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“Kids growing up today don’t have a clue what it was like for us carrying our lunch in a paper bag and having a coal stove in the middle of the room in the winter. Everybody was poor back then, only we didn’t know we were poor.”
Guy Neil Ramsey
The Shubael Little Pioneer Village has received a grant to move the Millstone one-room School to the growing pioneer settlement located on Indiana 66 a short distance north of Rocky Point.
The $20,000 grant will cover the cost of partially dismantling the school, trucking it to the village on wheels and setting it on a new foundation. The grant also covers the cost of removing the roof before the move and replacing it at the new location.
Guy Neil Ramsey, who attended all eight grades at the school, granted the funding through the Ramsey Foundation, a charitable group affiliated with Ramsey Development Corp. Building Movers LLC of Crestwood, Ky., will move the school. J&L Construction of Branchville will remove and replace the roof.
The school was recently donated to the village by Larry Keller and the heirs of the late Doran and May Keller.
The school will join other historic Perry County structures and homesteads in a pastoral setting at the village.
“We’ve been following closely the progress being made by the folks at the village and we’re pleased to be able to help with this project,” said Ramsey. “Kids growing up today don’t have a clue what it was like for us carrying our lunch in a paper bag and having a coal stove in the middle of the room in the winter. Everybody was poor back then, only we didn’t know we were poor.”
A site for the school has already been prepared by village board member Bill Gibson. Village developer Chuck Poehlein said the move will not be accomplished until the coming summer.
“The move from Millstone to Indiana 166 and on that state route is only about five miles, but we’re moving from one pasture to the middle of another pasture, and that can only be done in dry weather,” he said.
The building is about 24 feet wide and 30 feet long.
“As house-moving projects go, this isn’t much of a challenge,” Poehlein said. In the meantime, there is much preparatory work to be done. All of the windows must be removed and restored, and the original slate blackboards will be removed, then restored.
The mud room in front of the building will also have to be removed, then put back after the move. Deteriorated floor beams will be replaced with new treated timbers and interior lath and plaster repaired. As with other historic structures in the village, both the interior and exterior will be restored as close as possible to what the developers believe was its original appearance.
Millstone School is believed to have been built in 1905. Guy Neil Ramsey graduated from the eighth grade there in 1942. “In the first grade, I was in the first row, and in the eighth grade I was in the eighth row,” he said. The school is believed to have closed in 1948. “We have the names of others who attended school there and we’ll be contacting them to get their recollections and gather as much history about it as we can,” Gibson said. “Actually, we’d like to talk to anyone who has recollections about the school, whether they were a student or not.”
Poehlein looks forward to the former school’s role of educating visitors on the role of small schools for much of the county’s past.
“We want the school to be a repository of recollections of people who attended early schools,” Poehlein said.
“Glinda Gibson is collecting stories for us about early schools. For instance, Nadine Schoemaker Arnold told a story of how some of the boys would store their squirrel-hunting rifles in the coat room so they could go hunting immediately after school. Others told of the teacher providing a soup bone and students bringing in vegetables in the winter to make soup on the coal stove so the poor kids would have something good to eat. These are stories we want to preserve.”
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