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Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society to release book, host scavenger hunt

by Emily O'Leary | September 16, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy Kelly Borman The schoolhouse that was once Middle River School has been repurposed into a home. Middle River School is featured in the scavenger hunt.

A new book highlighting historic Callaway County school buildings will be released Nov. 5.

The book, titled "Callaway Chalkboards: Remembering Callaway County's Rural Schoolhouses," features the history of 144 one-room schoolhouses in Callaway County and around 50 stories from former students.

Bruce Hackmann edited and published the book, which he says will "serve as a historical record of where the schools were" and share the experiences students had while attending the schools.

Hackmann attributed credit to Bill Hamilton, who conducted "extremely time-consuming" research about the schoolhouses. Hamilton died before Hackmann started compiling the book.

"He did the bulk of the work," Hackmann said.

The history of the one-room schoolhouses in Callaway County, as outlined in the book, is not complete. According to Hackmann, many records were discarded from the Callaway County courthouse in 1931 in a "county oversight."

Hackmann noted that some of the schoolhouses were in use until the end of segregation, with 28 of the schoolhouses being historically designated for Black students. He said learning about their experiences was an "eye-opener" as they faced additional challenges.

"Their experiences were completely different," Hackmann said.

"Callaway Chalkboards" will be released on Nov. 5. Price to be announced, members of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society will be eligible to purchase the book at a discounted rate.

To promote the book, the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society is holding a scavenger hunt in October.

All month long, participants are encouraged to take a selfie with ten of the historic school buildings featured in "Callaway Chalkboards," a book highlighting one-room schoolhouses in Callaway County.

Kelly Borman, the scavenger hunt's organizer, spent the past summer researching and locating different historic school buildings in Callaway County.

"I quickly realized many of our rural schoolhouses do not exist anymore," Borman said.

Many of the remaining schoolhouses have been repurposed into businesses or homes. Borman said while participating property owners "were friendly and willing to allow the public to visit," the historical society "ask[s] that everyone be respectful" when visiting each property.

Borman's goal in creating the scavenger hunt was to get people to "learn the history of 10 of our historical schools."

"It's a great way to learn more about our county," Borman said.

Borman also included three of the historically Black schoolhouses in the scavenger hunt and said including them was "an important component of the hunt" for her.

"It's important for people to know and understand this happened," Borman said, adding "We should learn from peoples' experiences and grow together as people."

This is not the historical society's first scavenger hunt. According to Borman, the first scavenger hunt was in 2020 and another took place in 2021 with surrounding counties to celebrate the state's bicentennial.

Participants who submit selfies at all ten sites will be entered in a raffle to win a cash prize and a copy of "Callaway Chalkboards." Submissions are due at midnight Oct. 31.

Winners will be selected at the book release pie dinner on Nov. 5, with more details to be announced.

  photo  Photo courtesy Kelly Borman: Williamsburg Schoolhouse in Williamsburg. Williamsburg School is one of the stops on the rural school scavenger hunt.

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