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Journey of Education in Ebenezer MO

by Marcia Harralson   (Text Version Below)

Original handwritten article converted to text below:

A class was organized in Ebenezer in 1831. A house of worship was erected by the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1832. Up until that time church and school was held in the settlers homes. It was placed midway between 2 springs, which were about 100 feet apart. Then in 1836 a campground was established and used annually for the next 20 years.


Ebenezer Methodist Church

East entrance in April 1943

Photo courtesy of Marcia Harralson

An early educational enterprise connected with the Ebenezer church may be recorded here. In August 1842, the Springfield district meeting on Ebenezer camp ground resolved that, “It is highly necessary that it be taken into consideration for the establishment of a high school somewhere in Ebenezer neighborhood, on the manual labor system." Appointing James Slavens, M. D. then a practicing physician as agent.

In 1847 a two-story frame building was erected, where it was held the second session of the St. Louis conference that year. Here in March of 1848 was begun the Southwest Missouri College.  Later another building was added, and the school was continued until the time of the Civil War. Records say that another frame building was built in 1892.

On page 134 of a book of information from the Methodist Church Conference of Missouri from (1738 - 1939) by Frank C. Tucker, the information says Ebenezer High School also know as Southwest High School and Ebenezer Academy in Greene County had flourished since 1843. 

Sunday school was held in the school house and the old college. Uncle Jim Gateley a resident of Ebenezer tells that at one time the northern Methodists held their classes in the high school and the southern Methodist class met in the old college. 

Also Ebenezer School was fortunate in being the seat of an excellent medical school. Among the older Dr's names coming from Ebenezer College was Dr. George Barrett and Dr. Gray. The Ebenezer medical field was later occupied by Dr. J.P. Cox, who practiced in Springfield.  Another Dr. that practiced in Ebenezer was Dr. Potter.

Many of my relatives have been educated in the Ebenezer schools, from the college to regular public school.

My Grandfather, L.O Wallis and his 2 sisters, Blanch and Marcia attended the wood frame public school in Ebenezer. My parents Mary Louise Wallis Dillard and Norman R. Dillard also attended the wood frame school. The frame school burned sometime between the late 1920's to the 1930's. At that time the community people got together and built the present brick building. Many of my relatives attended the brick Ebenezer School as well as my husband's older siblings.

Ebenezer 1904 Robberson Township Greene County

Plat of Ebenezer from 1904, present day Church(1894), College, and Grade School.  Plat courtesy of Greene County Archives


Pre-1930's Photo of Ebenezer Class in front of wood framed school - photo courtesy of Marcia Harralson

My mother Mary Louis Dillard taught all 8 grades in the school the years of 1947 & 1948.

I remember on April the 7th on my 6th birthday standing on a stump in my grandparents front yard shouting my name and stating I was 6 years old and would get to go to school in the fall.

In 1950 and 1951, my husband Bob Harralson and myself Marcia Dillard Harralson attended 1st Grade in the present brick school. Our teacher was Mrs. Katherine Cantrell. She lived in Walnut Grove MO. Her husband had been a dentist in Walnut Grove. Mrs. Cantrell had all 8 grades and was a great teacher.

Ebenezer Grade School circa 1940s

Main Entrance, front schoolyard on northside of the building, circa 1940's.  Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson

Bob and Marcia (Dillard) Harralson standing in the front schoolyard at Ebenezer in 1st Grade, 1950-51.  Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson

There were two large coat closets on either side of the doors when we entered the school building; big black iron hooks held our coats. We placed our lunch boxes or lunch bags on a shelf over the coat racks.

The school was always nice and warm because there was an oil furnace in the basement. There was also in-door plumbing and the bathrooms were all in the basement.  There was no hot lunch program because there was no kitchen.

There was a big stage on the west end of the large classroom. The teachers desk was on the stage and an American Flag on the stage. All along the west wall was a black board. Above the black board was a row of black cardboard with white letters of higher and lower case alphabet.  There was plenty of chalk and erasers on the tray beneath the chalkboard. We students took turns taking the erasers outside and slapping them on the sidewalk to clean the chalk out of them.

On the south wall was along row of windows and under the windows were bookshelves. There was a wide shelf on top of the bookshelves and when it was too cold for the little ones to go outside we would watch the big kids make snow angels in the snow.

Ebenezer School Sketch

Hand drawn sketch by the Harralsons of the interior of the schoolhouse when they attended First Grade 1950-51.

In warm weather we went outside to play fun games. There was no playground equipment so we had to make our own fun with balls and bats, jump ropes, and games of jacks. Also we played cowboys and Indians. Bob played Roy Rogers and I played Dale Evans. There was a baseball field behind the school and the older students enjoyed dividing into teams and having great fun trying to be the winning team.

I had long brown hair that had long curls. Bob was always pulling my curls. 

One day a school nurse came and tested our eyes. We found out that I had to have glasses. I was so surprised to see that

Some of the older children would listen to the younger ones read or help us with our schoolwork while the teacher taught the older students.

Mrs. Thelma Gateley volunteered to teach us music. Mrs. Gateley lived next door to the school on the east. She made us little blue capes and blue caps and we had a band of drumsticks and tambourines. We sang songs from a book she made that had the words to the music. It was a lot of fun and we very much looked forward to music day.   

CapsandCaps 1_edited.jpg

Mrs. Thelma Gateley

1951-52, Music Teacher

Students dressed in blue caps and capes with instruments in hands, the band was ready to perform, as instructed by Mrs. Gateley.

Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson

the buildings had tops and that the trees were so tall. Bob remembers that I cried when I got my first pair of glasses because they hurt my ears. He said he felt sorry for me.

I was sick a lot the first part of the year with tonsillitis.  My folks had the Dr. take the tonsils out.  I remember how sore my throat was and I got to eat a lot of ice cream.  My Granddaddy Wallis brought me a bouquet of pink sweet peas in a blue vase, they were so beautiful.  After I recovered I was well most of the rest of the year.

There was a house just east of the grocery store that burned to the ground one day while we were at school. The house was known as the old Sage place.  We First Graders were all so scared; we could smell the smoke and see the flames leap into the air with a lot of black smoke.


The old Sage house that burned while the Harrelson were at school.  Located just east of the schoolhouse.  Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson


Band practice, with instruments, 1950-51

Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson

Mother's Club, September 1944

Photo courtesy Marcia Harralson


There was one First Grade boy that would not stay in his seat and ran all over the classroom, so one day the teacher took a large safety pin and pinned his shirt to the sleeve of her dress.  That is the only way she could keep track of him.  He was always a troublemaker.  On occasion someone would do something that would require a paddle to be use and Mrs. Cantrell was not afraid to use that paddle.

There was also a Mother's Club that planned fundraisers for the school.  They would help the teacher plan pie suppers with pie auctions, cakewalks and ice cream socials.  A fun time was had by all.

There was no school bus so parents had to take children to school.  There was an approach to the outside of the fence and the cars would pull in there and let the children out and they would run across the schoolyard and run up the steps to the school.

Mrs. Cantrell had a big hand bell that she would ring when recess was over, when we heard the bell we would line up at the steps and all go in at one time.

Every day, before class started, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag and all said the Lord's Prayer.  

At the end of the school year, Willard School system consolidated Ebenezer into Willard and Ebenezer was closed for good.

There were wonderful memories made in the one room schoolhouse at Ebenezer.  Those of you who have had this experience can relate to the wonderful memories you will always have.  Thus ends the saga of the Ebenezer School but the building still remains.

Marcia Harralson

Historian for Ebenezer Historical Society  

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