Brush Creek School

by Terry Hogan


Near Lake Bracken, there was a one room school house known as Brush Creek School.  The last time I noticed, the old school building still stands, incorporated into part of a private residence. 


The year I started first grade (1952), was the first year for Allen Park School in Galesburg.  I was part of the first, first grade class at Allen Park.  I rode a bus that went by the old Brush Creek School.  At some point, and my memory is too vague to recall when, the bus stopped at the old Brush Creek School and picked up Francis Rutledge  Francis was in the same class as me.  So Francis didn’t attend Brush Creek School, but he did sleep there.  He was probably the only kid I ever knew that was encouraged to sleep in school.


My brothers, Ron and Roger, attended Brush Creek School.  They are apparently no worse for it, at least the best I can tell.  I don’t know any particulars about the teacher there.  However, early tradition was that these simple schools were usually taught by a single female, with some degree of formal education.  She was generally underpaid and often had janitorial duties for the one room school, as well.  She was also held to a very high moral standard.  And in a small rural community, there were few places to hide.  Despite these limitations, if she did find a husband, usually her teaching days were over. 


A reader emailed me a copy of the 1947 class of Brush Creek School.  The teacher is not in the photo, so it is a good guess that she was the photographer.  She was thoughtful enough to place the name of the school and the year on the blackboard behind the lined up students. There are 17 young faces peering out across time.  Nine boys and eight girls, looking (at least to me) to be ranging in age from about six to perhaps 12 or 13 years old, are mostly smiling.  In 1947, flannel shirts appeared to be a popular choice for rural, growing children, and were unisex, with two of the girls wearing them.


Affixed to the wall behind the children, and just above the blackboard, were the omnipresent pull-down maps that were used for teaching geography.  The wood floor looked like it had seen some hard wear from the scuffles of young feet.


I am told that there are both Kidders and Durbins represented in the photo, but I cannot sort them out, despite knowing kids from both families. But this was 1947 and I would have been busy learning how to walk.  Although my brothers attended the school, they were not students there in 1947.


April, 2009


The Durbin family I knew because they lived at Lake Bracken and were within walking distance from our home.  The youngest son was a friend of one of my brothers, being 6 years older than me.  Mr.  Durbin was an employee of the CB&Q railroad and he and his family lived in a house near the old pump house.  The pump house pumped water from Lake Bracken to Galesburg and nearby rail areas to meet the thirst of the old CB&Q steam locomotives. The old pump house and the nearby residence are now gone.  Only the round brick tower, rising from the lake (minus the roof) remains. 


Even memories need to be taken down off the shelf once in awhile, dusted, admired, and safely returned to the collection. Perhaps this will have stirred one or two of your own.