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West Mound School remembered
Alumni, teachers gather for eighth annual reunion of rural grade school
WMS 2013 006
Louella Withrow Felderman, 97, of Platteville, was one of two teachers who attended the reunion. Felderman was West Mounds last teacher before the school closed in the early 1960s.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the classic tale Anne of Green Gables, once said, “Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

On July 28, a group of 17 individuals gathered at The Sports Page in Belmont to remember West Mound School during the eighth annual all-school reunion.

The building on West Mound Road south of the Platteville Mound has been gone for roughly 40 years, but lessons learned and experiences shared with friends, family and of course teachers at West Mound School will never be forgotten.

Among this year’s attendees was Louella Withrow Felderman of Platteville. Now 97, “Mrs. Withrow” was the last teacher to conduct classes at West Mound before the school closed in the early 1960s. Looking at photos and other memorabilia from days gone by, she praised her former students and expressed gratitude for the years she spent at the school.

Also present was Myrtle VanNatta of Platteville. Although her tenure at West Mound was brief, it was memorable; she did her student teaching at the school in 1950.

Looking at old copies of My Weekly Reader, art projects, and photos provided by the school’s historian, Leona Hartnett Huggins, individual attendees were able to get a sense of the collective history of the school.

The oldest graduate present, 87-year-old Virginia Jenkins Gibson, shared ledgers saved by her father when the school closed. These documents included student attendance and minutes from annual school board meetings.

The earliest meeting recorded was in September 1867. At that time, on a motion by Isaac Lord, “it was voted that we have eight months school; four months winter & four months summer.” It was also agreed at that time to contract with Allen Kies to “get the wood for the year” for the sum of $25.

It's interesting to note how the school term was subject to change each year. The July 3, 1899 meeting recorded by John Harms notes it was agreed upon by ballot to have seven months school, with 4½ months in the fall, beginning Aug. 15, and 2½ in the spring, beginning Apr. 15. It was also interesting to see how attendance of some older boys dropped during planting and harvest seasons.

As happens at every reunion, friendships were renewed and memories were shared. The smile on Luella Flogel Vosberg’s face said it all when she pointed out her entire first grade class was present. For the record, her class had three students during 1942–43; the other two were boys — Nicholas Cushman and Vivian Hartnett, who happily recalled the fun of sledding during recess.

The 2014 West Mound all-school reunion will be held at The Sports Page in Belmont Sunday, July 27 at 11:30 a.m. Anyone with a connection to, or interest in, West Mound School is welcome to attend.