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RSIP History of Highland School
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One-Room School Houses in Henry County
At one time, Henry County had 104 one-room school houses. The majority were in rural areas, serving communities that now exist in name only. Some of the school names were Bethlehem, Cleveland, Elm Branch, Freedom, George, Hortense, Mound, Norris, Piper, Richland, Star, White Oak, and Willow Branch.
To preserve that history, the Henry County Historical Society moved Highland School, a one-room schoolhouse near Calhoun, to the grounds of the Henry County Museum. The new location is near the site of the first school in Clinton, which was in a log cabin across from the home of Jerubial Dorman. One of the first settlers to Henry County, Dorman built his home in 1852 on the corner of Franklin and Waters Streets. He was a merchant, judge, state legislator and captain of the Home Guard during the American Civil War. As a member of Clinton’s first school board, he helped to establish schools.
A photo of a log school in the Henry County Museum Genealogy Library might be of Dorman’s school or it could be Curtis School, one of the oldest rural schools in Henry County. Built during the Civil War era, it was located north of Clinton on old Highway 13. In 1835, three log cabin schools were constructed in Henry County. They operated on a subscription basis, with a monthly tuition fee paid or bartered by the parents. In 1839, Missouri legislators passed a public school law authorizing the creation of school districts supported by taxation. Money was collected by assessing each family based on the value of their property, and ranged from 10 cents to 40 cents per $100 value. School districts could also finance building projects through the sale of bonds.
The date of the construction of Highland School is unknown, but the architecture is similar to the photos of White School built in1886 and Oak Dale built in 1887. It is a typical vernacular style of construction- a rectangular building with white painted wood siding, center peak roof and a central door. Tall narrow windows on two sides provide lighting, with a raised dais for the teacher’s desk. In the 1880s and1890s, male teachers were paid on the average a monthly salary of $35. Female teachers received less.
The schoolhouse was donated to the museum by Sarah Shoemaker, and moved 10 miles to the Homestead, across from the museum, which also moved a dog-trot home, log barn and corn crib to the property. Henry County One-room School is part of the museum tour, and is also used for school field trips and immersion experiences. Judge Dorman’s two-story, Greek Revival home, which is in the National Register of Historic Places, is open by arrangement and for event rentals. To schedule a tour, classroom visit or event rental, call the Henry county Museum, 660-885-8414.