PEA RIDGE Last week I was thinking of a time when our schools had no schoolbuses. In earlier days, no buses were needed, because your school was probably just down the road a piece from your house. Our schools back then were numerous - Shady Grove, Twelve Corners, Central, Corinth, Bayless, Providence, Sassafras, Possum Trot, Cross Lanes, Clantonville and Pea Ridge; and schools farther away such as Garfield, LIberty, Brightwater, Avoca, Valley View and Summit.
In the heyday of those schools, you didn't bus your kids to school, you built a schoolhouse near enough that they could walk to school, or ride a horse, or go in the buggy or wagon, or maybe ride in the Model T if your family was well-off and able to afford one in the 1920s. Several of those schools were merged into others by the 1930s. A few, like Twelve Cornersand Central, had elementary grades until 1948, and Bayless still later.
I remember the consolidation of Twelve Corners, Central and Bayless Schools with Pea Ridge in the late 1940s. That was a time of crisis for our community, when all our schools could have been absorbed into the Rogers District. But with the outlying schools coming in, with Hugh Webb and other school board members working diligently to maintain school in Pea Ridge, and with an arrangement yoking Pea Ridge with Sulphur Springs, our town was able to keep our Pea Ridge High School. When I look at today's strong Pea RidgeSchool District, with numbers nearing 1,600 students, and with its excellent academic rating, I really appreciate those people back in 1948-1949 who had vision and initiative to advocate for the future of Pea Ridge schools.
This week, I'm thinking of a still earlier time, when Pea Ridge had no school at all. I don't personally remember those days, of course. That was long before I was born. But it seems to me that we are well served by keeping aware of times and people who lived before our own lifetimes. We have been able to progress to where we are today because of people we don't personally remember; people who worked and dreamed and shaped the community where we would eventually be nurtured and equipped for life. Before 1880, Pea Ridge had no school in town. There had been aneffort to start a school in the 1850s, shortly after Pea Ridge became a town with a Post Office, but that school was short-lived.
The Civil War years were horrendous for things like schools, as families struggled to keep house and home together and to stay alive in a dangerous time. With armies of both sides incessantly moving through, and with marauding bushwhackers about, such social refinements as schools were much hindered.
Interestingly, by the 1870s, our community leaders were moving to provide schooling for the young.
The 1870s were crucial, formative years for Pea Ridge. That time showed the vision and ideals of the people who moved here from the eastern states after white settlement became legal in 1828. The first enduring school for Pea Ridge was opened in 1874 atness and political leaders, and uplifting the culture with music, literature and drama.
Sometimes we act as though nothing before World War II is of any importance to us.
Without a lively sense of our heritage, people grow to presume that nothing before their own lifetimes matters. I am convinced we are a better, wiser people and a stronger, forwardlooking community when we anchor our roots in the ideals of our pioneers, and draw inspiration from our people who lived and worked and led in our community over the many years. They developed civilized life long before electronic gadgets.
Can civilized life survive the era of cell phones and texting?
Editor's note: Jerry Nichols can be contacted by email at joe369@centurytel.
net, or by calling 621-1621.
Buttrams Chapel. With the cooperation of the area's church people and the Masonic Lodge, led by the Buttram and Miser families and others, a school was organized in the original, two-storied Buttrams Chapel meetinghouse.
Professor John R. Roberts, headmaster, taught the upper grades, and his sister, Nancy Roberts, taught the primary grades one to five.
In 1880, the school moved into a new, twostory brick school building in Pea Ridge. The academy grew quickly. By 1885, the building had been expanded to take 250 students, and the Pea Ridge Academy was establishing itself as one of the leading institutions of higher learning in northwest Arkansas.
Our town early on was no backward little village.
Pea Ridge has a heritage of intellectual leadership, equipping teachers to lead schools, developing busi-
Community, Pages 5 on 09/16/2009