One-room schoolhouses

Violet Mildred Butcher of Fairfield, Iowa.

We found a scrap book of a teacher Violet Mildred Butcher (1907-1940) who substituted at Cedar Twp. School (See video), Cedar No. 6, for one day in 1926, the year she graduated from Fairfield High School. She also substituted for a few months that year at Schoolhouse Cedar No. 4.

Someone asked us, “Why did she die so young?” We don’t know the whole story, but there was a lot of tragedy in her life. Her father, Charles Goble Butcher, moved his wife and daughter in 1916 to Jefferson County, where he farmed and later served two terms as sheriff before running the Totem Inn near Chautauqua Park and a Mid-Continental filling station at 809 W. Burlington. But around 1929 he was in an automobile accident north of town, in which the other driver died. Charles was not in good health after that and became obsessed with a younger friend of the family. When the woman continued to reject his advances, Charles shot her twice in the chest with his .38 on the steps of the post office on June 2, 1931, and then killed himself there. (Miraculously, the young woman survived, and lived until 1989.) Violet’s mother died exactly 11 months later, on May 2, 1932. Violet had married Donald Sigafoose, another school-teacher, in December 1926, and the couple had three children, the last of whom was born in 1938 and died the next year. Perhaps Violet died in part from the stress of losing her child, added to the rest of her family sorrows.

Fairfield Township’s Elm Grove school house (School District No. 4) was built in 1866 near the Brookville Road in Fairfield, Iowa, and moved in 1962 to the Jefferson County Agricultural Fairgrounds. Here Gloria Countryman gives directions to the historic one-room school house’s original site, and provides a glimpse of the school house in its new location. Open to the public during special events.