During Boone County’s first 100 years, most of the county’s children were educated in rural schools. Besides the Boone city schools, there were 10 rural school districts in Des Moines Township in the 1880s. Cole School was located in District 7.
Constructed in 1888, Cole School was the second school in District 7; the first, built in 1886, was a clapboard building known as the Wheeler School. It was either discontinued after Cole School opened or served as a school in District 6 when district boundaries changed.
On March 6, 1888, Frederick Gappinger, a brother of Louis and Henry Goeppinger, who lived n Indiana but owned property in Boone County, sold land to the township on which to construct the new school. It was built in brick, probably made by the Jacob Yegge Brickyard, located near Incline, northwest of Boone. Yegge supplied the brick for a number of schools constructed around the same time as Cole School.
Cole School’s first teacher was Nellie Harvey, who had taught in District 7 for four previous terms, probably at the Wheeler School. The March 14, 1888, Boone County Republican noted that her appointment “speaks well of her. She is a hard worker in the school room and earns her success.”
The newspaper also reported that Des Moines Township schools opened in October of 1888, earlier than the usual November start. Classes were designated A, B, C and D with the oldest students in class A and the youngest in class D. The school year was divided into three or four six-week terms that corresponded to the seasons. Older boys attended class when farm duties allowed. In 1867, Boone County had 66 schools offering only summer and winter terms. Additional terms were added by 1889, when school reports began to be collected from the county’s schools.
Rural schools served as voting places and community centers as well as educational institutions. School terms often ended with special programs to which the entire community was invited. Declamations, recitations, music and charades formed a part of the entertainment. Cole School educated District 7 students for more than 45 years. It closed in 1933.
Cole School is being restored by the De Shon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 2007, Phil and Annette Meier donated an acre of land upon which the schoolhouse stands to the project. Since 2006, exterior and interior walls have been repaired and a new roof, windows and doors have been installed. Flooring, ceiling and final finishing work including landscaping will be completed in the spring 2014, allowing the school to open to the public.