By Joyce Wiese
As a result of the flood of 2008, the Chelsea elementary students came to the Haven one-room school house to complete the last two weeks of their school year. This inspired a group to restore the building to its original glory.
The well-preserved interior of the Haven one-room school at rural Tama will be showcased at an open house planned for Sunday, Sept. 18. A covered dish picnic will be held at 1 p.m. Haven Community. Church members have also invited everyone to attended Sunday services at 10:30 a.m. at the adjacent Church.
Restoration is coming to a completion and an open house is planned for Sunday, Sept. 18, to celebrate.
A covered dish picnic will be held at 1 p.m. Everyone is invited - bring a covered dish and a chair.
The Tama County Historical Society will furnish silverware, plates, and cups. This will be just like the old days when the school days came to an end in May of each year.
The Haven Church congregation has invited anyone who would like to come to church that morning before the picnic, all are welcome. Haven Church starts at 10:30 a.m.
James Marshall and I.M. Strong laid out the village of Eureka in 1854, just eleven years after the County of Tama became a county, and eight years after Iowa became a state. Also, this was the year Richland Township was organized.
In 1874 the little town of Eureka changed its name to Haven. A little creek on the east side of the town square was known as "Jump and Run" creek. A larger creek, the Richland Creek, on the north side of the town supplied the seventy-five families with water for a grist mill, as well as a saw mill.
Few one-room school houses still stand, let alone in the same spot originally built. Richland No. 5, better known as Haven School, was the first school in Richland Township.
James Hanus taught students in a log house in 1855-56. A building was built the summer of 1856 to be used as a school. This building was replace with the present building, built in 1872, at a cost of $1100.00.
Mrs. Beulah Hrabak, Chelsea, spent twenty-one of her thirty-nine years of teaching, at the Haven School. This career ended in the spring of 1968. Mrs. Hrabak began her teaching career when there was some 10,000 county one-room schools in the state of Iowa.
In the one hundred thirty-nine years since the Haven school was built, it has not changed much. The plumbing remains the same. There are two outhouses that test the endurance in zero weather. There is no running water, never has been, nor has there ever been a well on the school grounds. A crockery jar with drinking water and a wash basin in the vestibule were filled each morning. This building housed students for ninety-six years; 1872 through the spring of 1968. Haven school was the last rural school to close in Tama County.
Township trustees gifted the schoolhouse to the Tama County Historical Society with the hopes of the building being restored.
Two years were spent in fund raising to do the restoration. It now is the proud owner of a new steel shingled roof, windows which have been removed, rebuilt and reinstalled, new wiring from the pole to the building. The foundation has been repaired, siding completed and a new porch built ( a replica of the original porch). Two new doors have been replaced, new eavespouts and two new outhouses.
The old furnace was removed, as well as an obsolete voting machine. The building used to be a place for the township to use as a polling place. The old piano had set for more than forty years and needed replaced. A lot of cleaning was required. Sometime in the future the inside will be painted.
When one-room schools were popular, a school building was within walking distance of every child in the county. Sometimes the rural school teacher went from High School to teaching with all the enthusiasm of a graduate, using the only method of teaching she or he knew, that of her high school principal and his or her associate, if any.
The rural teacher did everything connected with the school except haul the coal or wood to the woodshed. That was done by the district director. The teacher walked or sometimes in early days rode a horse, across the country to her school. That was an experience in itself. In winter, snow drifts and deep snow, in summer mud and heavy dew were things to be contended with. There were few roads in those days and they were mostly mud or dirt roads.
The teacher would arrive at the schoolhouse early enough to have the room reasonably warm for the students, knew what to do about frosted hands, and served as a nurse as well as a teacher. She taught classes from beginners through eighth grade.
When it came four-o-clock, she dismissed school, helped bundle up the little ones, swept the floor, brought in kindling for the next day and coal or wood to be used the entire day, then left for her boarding place.
Those students attending a 1-room schoolhouse will well remember each morning taking turns to go to the community well, or the neighbor's well, pumping a bucket of fresh drinking water for the day and carrying it back to the schoolhouse.
A pot belly stove usually set in the middle of the room for heat. The wood floors were well oiled each year prior to the start of school to keep the dust down. Students took turns dusting erasers and washing the blackboards.
The teacher taught the fundamentals, the alphabet, multiplication tables, oral spelling, penmanship, the daily reading lesson, history of the United States, physiology (the names of all the bones in the body) and geography.
Penmanship was taught with only the idea of legibility in mind. Reading, studied at the desk, was later read aloud. Grammer, maybe with too much emphasis on phrasing, diagraming and sentence analysis, was an important subject .
Spelling was a game, just as interesting and competitive as any game of sports today. There was daily practice with a spelling match every Friday afternoon. The whole school was lined up and with a word misspelled you went to the end of the line, but with a word spelled correctly you advanced in your position in the line.
The spelling bee was a community project and a few today will still remember the sleigh rides of the entire family to the different schools for these spellig contests. The school and the whole district took as much pride in winning the spelling contest as a school takes today in winning a basketball, football, baseball, soccer or volleyball game.
The most memorable happening of all one room school students is the last day of school in the spring. Students, families, and friends in the neighborhood all gathered at the schoolhouse for a picnic. Baskets of fried chicken, potato salad, rolls, cookies, cakes, etc. were spread out at noon for everyone to enjoy, followed by an afternoon of playing games.
Books, desks, blackboards, etc. are all still in the building and in pretty good condition. Volunteers have spent many hours cleaning and restoring these items, and are now ready for the public to enjoy what they have taken such pride in.