One exhibit at the Indiana State Fair in Pioneer Village this year particularly caught our eye. It's worth discussing, even if the fair is long since over.
Our front of the main Pioneer Village Building and to the left was a white, clapboard building with a name identifying it as a schoolhouse. Inside was a "teacher," a young lady dressed in costume for the period when one-room schoolhouses were common. Most of them were brick, but hey, the Pioneer Village cuts lumber and has it available – they don't make bricks, as far as we know. Tim Nannet, director of the Pioneer Village, might want to look into that: a kiln for making bricks from clay!
When I peeked in the "teacher" had students, who were young fair visitors, seated at desks and was doing a simple lesson. It was authentic, with desks of the period. Parents were free to stand by and watch as the instruction took place. It was a warm day, so both the back door and side doors were open. They didn't have air conditioning in one-room school houses. Some didn't have more than a wood stove for heat, either.
So what was the name on this school? What famous, or notorious, depending upon your point of view, was this school named for? If you said me, no, I'm not famous, hopefully not notorious, and not that old. Most one-room schoolhouses were closed up by my day. Some were still standing – I worked for a farmer who used one to house sows during breeding season. I can honestly say the only time I was in a real one-room schoolhouse was to bed it down with straw for the pigs!
You may have guessed it by now. The schoolhouse in Pioneer Village was named the "Williamson Institute of Higher Learning" after Mauri Williamson. It was also designated at "Possum Hollow School #2." The retired director, now in his late 80s, was still active in Pioneer Village, dressed in his overalls and straw hat. Once upon a time, he probably could recall every detail of a one-room school!