would sort of look after the smaller ones,” Margaret McLaughlin. “And I can remember the teacher would take so much time for the first grade, second grade, then she’d move on.”
And if pupils got out of line in school, their parents were quick to step in.
“I was always a good student,” Eckler said. “If I my mother found out I wasn’t a good student, then I would end up with a very sore butt.”
Brothers Ron and Bill Wagner both went to a one-room school.
Ron once accidentally broke the front window and Bill remembers how much work there was outside of reading and math.
“There’s a little coal shed over there, and in the winter we’d go out with two coal buckets, fill them up and set them by the stoves,” Bill Wagner said. “The ash in the bottom of the stove had to be pulled out and dumped and then we’d scatter it on the driveway.”
There were no pipes in the building, so the students had to fill crocks with drinking water — gallons and gallons every day.
“And again, the boys did most of that,” Wagner said. “Now on Friday, we had to clear the blackboard. We had to wash it. The erasers had to be taken outside and beat.”
When the population started to grow, townships pulled together and built large central schools.
The last one-room schoolhouse closed in 1960. It’s open to visitors on Sunday afternoons during the summer.