Miss Agnes teaches the class in the one-room schoolhouse on the museum property. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
Miss Agnes teaches the class in the one-room schoolhouse on the museum property. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

By JIM LANGHAM

DHI Media Staff Writer

jlangham@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT — Third graders from Van Wert Elementary School attended a special educational session provided by volunteers at the Van Wert County Historical Society Museum on Thursday. Good spring weather combined with a spirit of learning to allow local youngsters to learn about buildings, lifestyle, people and heritage atmosphere from the Van Wert area over a century ago.

“I learned things I didn’t know about before,” commented third grader Carter Wright. “I didn’t know that they picked up big hay forks to throw grass.”

“Our class likes to learn about older stuff here,” commented Eella Wise. “We like it when they tell us what they did back then. I like the way old wash machines looked.”

Wise said that students were given guide sheets with questions to answer about what they had observed. As they heard descriptions or saw items on their sheets, they would check them off.

Former educator Joe Steffan said that the visit to the museum is a follow-up activity for a section on history that students studied in school. He noted those attending are taught by volunteers in the old school, log house, barn, trains and various other role playing sites.

Steffan noted that the log cabin had been donated by former Van Wert Treasurer Harold Merkle. In the barn, Dwight Rhoades demonstrated the usage of various farm tools and machinery. Connie Rhoades, as Miss Agnes, ran her role play country school room with the strict discipline of a yard-stick thumping old-time school teacher. Students interacted with Rhoades as she taught various subjects, especially math quizzes.

Museum official Larry Webb described what was discovered about the inner portion and construction of the log house when it was moved to the museum site, including the type of plaster used to solidify the walls at the time.

Third grade teacher Cayla Wise noted that a total of 160 students, divided into a morning group and an afternoon group, attended the day’s activities. She noted that one of the significant reasons for the day is to demonstrate to students how times have changed between the period represented in the museum and current days.

“Students are always really impacted by this,” observed Wise. “They always come back with lots of questions. Kids have appreciation for what they see, especially when they get to see it first-hand.”