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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Fillmore School History and Early Photo


The earliest photograph (really just a newspaper clipping of a photograph) of Fillmore School states that it was taken about 1900. The students and teacher were identified. (The newspaper printed married names for the girls after their maiden names.)

Front row: Unidentified, Leila Gould Pavey, Bessie Leighty, Donald Gray, Fred Kenneth, Guy Leighty, Lionell Gray and Clyde Richardson

Second Row: Emily Gould Davis, Sirrildia (Sarilda) Gilliatt Laughlin, Ody Munday, Gertrude Gould Eaton, Grace Gould Buchanan, Wilmer Gould, Jim Richardson, George Richardson, Mary Dean, Mae Gillespie Montgomery, Freeman Irwin and Knoefel (Red) Ritchie

Third row: Vinnie Gilliatt Cook, Unidentified, Unidentified, Unidentified, Mary Seed Litherland, Raymond Gould, William McCroskey and William Dean.

Fourth row: Percy Gould, Alberta Gould Dennison, Lydia Robins Catt, Elsie Dean, Grace Gilliatt Cooper, Mary Leighty Akin, Louis Vandermark, Ed Irwin and Oscar Leighty.

Fifth row: Amanda Vandermark (teacher)[1], Marion Gould, Helen Gould Barber, Anna Leighty Bray, Flora Gilliatt Vandermark, Fern Leighty Kirkwood, Eliza Gillespie Easterday, Clyde Gould and Emma Gilliatt Cooper.


The researchers attempted to get a more exact date by looking at the early history of the school and by using the students ages as represented in the 1900 census.


On May 6, 1858 Peter and Harriet Leighty sold a corner of their property in Sec 26, T3N,R12W to the School Trustees of District No. 7 for fifty dollars. (North side of intersection at Filmore Lane 600N and Kinkade Road 750E. In the 1930s the school was described as being located one mile west of Vandermark Corners.) The U.S. President from 1850-1853 was Millard Fillmore, and the school subsequently erected on this property may have been named for him. When reference was made to the school, it was spelled sometimes with only one “L” and sometimes with two “LL's.’”


In 1880 Miss Mary Buchanan taught the summer session, and Thomas Gould was one of the school directors. Miss Hattie Potts was the teacher at Fillmore school in March 1884. The local gossip writer for the newspaper noted that "the entertainment at the end of the year was nice consisting of a select readings, essays, dialogues and declamations." Apparently, one of the papers that was read caused a great deal of dissatisfaction among the parents of the pupils but unfortunately the reporter did not further elaborate.


The Rural Republican noted that Gus Buchanan, the teacher at Fillmore, closed the school term on March 25, 1887. The next year Miss Belle Vandermark taught the winter term and her sister, Amanda taught the spring term in 1890-1891. The Rural Republican mentioned in its January 17, 1890 edition that there was no school at Fillmore because of the funeral of Thomas Hardacre.


On August 7, 1891, the Rural Republican mentioned that Mr. (J. Harrison) McIntosh, a younger brother of the pastor at Zion, would teach there the coming winter. The teacher for the 1895-96 school year was Amanda Vandermark. She also taught the following year. In a published listing of Lawrence County teachers for the 1897-98 school term C. L. Stephenson of St Francisville was listed as the teacher for Fillmore.


The basket supper given in January 1899 at Fillmore was, considering the bad roads and threatening weather, a success raising $7.00. Miss Amanda Vandermark taught for two years from 1899-1901.


At the Fourth Annual Commencement of the Lawrence County Public Schools held in the Circuit Court room in the Courthouse on June 15, 1899, Percy Gould was the only graduate from Fillmore. The reporter who attended noted that he was the smallest and youngest of the group. He was 12 years old.


The two students from Fillmore who took the final examination for a certificate of graduation in 1900 were Liza Gillespie and Fern Leighty. Their teacher was Amanda Vandermark. They did not graduate until the following year though. Liza also won the silver cup for the school with an essay at the Farmers’ Institute held in 1902. (Fern Leighty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Leighty, married John E. Kirkwood, son of Mrs. Dora Kirkwood in March 1906.)


Miss Amanda Vandermark, teacher at Fillmore in 1901 gave a lesson on “Participles and Infinitives” at the Denison Township Teacher’s Association. (Readers: And WE all remember how exciting that part of grammar was…)


The 1902 graduates were Flora Gilliatt and Alberta Gould who gave a recitation at the commencement ceremonies.

[1] Biography of teacher: Miss Amanda Vandermark, eldest daughter of Alfred and Mary Jane Vandermark was born about 1865 and reared on a farm in Denison Township, attended the district schools and later attended a normal (teacher’s) school at Mitchell, Indiana. For 18 years she taught at Fillmore school and was considered one of the best teachers of her day. (A gossip note in the Lawrence County News January 19 1905 stated that Misses Belle and Amanda Vandermark had left to spend the winter in Pensacola, Florida.) Upon the death of her father about 1928, she and her sister, Miss Belle Vandermark, spent their summers in Colorado and their winters in Florida staying at their home in Lawrenceville on East State street only a few months each year. Miss Amanda died in Florida on February 3, 1930, of chronic throat trouble and myocarditis and was returned to Lawrence County to be buried in the Lawrenceville Cemetery.


So from the above information, the upper range of the photo was probably before 1905 when Miss Amanda, the teacher, spent that winter in Florida. Percy Gould (13) shown in the photo graduated in 1899. However the 1900 census states that Percy had attended school for 5 months when the census was taken. Sometimes, students stayed in the one-room schools and took extra work, because there were no high schools yet.


However the 1900 census shows that Marion Gould (16) was not in school nor was Flora Gilliatt (15) who had been working for 5 months as a servant in a private home. Both of those students ARE shown in the photo. Gertrude Gould

(6) in the census said she had been in school for 7 months but she is NOT in the photo. Bessie Leighty (7) shown in the photo is NOT listed as going to school in the 1900 census, and in fact the the entire family is living in Wabash County at Friendsville.

The date of the photo may have been 1899, but we challenge the readers to continue following the logic with the facts given above and by using the 1900 census to analyze and prove the exact date if possible. Just email your reasoning (those of you who like logic puzzles) to lawrencelore@gmail.com and we will publish it and you will earn our undying gratitude for helping us date our photos.

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