PENLAN — Nancy and Kevin Collander had no idea how deeply they would come to love their country home in Penlan at the corner of Township Road 179 and County Road 184.
Nancy did the main work of researching the county recorder’s records for the history and dates the buildings on their property were built.
“I spent days in the Morrow and Delaware County Recorders’ offices going back in the deeds in old, yellowed books,” Nancy said. Records indicate the school building was built before 1848. Morrow County was established in 1848 and some property records were in Delaware County.
Kevin is proud that Nancy took the initiative to look up the records and this year they made improvements to the one room school East Salem School #1. They completely re-sided the building, put in new windows and returned the weathervane to the top of the bell tower.
Nancy is fortunate she had the opportunity to speak with Alice Boyd, who was one of the last teachers to teach in the school. The last year she taught was 1923.
Boyd told Nancy about students ice skating on the creek down the road. A favorite story was the “prank” played by the boys in the school. They put Boyd’s desk up on the roof of the school and Boyd made sure they brought it down and put it back in its rightful place.
There were no restrooms in the school and outhouses were still the custom for one-room schools.
Retired teacher and Morrow County Historical Society member Phylis Miller said that the 1920s and 1930s were the last days of the one room schools in the county. School districts were consolidating and children were able to take the bus to the new consolidated schools in the county.
Nancy didn’t find the exact date their home was built. However, property tax records in 1846 show an amount of $267 paid in taxes. In 1847 the amount of property tax had increased to $1,130. From those records they theorized that the home and possibly some buildings were built on the property in 1847.
Property taxes dropped by $190 in 1877. The Recorder noted that the barn had burned on their property in that year.
Records were found that the Mt. Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church across the road to the west was built in 1842-43. The church is still used one Sunday a month by Primitive Baptist congregations in the county.
The home across Township Road 179 to the north was the Penlan general store for many years.
The Collanders have great joy in the home they have enjoyed for more than 25 years.
They have made additions and remodeled their home with a wrap-around front porch they can enjoy in all seasons. Kevin has repurposed one room as an art studio and Nancy is also able to work from home in her job as a corporate librarian.
“It’s time for another caretaker that loves this place as much as we do,” Kevin said. “It’s been fabulous to live here.”
The couple has put their home up for sale and plan to move to Grand Haven, Michigan, this year.
Nancy reflected on their years in Morrow County after living in a condominium in Columbus for several years. “There are so many things we love about the country; especially the quiet and the good neighbors.”