Some Bluff City School history

As the 1938 Bluff City School Reunion approached, P.C. Bascom, a former early resident, was contacted regarding his earliest memories of the school. His response by letter and dated Aug. 8, 1938, was published in The Vandalia Union and contained the earliest history to date on this school.
Son of Schuyler Stone Bascom and his second wife, Mariah Smith, Perry Carley Bascom was living in Boundbrook, N.J., when he was contacted about the upcoming school reunion. Bascom was a good choice because he first attended school in Bluff City in 1857.
Perry Carley Bascom was born at Loudon City on Dec. 23, 1851. In 1853, Perry’s mother and four brothers and sisters died of milk sickness. He married Roine Belle Rightmire on Oct. 10, 1877, and she died five months later, with burial in Farmer Cemetery.
He married in 1884 to Mary Wilson, whom he met while preaching at East Millstone, N.J., and they were parents of four children: Wilson (died in infancy), Frederick, Perry and Helen Bascom. Mary Wilson Bascom died in January 1937, with her husband surviving her until 1943.
Following is P.C. Bascom’s letter to the reunion committee, headed by a Mrs. Staff.
“Your letter of inquiry concerning the Bluff City school reached me this day noon. Yes, I went to Bluff City School.
“Father and his family of four boys moved from Mulberry Grove to Bluff City in the spring of 1857. When we reached our new home we lived in a double log house on the south side of what is now the Old National Trail.
“We were in the very west end of the city and just across the National Road, as it was known at that time, stood a little log one-room school house, no window, but a missing log in the north end, the vacant space covered with oiled paper gave us a little light. The door was in the south end. On the east side was a long plank about fifteen inches wide, which made a writing desk for the older scholars to write the copy book lessons. Of course, we kids could in no case use the bench at the writing desk.
“I did not go to school till late in the fall of 1857. The four or five month school term had closed when we reached our new home. The school directors employed a Mr. McCasslin for the winter of 1857-1858. He was a good, kind man and I think did reasonably good work.
“During the year 1857, father bought a home in Bluff City. The house was just about 100 yards north of the blacksmith shop. The land, about 25 acres, extended north to what is now the railroad. Out of that land and about 100 yards north of our house father either gave or sold to the school district enough land upon which to build a frame school house. This must have been built in 1859. The contractor was our neighbor Solomon Godsey.
“Among the teachers of that early day was a Mr. Augustine. Then, Miss Hannah Morey, who married Isaac Slusser. Then came Abram Slusser as teacher, followed by Joe Carter, Monroe Lee, John Blacksee, S.M. Jackson and George Mabry. The order in which they came I have quite forgotten, but all of them I remember well.
“One summer, I think it must have been the new school was being constructed, we held school for two or three months in the farm house that was then known as the Judge Haley farm, east of the Bluff about three-quarters of a mile.
“The school house was quite a wonder to the boys and girls. There was a platform in the west end the whole width of the building and known as the rostrum. On this platform the teacher sat and the pupils stood to recite.
“There was one teacher who I did not mention, John Leagoard. He was probably the most severe of all in discipline, except perhaps, Monroe Lee, who came in the fall of 1862 and in November volunteered and went to the war, and was killed in action at the battle of Shiloh.
“He was followed by Joe Carter, who finished out the term and began a second term when he volunteered and went to the war and his wife took his place in the school. He was captured and for months kept in prison. Mrs. Carter never expected his return but one day the whole school was astounded to see her rush out of the room and almost fly down the road. She had seen a poor, decrepit soldier walking toward the school house and some how she sensed that it was her husband.
“She fell on his poor emaciated body. She kissed him and held him so he could not walk. She did not faint, but she cried and murmured “My Joe, My Joe.” After a while we all came into the school house and she told us who he was and said, “There will be no school the rest of this day or tomorrow!” I assure you this pleased us all.
“Among the pupils whom I remember about the years 1860-1870 are:  John and Wilson Haley, Marcelus, Frank and Rhoda Cross, Susan and Ambrose Owen, Alfred Labille, John, Henry, Ernest and Rose Smith, Enos and Hattie Kelley and sister. John I. Remer and Adline Willms, Nancy Jane Haley, Carrie Kinkade, Savannah Williams, Joe Thompson, Joe Emert, Mary Emert, John and Ransom Godsey, Ann Davis, John Breese and sister, John and Minnie Bolin, Frank and Mathias Sapp and sister, Josephine Haley, Emanuel Goodbrake, Andrew G. Bascom, Byron Augustine and brother, W.D. Mabry and a little girl named Hoag. When I say sister, I have forgotten the given name. There was, of course, Naaman Bascom.
“About 1870, I went to Vandalia to a summer school and then to the regular school in the old building. Then I taught three years and went to McKendree College, taught again for two years and then entered the ministry.
“My first charge was Shobonier circuit with eight preaching places. After four years of experimenting in the preaching business I came east to Madison, N.J.,, and attended Drew Theological Seminary.
“I will soon enter my 88th year. I am preaching often, though a retired minister. Have two sons and one daughter, Mrs. Nevins. Mrs. Bascom passed away on Jan. 12, 1937 after we had lived together 52 years.”

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