Going back to school during 1902
MORELAND – Due to a photo dated back to 1902, an account of the Laurel Run school located in the south east corner of Moreland Township has survived. The picture holds special significance as it was the year Miss Johanna Heydenreich made her teaching debut. The 18-year-old is easily identified in a studious pose holding an open book.
The school’s name was derived from the stream which borders the school yard. Tributaries of the Laurel Run begin in nearby Columbia County and flows to Opp where it empties into Little Muncy Creek.
Erected in 1887, later than most country schools, it replaced Ball School at the north end of what is now Jay Snyder Road. So steeped in time was the relocation that Ball School was omitted from the book entitled, “One Room Schools of Lycoming County.” Ball School was named for the Charles and Elizabeth (Sones) Ball family, who in 1840 purchased a parcel of land being divided from the large holdings of Elizabeth White. The school is clearly shown on the township’s 1873 atlas map and listed in the non-taxable section of the township’s tax records.
The reason for relocation is unknown. Ball School sat atop a windswept hill while Laurel Run lies in a protected valley. At any rate, both served the same area of residences.
By the time the 1902 group photo was taken, the building shown was 25 years old.
For Miss Heydenreich, her teacher’s wage would have been important as her mother, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Miller and widow of Tobias Heydenreich, was raising younger children. It was a 10-mile round trip from her Montour County home to the school. Later, a Greenwood Valley School was another position she held until marriage to Bruce “Irvin” Vandine curtailed her career. The couple raised a family in adjoining Madison Township, where Johanna was active in a Lutheran church serving as organist.
Surnames of many of the 1902 students are familiar but as some moved from the area and also due to changing of women’s names, research is a challenge. However, many are known to have descendants among current local families.
Of the Derr sisters, Geraldine wedded Lawrence “Skip” Hilner, while Mabel married a DeMott whose family operated the former Eyers Grove Mill.
Dora Williams and Bert Ritter wedded and resided near Chestnut Grove School. Many are their descendants including the proprietress of Alechia’s House of Country near Muncy.
Of the Faus sisters, Erma married Brady Gardner and lived on Funston Hill Road not far from the Ritter family. Son Harold and daughter Cindy have homes on the farmstead.
Ina married Clinton Snyder and for many years operated a roadside grocery and gas station known as Hemlock Grove on the west side of Gobbler’s Knob. To this day, Ina’s son, James and his sons David and Jeff, reside on parts of the Faus family farm.
Minnie Ball, the wife of WWI veteran Lewis O. Kerstetter was childless.
After marrying Frederick Heydenreich, Johanna’s former student Laura Gardner became her sister-in-law.
Thirty one years later and after graduating from Muncy Normal School, Fred and Laura’s Heydenreich’s daughter Myrtle began her teaching career at the same school. Thus, the niece of the 1902 teacher, began another of the family’s cycle in education. Myrtle later taught third grade in the Montoursville School District at the school on Montour Street and later Lyter from which she retired. During this time she rented an apartment in Hughesville and on weekends returned to Bloomsburg where her widowed mother served as bookkeeper for the business of son Luther Heydenreich who’d purchased Sones Coal Yard.
Myrtle remained single though she’d had a lengthy engagement with Harvey Fortner of Hughesville, both remained longtime caregivers to their elderly mothers.
Many will remember Myrtle from decades of office work with the Lycoming County fair, where her brother and late sister-in-law Robert and Mary Ann (Stoltz) Heydenreich were officers.
Myrtle’s younger and only sister Alta Hilner, drew the likeness of Laurel School for her sister’s stone at Katy’s Church cemetery. Etched on a black background, a time in the 1930’s is remembered as the beginning of a lifelong career involving hundreds of youngsters in Moreland and Montoursville.
Laurel School closed at the end of the spring session in 1948, its remaining students dispersed between Eight Square and Opp Schools. Busing had become available making schools within walking distance of each residence obsolete. Catharine Ritter was the last teacher at the wooden structured school along the Laurel Run. The building remains and serves as a garage/workshop.