WEST CHESTER (June 30) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently recognized the Upper Oxford Historical Commission and Dr. Wanda M. Davis for their work in dedicating a historical marker recognizing the Villa Nova one-room schoolhouse.

Dinniman presented officials from the Upper Oxford Township, the Upper Oxford Historical Commission, Dr. Wanda M. Davis and the Davis family with a special Senate citation in recognition of their work to preserve our local history while honoring our local heroes.

The marker is dedicated to the memory of Pfc. Robert A. “Bobby” Davis, Dr. Davis’s uncle who gave his life in the line of duty during the Vietnam War. Born in 1940, Pfc. Davis attended the school located at 107 Street Road in Upper Oxford – property now owned by the Davis family.

Pictured (from left to right): Iris Gray Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Dr. Wanda M. Davis; William Daley, Dr. Davis’ brother; Sally Davis, sister of Pfc. Davis for whom the marker is named; Senator Dinniman; Hazel Duncan of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Charles Fleischmann, Supervisor of Upper Oxford Township; and Robert J. Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission.

Pictured (from left to right): Iris Gray Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Dr. Wanda M. Davis; William Daley, Dr. Davis’ brother; Sally Davis, sister of Pfc. Davis for whom the marker is named; Senator Dinniman; Hazel Duncan of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission; Charles Fleischmann, Supervisor of Upper Oxford Township; and Robert J. Dowling of the Upper Oxford Historic Commission.

“This marker tells several stories,” Dinniman said. “There is the story of the one-room schools houses that educated our predecessors throughout the Chester County region. And there is the story of Pfc. Davis who attended Villa Nova and went on to serve our nation in Vietnam where he made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of his fellow soldiers.

“And finally there is the story of a group of individuals who worked together to ensure that our local heritage is preserved and our heroes are forever remembered. They too deserve our thanks and their work is deeply appreciated,” he added.

Pfc. Davis was fatally wounded on November 15, 1965 in the Ia Drang Valley while trying to protect his fellow soldiers who were under fire from a larger enemy force. Ia Drang, the first major battle involving American troops and the North Vietnamese Army, captured national attention and changed the war in Vietnam. It was later the subject of the 1993 book, “We Were Soldiers Once… and Young” and the 2003 film, “We Were Soldiers.”

Pfc. Davis was the first Chester County soldier to be killed in the line of duty in Vietnam. For his service and courage under fire, Pfc. Davis posthumously received the Bronze Star with “V” for Valor, the Purple Heart and other national and state honors.

“We owe Pfc. Davis and the Davis family a debt of gratitude for his service and courage under fire,” Dinniman said.

The Villa Nova one-room schoolhouse, which operated from 1866 to 1954, was one of five one-room schools in Upper Oxford. The wall and basement of the Villa Nova schoolhouse have been retained but the reminder of the site has been converted into a residence.

The remaining one-room schools are Penn’s Grove, Oak Grove, Maple Plain and Pleasant View all of which have been converted for other uses as well. Penn’s Grove, Oak Grove and Maple Plain are all residences and Pleasant View is now the Upper Oxford Township Building.

The Upper Oxford Historical Commission plans to eventually recognize all the school houses with historic markers.

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