Kinmundy Historical Society




              McHANEY SCHOOL

     (Also known as "Possum Trot")


              Tonti Township, Marion County, Illinois





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        We are looking for photos of people and/or places from around Kinmundy & Alma.  Can you help?

Or maybe you have stories or memories from the "Good Old Days"?  What do YOU remember?

        The Kinmundy Historical Society would be honored to preserve your memories and stories.  We also have the

equipment to scan (or copy) your photos so that they may be enjoyed now as well as for generations yet to come!

        We would love to hear from you!  For more information, please contact: 


   Dolores (Ford) Mobley –

                       208 Joan Dr.; Divernon, IL  62530; (217) 625-7527



            Gladys (Corrie) See –

                                         408 S. Washington St.; Kinmundy, IL 62854; (618) 547-7731



Teachers from McHANEY / POSSUM TROT SCHOOL – District  #62 (Tonti twp.)


(1915)  John L. Roger


(1930-31)   none listed

(1931-32)   Mrs. Archie Beard


(1935) Ruby Sullens


(ca 1951)  Susie Malone


(1953-54)   Mrs. Ruby Sullens


(The above information was gathered from "The Kinmundy Express" articles, school photos, County Directories of School Teachers, and information from those who had attended school there.)



McHaney (Possum Trot) School District No. 62 - By Ellen Gray – June 1980

(“Footprints” – Marion Co. Gen. & Hist. Society – Vol. VI, No. 1 – Summer 1981)



“I started to this school in September of 1902.  Other first graders were Otis Hines, Ruby Shuler, Earl Dorris, Earl and Otis are now deceased.  Ruby is now Ruby Gaines of Alma.  Our teacher was Frank Hickman, who in later years became Superintendent of Marion County Schools.

 Residing in our district at that time were the following families: Mrs. Rachel McHaney with her children, Maude, George, Rolland, and Robert; Mr. and Mrs. Noble Cruse with no children in school; Mr. and Mrs. William Hines with daughters Effie and Clara, both now deceased; Mr. and Mrs. Sam W. Gray with children Jessie, Nellie, Frankie, Ida, Annette, Robert, Charlie, Ethel and myself, Ellen (now living Annette and Ellen); Mr. and Mrs. Tom Gray with children Alpha and Alvin (Alpha, aged 96, still living); Mr. and Mrs. Jake Muck with Joe and Arthur in school (Joe deceased, Arthur lives in Decatur); Mr. and Mrs. Pete Hines with Elston and Emma, both deceased; Mr. and Mrs. Tom Dorris with children Earl, Lena, Ruth and Alma (Ruth still living); Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Campbell with children Dicie, Erma, Herschel, Agnes, Della, and Jean (Dicie Rhoads lives in Salem, Della in Patoka); William Campbell and son Clarence, both now deceased; the Henry Carter family with children Estel, Charlie, Laurn; Mr. and Mrs. Henry Somverville with Audrey, Cleta, Savannah and Walter (Cleta and Savannah still living); the John Smith family with George, Henry, Charles, and Hilary; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Maulding with Otto and Raymond in school (Otto now deceased); Mr. and Mrs. William Ballance and son Maurice, Mr. and Mrs. Abner Greenwalt and children Dessie, Willie and Ruth, all deceased; Mr. and Mrs. David Hilton with Clara, Gertrude, Ethan and Opal, all deceased; the Joseph Black family with Cecil, Wesley, Eva, Robert, Ethel, Mattie, Dwight and Wayne (Eva, Wayne and Mattie still living); the Thomas Neal family; the Forrest Sanders family; and the Homer Osborn family.

Teachers of my father at McHaney School were Miss Ellen Lovejoy and John/Peter Deeds.  Later teachers of my brothers and sisters were Mae Chance, Ellen Morton, Ethel Stevenson, James Richardson, Mr. Hollenback and Herbert Blair.”


McHaney or ‘Possum Trot’ School

          "A century ago, more than a hundred one-room schools dotted the landscape of Marion county and many of our older citizens experienced attendance at one of more of these extinct institutions.  Most, however, do not know how “Possum Trot”, “Slater Hollow”, or “Given’s Chapel” received their names.  There are probably none who remember that a rattlesnake den near “Possum Trot School” was wiped out in 1902 with 187 rattlers being killed.  City dwellers may not realize that neighborhoods developed surrounding the schools.

          In an undated clipping from the “Centralia Sentinel”, we found an account of Possum Trot School written by Alpha Gray, the paper’s correspondent at that location.  It is printed here as a contribution to Marion County lore.

          “District no. 62 is on the school record as McHaney, but it is better known as Possum Trot.  The school house is situated in section 8 of Tonti twp. between East Fork Creek and Jim’s Creek.

          The first school was taught by James McHaney, who also served as Marion County Superintendent of Schools.  He taught the school in one room of his home and for that reason it was called “McHaney”.

          The first school house to be built in the district was a log building and was about one-fourth of a mile west and a little south of where the present building is now located.  It was replaced by another log building, and when the men were cutting the logs to build it with, an opossum ran out of a hollow place in one of the logs, and one of the men, William “Gin” Nichols, named it “Possum Trot”.  That school house was replaced by a frame building, and in the year 1892, it was destroyed by fire.  It was replaced by the present building.

          Just a short distance west of the school house is a hollow known as Slater Hollow, named for a family who lived there.  While living there, one of their children died and was the first to be buried in the Cruse Cemetery.  Mrs. Slater’s maiden name was Cruse, and a few years after their child died, one of her brothers was killed by a tree falling on him.  He was the second person to be buried there and since his name was Cruse, the cemetery was called Cruse.

          Jim’s Creek which is a short distance south of the school house was named after Jim Kenny, a man, who years ago lived on a farm about a quarter of a mile east of the school house.

