Thomas Cover BIO

Cover Country School History

Where did Cover get it’s name?  Thomas Cover of Keokuk County, IA., came to Willow Twp and met and married, Augusta, daughter of a prominent farmer, Edwin J. Hull.

In 1877 Tom & August Cover were farming in Sections 22 & 23 Willow Township.  When the children were grown, Tom & August moved into Dunlap.  George the only child that remained in Willow Township, married Mina Lantz, a cousin to Leland Lantz.

The Original Cover School was built in 1874 on Sec. #15 on a full acre of land.  The first teacher was Eliza Bailey, a cousin of the Covers.  The same year Willow officially became a Township.

In the 1920s the older style school houses were replaced by a newer, larger building with a 4 sided roof, a front porch & basement.  It is believed that Walt Welliver constructed the new school.

In the winter time recesses were spent in the dark, dingy basement.  There was a sandbox in the basement and other games to play.  The furnace was a Lenox.  The air vents in the roof sofets were piped to the furnace in the basement and the warm air rose through a big register to heat the upstairs.

The school year was seven months long and divided into terms, called summer and winter.  Teachers were hired for only one term at a time so some schools often had 2 or 3 different teachers in one year.  The teacher had “room and board” with the family closest to the school.  The women could not marry during their teaching term so once in a while there was known to be secret ceremonies!  The men teachers, however, could marry and have a family.

Each township was allotted finances from the County Treasury.  It was called a teachers fund ($1000) for salaries ($30 a month) and a contingent fund $105 per year for supplies and repairs.

The Township Board was made up of Directors of each school and a director could be dismissed if he failed to perform his duties.  At first all teachers were hired by the Board, but after 1900 the Directors could each hire their own teachers for the term.  The Board elected their own President, Secretary and Treasurer for each year.

The school was a one room building with windows on the east and west sides and the double seats faced the wall that held the Blackboards.  The entry was a narrow hallway where the water pail and wash basin were kept and the children hung their coats on wall hooks, and left their overshoes and dinner pails there also.  Drinking water was carried to the school until a well was dug.  There was a flag pole near the building and on nice mornings the teacher hung out the flag and took it down after school.  The teacher didn’t just teach.  She started the fire when necessary, swept the floor, kept the room in order, supervised the children during noon and recesses-----another chore was during the erasers which the children sometimes took turns doing and washed the blackboard.

Programs by the pupils for the public were held occasionally, usually at Christmas.  Much time was spent learning Christmas songs and each one learning a “Piece” to speak.  Sometimes, as a fund raiser, a box social was held at the same time, which was a fun time for everyone.  The money was used as the teacher wished for new maps, books, supplies or whatever.  The children made decorations for these occasions, which they enjoyed.

The teacher made all the busywork, tests, and handwork.  Exams were written on the black board and covered with a shade curtain.  The teacher supplied pencils, paper and crayons for many.  Every paper was graded and corrected so that the pupils could take their papers home to show their parents.

Eighth grade examinations were dreaded.  Those pupils had to go to the town school to take the exams to see if they qualified for high school.  Some children were so nervous that they failed to pass.

One the last day of school there was a picnic with the teacher furnishing ice cream of something special.

In 1955-56 the school closed; all school children were bused to the nearest town to get their education.

Cover School was bought by Monona County in 1958 to be used as a polling place for the Willow Township people.  The school was permanently closed in 1990.

On March 30, 1996, the Cover School was purchased and moved into Moorhead to be restored.  The work (all volunteers) continued till August 22, 1999.  An Open House celebrated the completed restoration and new bathrooms.