Oak Hill #41
July 26, 1992
A picture may be located by Edith Hefner (Mrs. Frederick)
If this column were a debate, its subject would be: "resolved, that Oak
Hill School District No. 41 was the successor to Rogers' first school,
In the 1991 Benton County History, Joe Mathias wrote: "At the time of the
founding of Rogers, it is agreed that the only public school in the district
was a county school known as Horsley located on Highway 71 at the corner of
Since the county in the earlier years of public schools listed them only by
district number, it was not possible in this story to prove that Oak Hill was
Horsley's successor - they both have had the same number, for instance.
However, both served the same area, although the schoolhouses for the two
were several blocks apart. It often happened that when a second schoolhouse
was built for a district, a new site was used within the district.
The land area first assigned to Oak Hill District 41 was farm land, much of
it in orchards and other fruit. With today's street and highway names and
numbers, it would be described this way: Starting north from Arkansas 94
East, the Oak Hill District began at Olrich Street and continued northward on
both sides of 71 to Arkansas 102. Turning there, it went west to 40th Street,
south to New Hope Road, eastward to 15th and there it turned northward to
Olrich and back to Highway 71.
Today, that district would include much of Rogers, including Dixieland
Mall, St. Mary's-Rogers Memorial Hospital and many other establishments and
streets and homes. Back in its origin, however, Oak Hill District was
completely outside the City of Rogers. The Rogers School District took in
part of Oak Hill District, and, eventually, all of it.
No doubt, District No. 41 was one of the original districts established by
the county court. Its number at first was 68, but in 1876, the districts were
renumbered and it became No. 41. That was five years before the City of
Rogers was born..
The schoolhouse, which still exists today, stood at what now are Oak and
28th Streets./After school no longer was held there, the schoolhouse became
the Oak Hill Grange Hall. Two alumni of Oak Hill, Cecil Wood and Edith Kunz
(Hefner), described the schoolhouse as a one-room structure with a concrete
front porch, two front doors and one rear door, and with a woodshed and two
outhouses at the rear. The well with a pump was in the school yard, too.
Some teachers mentioned in records include Ira B. Swearingen in 1912-13. He
drew $50 a month for the seven-month term. There was a five-month term in
1916, and the teacher drew $50 a month. The first warrant was made out to
Mrs. Mary Gholson, three to Mrs. Mary Gordon, and the last one to J.B.
Gordon. H.F. Davis taught the 1917-18 term of seven months, and was paid $65
a month. That was the era of the great flu epidemic, and the board paid Dr.
C.A. Rice $11.75, probably for vaccinations.
In 1919-20, Norma McGinty drew $65 a month to teach the seven-month term.
Records depict but three warrants issued to the teacher, W.H. Grigg, for the
1920-21 term. This could have been because he was being paid $85 a month and
thus the board ran short of funds, or it could have been that he did teach
the full seven-month term for which he was contracted and faulty bookkeeping
caused the record to be incomplete. One recorded list shows Marion Barnes to
have taught the 1923 term, and Fred Allred the 1924 year.
Cecil Wood and Edith Kunz Hefner took their elementary schooling together
at Oak Hill and were the only two eighth grade graduates in 1930. Teachers
that they recall were Mrs. Dora Riddle, Ira Swearingen, Fred Allred, Miss
Barnes, Polly Crain and Mrs. Blanche Hubbard. Mrs. Hefner recalls that Mrs.
Riddle earlier had taught in a reformatory, possibly in Kansas. She impressed
the students at Oak Hill about how fortunate they were to be in a public
school by relating for them how students were handled at the reformatory.
Students at the reformatory had to walk with one hand on the shoulder of the
one ahead of them, and in some cases had hobbles on their legs.
Mrs. Hefner and her brother, Eddie Kunz, rode to Oak Hill School each
morning with Mrs. Riddle. She drove a horse and buggy and would stop for
them. All the way from the first through the eighth grade, Mrs. Hefner was
the only girl in her class.
She looks back at good times in the Oak Hill Community and school district.
There were the school programs and plays, the pie suppers and box suppers
held to gather funds for school needs, and the way the men of the community
succeeded in getting the county to provide funds and equipment and the Oak
Hill men provided the labor to build bridges needed in areas of the
community. Her parents, Peter and Cora Kunz, both were musically talented.
Her father would play the accordion or French harp and her mother the piano,
at school and community functions. Mrs. Hefner now is a retired teacher,
having taught music at the Lowell and Garfield Schools simultaneously from
1959 to 1978.
Cecil Wood was born and reared only one-fourth mile from the Oak Hill
School. His older brother, Ralph Wood, and younger sister, Lora Wood (Lyons),
also went to Oak Hill,.
When Cecil Wood and Edith Kunz graduated at Oak Hill, it was the era when
Benton County schools still were holding joint graduation ceremonies and
festivities. Oak Hill students went to Droke School for the day. There were
several other schools on hand, too. Edith won the arithmetic competition and
the 50-yard dash, and was thus eligible to enter the county-wide competition
the next summer. F.A. Wood was county school superintendent than and took a
big interest in such events. He told Edith that he felt the judges should
have given the arithmetic award on accuracy and neatness rather than speed.
In such a case, he said, she would have won the county contest.
A couple of years ago, we spoke to 100-year-old Lorene Ragsdale at Rogers
Nursing Home, where she still lives today. She told me that her husband, the
late William Baxter Ragsdale, got to attend Oak Hill when he was 13 in 1901.
