Public school in the 1850's

Public Schools

One Room School

Farm children attended small schools located within walking distance of their homes. Walking distance could be anywhere from one-half mile to two miles one way. These schools were one room buildings, some were more blessed than others by having an added entrance shelter to cut down the cold blasts when the outside door was opened.

The first school held in the Lakeville area was in the winter of 1855-56. It was conducted in F. F. Ackley's log shanty on Dodd Road. It was said that William Cummings was the teacher.

The next summer a few of the early settlers met to form a joint school district in the Eureka-Lakeville area. A year later Mr. Kean, Sr. donated a half acre of land for the school. Money for the building was raised by subscription and when erected the school measured eighteen by twenty four feet and cost $300. Mrs. Mary Kean was the first teacher in this school. She taught a seven month school term for $35 a month. She had twenty pupils. This first school burned down as did the second. The third schoolhouse was built on a lot purchased from D. W. Balch for $40. This school still stands on Cedar Ave. in the Hitchcock Industrial Park. It has been remodeled into a house.

As soon as the land was settled school districts were organized in all parts of the township.

District 45 which was located on Dodd Road, north of the village.

District 102 which was near Crystal Lake.

District 41 which was near the Hyland cemetery on Pilot Knob Rd.

District 43 which was three miles east of the village on Hwy. 50.

District 42 which was three miles northeast of Lakeville on Flagstaff and 190th.

District 46 had school sessions in the old village prior to its organization in 1857. In 1878 District 46 divided into District 100 in the village and District 46 as a rural school near Prairie Lake.

Memories Of The Old One Room School

Mrs. Calvin Thomas taught in School District 44, or the Neary School as it was called then, in the 1930s. The following are some of the highlights of the school year as she remembers them.

The pupils and the teacher had to take responsibility for housekeeping chores at the school. Water and wood had to be carried, floors swept and scrubbed. One of the older students was paid $10 a term for starting the fires and taking care of the stove. Hot lunch was served to the students in those days too! Food would be put in jars at home and then brought to school by the boy or girl and placed in a pan of water on top of the jacket stove to warm. Each day the lunch was varied. The children would bring potatoes and these would be baked in the ash pan of the stove where they would bake toasty hot! Milk was brought by each child and cocoa made on the stove. Once a week the families took turns and delivered a hot dish for the group. As you can see the school teacher's job consisted of more than teaching!

The Christmas program and the school picnic were the two highlights of the school year. Every child in the school took part in the program. Many a parent's heart was warmed by the performance of his or her offspring, and some suffered when their children forgot their memorized lines. The teacher prepared Santa's pack and he appeared at the end of the program. In the early thirties the wax candles on the big Christmas tree gave way to lights powered by a car battery! Many hours went into the decoration of the room and tree. Stringing popcorn and cranberries was busy work for the lower grades while the older children practiced their dialogue. Sheets were strung across the room to set off the stage.

The close of the term brought all the parents, neighbors, and children together for the school picnic. Luscious food, prepared by the parents, was placed on a hayrack or table brought in for the occasion. Kittenball races and horseshoes were a pleasant way to end the school year.

The school was also the center for the community social activities. The school desks were fastened to long boards so they could be easily moved and the school room rearranged for basket or pie socials. There was no electricity in the schools so gas lanterns were brought in for the party. Dancing was the usual entertainment and the music was furnished by local talent, often using an accordion or violin with piano accompaniment. The baskets prepared by the ladies held a lunch for two and were works of art in decorations and goodies inside. The auctioneer would try to locate a basket that was of particular interest to one party and then get bidders to raise the price up to the $10 mark. This was good for raising money but hard on the young man's purse! The money was used to buy something special for the school.

Rural schools were known as ungraded schools and the pupils from these schools were not automatically accepted into high school. The students in seventh and eighth grades who hoped to go on to high school had to pass state examinations. It was considered a failure on the teacher's part as well as the student if these tests were not passed. There were many hours of drill and much anxiety when testing time came each spring. Each rural school had an annual meeting to elect a school board and discuss the business of the district. If things were going smoothly at school the meetings would be short and friendly, but if there were disagreements over what was taught, how much money could be spent or degree of discipline, the meetings were packed and the issues hotly debated.

The rural school was the nucleus for the neighborhood and it was with much regret that the districts finally agreed to reorganize into one large district in 1952. From the memories of Catherine Thomas

one room school house District 42 school picture 1917. Front row: a Brown, Henwood, Margaret McCann, Irene Brennan, a Granger, Ethel Thomas, Carl Boyer. Middle row: Gertie Brennan, Irene Norton, Clarence Henwood, unknown, Lloyd McCann, Fred Henwood, Mike Donlon. Back row: C. Boyer, a Thomas, Ralph Norton, Roupe Grager. Teacher, Ora Anderson. This picture gives us a good idea of the age and grade differences that the teacher in the one room school had to prepare for.

NOTE: The picture was probably taken around 1915 not 1917 as stated in the caption.

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This Page was last updated on April 19, 2010