HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY

Independence School

On Aug. 1, 1898, Miss Dove Hudson was assigned as the teacher at the Independence School, number 7.

On July 1, 1901, Annie Osborne was assigned as the teacher at the Independence School, number 7.

On Aug. 1, 1904, Minnie Osborne was assigned as the teacher at the Independence School, number 7.

On July 5, 1909, Carrie Geiger was appointed the teacher.

On Aug. 7, 1922, Isaac Cripe was appointed the teacher.

The History of Zephyrhills 1821-1921 by Rosemary W. Trottman has:

The completion of the F. R. & N. made some changes in Abbott. Mr. Phelps moved his distillery across the tracks and the Hodson-Donnaly team did the brick work for resetting this first turpentine distillery. Mr. Herndon, who had a sawmill in the pines to the east of Lake Buddy, moved South to locate at Phelps, which became a flagstop on the railroad. The workers who lived in more or less temporary homes about both the mill and the "still" attended the Independence and Sand Pond schools. Appolonia Osburn, soon married to Brantley Smith, taught at what in the last year of life she called the Phelps School, but in school records is Independence. She told of a visit the superintendent made to the school. He said, “I was told they had a very good teacher here.” Then seeing four large boys in the four corners of the room, he asked, "Are those your bad boys?" "No,” Appie answered, “Those are good boys who just want to make sure that if they break a rule they will be punished. When they sit down they will know I mean what I say.” [...]

At the end of the 1909-1910 term, the one-room schools in the area closed their doors forever. Miss Lillie Geiger, who taught Independence School for many years, said little on that last day there beyond reminding the pupils to empty their desk and leave them clean. The older girls had washed the small paned glass windows that only a few years before had replaced wooden shutters. At noon they had carefully swept the floor and stood at the door as the children filed in afterward to see that the careless ones brushed their feet on the corn shuck mat on the first step.

One little girl made a mental picture of her teacher as she stood behind her desk that day and reproduced it from memory more than fifty years later. "She wore a crisp white summer shirtwaist with a net and lace collar kept high under her chin and ears by stays under each ear and at the back closing. Tiny tucks provided fullness below the shoulders. It was closed down the back with tiny pearl buttons from neck to belt, but red-brown curls obscured the two that fastened the collar. They always escaped from the upswept hair coiled neatly atop her head. There were curls too about her forehead and plump cheeks. There were stays in the belt of her black shirt which neatly cleared the floor. On the left side of the belt in front was an invisible pocket in which she placed her small thin gold watch. It was also secured by a fine gold chain about her neck. This chain had a sliding clasp that brought the chain into adjustment on her breast. Her right hand strayed to it in moments Of impatience or tension.”

At last there was nothing left to be done. A soft tinkle of the hand bell announced the end. As the little girl stood up, reached for her Ginn & Company geography, her Baldwin reader, speller, and Milne's Arithmetic, she was suddenly gripped by a new sensation, an awareness of history. She looked at the clean blackboard, the outlines and nail holes that indicated where the map of the United States, the number chart with its decimals that she had not studied yet, the chart showing the sounds of letters and combinations of letters titled PHONICS, had so recently hung. She looked to see them neatly rolled up and standing on end beside the iron stand which held the now closed Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. It stood in the corner just off the raised platform which held an empty recitation bench and the teachers desk and a drooping flag on a pedestal. As she filed out with the others she saw the empty pegs on the walls where the girls hung their coats and wraps on one side of the door and the boys hung theirs on the other. The wooden bucket still damp and its long handled dipper still within set on its accustomed stand nearby.

Outside they said subdued farewells and took each his trail toward home while the teacher locked the door, thanked her older nephew who had harnessed her horse to her buggy, and stood holding the rein until she gave the horse his signal to start home. They were losing some quality of living at school that the little girl sensed they would not find in the new school at which most of them would meet again in the fall.

Doubtless pupils of Childers, Union, and Wesley Chapel were experiencing similar closings. Some pictures of such schools remain, but so far as is known no picture was ever made of the Independence School.

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