My earliest recollection was of my sister, Harriet, and Mary Adair trying to kill a rooster I claimed. I was so angry that I used some bad language, and Lou Adair gave me a switchin.
I must have been six or seven years of age when I started to school. The schoolhouse was on what is now the William Dunmire farm. Walter Lelless and James Kier later owned the farm. The schoolhouse stood to the right of the road as you go up from the Wherry schoolhouse. My first teacher was Alexander Wilson, a brother of Billy Wilson. He was a cruel teacher. One of his methods of punishment was to bore a hole in a board with a red-hot poker and then make the older, unruly pupils stick their fingers in these holes.
A white thorn rod or two always stood in the corner of the room. The schoolhouse was of logs, hewed flat on the inside. The cracks were filled with yellow clay to keep out the cold air. The big fireplace about four feet wide was at the rear end of the schoolhouse. Logs three or four feet long were burned for fuel. The seats were made of slabs set on wooden pins. Wooden pins were placed in the sides of the walls under the windows, and boards placed on these served as desks, and we sat on slab seats in front of these.
Slates and pencils were used by the older pupils. Goose quill pens were used at that time. If the pupils could not make the pens themselves, the teacher made them. The three “R’s” were taught. I think McGuffey’s Speller and Reader were used. It may have been Cobb’s Speller.
Others who attended the old log schoolhouse were the Findleys, Fulmers, Kings, two or three Allshouse families, the Georges, and Susan, Nancy and Theodore Lelless. A fellow by the name of Hugh McKee also attended. He got a licking almost every day. He left the country, and I don’t know what became of him.
I was probably ten years of age when the Wherry schoolhouse was built. It was an improvement over the log schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was used as a meeting place also. Weekly “singings” were held. My first singing teacher was “Billy” James. He would hold a singing Friday afternoon and teach music. The round notes were used when I started to singing school. The buckwheat notes were used in father’s time. A tuning fork gave the pitch. People came from all around for three or four miles to the singings. Silas King was one of the teachers after I grew up.
We attended church services at Eldersridge in the first brick church there. Father had a surrey. Later the West Lebanon Church was erected, and the Presbyterians about South Bend went there. Dr. Donaldson preached at both churches. We often walked to West Lebanon and attended Sabbath School and Church.
Dr. Donaldson used to come around once a year and ask catechism questions. He rode horseback and was a large man. We often rode horseback to West Lebanon. We kept four or five working or riding horses. We usually kept four or five cows. We used a dog churn and later a barrel churn.
Sam McCartney lived at South Bend and kept a store. There was a mill built by a man the name of France and a tailor shop stood across the road from the L.A. Townsend house. Dave Ralston bought the farm which now belongs to Will Coleman. He was some sort of a dealer. He sold part of the land around South Bend to Chambers Orr. He didn’t own the Captain France farm.