Deborah Bridges scolded the young boy.

He had not brought in wood for the fire or gotten water from the well so that he and his classmates would have something to drink.

But the scolding wasn’t real, and neither was the forgetfulness of the student, who is in Ann Bottoms’ class at Trigg County High School.

Instead the exercise was a lesson about the past, about what it was like to be a student in a classroom decades ago in the community.

“We believe when citizens are knowledgeable about the hardships in the past and how our ancestors overcame them, it gives us strength and courage to push through barriers and solve problems today,” noted Linda Wood, the secretary of the Trigg County Historical and Preservation Society that hosted the recent living history program.

Bottoms’ students took part in the program on Oct. 22 at Southern Academy, the historical society’s one-room schoolhouse that is near Wildcat Chevrolet.

Wood said the schoolhouse is original to Trigg County, and she explained that the society has a memorandum of agreement with Trigg County Public Schools to teach youth about the county’s history.

Through the partnership, the society works to show today’s youngsters what life was like in the past, how basic it was and how hard people had to work to survive every day.

Its members also hope the students come to realize “how we stand on the shoulders of our elders and how grateful we should be for the comfort and convenience we have today,” Wood said of the historical society’s efforts.

She noted that healthy communities take good care of their children, and she said the historical society enjoys being a part of that effort and is always ready to support the education of its local schoolchildren.

Twenty youngsters from Bottoms’ class took part in the recent program, learning about the curriculum and daily schedules for students in the 1800s and early 1900s; those earlier students attended one-room schools that offered classes for grades one to eight.

They were expected to bring water in from the well every morning and to get the fire going in the potbelly stove that sat in the middle of the classroom. The youngsters recited the Pledge of Allegiance, memorized Bible verses and sang hymns to start each school day.

They brought their lunches to school and would share their food with each other.

Some children had to go outside and water and tend to the horses they rode to school, and bathroom breaks also brought the youngsters outdoors — especially when their schoolhouses had no outhouses.

Bridges, a retired teacher and member of the society’s board of directors, explained to Bottoms’ students that most schoolhouses had one outhouse for boys and a second for girls. But she also noted that in instances when there were no outhouses, the students had to go behind the bushes to use the bathroom.

Dressed in vintage clothing, Bridges presented the program to the youth, and one of Bottoms’ students got an opportunity to assist Bridges with her presentation.

After Bridges pretended to scold him for not bringing in the water and firewood, the young boy explained to her that he had so many chores to do at home and didn’t have time to do his chores at school too.

“He was a natural!” Wood said of the student.

Bottoms said she wanted her students to learn about the history of education in Trigg County, and she noted that they learned “so much” from their visit to the schoolhouse.

“They had an outstanding time and were really excited as they shared what they learned,” Bottoms said of follow-up conversations about their field trip.

The teacher said she’d like to return to the schoolhouse in the spring so the youth can ask questions, tour the schoolroom and look at the grounds outside the school.

Additionally, she said she hopes to make the visits to the school an annual occasion.

Wood said Bottoms is welcome back.

“We are excited to support her and our schools and look forward to other visits,” said Wood, who noted that the students were extremely respectful and listened intently to the presentation given by Bridges.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or

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