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Looking back at early Effingham schools
08.09 echoes indigo
From the Indigo School circa 1900 — front, left to right: Christopher Reisser, Cooper Rahn, Bartow William Reisser, Georgia Anna Reisser (Seckinger), Sarah Jane Reisser (Berry) and Walter Allen Reisser. Back row: Teacher – Jesse W. Finkley, Bee R. Helmly, Berta Irene Reisser (Zoller), Nellie Caroline Reisser (Helmly) and Hattie Dasher. - photo by Photo provided

As Effingham schools opened this week, we can look back at the many changes that have taken place through the years. These schools existed before indoor toilets, lunchrooms, buses and air conditioning.

Green Morgan School was located on what is now called Green Morgan School Road, off Old Dixie Highway north of Springfield. It was located on the property of Claude Arnsdorff. After the school was abandoned, one of Claude’s children, Clara Arnsdorff (Freyermuth) and husband George Freyermuth, who had both attended the school, relocated the old building to their property just outside of Springfield. Some of the teachers who taught there included: Jessie Mae Grovenstein (Exley), Lucille Grovenstein Thomas, Josie Farmer and Annie Mae Reiser (Exley).

Indigo School was located on the old Berryville Road (a road prior to present Berryville Road) which was south of the Berryville community. Berryville is located north of Springfield between Stillwell and Clyo. The Indigo School was a 20 by 40 foot building of weather boarding running vertically with slats over the cracks according to Alvin O. Gnann, who taught there in 1889. He said it was so cold he wore his overcoat all day to stay warm on the three-mile walk to school from Stillwell and in the classroom which was hard to heat. He spoke of teaching about 30 pupils at that time.

The school was in a damp area known as Indigo Swamp known for dark (black) standing water. I recall my grandmother talking about a frightening experience with a moccasin (snake) that she encountered on the foot logs — logs flattened on the top — placed over the water that had to be crossed by the students to get to school. By 1911 the school was abandoned and students attended Midway School, which was located off what is now Georgia Highway 119 North just north of Berryville Road.

The Pine Grove School was located in the north end of the Louisville Road area near Guyton. It was a community school serving local families.

We certainly have made progress over many years. As consolidation of community schools and buses to transport students became available, Effingham County has steadily made changes to better the education of our students.

The article was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have comments, photos or information to share please call her at 754-6681 or email