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100 Years Ago: Adair County is alive . . .

. . . making rapid progress in the point of education. - Adair County News, of crowd of 6,000 in town for a 'Downtown Days' like event 100 years ago.
Ironically, one century ago on the same second Saturday in October as we now celebrate Downtown Days, the county seat drew as many people to celebrate accomplishments in education with the Annual School Rally Day. There are many, many, similarities with yesterday's celebration, as educational accomplishments in public schools and at 'The Lindsay Wilson' of today are driving economic growth in Adair County and played such a big role in the huge success of Downtown Days.
Click on headline for complete JIM account.


Big doings hit Columbia on a glorious October morn a century ago this weekend. A crowd, estimated by the News at six thousand strong (and, of course, in which perfect order prevailed), gathered on and around the Square on the morning of that long ago Saturday, October 9th, 1915, in observance of the annual School Rally Day. According to the News, "before the noon hour the public square was a solid mass of humanity, the most enthusiastic crowd of young and old people ever called together at this place."

Representative students and teachers from all eighty of Adair County's white school districts were in attendance, the largest contingent being from the Columbia Graded and High School, with some two hundred and fifty students and the entire teaching cadre present. Others came from as far away as Casey Creek, they arriving on a motor truck via the Campbellsville route, while the folks from Independence school near Dirigo, about 14 miles distant from Columbia, rolled in on a vehicle powered by a team of eight mules. "Other schools came in buggies, surreys, spring wagons and road wagons."

(In perhaps a wry commentary on the sad state of Adair County's roads, the paper commented that "It was also a great treat to the children, many of them, no doubt, being in Columbia for the first time in their lives.")

The paper noted that all the children were neatly dressed and that "it was an inspiration to the onlookers as each school marched around the square, giving their school yell about every three minutes." Miss Laura Smythe's class from Breeding "rendered a number of beautiful songs in the South corner of the square," while the young folks from Zion, under the tutelage of Miss Estella Willis, "were all dressed in white and blue, and...marched around the square and into many of the business houses, with uncovered heads, stopping long enough to give their school yell." (One can only take the wildest of guesses as to what the yells for Disappointment, Rainfall, and Pigtail schools might have been.)

By one o'clock that afternoon, all the students and teachers and many of the onlookers had reassembled at the Fair Grounds for the student competitions, everything from the academic (spelling, declamations, recitations, and the like) to cooking (apple jelly, biscuits, corn muffins, and apple pie), to sewing (apron, shirt waist, crochet collar, and neatest patch), to farming (best crops of corn and potatoes), to athletics (egg race, high jump, and wheelbarrow race, among many other contests of speed and agility).

Said the News of the event overall, "It was the greatest school demonstration ever pulled off in this part of the State, showing conclusively that Adair County is alive, making rapid progress in the point of education."

This story was posted on 2015-10-11 09:01:41
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