According to Beatrice Pelton Merritt, it was sometime around 1922 when the old Liberty Schoolhouse (northeast of Rowlett) and the Elm Grove Schoolhouse were closed. These schools were merged and the principal of the new Liberty Grove School would be Professor J. K. Wells. This new modern school had four rooms for grades one thru eleven. Those that attended twelfth grade were required to travel to Garland. Professor Wells was related to the Lewis Wells family and he would board with the Wells family during the school term. His wife and children remained in Rockwall.
J. K. Wells was known to be quite strict. He carried a leather strap that he kept tightly rolled in the pocket of his blue surge coat. Hubert Raney says, “Professor Wells was strictly law and order. If he saw any problem with the boys, they got a whipping with that leather strap right where they stood.” Hubert also says, “I can’t remember the man ever smiling. It was strictly business.”
“He was extremely strict. He had school trustee Pard Pelton bring down three mules and a middle buster just to divide the play ground and out houses. The girls stayed on one side and the boys on the other. No exception,” according to Carl Casey Forster
Professor Wells left Liberty Grove after about two terms. But, not before a lengthy dispute broke out between longtime friends and neighbors.
It seems that George and Miley Hatley Nelson lived next to the schoolhouse. Their barn was out behind the house and while Miley was milking she could look over across the creek and see the boy’s outhouse. This angered George so much that he walked about a quarter mile up the road to the Pelton house. George insisted that school board member Pard Pelton move the boys outhouse. Pard explained that he would absolutely not move the outhouse.
George and Miley walked over to the Pelton farm the next day and returned a three gallon bucket of lord that they had borrowed and informed Pard and Carah Poovey Pelton that he and his wife would not be on speaking terms in the future. There would be no more socializing for quilting parties in the winter or helping with canning of fruits and vegetables during the summer months.
This practice continued for many years. Once Beatrice Pelton was grown and married, she and her husband, Oscar Merritt, were living in the Pelton house. All the doors and windows were open about 8:30 pm one summer night when Bea and Oscar hear a loud scream. They both jumped out of bed, dressed and ran through the cotton field toward the Nelson house.
Bea and Oscar stepped up on the front porch where they were met by George Nelson. Oscar then ask, “Are you alright?” George, replied, “We are alright. Miley was having stomach pains. She thought that she could ease the pain by pouring some chloroform on her stomach. Guess she poured too much and some of it reached other areas.
They started speaking after that and remained life long friends. Even during my childhood days, the families would get together for days at a time during corn canning season.
George left his blacksmith shop and he and Miley moved into Wylie around 1957, but the families always remained in contact.