Roaming the Back Roads

by Genny Kirkpatrick, written for the Retired Gilmer County School Employees’ News Letter

Trace Fork School Gilmer County WV One Room Schools

 Trace Fork School was first held in an old round log building about one-half mile from the mouth of Trace Fork where L.H. “Dode” Lydick later lived.  Teachers were James Taylor (1867) and Joe Calenine (1868).  In 1869 a new building was erected about a mile from the mouth of Trace Fork on the road bank about one hundred yards above the old Gainer home.  Four terms were taught before the building burned in the spring of 1873.  Lyda Hays was the last teacher in this building.  The following year (1873) school was again held one-half mile above the mouth of Trace at the L.H. Lydick home with North Orvis as teacher.  In 1874 school was taught in the log U.B. Church on land back of the Revere Store and Post Office.  Henry C. Goodnight was the teacher.  There was no school in the Lower Trace section from 1875 until 1880.

The Upper Trace School then came into existence.  People from the mouth of Trace to the mouth of Tanner realized the need for a school near enough for their children to attend. A.E. and Benton Webster donated land upon which to build a new schoolhouse.  Jim Cain was given a contract to build a frame building for a school.  It was located on the right bank of Tanner Fork and was known as the Webster School (but it was commonly known as the “White School” because of its color).  School was held here for 22 terms.  Teachers were Alice Hays (1880), Benjamin Franklin (1881), Mr. Hanson (1882), Jake Weaver (1883), Dave Weaver (1884), W.L. Stump (1885), Elmer Steward (1886), Ida Brannon (1887-88), Asa B. Harris (1889, 1893), Rev. Albert Kelley (1890), Florence Stalnaker (1891), Coleman Gainer (1892), Zoe Stalnaker (1894), Allen Houton (1895), Ida Bell (1896), Jacob Loudin (1897), Jennie Stalnaker (1899), Mae Bell (1900), and Ethel Bush (1901).

     On July 1, 1901 the DeKalb District BOE (Jacob Crites, D.H. Beall, and A.H. Cooper) , met and ordered that the Webster School (Upper Trace Fork) be moved to the mouth of Trace Fork and a new school be established at Latonia.  Land for the school was now donated by Quincy Kelley on the left bank of Trace Fork on the right side of the road about 200 yards from Tanner Creek.  W.R. Church was hired to build the new building. Teachers were:  I.N. Hardman (1902), Alva Wilt (1903), J.A. Kelly (1904-05), Jesse Bell, Sr. ((1906), Vear Ponager (1907), Blaine Engle (1908-10), Nellie Harris (1911), Charles Ayers (1912-14), Judson Gainer (1915). School was discontinued because of an insufficient number of pupils until 1931.  Then school opened again with the following teachers:  Jesse Bell, Jr.,(1931), Clara Riddle (1932), Holly Gainer (1933), Thelma Ware 1934), Willard Britton (1935), Woodroe Beall (1936-38), Charles Boone Maxwell (1938), Thelma Gainer (1939).  This school closed in May 1940.

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