When my parents bought a farm in 1952 four miles south of Dexter, Iowa, along Old Creamery Road, an abandoned country school sat on the corner just north of us. Old Penn No. 4. I wish I’d appreciated it’s history back then.
Two dozen years earlier, my mother’s family had moved into the neighborhood, adding five more students for Hazel Wetrich to teach at that one-room school. I wish I’d asked Mom more questions about her only year in a country school. She was the only third grader.
Five of the eleven Linn children also attended there.
Earl and Bernice (Lenocker) Linn had 11 children. Joyce Linn died in 1927 after the birth of the youngest. What a poignant story.
Children: Darrell (1908), Lloyd (1910), Laurence (1911), Wilbur (1913), Irene (1914, m. England), Vivian (1917, m. Boston), Earline (1918, m. Gutchall), Ila (1921, m. Silverthorn), Earl Jr. (1923), Thelma (1925, m. Inman), J. Bernard.
I’ve never been able to find someone to identify the Linn children in the 1927 photo.
Mom’s oldest brother Delbert said that Howard Davidson was the biggest kid at Penn No. 4 in those days. They got into a scuffle and Delbert beat him, but they became good friends all the way through high school. Another good friend was Ray Thrailkill. They played on ball teams together. In fact, at least nine of the children in the photo graduated from Dexter High School.
This was the only time the Wilson children attended a country school (except for when Delbert started first grade north of Stuart). The fall of 1927 they moved into Dexter.
Penn No. 4 School Bell
My dad was given the old Penn #4 school bell. He later gave it to his brother, and it eventually ended up with Judy Neal Johannesen in Texas. She and her husband recently brought it back to Iowa and donated it to the Dexter Museum.
Rod and Kyle Stanley built a museum display for the old school bell from the Penn No. 4 country school.
Penn No. 4 school is in the first part of Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression. Leora was the mother of the Wilson children in the 1927 photo.