          A very sad and exciting incident occurred not far from the school house, when James Chance, great-grandfather of our present county superintendent of schools (Paul B. Chance) was Sheriff.  A horse had been stolen from a man in the south part of the state, and the sheriff had been notified that the thief was hiding here.  A party of men got together and began a search and found him hiding in a thicket of brush and briars and before they had time to capture him, he drew a gun and shot and killed Joseph Chance, son of the Sheriff.  The news spread rapidly, and an angry mob gathered and came with a rope to hang him, but the Sheriff, although it was his son that had been killed, had the decency and presence of mind enough to rush him away before the mob got there.  Not long after that the prisoner hanged himself with a rope made of yarn that he got by unraveling his knitted suspenders and socks.”

(“A Peek from our Past” – by George Ross – “Salem Times-Commoner” – July 26, 1995)




McHaney “Possum Trot”  School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Francis Roger – teacher; 1915

Back Row: Ted Duncan, Ruth Dorris, Ethel Gray, Laurn Carter, Maurice Ballance, Lena Dorris, Ruth Greenwalt, Francis Roger – teacher

Third Row: Elsie Powell, Wanita Smith, Clarence McConaughy, Mary Shuler, Virgil Duncan.

Second Row: Bernice Sanders, Nellie Gray, Luella Gray, Mattie Black, Madaline Britain, Ray Cruse, Herschel Albert, Chester Finch,

                       Roxie McConaughy, Warren Williams

Front Row: Paul McConaughy, Coe Smith, Agnes Campbell, Josie Sanders, Mary Britain, Blanche Britain, Nellie Cruse, Lutie Williams,

                   Ernest McConaughy 

McHaney “Possum Trot”  School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Roy Mulvaney – teacher; 1922

Back Row: Nellie Gray, Agness Campbell, Luella Gray, Roy Mulvaney - teacher, Francis Gray, Alfred Donoho and Ray Cruse

Second Row (standing): Selby Gray, Hazel Hays, Naomi Howard, Verna Gray, Nellie Cruse, Mattie Black, Edith Bullard,

                                       Neva States, Helen Chandler, Dorthy Donoho

Front Row (standing): Ethyl Black, Doretha Chandler, Bessie Gray, Lena Shuler, Evelyn Duncan, Hazel Howard, Della Campbell, Opal Howard

Front row (seated): Henry Powell, Darrell Cruse, Elsworth Chandler, Bernoe Cruse, Frank States, Frank Duncan



McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Mrs. Ruby Sullens – teacher; ca 1935

Top row: 1. Pearl Barlow; 2. __________; 3. Gene Sanders; 4. Warren Osborne; 5. Ruth Howard; 6. John Howard; 7. Ruby Sullens - teacher;

               8. Fred Powell; 9. Jean Campbell; 10. ___________; 11. ______________; 12. Leroy Smith

Middle row: 1. Delila Shuler; 2. Lela Bullard; 3. Ida Smith; 4. Ada Smith; 5. Glenn Osborn; 6. Louise Eagan; 7. Irene Shuler; 8. Kathalene Doolen;

               9. Loyd Sanders; 10. _____ Dollen; 11. Robert Carter; 12. Imogene Dollen; 13. Charles Carter; 14. Elizabeth Carter; 15. Dixie Howard;

               16. Mary Helen Powell; 17 James Osborne; 18. Freda Sanders; 19. Lois Black; 20. Lois Smith; 21. Earl Sanders; 22. Vivian Powell

Front row: 1. Eugene Eagan; 2. Homer Eagan; 3. ___________; 4. ___________; 5. ___________; 6. Floyd Bullard



McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Mrs. Ruby Sullens – teacher; 1935

Back row: Fred Powell, Robert Carter, _____________, Lela Shuler, ?Warren Osborne, Mrs. Ruby Sullens – teacher; Nellie Eagan,

        John Howard, _______________, ______________, _______________, Harley Eagan, ______________

Middle row: Tootie Powell, Elizabeth Carter, Louise Eagan, ______________, ______________, _______________, Ruth Howard,

        Jean Cambill, Dixie Howard, Ida Smith, Pearl Barlow, Ada Smith, Lila Bullard, Freda Sanders

Front row: ___________, ______________, Earl Sanders, Leroy Smith, Charles Carter, ?Warren Osborne, Lloyd Sanders, James Osborne,

        Floyd Bullard, ________________, _______________, Gene Sanders




McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Boys; circa 1940’s



McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Girls; circa 1940’s


McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Susie Malone – teacher; ca 1950

Back row: Buddy Shuler, Darrell Shuler, Pat Fox, Maxine Sullens, Dorothy Brewer, Alice Brewer, Thelma Eagan, Sondra Shuler, Susie Malone – teacher

Front row: Roy Brewer, John Fox, Donnie Shuler, Lyle Slater, Shirley Brewer, Lora Mae Black, Lorene Slater, Wilma Shuler


McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL; Mrs. Ruby Sullens – teacher; ca 1951

Back row: Ruby Sullens - teacher, Ray Cobb, Wilma Perkins, Barbara Smith, Darrell Shuler, Alice Marie Brewer, Lorene Perkins, Thelma Eagan,

                  Lorene Slater, Shirley Brewer

Middle row: Sandra Shuler, Wilma Shuler, Donnie Shuler, Jack Norris, Lena Mae Black, Wesley Perkins, Ron Cobb, Paul Norris

Front row: John Fox, Tom Perkins, Robert Cobb, Roy Brewer, Dorothy (Perkins) Wooden, Marva Cobb, Mary Jane Brewer, Billy Seivers   


"Salem Times-Commoner"; Salem, IL; Aug. 13, 2014




McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL




McHaney / Possum Trot School; Tonti twp., Marion Co., IL




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