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Bakersville to honor Bakersville school house at homecoming

| August 8, 2017

BAKERSVILLE – The Bakersville Volunteer Fire Department and the Bakersville Community Park will be hosting their annual homecoming on Aug. 11 – 13 at the Bakersville Community Park, SR 751, Bakersville.

On Friday, Aug. 11, there will be a chicken barbecue. Serving starts at 4 p.m. and the antique tractor pull will begin at 5 p.m. Year 1957 and older tractor models eligible to compete. For more information on the pull, call Terry Mizer at 330-897-1205 or Larry Stahl at 740-498-6491. Musical entertainment provided by Wacky’s Country Experience from 6 – 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, breakfast will be served starting at 7 a.m. The tractor pull starts at 9:30 a.m. Classes are 5,500#, 8,500#, and 12,500#. For more information on the pull, call John Ridenour at 330-897-5293. Kiddie Tractor Pull at 1 p.m. Musical entertainment provided by The County Line Band from 6 – 8 p.m.

On Sunday, Aug. 13, worship service at 10:30 a.m. with Pastor Rod McBride from the Bakersville Presbyterian Church leading the service. Lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. The tractor pull will start at 1 p.m. Classes are 7,000# and 10,500#.

All proceeds will benefit the Bakersville Volunteer Fire Department and the Bakersville Community Park.

This year’s homecoming will honor the former Bakersville school house. Following is the history of the Bakersville School House:

The night of April 28, 1938 changed Bakersville forever. William Storck, Constable of Adams Township was standing in his yard watching an approaching storm when he saw a bolt of lightning hit the Bakersville Schoolhouse. Immediately flames shot out of the northwest corner of the attic of the old wooden building. Running to the Presbyterian Church and ringing the bell, the townspeople were alerted and raced to the old school. Efforts were made to slow the fire’s progress, but they were in vain as winds whipped the flames and they quickly spread.

As the crowd increased, efforts were made to save the contents of the school, but as the fire spread so quickly, very little was saved. Several men rushed to the upstairs to get the piano out but they couldn’t get it down the stairs in time.

The West Lafayette Fire Department was called and Fire Chief Earl C. Bell was in Newcomerstown and notified the department he would meet them at Wagner’s corners and proceed to the fire. Traveling west on what was then State Route 16, Bell lost control of his car at a high rate of speed and crashed into a tree, sustaining fatal injuries. The department headed on to the burning building but by the time they arrived the building was totally engulfed and soon all was lost. The community, hit hard by the depression, stood in shock at the chain of events playing out before them.

The school that burnt was the third school built in Bakersville. Built in 1884, it was a large building with four rooms, two below and two upper. Originally eight grades were taught there. W. Ed Lower, cofounder of the Cleveland Clinic, taught here. In 1900, a high school was started in the building. This was discontinued in 1909. In 1922, a high school was again taught. This time it lasted until 1936. After the high school was discontinued, the upper two rooms were made into one large room and used for community events and social programs. A fire escape was added on the outside. School had just closed for the term about a week before the building was destroyed by the fire.

While the community took the steps to build a new schoolhouse, school was moved to the Taylor Methodist Church Building about two miles south of town. A curtain was hung to separate the church in half and grades 1 – 4 were taught on one side with one teacher and grades 4 – 8 were taught on the other side with one teacher. Many are the tales of the older boys poking the younger scholars thru the curtain with their pencils or paper wads flying across the top.

When we look at the scholars from the thirties in the old pictures, you can immediately see the difference from pictures taken in the 1920’s or 1940’s. Times were extremely hard and these were rural kids. When you look at their clothes, they are ragged. Their faces somber, eyes hungry. Even on picture day you can see missing buttons, clothes made from cloth flour sacks. Hand-me-downs from older siblings. Some years pictures weren’t taken and many of the kids could not afford a copy of a picture when they were, so some years are extremely scarce and in some cases no known copies have survived.

When I talk to these children of the depression their memories are still vivid. One told of milking cows and then bottling it and taking the milk in his wagon and selling it. Ten cents a quart, five cents a pint. One told of her mother frying and egg and then splitting it in half to feed her and her brother. One told of gathering sticks along the road to have fuel for the cook stove.

There are still some left who went to these schools. On Friday, Aug. 11, at the Bakersville Homecoming, all of the ones who are able will gather from 5 to 6 p.m. for a one time gathering. Too soon this chapter of our history will be closed forever. The ones who so far have indicated they are coming range in age from 85 to 97. It is hoped that at least one of the scholars from the Bakersville High School will be there.

Many of these now adults have not seen each other for 75 years or so. Most of the men that are coming served in WWII and Korea. Some are traveling a good distance to be reunited one last time. It will be an emotional but important event as our community takes a moment to honor them.

We hope you can join us.

As for the new school? Next year we will have a one-time reunion of all Bakersville School Scholars, but that’s next year’s story……

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Category: People & Places

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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