Van Wert School

Long Creek Township, Decatur County, Iowa
School Photographs High School Graduates 1937 Yearbook
 The first school house was built about one-fourth of a mile north of Van Wert in 1858 on land donated by Mr. Steen. The school house was constructed of logs. Puncheon slats were put in place, long enough for eight to ten pupils to use for seating. An undressed board, placed upon pegs that had been driven into the wall, served as a writing desk.

In 1872, a second school house was built in about the same location. It was 22 by 28 feet and cost $465.

Lewis Holt built a third school house in 1855 (sic, should be 1885?) on land donated by A. J. Hawkins. This building was located on the lot where the present-day Assembly of God Church stands. It cost $2,700. Two more rooms were added to this school house a few years later. The building was torn down and the lumber was used to built the present-day [1980] Chet Reed home.

In 1918, another school house (see notice of special election June 4, 1917 below) was built at a cost of $21,000. It was located across the road north and west of the third school house. In 1936 the last bonds were paid off.

A few interesting details found in the school board minutes in the 1920s:

"Motion was made by Adams and seconded by Pierce, to pay teachers and it is further agreed by both parties that if market prices of cattle and hogs are $1.00 per hundred or higher at start of school, that teacher shall have a raise of 10 percent on salary and in case prices drop the teachers agree to a reduction of 10 percent.

"Motion by Wing to employ Chas. Holt to dig well at school house, 50 cents per hour dry digging and 75 cents per hour wet dirt digging."

Teachers' salaries in the 1920s and 1930s were $65.00 to $90.00 a month.

The Van Wert school was closed in September of 1922 because of diphtheria.

The board ordered a dozen turkish towels for the visiting athletics but the home team had to furnish their own towels.

In 1922, the board states the cost for each child to be $12.00 a year. In 1978 the state budget estimates the cost to be $1,614.00 per child per year.

One of the many memories that will be remembered in the Van Wert school will be Friday, March 13, 1959. A full scale emergency hit Van Wert when the majority of 210 pupils became ill. It was thought to be food poisoning transmitted by deviled eggs.

~ "A Century of Memories, Van Wert 1880 - 1890"
click on images for larger views
Photographs courtesy of Sherry Balow and Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon.

Van Wert's 3rd School

Van Wert School
year unknown

Van Wert School
January 12, 1910

Elementary Class
1910 - 1911

Van Wert School
ca. 1920's
 The Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, May 10, 1917, Page 10

Notice of Special School Election.


Public notice is hereby given that a special election of the Independent School District of Van Wert, No. 2, Long Creet township, Decatur county, Iowa, will be held on the 4th day of June, 1917, within the said independent school district, at the office of M. F. Thompson, in Van Wert, Decatur county, Iowa, from one o'clock p. m. until 6 o'clock p.m. and at said election there will be submitted to the voters of said independent school district, to be by them voted upon the following proposition:

"Shall the Independent School District of Van Wert, No. 2, Long Creek township, Decatur county, Iowa, issue bonds in the sum of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) for the purpose of constructing and equipping a new school house."

At which time and place all the voters of said independent school district are hereby notified to appear.

This notice is given by order of the board of directors pursuant to a sufficient petition with the requisite signatures in accordance with section 2829--d 1 et seq. of the supplement to the Code of Iowa, 1913.

Dated at Van Wert, Iowa, this 3rd day of May, 1917.

Guy E. Thompson,
Secretary of board of Directors.

Photograph courtesy of Gwendolyn Baker Melton who notes:
I found this among my father's things. I don't think he was in this class, as i don't see him with his twin.
Gerald and Harold Baker were born Dec. 1926.
Wildcat Song
Wildcats will shine tonight
Wildcats will shine
Wildcats will shine tonight
All down the line.
Rah! Rah! Rah!

We're all dressed up tonight
Don't we look fine
In the black and red
Black and red
Wildcats will shine.
Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!

Gloria Gilbert, Peggy Smith, Sharon Spidle, Joanne Kernen
Yeah Van Wert!

Victory, Victory, Victory
That's our cry

Aren't we in it?
Well I guess!
Van Wert High School
Yes! Yes! Yes!

Barbara Houck, Mary Miller, Kathy Cowden, Durine Reynolds, Willene Jones, Ida Baker, Roberta King, Patty Reed, Karen Gilbert, Jenny Green, Karen Miller.
Van Wert School Song

Van Wert will shine tonight,
Van Wert will shine.
She'll shine in beauty bright,
All down the line.

Won't we look neat tonight,
Dressed up so fine.
When the sun goes down,
And the moon goes up,
Van Wert will shine.

Charles Stream, John Redman, Roger Pritchard, Dennis Houck, Garry Fierce, Jackie Eischen, Eldon Reed, Robert Eischen, Eddie Stream, Don Fullerton, Dorman Reed, Davey Redman.
teacher Edith Ball
year unknown
1st & 2nd Grades
3rd & 4th Grades
5th & 6th Grades
Eldon Reed, Patricia Reed, Robert Eischen, Gayle Cherington, Stephen McManus, Jane Turner, Gloria Gilbert, Larry Fry, Daryl Houck, Willene Jones, Sharon Spidle, Jimmy Hagen, Rowland Updike, Martin Tompkins, Linda Anderson, Jean Kelly, Allen Heckathorn, Mary Turner, Karen Gilbert, Mrs. Fern Hurst, Chester Reed, Wayne Crowden, Darel Foland, David McManus. Larry McConnell, Shirley Stream, Sharon Spidle, Jean Kelly, Willene Jones, Eldon Reed, Miss Mary Alice Carothers, Arthur Prichard, Daryl Houck, Charles Stream, Allen Heckathorn, Martin Tompkins, Larry Fry, Harvey Carter, Skippy Stream, Gene Scadden, Chester Reed, Darel Foland, Donald Palmer. Kay Jones, Linda Mercer, Mary Miller, Kathryn Cowden, Jean Kelly, Patty Reed, Darlene Cox, Kay Cox, Kathleen Heckathorn, Eldon Reed, Jon Redman, Davy Redman, Larry Kelly, Charles Stream, Lowell Fry, Larry McConnell, Lester McConnell.

3rd Grade ?

Gene Jones, Dickie Logsdon, Jeannie Black, Betty Hatfield, S. Cox, teacher Edith Beers Ball, Danny Palmer, Sandra Jackson, Rick Jones, Greg Knney, John Duff, Linda Beardsley, Dickie Richards, Owen Heckathorn, Peggy Smith, Ted Cox, Jerry McBroom, Pam Hall, Rick Buntain, Craig Lewis, Vickie Betheards, Lyle Schuldt, Marvin Mills.

Courtesy of Decatur County Historical Museum, Leon IA
 Many small schools, such as Van Wert, began to close due to smaller enrollment and greater demands on the school's budget. The people of Van Wert saw consolidation as an answer. Students who lived in town would go to Osceola in Clarke County. Those who lived in rural areas were given their choice of attending school either at Osceola or Leon.

The high school and junior high students enrolled at Osceola when classes commenced in the fall of 1962. Primary through sixth grade students remained in the Van Wert school house. The elementary students of Weldon and Van Wert were combined as a part of the Clarke Community Schools in Osceola in 1966.

The school building was torn down but the gymnasium stood for many years, utilized as a storage building. Eventually the gymnasium was torn down.
Original page created by Sharon Becker 2013, updated 2015; transcribed and reformatted by Conni McDaniel Hall Oct 2019.
Schools Directory *** Decatur County IAGenWeb