* Copied from the files of the Holt County Historical Society. This information is believed to have been gathered and written in the late 1970’s; not sure by whom.
West of Walker School, was the first school back of Big Lake. It was closer to the river on the Charley Mann farm. Some called it the Mann School and some the White School. Joe Catron, and Steve, Bill, and Alice Cunningham were among those who attended this school. Joe Catron was just a young child and was afraid to walk alone from the Catron home to the school. Mrs. Minnie Lundy Goolsby stayed with the Catron family and walked to school with Joe. Later on, Mrs. Linda Chuning stayed and accompanied him until he got old enough to go alone.
The river cut in this school and it was necessary to move it. It was moved over to the George Walker (Gracie Chuning Boyd’s grandfather) farm. The Walkers donated a corner of land for the school so it was referred as the Walker School in the future.
O.P. Light, who lived in the Kelso neighborhood, taught at the Walker School. Joe Catron returned at the age of 19 and took the 9th grade under him. He later returned to teach again and he was Joe’s daughter, Mae Catron Dodson’s teacher in 1904-1905. That year they only had school for 6 months, until February, because they lacked the money to run the school.
Willie VanVickle taught in 1905-06; Tom Zachary in 1906-07; Albert McCown in 1907-08; Bessie Stanley Laukemper in 1908-1909; Albert McCown returned 1909-1912; Josephine Wilson 1912-1913; Allen G. Stanley 1913-1914. It was during Allen’s teaching that they started the Literary Society. They chose up sides at Walker School and debated and sometimes entertained other schools. They had one program a month. Frank, Albert, and Henry Dougherty, from the Glendale School area, were champion debaters.
In the 1904 span of years, Walker was a very large school. Children had to bring their own boxes to sit on. It was at this time that folding chairs appeared, one pupil bringing one to school for his own use.
Some of the families attending at this time were the George Chuning family; the Bob Mullins; the four Coonce children; Paul, Ralph, and Gerald Graham; Bryant Family, Alexanders; Goolsbys; Bridgmans; Grace and Harry Coatney; Jim Rowland; Jim Smith; the Kissell family; Frank Chaney’s girls; and Ada and Pearl Jackson.
Skipping up to 1908-1919, we had Mrs. Julia Minton teaching 2 terms; Mrs. Bessie Laukemper, 1921-1923; Gladys Varvel 1923-1925; Lois Smith Goolsby in 1925-26.
Other teachers since were Mrs. Ulmer, Mrs. Stigal, Mrs. Lowry, Hallene Barker, Clara Belle Hill Wiley, Constance Gaskill Siekmann, Lila Dodge Williams, and Zella Morris. Zella was teaching in 1938 and 1939 years when they decided to move the Walker School into Fortescue at Christmas time.
Constance Gaskill Siekmann related that when she had her three programs during the year, she borrowed the Latter Day Saint Church stage curtains to use and then returned them to the Joe Catron home for safe keeping.
The rock road back of Big Lake was a speed-way for the automobiles just coming into use at that time. It was the smoothest road in the area anywhere to try them out on.
I am sure there are many more facts that could be added to this history of Walker School, but these recollections came from interviews with: Mae Catron Dodson, Gladys Lease Varvel, Jennie Lundy Kent, Marie Lundy Stone, Josephine Coatney Morris, Ada Jackson Chuning, Constance Gaskill Siekmann, and Bryan and Lois Smith Goolsby.