This valleys bountiful resources, particularly its abundant water, attracted settlers beginning in the 1820s. The constant rapid flowing of spring-fed Roaring River appealed to millwrights, who saw the opportunities such a reliable source of power offered.
In a brief span of time, the water resources and resulting milling industry in the Roaring River Valley attracted sufficient people to create the need for a school. Local tradition suggests a log school dated to the mid 1800s, but no evidence has been found. A contract dated September 16, 1872, states, "Ella Cravens, a legally qualified school teacher, was hired for a four month term for the sum of thirty dollars per month." This is the earliest known written records of educational activity in the valley.
As in most rural areas at the turn of the century, students walked or rode horseback to one room schools. Reading, writing, orthography (spelling), grammar, arithmetic, geography, history, physiology, and civil government were the usual subjects, depending upon age and readiness of the student. The school library, a bookcase, at one time contained 100 titles, many now known as classics. Multiple grades for students between five and 18 years of age, all in a single room, required teachers to divide their attention. As one class recited, others reviewed their lessons or read silently. Pranks during classtime usually meant time standing in the corner or, if warranted, a dose of the hickory switch!
According to a local resident whose school days dated from the early 20th Century, teachers sometimes participated in games their students played during recess. Ante over, Stinkbase, and Drop-the-Handkerchief were popular. According to a local resident, "It was a privilege to be assigned as a water carrier. Two students went together to a neighbor's spring and filled the tin bucket with fresh drinking water. Everyone drank from the same dipper." These implements were later replaced with a stoneware water cooler and tin cups.
In the Roaring River Valley School eight grades existed until about 1927 when a state funded high school was included in the one room building. Edith Carter Ball recalled, "A partition was placed down the center of the room to separate the high school from the elementary." The two year high school continued until about 1932.
After the Depression and World War II, one room schools were phased out as districts were consolidated. School District Number 85 was consolidated with the Eagle Rock district by 1952, and Roaring River School was closed for all time. Modern education has graduated from one room schoolhouses. Roaring River School District 85 has been part of that progression.
Photo Description 1: The class of 1908.
Photo Description 2: The class of 1910.
This school building in "Pilburn Hollow" was first occupied in 1880. It stood across the road from the present school house. The dimensions of this school were 16 x 18 feet with two windows. In 1893 an addition was built and two more windows were added. The last class to use this schoolhouse was that of 1912-1913.
There were no dress codes for country school children; however, these children dressed in their best on photo day. Shoes were saved for winter wear. "People couldn't afford shoes back then," said Virgil Carter; former student. "There were a lot of big families."
Photo Description 3: Roaring River School, District 85, Barry County, Missouri, built in 1912-1913. The first class to use this building was that of 1913-1914.
Photo Description 4: The class of 1918-1919.