McIntyre School House, Circa 1930

The exact date of construction of the school house is unknown although it is believed to be built shortly after the development of the town in 1910. The Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company financially supported the building of schools, community halls, and churches in a number of its company towns. 

Sitting on top of a hill overlooking the town, this wood structure contained four rooms, in which grades one through eight were held. The building was heated by several coal-fired potbelly stoves which were lit by the teachers each morning. The coal was given free of charge to the school by the Coal Company. 

Since the school was located on the highest point of the town, it was a favorite spot for the Ku Klux Klan to gather and burn a cross. The Klan, active in Indiana county in the 1920s, was antiblack, anti-Catholic, and antiforeigner. Although there were no blacks in town, there was an abundance of Catholic immigrants and their families. Klan members also attended Protestant church services in nearby towns, where, hooded and robed, they contributed money to the pastor. A number of elderly McIntyre natives remember the terror they felt as children at the sound of the horses galloping to the top of the hill and the sight of the burning cross. One resident remembers seeing in the debris, the morning following a cross burning, empty bottles which had previously been filled with liquor. Another resident remembers that a few upstanding and respected Anglo-American McIntyre residents were rumored to be members of the Klan. In the mid 1920s the Klan was at its peak in western Pennsylvania and numbered in excess of 125,000 members. 

Clarence Stephenson, Indiana County 175th Anniversary History, vol. 2
(Indiana, Pennsylvania: Halldin Publishing Company, 1989), 510-511.

Emerson Hunsberger Loucks, The Ku Klux Klan in Pennsylvania
(New York: Telegraph Press, 1936), 27.

Photo: courtesy Ed Swan collection

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