By RORYE O’CONNOR
JEFFERSON COUNTY — —
The Jefferson County Historical Society is seeking volunteers to step up and raise money for signs marking the sites of more than 140 former one-room schools.
The historical society and other interested parties want to find a person for each of the 16 townships in the county, who will be responsible for raising $100 for each marker. The markers will serve as a visual reminder of the grade schools consolidated into Jefferson County’s current districts.
The signs will be 24-inch by 24-inch, brown and school-shaped, and the $100 cost will include the sign, the pole and vandal-proof hardware.
“We’re off to a good start,” Periman said. “Even if we can’t get them up through the entire county, eventually the project will be completed.”
Those who do not have the time or inclination to serve as a township leader, but would like to honor a relative who attended a one-room school in Jefferson County are encouraged to donate, said Larry Periman, one of the leaders of the project.
“It doesn’t have to be one person putting up the cost of the sign,” he said. “One with interest was covered by four people.”
Periman said the involvement of township leaders is very important to the project.
“We haven’t approached it necessarily from the concept of one or two people trying to do the whole county,” he said. “... We’re really not equipped to cover the entire county, unless someone is willing to cover their township.”
The project still needs township leaders for Grand Prairie, Mt. Vernon, Blissville, Pendleton, Elk Prairie, Spring Garden, and Moore’s Prairie townships, Periman said.
“That’s not bad out of 16 in the county,” he said. “Those are the only ones that remain without someone who has said, ‘I’ll be willing to coordinate.’”
Periman said he has developed township leader guidelines and a meeting for them will be held after the new year.
Those who step up to be township leaders for the sign project must obtain a list of all the former one-room schools in their township from the historical society, and find out if there was a nickname for the school, he said.
After township leaders have located people interested in funding the sign project and getting the $100 per sign, they must let Periman know what signs they are ready to order, and he will tell them when the signs are available, he said. Township leaders must also contact the property owner of the area where the sign is to be placed to get permission.
“In Marion County there was only one who said no,” he said. “In that case, we will go to the nearest neighbor.”
Organizers will also need to take the proper steps with utility companies before driving the post for the sign.
Periman said in his township, he has talked to people at his church in order to garner the needed funding for the one-room schools. He said township leaders can also talk to service clubs they belong to for assistance.
“In Marion County, they held a spaghetti supper,” he said. “They invited people, and made money from the meal, but it also gives them the opportunity to get up and talk about the project.”
Those who choose to support the project with a donation will be remembered on the record at the Jefferson County Historical Society, Periman said.
Anyone interested in the project may contact Larry Periman at 533-8053 or 8251 E. Campbell Road, Dix, IL 62830.