Article written by Flora L. VerStraten - One evening in mid April of 2007 I met a wonderful woman that lives in Knox Township by the name of Helen Vance VanDyke. What makes Helen unique is that she is 102 years old! She is quite active, walking on the treadmill several times a week and her mind is very sharp. Helen’s parents were Charles Lemon Vance and Vinnie Rene Adams. Vinnie’s parents were David Adams and Elsie Law. Charles’ parents were Cyrus and Amanda Griddle.

As I spoke to Helen I could see her face come alive as she tried to remember her childhood school days. She informed me that she attended the Port Homer Grade School in Goose Run, her first year attending was in 1912. The school went from first grade to eighth grade. It was a wooden school, since then torn down.

Helen remembered the schoolhouse furnishings with school desks for the children, with the older children sitting in the back row, the teacher’s desk, and a big pot bellied stove. The children would take off their coats and shoes and line them up by the stove to get them dry and warm. Of course there was no indoor plumbing and a stream was near by for drinking water. Her childhood friends were Dorman Crawford and Maude Shook.

Memories of riding her bike were fresh in her mind sharing the story about riding her friend on the bike. Her friend fell off the bike, landing in the creek. Helen explained that she was a very active child and use to do summersaults and cut her head open one day while whirling around. Her mother was trying to style her hair the next day and Helen insisted that she could style her own hair, {to cover the injury} and insisted on fixing her own bangs on her forehead. She remembers the superintendent coming to the school and she was outside playing and jumping. She said the superindentent wanted her to stay outside and show him how high she could jump. Helen jumped and jumped and by the time she was allowed to go back into the school building, she asked her young "Miss Schoolteacher" if she could get a drink and the teacher said, "No." So, Helen said she jumped out the window, went up to the creek, got a nice cold drink, then returned to the school. She doesn’t remember the name of her schoolteachers at Port Homer but she remembers she was very young.

At 14 yr. Helen was hired as the janitor at the Sugar Grove Church. She fondly recalls the days when she had to turn the lights out and shut the door and run all the way home, running straight through the Old Pioneer Sugar Grove Cemetery. She said she was scared!

I asked Helen what was her secret to living so long and she simply said, "hard work." She said she worked hard all her life and stayed active. She enjoys playing the piano, and even taught piano lessons years ago. She also enjoys singing, quilting and crocheting. Her daughter, Shirley Vance Bartels told me that her mother has a beautiful singing voice.

Helen Vance VanDyke showed me a framed certificate that she has hanging up in her house for her late husband, Elmer La Mont VanDyke. He graduated from Empire High School August 30, 1918. On the certificate are the following names and titles: William Stone, James B. Fagan; President, Frank Culp; Clerk, Gus Whitcomb, and Chas. Gritton, listed as Board of 5 members. Also signatures from: Abram Grove, Ph.D.; Superintendent, and Alice E. Tarr; Principle. Elmer went on to the Business College, which was located in Steubenville, Ohio.

{A special thanks to Shirley VanDyke Bartels, Helen’s daughter. Also thanks to Lois Johnston for sharing! They met with me and took a couple hours going through old photos, documents, and school records. They were willing to share this information with researchers. THANK YOU!}
{Photo courtesy of Shirley Bartels}

Photo taken in 1936 at the Sugar Grove School - Standing: Charles Waggner, Helen Grimm, Naomi Stokes, Raymond Eddy, Lucille Eddy, Ralph Waggner, Anna Edminston, teacher. Center: John Myers, Shirley Van Dyke, Dorothy Grimm, Anita Hayes, Rose Silop, Velma McMasters, Sally Waggner, Jean Fullerton. Bottom: Bill Potts, Pete Silop, Lloyd Brown, Charles McMasters, Charles Eddy, Tom Potts, Web Waggner. Corrections are welcome. Send to - Robert C. Baker, 16347 Cannell Rd., Rockton, IL 61072-9712 {His address as of 1993.}.
{Old Sugar Grove School courtesy of Shirley Bartels}

{Shirley Bartels provided the following information. She allowed these records to be photocopied by the newsletter editor. Please direct any questions about these records to Flora L. VerStraten, editor.} As of January 31st, 1918, listed in the ledger are the following school districts:

  • Sugar Grove
  • Shady Glenn
  • Knoxville
  • Shellys
  • Island Creek
  • New Somerset
  • Holt

