Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Living on Everyday Prayers: David Burton ‘88

By Sarah Lee
Drury University Alumni Magazine

For some people, making a “life plan” is a no brainer. Some people know exactly what they want to do with their lives so they make plans in order to achieve their goals. But what about the rest of us who don’t know what the future holds? What about those who take it day by day until they can find a true calling? Well, you’ll be glad to know that you are not alone.

“I don’t make too many concrete plans,” David Burton, explains, “Some folks have a life-long calling, and I’d like to think that my calling is just day to day.” Burton is a civic communication specialist for University of Missouri Extension. He graduated from Drury in 1988 with a degree in political science and communication/journalism, and then again in 2001 for his master’s degree in communication. He is currently the author of three books and two online blogs. In his latest book, “Prayers for My Public School,” Burton provides readers with a chance to think about prayer on a day to day basis.

“It’s a Facebook page in print,” Burton explains when asked to describe the book, “I started a page back in 2010 called, ‘Pray for the Republic School District,’ and I just made a commitment to post a prayer on the page each day. After doing that for several years, my wife said that I should write it down and compile it into a book. The meat of the book consists of prayers broken up by day. The Facebook page is still going. I’m just trying to get everyone in the habit of praying every day.”

For David, prayer is an important practice that he believes will provide guidance and encouragement. He believes that God can take small actions – such as praying on a daily basis – and help them to make a big impact. 


Thanks for really caring

News-Leader Opinion Page
August 27, 2013

Thanks for really caring

Good news is not hard to find in the Ozarks, as we illustrate regularly with an editorial fea­ture we call: ‘Tis a privilege.

’Tis a privilege
to celebrate and salute more than 1,700 vol­unteers who took part in Thurs­day’s United Way of the Ozarks Day of Caring.

Volunteers from 96 compa­nies and organizations took part in the 21st annual event, provid­ing muscle and energy and cre­ativity to help address needs in Springfield and Greene County, as well as Taney and Polk coun­ties. Volunteers worked on 155 projects for 55 nonprofits.

’Tis a privilege
to thank the anonymous donor who an­swered the prayers of Father Joseph McCormack — provid­ing him with a new scooter to re­place one stolen a few days ear­lier. McCormack, a monk with the Eastern Orthodox Church, relies on the scooter to visit hos­pitals and convalescent homes, delivering quilts for the Heal­ing Quilt Project of the Ozarks. After a story was published Aug. 17, several community members responded and one from Aurora provided the re­placement.

’Tis a privilege
to encourage walkers everywhere, and to thank our local hospitals, Mercy and CoxHealth, on the joint ef­fort to create the Medical Mile Trail between the two hospitals. The 5.6 mile walking path, in­cluding side trails, was dedicat­ed Saturday. Walking is one of the easiest and best forms of ex­ercise. See you on the trail!

’Tis a privilege
to acknowl­edge David Burton for his one­man effort to keep alive the memories of one-room schools in Greene County and the Ozarks. Burton, communication specialist with the University of Missouri Extension-Greene County, has written two books on the subject. One is a history of local schools and the other is driving tour — perfect for a La­bor Day weekend road trip.

’Tis a privilege
to thank Springfield firefighters for put­ting their lives on the line every day — but also for the extra ef­forts they make to help keep our community safe. Firefighters will soon begin annual visits to schools, teaching fire safety tips to more than 4,000 children. As a bonus, every child will get a pack of crayons and an activity book to complete at home, in­cluding a home escape plan. Books were donated by courte­sy of Paragon Architecture and the Sertoma Club.

’Tis a privilege
to remember Paul Nahon, a former Glendale High tennis champion who was admired by many as a role mod­el for his passion for life, as well as academic and other accom­plishments. Nahon was remem­bered Saturday at memorial services. He died Aug. 15 after a 150-foot fall while attempting to climb Longs Peak in Colorado.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


In Search of One-Room School Houses

From the Springfield News-Leader
Printed Aug. 22, 2013
Written by Juliana Goodwin

In 1918, in a one-room schoolhouse in Ash Grove, Orlis Farmer watched his teacher get in a fistfight with an older student.

The battle lasted an hour and left blood on the snow.

It made enough of an impression on little Orlis that when he grew up, he would tell the story to his grandson, David Burton.

