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Remembering Halliday School – and Mrs. Fletcher

Published: Monday, May 27, 2013 1:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, May 27, 2013 2:36 p.m. CDT
(Photo contributed)
The teacher and students of the Halliday School in May 1942 were (front row, from left) Lee McCollum, Douglas Schmidt, Allen Boehle, Donald McCollum and Doris Johnson; (second row) Billy Simon, Virgil Johnson, Delmar Samuelson and Maxine Chelin; and (back row) Laverne Stanard, Vera Fletcher and Gilbert Samuelson.

Editor’s note: The following story is another segment in the BCR’s ongoing series on one-room schools in Bureau County.

Virgil Johnson attended the Halliday School, located one mile north of the Red Covered Bridge, for six years in the late 1930s to early 1940s.

“On the last day of school we always had a picnic,” Johnson said. “My dad was one of three school directors.”

Johnson had the pleasure of being taught by Vera Fletcher the last three years he was at the Halliday School. Fletcher is perhaps best known for publishing a book with her husband, Glen, called “Schools of Bureau County Past and Present” in 1987.

In the preface to her book, Fletcher wrote, “When it became apparent that the early one-room schools were becoming extinct in Bureau County through consolidating with surrounding districts, and it had reached the point where no school existed in some localities due to too small enrollments and financial problems, we decided to assemble our many pictures and the history connected with individual districts for preservation.”

But that was more than 40 years in the future.

Back in the early 1940s, Johnson and his classmates just knew her as Mrs. Fletcher.

“Mrs. Fletcher had asked that her salary be raised from $40 a month to $50 a month,” Johnson said. “I remember the board president telling her ‘No.’ They had run that school on $500 a year for 50 years, and they were not about to raise taxes.”

Johnson said Fletcher went on to teach two years at the Colton School, and she finished  her career in the Princeton schools. Later she and her husband moved the Colton School to the Lovejoy home.

“They also had a log cabin built on the Lovejoy property at no expense to the Lovejoy trust,” Johnson said.

Later the Fletchers bought a building in Wyanet and endowed the Henry Thomas museum, which is filled with early Bureau County historical material.

Johnson said Vera Fletcher was a direct descendent of Henry Thomas, who is buried in a cemetery across the road from her farm.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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