Rory Feek lost his wife, Joey, in 2016, and in the days following her passing, fans wrote his family letters, often sharing that they had been praying for him. Inside many of those letters, money was included.
“In the days and weeks that followed Joey’s funeral, we received hundreds, if not thousands of cards and letters in the mail from people expressing their sympathy for our family and all we’d been through,” Rory recounts to Today. “They told of how they had prayed for us and how they are praying still. And in many of those envelopes there were $5 bills. And 10s and 20s, and change and checks of all sizes. When we spread their outpouring of love all across the kitchen table, it added up to nearly $100,000. It was beyond humbling.”
Rory explains that his late wife Joey had always intended to home-school their daughter, Indy. She wanted to raise Indy and teach her at home. For two years, Indiana was sent to an integrated pre-school called High Hopes and as her time there came to an end, Rory had the idea to build a school house on their property where Indy could learn at home just as as Joey had hoped.
“An idea began to emerge to have the best of both worlds: Indy having the chance to be part of an amazing school, and being at home, at the same time,” Rory reflects. “And now here we are walking across our driveway to a beautiful one-room schoolhouse built at our farm, a stone’s throw away from the little family cemetery where Joey’s wooden cross stands.”
Hardison Mill School is named for the one-room schoolhouse that had served the children in the local community more than a century before. The money from the letters sent from fans to the family was used to build the school. And, when it was completed, the total cost of the schoolhouse was almost exactly what had been given to the Feek family.
See the story of the Hardison Mill one-room schoolhouse through video clips from the building during the summer of 2017 to the summer of 2018 below.