That story and others sparked an interest in Burton about one-room schoolhouses, which he began researching in 1998.

“The schoolhouse is important in the same way a battlefield is important for war history. Having the school helps you tell that historical story,” Burton said. “It’s tangible. It’s important to catalog them.”

Initially, Burton thought he was settling in for a weekend project locating remaining schoolhouses in Greene County.

Fifteen years later, his research is complete, and he has written two books on the subject..

“The books have been a labor of love and a hobby that got out of hand,” said Burton, who is the communication specialist with the University of Missouri Extension-Greene County. He also founded the Missouri Historical Schools Alliance and is on the board of directors for the Country School Association of America.

Many were white

When people think of one-room schoolhouses, many think of the “iconic little red schoolhouse” native to New England, but that’s not typical in Missouri. Many were white, and often they were constructed with whatever materials were available.

“One was made of fieldstones. The Willey Brothers had a lumber mill, so the Willey School was well constructed. My favorite is the brick schoolhouse creatively called the Brick Schoolhouse,” Burton said.

In 1998, he started extensively researching schoolhouses around the Ozarks.

There were many challenges. When he started, he had no idea how many schoolhouses there were.

In 1905, Missouri passed the compulsory school attendance law requiring children ages 8 to 14 to attend school for at least three-fourths of the school term.

By 1906, there were 124 school districts in Greene County.

“It took some legwork and researching and traveling,” said Burton.

While there were old maps of the schoolhouses, the maps weren’t always accurate.

From 1869 to 1950, about 75 percent of all one-room schoolhouses in Greene County burned because of stoves, coal, lanterns and lightning, Burton learned.

Of those that survived, some had been moved or converted, and some had fallen into disrepair. Sometimes the roads leading to the schools had disappeared.

When Burton tried to take his grandmother back to her one-room schoolhouse, it wasn’t there, but her memory was correct about where it was. It turns out the roads had changed, so they couldn’t find it.

One clue he’d look for in uncovering a schoolhouse was a disproportionate number of windows on one side of the building.

Children were taught to write with their right hands, so the idea was that sunlight should come from the left side of the building so that it wouldn’t cast shadows on the paper and potentially affect children’s vision. Therefore, many schools have a lot of windows or large windows on one side of the building but not on the other.

Knowing this helped him on his quest to put together the book.

Once, he spotted a barn with big windows on one side only and asked the farmer about it because Burton thought maybe it had been a schoolhouse at one time.

It had been.

“He said no one has asked me about that in a long time,” Burton said.

Social hub

Not only did the one-room schoolhouse play an important role in Missouri’s education system, it was vital in each community and often was a gathering spot for ice cream socials and other community events.

Teachers in these schools were young, and many were male to better deal with rowdy, older farm boys.

Teachers’ salaries were tied to how well they did on a state test. The better they scored, the higher their pay. In order to get a raise, they could retake the test, and if they scored higher, they could get a pay increase.

In Greene County, the one-room schoolhouse died out from 1951 to 1954, when most schools consolidated.

By the 1950s, roads were good enough that children could be bused to school, and the expectations of what an education should be had changed.

“The original mission of the one-room schoolhouse was to bring literacy and writing to rural America,” Burton said. “That mission was accomplished with flying colors, but as society changed, that changed.”

Communities voted on school districts with which they wanted to consolidate. Much like an election year, people went door to door trying to sell their neighbors on a particular district.

As the schoolhouses closed, some were sold at auction, turned into barns, moved, destroyed or abandoned.

But as Burton has worked on this over the years, he’s found an increasing number of people are realizing the importance of preserving what history is left, which is heartening.

For example, Texas County has a historic driving tour of one-room schoolhouses.

“There seems to be a resurgence of interest in preserving the one-room schoolhouse,” he said. “That’s encouraging. There’s a lot that can be learned from the older generation about community, family and what it meant to be educated in a one-room schoolhouse. This has been a fun project.”

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I Am From

A poem I worked on about a year ago following the now famous "where I'm from" formula for personal poems. Thought I'd share it.

by David L. Burton

I am from rugged gardeners and canners,
Frugal land rich, cash poor farmers,
Close-knit Scotch-Irish and British immigrant families
Quiet readers, English teachers, insurance adjusters and auto mechanics.

