From Several Small Country Schools To One

The following article was taken from The Earth News-Sun, Thurs., Aug. 21, 1969 edition. Please pardon any references to homes, farms, or families which are no longer there.

Before the Springlake Schools became an Independent District in 1923, the countryside was dotted with several small schools. Those small one-room schools no longer exist, but the memory of them lingers in the minds of those who built, taught, and attended the little country schools. It is hard to put definite dates on the schools; however, the approximate dates can be derived from the settlement of various communities in the area.

Roush School

The Roush School, located south of Sunnyside, was built in the early 1900's, probably in 1904 or 1905. The one room building was located where Eddie Haydon now lives. The Roush School was later combined with the Axtell School and moved to Sunnyside.

 Axtell School

The Axtell School was built in approximately 1910 one-half mile from the present Ray Axtell place. The first teachers, Miss Laura Judd and Miss Ethel Stuck, were from Kansas. The Roush and Axtell Schools, being located close together, were later combined and moved to Sunnyside.

Big Square School

The Big Square community was settled in 1907-1908 by M.L. Stiles, who had come from Iowa. Mr. Stiles was interested in building a thriving community that would be able to serve settlers who moved into the area. In so doing, he secured postal rights, with the first post office being built in 1909. Tom Tate, now of Dimmitt, carried mail by mule.

Stiles' interest was further shown in 1910 when he contributed materials for the first frame school building. He paid the salary and expenses for the first teacher, Olive Dureen, in an effort to create a school district.

In establishing a name for the community, Stiles sent several names to the state for approval. Among names sent were "Stiles" and "Big Square." Since a Stiles, Texas was in existence, Big Square was returned as the name of the community. Cowboys in the area attached Big Square to the community because of the large square lots. Each lot displayed big, two story, square houses which were characteristic of Northern architecture. Most who settled in Big Square were from the northern part of the United States. It is believed this area was located somewhere between Earth and Lazbuddie. Nothing now remains but the field in which it stood.

 Y-L School

Little is known of the Y-L School; however, we do know the school was located near Muleshoe in what is still known as the Y-L community. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Hinson of Spring Lake taught in the Y-L School in the 1919-1920 school year.

 Old Spring Lake

The school located at Old Spring Lake was built in 1908 by the George Wright Land Company. The section of land on which the townsite of Old Spring Lake stood was at one time a part of the XIT Ranch. W.E. Halsell purchased the Spring Lake division of that ranch and began selling the land in 1901. The Land Company built the school, post office, and store as a foundation for the town. Miss Corryl was the teacher that year, and Edgar Rice taught the next. There were seventy-two pupils and one teacher in 1910 with eight grades to teach. The older pupils would help the teacher by hearing the younger ones read and spell or do number work. The children rode horses or drove horse and buggy or wagon to school. They took feed for the animals to eat, and there was a small barn on the grounds that sheltered the animals. A windmill in the yard furnished water, and a coal-burning stove furnished heat.

Once a month, in the evening, there would be a meeting of the literary society. Families would come from miles around to hear the students do short plays, readings, songs, or debates. The lighting was provided by kerosene lamps with reflectors on the back.

By 1911 another room and teacher had been added. There was basketball, with outdoor poles and goals. Mrs. Jack Hinson says, "The girls wore black satin bloomers when playing, much to the consternation of their mothers." Margaret Shellabarger (Axtell) was employed in 1912-1913 along with Melissa Thompson. On April 13, 1913, at the Congregational Church, commencement exercises were held for Arthur O. Bales, Ansel O. Bales, Myrtle Ellen Vore, Beatrice Ann Vore, and Norman F. Cleavinger. This was only ninth grade, however, so they had to qualify to go on to high school.

By around 1918, the enrollment had dropped to sixteen pupils, but there were always two teachers. In 1922-1923, Gene Cleavinger was hired to teach high school by the Spring Lake and Sunnyside schools. There were fifteen to twenty young people who attended classes in the church.

Then in 1923 this school district, under the supervision of George Linville, J.L. Hinson, and M.E. Cleavinger, filed an application to make Spring Lake an independent school district in a new location. The school building was moved to the present location and used for teacher housing, and a new, red brick school house was built to take its place. (In 1932, the entire town of Spring Lake was moved to its present location, incorporating the town of Punkin' Center which had already been established there.)