List of names 1918, refills under, refills in High School:

  • Hazel Reed Wellsville, Paid $2.00
  • Esther Swickard Toronto $2.00
  • George --------- Toronto $5.00
  • Grace Cooper Toronto $5.00
  • Wilbur Leatherberry Toronto $5.00
  • Arthur Johnston Toronto $5.00
  • Frances McLain Toronto $5.00
  • Martha Leatherberry Toronto $5.00
  • Lattie McLain Toronto $5.00
  • Ruth Johnston Toronto $5.00
  • Richard Bray Toronto $5.00
  • Eliner Snyder Toronto $5.00
  • Beatrice Wiley Toronto $5.00
  • Marion Morris Toronto $5.00

January 31, 1918 – The Board of Education of Knox Twp. Rural School Districts of Jefferson County, Ohio met in regular session. Minutes of Dec 28, 1917 read and approved.

  • J.W. Wallace, supplies $4.19
  • Chas. Cattrell, coal & supplies $20.70
  • Book Company $10.40
  • Vida E. Cooper, teaching $60.00
  • Lucy Cooper, teaching $55.00
  • Emily Edmiston, teaching $60.00
  • Gladys Swickard, teaching $60.00
  • Cook Swickard, janitor $60.00
  • Anna Edmiston, teaching $60.00
  • Donald VanDyke, teaching $55.00

COMMON SCHOOL REGISTER – Sugar Grove School, term commencing Sept. 8, 1924 and ending Dec. 26, 1924, Anna Edmiston, teacher. The enrollment shows their attendance records and if they moved and where they moved. Students enrolled are as follows:

James Vance Catherine Hartline
Irene Ward Elizabeth Warren
Fouso Grudier Wilmont Vance
Doris Draa Catherine Bunner
Chirstena Ward Edward Hartline
Tony Chickerell Calvin Warren
Emma Hartline Thomas Draa
Leona Stocks Pauline Stocks
Catherine Johnson Junior Warren
Paul Stocks Catherine Stocks
William Ward Alex Hartline
Calvin Bunner Charles VanTilburg
Dale Draa Fred Goodman

January 5, 1925 through May of 1925 is next in the ledger book. Next is Sept. 7, 1925 to Dec. 24, 1925. By 1925, the surname STOCKS was spelled, STOCK. Eleanor St. Clair was the teacher. Students for Sept. 6, 1926 and ending Dec. 24, 1926, teacher Lucile Fouch:

Katheryn Bunner Leona Duerelle
Eluara Hartline Emma Hartline
Kathryn Johnston Elizabeth Warren
Ruth Warren Ruth Warren
Elda Warren Pauline Stocks
Katheryn Stocks Leona Stocks
Calvin Bunner Audrey Bunner
George Chapman George Chapman
Culling Chapman Carson Chapman
William Duerelle Fougo Grudier
Edward Hartline Alex Hartline
Charles VanTilburg Calvin Warrner
Junior Warren Wilmont Vance
Paul Stocks Albert Stocks
Albert Schoolcraft William Schoolcraft
Eva Schoolcraft Myrtle Schoolcraft
Percent of attendance: 91 % girls, 89% boys.

By Sept. 6, 1927, ending April 20, 1928 – new pupils are Albert Stocks, Binegar, Risnear, Higgins, Culp, Vaoew, Runyon, and Eddy. Visitors to the school in the register: Supt. Lloyd (from Amsterdam) on Sept 14, 1924, Alan Ward (from Toronto) on Nov. 13, 1924, Audrey Bunner (Toronto), Nov. 14, 1924, visiting Dec. 24, 1924 from Toronto; Mrs. Harry Cooper, Mr. Chas. Vance, Mr. Thos. Warren, Ruth Warren, Elda Warren, Mrs. Jno. Johnston, Mrs. Jas. Cooper, Gerald Cooper, on Dec. 1925 Miss Sara VanTilburg visited (Toronto). Visiting in 1926 was Supt. Linton (Steubenville), Ed Chapman (Toronto), and Helen Vance (Toronto). Visitors in 1927 were, Jimmie Cooper (Toronto), Chick Johnston (Toronto), Oneida Hartline (Toronto), Philip Runyon and Charles Runyon (Sugar Grove) on April 6, 1927.

