In rural pioneer communities, children were taught at home by their parents until organized schools became more commonplace. These schools were usually held in one-room log cabins or the local church, and all grade levels were taught together in one classroom by the same teacher. In addition to studying reading and writing, older girls cared for the younger children to prepare them for their future as family caretaker. Other school subjects like history and geography were not commonly taught until the late 1800s.
The Museum’s schoolhouse exhibit resembles a typical classroom from the nineteenth century. On display are a number of old desks including one circa 1850 from Riceville Academy, one of the earliest schools in McMinn County. Hanging on the wall of the schoolhouse, you will find a window shield from a school wagon used in Mount Harmony. Resting on the teacher’s desk one may find a pointing stick, which was used to discipline any unruly students.

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