Dexter Museum–New Displays

Country School Bell

The old Penn No. 4 country school bell has recently been donated to the museum by Judy Neal Johannesen, in the name of her parents, Bill and Helen Neal, as a focal point for pictures and information about area country schools.

Historian Rod Stanley and his brother Kyle designed and built a way to display the hefty heirloom.

Rod Stanley with the bell before he cleaned it up and made the display for it.

Rod with the bell when it arrived at the Museum.


Mementos from the Eventful Life of Dexter’s Conger Reynolds


Linda Lyon, granddaughter of Conger Reynolds, has donated his photos, papers, and items to the Dexter Museum. His 100-year-old censor stamp from the Great War and the Citation for Distinguished Service Clock awarded to him in 1959 by the Public Relations Society of America are displayed in a shadowbox with pictures of Mr. Reynolds. Other photos and papers are in a Conger Reynolds notebook.


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  1. I read a book recently about the one-roomed school houses of Johnson County IA. It was very interesting. I was schooled in one-room buildings in IL. Except for 1st grade, there were several buildings moved into our small town for grades 2-8. Our 1st grade was out in the country. None of the buildings we used had a bell on top.

    • I never went to country school, but the one for this bell was just north across the road from our farm. But when we went to school in Dexter, the music building had been a country schoolhouse, and so did the building where I attended to 5th and 6th grade–the same teacher taught both grades.

  2. I’m not sure is we ever had small schools in Conejos County. Might be something worth looking into. The first “Official” school was run by the Catholic Church and was in Capulin and Antonito. The Nuns taught there until the mid 60s when the falling population of Capulin and the improved bus service made it impractical. The Conejos school district purchased it shortly afterwards. About the same time the Manassa School District merged with Northern Conejos County School District.

    For a long time grades 7 through 12th went to Centauri HS, Then things hit the skids a little. A lot of the 7th and 8th grade girls ended up in a family way courtesy of the 12th grade boys. The Capulin school was reactivated and the 7th and 8th graders went there for years. A few years ago, a new Jr high was built, and the Capulin school is now a community center.

    I’m pretty sure if we had one room schoolhouses, I’d find them in Sanford or Manassa.

    I think I’ll look!

    • Thank you! It’s such a small town–about 600 souls, but it’s had surprising historical events. The shootout with Bonnie and Clyde brought a man from England recently!

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