{Knoxville Area History, 1802 – 1976 Beginning on page 7}The Knoxville M.E. Church was organized between 1830 and 1835. The first class met for sometime in a schoolhouse, then moved to a brick building…
{Shady Glenn School – back row left is teacher, Fredia Snyder}

The old Shady Glenn School {off of present day JFK road} was located down in the hollow of the Snyder farm, where it was the center of school for both Warren Ridge and Shady Glenn. Part of the stone foundataion can still be seen.
In 1909, a new Shady Glenn school was built on property given by Ellsworth Snyder up on top of the hill along the Croxton Run Road, now John F. Kennedy Highway. In 1951, this school was closed and sold to Wm. Carmen and turned into a house.
The children were bussed to Knoxville Consolidated school. Teachers that taught at Shady Glenn at both the old and on top of the Shady Glenn Hill are: John Jeffrey, Emily Edminston Cooper, Mary Alexander Elson, Anna Edminston, Donald VanDyke, Beatrice Wasley Johnston, Mrs. Cohen, Grace Trimmer and Frieda Snyder Eddy. Frieda taught from 1940 to 1951. Mrs. Eddy also taught at Shelly’s from 1936 to 1940 and at Knoxville from 1951 to 1963.

The old school that stands in Knoxville now was also used a high school. The students only went there two years and then had to finish somewhere else. Before they did away with the high school part altogether, the students were bussed to Toronto. At that time the drivers owned their own buses. Two drivers that come to mind are Ford Cattrell and George Bartels. The school was sold when the new Knoxville Grade School was built. It was bought by the late Clifford Wilson and Elmer Snyder who held public auctions there for several years.


Many fine souls of the past several generations have had the opportunity to begin, and many complete, their education in the Knoxville area. Even when the town was founded, education was a neccessity among the settlers. Among businesses of the community were drug stores, three churches, a building and loan, three cattle drovers, two dress makers, and one tailor shop and two academies, Andrews and Tidballs. As the years passed, the academy ceased from being and several schools were erected to take their place. One of those schools that can still be remembered rather well, still stands adjoining the Knox Township Grange Hall. When other schools at Shady Glenn, Island Creek and New Somerset were phased out, those students were sent to Knoxville, which became the hub of the local education system. The small, overcrowded schoolhouse, with its outside toilets, water well, and little space for a playground, finally gave up the struggle and closed its doors forever to move to a new building.

Knoxville School was built on its present site in 1950 with an addition being added in 1956. The first section had seven classrooms and an auditorium-cafeteria combination. The addition added six new classrooms, restrooms, gym- cafeteria. In 1975, two additional classrooms were added. Two portable rooms were placed behind the school when kindergarten classes were started.

At the present time (1976), Knoxville houses 425 students on an average year. These students are served by 15 regular teachers, plus numerous other special teachers.
{Knoxville High School, 1908}

Note – spellings are exact from the book - Front row L to R: Mary Alexander, Fred Stokes, Anna Edminston, Wells Elson, Orville Wilcox, Fred Cooper, Daryl Wagnor. Second row: Brice Tedric, Grace Elson, Walter Swickard, Mary Belle Jeffrey, Tom Pittenger, Amanda Mills, Cook Swickard (Clark), Arthur Smith, Frances Cable. Third row: Earl Liggett, Vida Edmington, Harry Pittenger, Don Warren, Ina Crawford, Sam Alexander, teacher, G.H. Gerke.

Knoxville Facts
{Written by, Joseph Mills Sapp, age 83, in 1976} – I was born September 13, 1893, at the old Sapp homestead, my life long home, which my parents, John R. and Sanepta A. Sapp bought in the early ‘80’s from Lewis Wilson. School took up with Bible reading and prayer at 9 a.m. with a 15 minute recess at 10:30 then an hour at noon till 1 p.m. recess again at 2:30, and out at 4 p.m. We always ran home at noon for our dinners and took the mail, and usually had some quick chores to do, then hurried back and had time to play some before the bell rang for classes. We had a big pot bellied iron stove in the center of the room for coal heating and pupils used slates and slate pencils and black boards for arithmetic classes, and line up on the floor for reciting a reading or spelling lesson. Then there was the water bucket shelf in one corner, with water bucket and dipper. We got the water from the Issac Willis dug well across the street and drew the water with a windlass and a bucket. Two boys always got to go for a bucket of water.