Merrick County's 100th Year: 1858-1958


Extracurricular Activity

     Even some of the early rural schools were not without their extracurricular activities. Edward Simmons, teacher in school district No. 13, was fond of music. So occasionally, as a diversion from the steady grind of regular studies, he and his pupils would remove the screws that held the school desks in place, and shove them all back against the walls. Then he would strike up a lively tune on his beloved violin, while the pupils danced a real hoe down, or whatever steps the music inspired. After a suitable period of relaxation, the teacher and pupils would quickly replace the seats and desks in their proper location, and study would be resumed.

     One such time Mr. Simmons suspected that a visit from the County Superintendent was about due. So he asked the pupils to keep watch out the window for a man on horseback. Sure enough, a horse and rider was soon seen approaching the schoolhouse. The music and dancing stopped immediately, and everybody scurried to get the seats back in order. Bedlam was still continuing when the teacher went out into the yard to meet and greet the county superintendent. The greeting was cordial and continued long enough so that when the two men re-entered the building, perfect order reigned and the pupils were intent on their studies.

     The county superintendent was John S. Patterson. The teacher's daughter, Miss Pearl Simmons, later became one of Merrick County's efficient County Superintendents.

     On the side, Mr. Ed. Simmons would occasionally play for dances. One Friday while teaching in district No. 37 east of Central City, he rushed the school through their classes, and let school out at 2:00 p.m. He walked to St. Paul, reaching there in time to play at a dance in the evening. Sometime the next afternoon some of his friends found him on the road in the vicinity of Palmer, walking back to Central City.

ROBERT G. BAIRD, 1871: born in Illinois in 1839; married in 1866 to Miss Mary J. McDonald; came to Merrick county in 1871 accompanied by his brother, James; homesteaded on Silver Creek eight miles northeast of Central City. Mr. Baird was a Civil War Veteran. Their children: William, Hugh, Lucinda (Mrs. W. S. Desch), Mary (Mrs. M. G. Scudder), Martha (Mrs. C. H. Crites), Elizabeth, Robert, Cora (Mrs. George Bockes), and David.

JOSEPH PHELPS, 1868: born in Illinois, 1859; served in Civil War; married to Miss Amelia Baker in Illinois in 1867; came to Lone Tree in 1868. During the first winter they had a narrow escape from a group of Indians. The Pawnees had been friendly until just before the Indians were to be placed on the reservation at Genoa, a band of them had gone on a hunting trip. Bison and other game was scarce and the Indians had stolen some stock. In the trouble that resulted the soldiers had killed seven or eight Indians causing a very bad feeling toward the white people. The Phelps had not heard of this and were not on guard when they went to Prairie Island to gather wood for the winter's fuel supply. When they met up with the small group of angry Indians, they barely got back to safety in time. Ida, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Phelps, married Mr. John Wilhoft and they made their home north of Central City. Five children were born in the Wilhoft family.

JOHN L. DAVIS, 1872: born in Morgan County, 0., June 6, 1841; Civil War veteran; married 1866 to Elenor H. Posten. In 1872 homesteaded on sec. 32, twp. 14, R. 8 1 which now adjoins Palmer on the north. In 1888 was a pioneer Palmer business man, dealing in farm implements. Five children: including Elizabeth (Mrs. A. T. Ferris), Frank T., Ann E. (Mrs. A. J. McLellan), Elsie M. (Mrs. R. T. Linderman).


Compliments of FARMERS NATIONAL BANK, Central City


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