The family had just moved here from Texas County, Mo. His youngest brother,
Frank, and sister, Nellie, were born here and apparently went all the way
through the eight grades at Oak Hill. The others, Arthur, Rose and Charlie,
also apparently attended Oak Hill at least some of the years left before they
completed the eighth grade. William Baxter Ragsdale became a full-time minter
of the Church of Christ, a profession he followed until five years before his
death at the age of 91.
Oak Hill District No. 41 and its neighbor to the west, Droke School
District No. 42, attempted in March 1920 to join together to form a rural
special school district. The county even set the election date. Then, on
April 2, 1920, the county court minutes read as follows:
"In the Matter of forming a Rural Special School District composed of the
territory embraced in common school districts No's 41 and 42. S.H. Shelton Et
Al Petitioners, Pltf. vs J.R. Brandon, Et Al Contestee's, Defdt. On this day
this cause comes on to be heard, and by consent of all parties hereto, said
cause is dismissed, the Petitioner's paying all cost."
At the same meeting, however, County Judge Joe Beasley, upon petition of
J.R. Brandon and 19 other legal voters residing in the District 41 territory,
ordered that an election beheld at Oak Hill to see about forming a special
school district for the Oak Hill territory. The election results were not
recorded, but obviously the voters approved, for after that it was the Oak
Hill Rural Special School District. Droke did likewise, but separately for
However, on March 12, 1921, the Rogers School District also created a
Special School District. This resulted in the Rogers District taking in more
than half of the land area that originally had belonged to Oak Hill. It was
the area bordering Rogers' western border. This left Oak Hill District with a
total of about four sections of land. Apparently earlier, sometime before
that, a half-section had gone in the northwest corner of Oak Hill District to
Jefferson District and another portion in the north of the district went to
Finally, on Oct. 27, 1944, a petition was filed with the County School
Supervisor containing the names of a majority of the qualified voters in Oak
Hill School District No. 41 requesting that the territory belonging to Oak
Hill District be added to and made a permanent part of Rogers District No.
30. It was so ordered by the county.
Today, driving through the vastly expanded City of Rogers that now takes in
the Oak Hill School District, it is difficult to imagine that the area once
was a rural farming community.
Those paying personal property taxes in the Oak Hill School District in
1890 were G.W. Bacon, C.M. Baker, Mrs. M. Baker (Guard), Charles Cotrill,
Charles H.W. Coghill, J.W. Coghill, L.H. Coghill, Wilson Coghill, J.L.
Derreberry, W.B. Field, Able Godard, Spooner Godard, W.M. Glass, C.S. Head,
J.W. Haynes, James Johnson, F.L. Johnson, J.H. Kelton, Marion Koons, W.H.
Lane, B. Lucas, M.B. Lane, H.G. McGarlin, S.C. McSpadden, T.A. McSpadden,
W.H. McFarland, W.M. Morgan, T.N. McFarland, J.H. McFarland, W.J. Oakley,
W.A. Oldham, J.W. Phillips, A.S. Parker, M.S. Rozar, W.H. Saunders, F.B.
Saunders, H.W. & Mrs. M. Stroud, Geo. E. Wilson, J.P. Wood and C.E. Smith.
Serving at least one term on the school board of District No. 41 between
1889 and 1928 were G.E, Wilson, C.E. Smith, H.G. McFarlin, Abe Godard, J.A.
Rouse, Frank E. Robinson, Milton McSpadden, F.E. Robinson, Bert Hernminger
(?), J.W. Watkins, Abe Godard, R.H. Deason, J.R. Brandon, A. Godard, Geo.
Sly, T.J. Woods, F.M. Hankins, O.S. Bradford, Harvey Wood, F.M. Hawkins, J.P.
White, Peter Kunz (?), W.C. Russell, Pete King and E.C. Stearns.
Names of those listed as graduates of Oak Hill School for some years are
1918-19 - Oleta Anderson, Ethel Wood, Gladys Allen and Wanona German
1921-22 - Irene Wood, Herbert Hawkins, Otto Murr, Wayne Brandon, Willard
Marlow, Charlie Brandon and Lloyd White.
1923-24 - Vada Mae Haynes
1924-25 - Darwin Allred, Ralph Wood, Harry Cook, Kenneth Doescher (or
Dolscher), Carl Doescher/Dolscher, and Lorraine German
1925-26 - Muriel McFarland, Elmer Russell, Willard Stearnes, Ruth White and
1928-29 - Russell Brandon and Leroy Bateman
1929-30 - Cecil Wood and Edith Kunz
1931-23 - Clarence Marlow, Bernice Bradford and Fred Rakes
1943-44 - Gordon Lee Ruddick, Mary Ann Keck, Dorene Marlow and Betty Ann
1922: Two doors on the Oak Hill School House, which are now sealed, are
apparent in this 1922 photo supplied by Edith Hefner. Among those indentified
here are Loyd White, Willard Marlow, Charlie Brandon, Robert White, Frank
Ragsdale Herbert Hawkins, Irene Wood, Bessie Turner, Wayne Brandon, Ralph
Wood, Karl Dosher, Norton Sly, Kenneth Dasher, Elmer Russell, Ruth White,
Lorraine German, Lillian Harkins, Russell Brandon, teacher Mrs. Hawkins,
Cecil Wood, Henry Sly, Ailene McCurdy, Earnest Russell and Bernice Bradford.
Oak Hill School was apparently preceeded by Horsley School, which is believed
to have been situated in the vicinity of North Dixieland between St. Mary's
Hospital and Horsley Cemetery.