I am from the rocky fields and rolling hills of the Ozarks
Shallow clear rivers with Indian names and catfish ponds,
Blonde brick ranch houses, and white clap-board bungalows,
Winding country roads and limestone glades that jut out of fescue fields

I am from habits formed during the good ole days,
in cramped one-room schools, amid fears of another depression,
in a mostly-white region known for high school sports teams
bluegrass music, thousands of churches and Silver Dollar City.

I am from stubborn, independent, Christian, hardworking good folk
Fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes with white gravy,
apple pie a la mode, black coffee, homegrown mint and
peanut butter chocolate chip cookies made by the knotted hands of my grandma.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Limited Time Offer

I've been working on some stories and poems for entry in the annual Springfield Writer's Guild contest. I've got four stories ready to go and two poems. My children are readers of my final content and I appreciate their input, even though they didn't like three of my four short stories!

One writing they did like was my poem, "Limited Time Offer." It is eight stanzas (I'm only going to share two here today) and it was inspired by a single statement made during a church service at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo. about six months ago. I wrote it down at the time and thought "that would make a great song."

Well, I'm not a song writer -- and probably not much of a poet either -- but here is what I've done with it so far. I'd like to know what you think of it.

Limited Time Offer

A line of people wrapped around the store.
A black Friday sell off of goodies galore.
The doors opened and people rushed in
Racing around with money to spend.
This seasonal chance to fill coffers
Really is a limited time offer.

Every human on this Earth
Can accept God’s new birth.
But unlike Black Friday deals,
Limited engagements and QVC appeals,
Rejecting this offer will only bring sorrow
Since no one has the guarantee of a tomorrow.

Friday, August 09, 2013


Books Focused on History of One-Room Schools in the Ozarks are Now Available Online

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Two books focused on one-room schools in Missouri -- “A History of the Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo.” and “Driving Tour of One-Room Schools in the Ozarks” -- are now available for purchase online. Both written by David L. Burton and can be purchased from Amazon.com or Createspace.com in either printed and digital formats.

For nearly 10 years, the only way to get a copy of these books had been to visit the Greene County Extension Center in Springfield, Mo.


Over 1,000 copies of the book about rural schools in Greene County been sold since its first release in 2000. Since 2002, proceeds from the sale of this book have gone to the Greene County Extension Center.

"The one-room school is the foundation of public education and a reflection of Missouri's spirit and character. These books capture that spirit, details the rise and fall of one-room schools in this county, and encourages this type of historical community development elsewhere," said Burton.

This book includes a catalog listing of every one-room school in the county with special attention given to the buildings that are still standing.


With the book “Driving Tour of One-Room Schools in the Ozarks,” local history enthusiasts can take a 200- mile, six-hour driving tour and see most of the remaining one-room rural schools houses in Greene County. The self-guided driving tour provides detailed directions as well as a photo of each school and basic information about the structure.

This book also includes addresses and information on 21 other one-room schools located in the Ozarks outside of Greene County.

“I get inquiries from folks wanting to see some of the rural schools in this county,” said Burton. “This driving tour is the easiest way for folks to get to see most of the schools. The schools on the tour are in a variety of conditions. Some remain in use as community centers. Others have been converted into homes, barns and even businesses.


“A History of Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo” (priced at $15.99) and “Driving Tour of One-Room Schools in the Ozarks,” (priced at $8.99) are written by David L. Burton and are available at www.createspace.com and www.amazon.com.

Burton is also available for public speaking on the topic of one-room schools in the Ozarks. Contact him at the Greene County Extension Center at 417-881-8909. There is a speaking fee of $35 payable to Greene County Extension.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Comments about my three new books are coming in on Facebook and by email. Here are two recent examples.

In reference to "A History of Rural Schools in Greene County, Mo.," Scott Jones wrote: "David, I ordered mine when I read about this on your FB page, it was delivered on Friday. I'm lovin' it! I'm passing it on to my grandmother (90), she is a Greene County native, and attended Center. If you do an update, let me know---we've got some pictures!"

In reference to "Prayers for my Public School," Alice B wrote: "David, I'm so glad you put this in book form. I've followed the Facebook page for two years and it has been such a blessing. Having this in book form makes it easier to use during my Bible study and perhaps even share with others. This new book is a blessing and it looks fantastic!"

Thanks for the kind words. Keep spreading the word about the books.

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