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Feature Article on Jimtown School. Topic: EDUCATION
By Martha Thompson as told to Gene Eggleston, published in December, 1999


I attended Jimtown School in the 1920’s. The one-room school, constructed of red brick with a belfry on top, housed all eight grades. There was no kindergarten. Located at Russell Road and Wapakoneta Road, the school served the Jimtown area, not yet a part of Sidney.

A large potbelly stove provided heat in the winter. The teacher or some of the larger boys in the class were in charge of building the fire. At times, the downdraft was more than the updraft, creating a smoke-filled classroom. Evacuation was necessary until the smoke cleared the room. The bell would ring and students would return. Coal and wood provided the heat.

Most students returned home for lunch since no cafeteria was provided. Only a few students carried their lunches.  Lighting inside the classroom was poor. To provide more light, it was necessary to cut down several trees. Later, the parents collectively came up with enough money to provide electricity and three light bulbs helped tremendously.

The desks were fastened down with inkwells in the upper right-hand corner of each desk. Pens were dipped into the ink bottle and caution was needed to prevent smearing the slow-drying ink once it was used on the paper. A few students had ink blotters (with advertisements) to take up the excess slow-drying ink, since ballpoint pens were not available in the 1920s. A girl’s pigtails sometimes were dipped in the ink bottles by some mischievous boy sitting behind her.

Plumbing consisted of two outhouses, one for boys and one for girls, with a gravel path to both. Drink facilities consisted of a well with a hand-operated pump handle. A tin cup was available but most parents insisted on their children using their own drink container.  Ball games were active during recess. Swings were usually busy as well as jump ropes.

Ethel Price Sharp, a teacher at Jimtown, started the first PTA in Shelby County, an organization that later raised money to provide electricity for the school. Florence English McClure was Jimtown’s first PTA president. Chairs for parent meetings came from several sources. Contributors were Plum Creek Church, different funeral homes, and the American Legion.

Students living south of Bennett Street attended the Second Ward School (corner of Miami and Jefferson streets) and those north of Bennett Street went to Jimtown. The location of the Jimtown School was not without its critics. The most often heard was "Why was it built clear out in the country?"

Little do the present-day students of Parkwood School realize their playground area was also the playground of the Jimtown School. Parkwood Elementary came along in 1930, which spelled destruction of the one-room school known as Jimtown School.


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