Ever Use a Two-Holer?

Curator Jessica and I were exploring a huge abandoned brick school house on a hill overlooking Rendville, Ohio, when a couple said they knew of a building they thought was an old one-room schoolhouse. They’d show it to us if we didn’t mind them tagging along. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Definitely a school

Indeed, the nondescript building could have been just about anything from the outside, but once we looked inside, it was definitely a school. It had the chair rail around the walls that went below the blackboards. A long-gone central stove supplied heat, and there was the remains of an old piano against one wall.

Piano left behind

Time hasn’t been kind to the old piano.

Back before good roads and consolidation, the hills were full of small churches and schools because it was hard to get out of the hills and hollows of Southeast Ohio. On top of that, a lot of the towns were company towns where miners were paid in scrip which could only be redeemed at the company store. That discouraged workers from traveling.

Water came from cistern

Water came from a cistern that was located on the side of the school.

About 50 feet behind the school was a small building that was leaning at about a 45-degree angle.

Two two-holers behind school

Through the open door, we could see that it was a two-holer designed for urgent needs, no waiting. The hole on the right may have rotted away, or it may have been destroyed by wild animals who like the salt that soaks into the wood.

Figuring that unisex facilities probably weren’t common in the era when this school was operating, we looked around. Sure enough, about 50 or 75 feet away was another set of seats. The building was gone, but the seat remained.

Niswonger Church Est. 1847

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014We were on curvy Hwy 72 west of Millersville when we got behind a piece of farm equipment doing about 10 miles per hour. After following him for a couple miles, I welcomed a chance to pull off at a neat white church and well-kept cemetery. I figured by the time I had explored the place he would be far ahead or have turned off.

Historical Marker

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Right at the entrance to the driveway is a marker that tells how the Niswonger family came to these parts from North Carolina and how they crossed the river on ice near Ste. Genevieve on New Year’s Day 1800. One of the party, George Christopher, was 110 years old when he died in 1802, it said. You can click on the photos to make them larger, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to read the marker.

Historical oops

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014The back side of the marker has some corrections that were added in 1996. Apparently the 110-year-old man WASN’T George Christopher. They aren’t exactly sure WHO he was. They also cleaned up some other details at the same time.

Beautiful setting

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Someone is doing a great job at keeping the building and grounds in good condition.

Men, Women and ?

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Behind the church is a row of three locked outhouses. One is marked “Men,” one says, “Women,” and the third doesn’t say anything. I’m not sure who it is intended for.

The church was unlocked

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I didn’t hold out much hope that the church would be open – I mean, they put locks on the OUTHOUSES.

Still, the front door swung open at a gentle pull. I left it open behind me after remembering how the Methodists tried to hold me hostage in the McKendree Chapel.

At the ready

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014Hymnals, collections plates, the piano and an electric fan were at the ready for the next service.

Plain, but neat and clean

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014It was a simple country church with plain walls and simple pews, but the paint was fresh, the floor was clean and there wasn’t a speck of dust anywhere. The carpet and plastic runner added a jarring note of modernity, but they were functional.

Cemetery Plots

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014One wall contains a list of interments. If you are doing genealogical research, this could be a good starting point. FindAGrave lists 93 interments and says about 89 percent of the stones are photographed and / or containing detailed information about the deceased.

Thanks to the farmer

Niswonger Church & Cemetery 09-16-2014I’m glad the farmer was on that stretch of road. If he hadn’t slowed traffic down, then I probably would have whizzed right past an interesting church and cemetery in Cape County’s Whitewater Township.