Olentangy Valley News

History today

Many family trees grew through Bovee School

Sunday February 3, 2013 7:25 PM

In my November column, I mentioned the Bovee School, which stands on the former Askins farm now owned by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Craig Askins bought the building and grounds and enclosed it within his farm in 1950. It is located at 4840 W. Powell Road.

History buff Richard Converse reminded me that Isaac Bovee first owned the land and sold it to his brother-in-law, John M. Williams. Court records indicate John and Annis Williams sold the corner of their farm to the board of education in 1891 for $71.25.

The brick Bovee was No. 9 of the 11 one-room school houses in Liberty Township School District in the late 1800s.

It is said that earlier on the property there was a frame or log building that burned down.

Cecile Jackson recalled moving to Powell in 1910 and living across the field from the Bovee School. Being lonely and observing the children playing, she went to school "just for fun" when she was 41/2 years old. In general, there may have been only two to three students in one grade of this eight-grade school.

In 1959, Columbus Dispatch columnist Johnny Jones described some of Cecile Jackson's memories, indicating that " ... lessons would be heard along with the next grade higher, if possible."

She told him about gathering pokeberries and making ink with them, and she described playing "hotly contested" baseball games and hide-and-seek during recess.

Those who attended the Bovee School first held a reunion in June 1959. Garnet and Walter Schuette of Riverside Drive were hosts at their large home. Thirty former pupils and three teachers were in attendance.

A list of teachers and students from 1891-1911 was prepared, showing more than 16 teachers and 51 students. Later, I understand, there were some corrections made to the list. Cecile began as secretary and, by the following year, she was president of the group. Three years later, she died, so we are fortunate to have some of her recorded memories.

In 1973, the attendees voted to "keep the reunion going for another year." The historical society has been given the minutes of these meetings, recorded by Garnet Schuette as secretary, and there are no notes on the page for the following year.

It appears the reunions were held for 15 years, but that is significant when you think of the years these adults attended the Bovee School.

Eugene Chase is another individual to have memories of this little schoolhouse.

Gene created an oil painting of the school for Craig Askins when the two became friends, and Craig gave it to the historical society. Chase compiled a history of the Bovee School after discovering a number of his ancestors either were teachers or students at the school. The history and family relationships interested him, and he included copies of family photos in his 1989 tribute along with facts about their lives.

Doing this research, Chase said he had "an opportunity to get better acquainted with a grandfather I never knew." (Harry Kirkpatrick died at an early age while teaching in a nearby town.) That was just one of the joys of Chase's research. The Powell-Liberty Historical Society has his sketches, painting and history to share with anyone interested.

As mentioned above, the Bovee School closed in 1911. The students began attending the new Powell Centralized School, located on Powell Road just east of where Grace Drive sits today.

If you visit the historical society, you will see many class photos where the "Monument on the Hill" is at the center of each of them. But Chase's painting of the red brick Bovee is a real treasure, and it is reassuring that the old one-room schoolhouse remains amid all the changes around it.

Carole Wilhelm is a member of the Powell-Liberty Historical Society.

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