In 2001, Sherry Smith-Stanford, generous Fayette County genealogist (and my wife's 4C1R*) told me that she had a surprise for me. She told me to watch my mail. I was intrigued. Sherry had taught me all I knew about my wife's Hamilton ancestors, and I was asking her for a lot of details about the family tree.
Several days later, a large brown envelope appeared in my mailbox. What treasures had Sherry sent?
IT WAS ...
The rosters of the students of the Mahon School in Brownstown, Illinois. (1930-31 example here.) A ... true ... surprise!
As I looked over the sheets, I recognized a few of the surnames: there were the three Hamilton cousins I had been questioning Sherry about just before she announced she was sending her surprise. (I guess that's what had reminded her about the records.) There were Mahons (Sherry's great-grandma Hamilton was a Mahon.) There were Pryors (also Sherry's kin), Pontious, Fishers, Lansfords and Craigs.
I realized that the Mahon School was a one-room school house over the period (the last sheet was for 1951-52 when the school was converted to a central sixth grade.) I saw that some of the names repeated year after year, changing grade levels, while some were there for a single year. Most of the students were from Brownstown, but there were a few exceptions. The names of the students' guardian was often included, allowing identification of siblings, but not always.
I contacted Sherry, thanking her for the surprise. Then I asked: "What do you want me to DO with it?" Well, transcribe it of course. She had grabbed the records when she found that they were about to be destroyed. (She has posted some pictures of the school here. I believe that it was torn down soon after the pictures were taken.) She had always wanted the records to be available to other researchers, but she never knew exactly what to do with them. (Sherry was then volunteering as a transcriber for other Fayette County records.)
As I looked over the records, I puzzled over the best way to present the data. The true value was in presenting the data in context of years attended, other attendees, etc. Adding the names to database of attendees like the one on RootsWeb would only be a start. I decided that a spreadsheet format, with the names as rows and the years attended as columns, would offer a researcher the richest context. With no further ado, click here to see the results. Please excuse the difficulties viewing the site in HTML; I've considered a frames solution for better navigation, but this causes problems in RootsWeb free pages. The colors are used to aid reading the data; the top and bottom ads are courtesy of RootsWeb.
All in all, one hundred eighty-six students, pre-school through grade eight, from seventy families, attended the school. Here are the surnames included:
|Albright, Arbgast, Baker, Benefiel, Black, Camp, Carter, Clymer, Cox, Curths, Craig, Crawford, Deal, Dial, Elder, Fisher, Guy, Hamilton, Harris, Hiatt, Hunt, Hunter, Jackson, Jones, Kistler, Lansford, Lowe, Mahon, May, McKormick, McMillan, McNeely, Miller, Peters, Pontious, Porter, Potts, Pryor, Reeves, Roberts, Root, Rosamond, Rush, Severns, Shallenberger, Shepard, Sidwell, Sigler, Smith, Stokes, Taylor, Vinden, Ward, White, Wilber and Williams.|
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