The passing of the district school is rapid, so rapid that it will be legend or history to the next generation. Such an opportunity as this occasion makes it possible to record facts that might become lost, not alone through carelessness but because those who know have passed from our community. Thus we are glad that a history of the Eagle Creek Township Schools will be available.
I have inquired here and there and am indebted to the following for many items of interest: Mr. Oscar Dinwiddie, Miss Eva Bryant, Mrs. Edith Crawford, Miss Ruby Brown, Walter Fisher, T.K. Fisher, Palmer Temple, Calista Peterson, C.E. Black, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dilley, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Pearce, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Brownell, S. A. Brownell, Mrs. Roy Childs, Zora Busselberg and Mr. and Mrs. Joe E. Brown.
In the summer of 1834 on Section 6, Township 35, Range 7, the first settlement was made in what in now Lake County. In all probability the South East Grove site was chosen as early 1836; at any rate there were enough families by 1840 to warrant the building of a school house which was located in N.W.1/4, Section 12, Township 33 North, Range 8 West.
Previous to this time a private school was held in a log house on the Cutler lot north-east of the South East Grove Cemetery. The deed to this cemetery, drawn in 1850, is in the possession of Mrs. Edith Crawford, of Crown Point. However, the above mentioned public school was a very small house built of logs located just east of the section corners near the center of the grove.
The first teacher, according to report, was Olive Hixon, (Mrs. Ray). It is a fact that in 1842 (the year my mother came) Eliza Kinyon* (Mrs. Nichols of Lowell) was the teacher. Mother (Mrs. William Brown) and Aunt Rhoda Wallace Dinwiddie taught in this first log building as did Mr. D. Crumpacker, who was so tall that he had to stoop to pass through the door-way and bow his head when walking around in the room. Ellis Sarjeant was the last teacher. [*NOTE -- Mrs. Eliza Nichols' maiden name was actually spelled "Kenyon."]
In 1850 the men of the community raised enough money by subscription to build a larger frame building, erecting it on land in the Southeast Quarter of Section 2, Township 33 North, Range 8 West, which served until 1865 when it was sold to Joe Bray, and removed to what is now the Jay Doak Farm, but then called the Hugh Boyd place.
The school population had increased to such an extent that a much larger frame building was erected just north of the site of the second one. So well had they planned for the future that this school house was not abandoned until the consolidated building was completed in 1927. The structure was sold to the trustee, Win. Bryant, in the summer of 1927 for $55.00. Some of the material was used in rebuilding his home.
When this third building was built a dilemma was found: three townships cornered in the Grove, -- Center, Eagle and Winfield. Evidently these political divisions did not exist to cause trouble before. My aunt Cynthia Wallace, who was the teacher at this particular time, said that she was told to teach only those living in Center township because the school property was in that district. All of the people had contributed to build it; naturally all of the children should have the privilege to attend. This was finally accomplished. However, the commissioners soon met; the matter was presented, and solved by making the boundaries of Eagle Creek larger, including the school house land.
Each building was more pretentious than the preceeding, a splendid illustration of the progress of our American life. Slab seats were replaced by raised seats (much like our present auditoriums); they in turn were put aside and the latest style of factory-made seats, with desks, were installed. Slates and sponges were discarded for the more sanitary pencils, pens and tablets -- as was the water-pail and cup for the drinking fountains. Even the black boards have succumbed to change.
Passing to the Southeast quarter of Section 23, Township 33, Range 8, we come to the site of the Plum Grove group. The first school was taught in the winter of 1846-47 by Mary Ann Thompson, in a small log house, built by Alfred Bucklew*, to hold a claim. This cabin was used for many years as a blacksmith shop. [*NOTE -- The man who built the house was Alfred Buckley; this was a typographical error in the book.]
The first school-house was erected about 1850 on the ground where the Michael Pearce dwelling now is. The floor dimensions were approximately 20 by 24 feet, the logs were hewn flat on two sides and laid on edge with ends notched and saddled. The cracks were chinked with split pieces of hard wood (driven in between the logs), over which a mortar of clay and lime was plastered.
There were three windows, each having two sashes of six lights of 8 by 10 inch glass. One door of dressed boards about 3½ by 6½ feet, with cracks battened to keep out the wind was at the entrance. Cleats, about 1½ to 2 inches and tapered smaller at one end, were nailed across near the top and bottom of the door with the broad ends projecting. In these ends were auger-holes about an inch in diameter, which were slipped over the rounded ends of two blocks nailed to the door casing , thus forming hinges, The door latch was a thin piece of oak or hickory fastened about eight inches from the front edge of the door with a bolt or nail projecting so that it slipped into a notched block nailed on the the casing. Since the latch was on the interior it was necessary to have a buckskin string attached and threaded through the door so that one on the outside could unfasten by pulling the latch string.
The desks were long boards, supported by two inch square sticks driven into auger-holes made in the logs of the wall at a slant so that the front of the desk was lower than the edge toward the wall. At the wall was a narrow board on the level to hold the books.
The seats were merely slabs from the out-side of a fair-sized log, with the flat side up. Three pairs of legs were inserted on the rough or under side of each length. The size of the child was considered when making these benches. The little ones did not need desks. A big box stove which radiated heat when needed served as a dunce block in warm weather for those who violated the rules.
The school term of six to eight months was determined by the amount of money in the school fund. One winter in the fifties a new director hired a cheap teacher which cause John W. Dinwiddie and Michael Pearce to employ Emily Vanhouten for their children. This private school was held in a nearby cabin, probably Bucklews.
Spelling-matches and revival meetings brought capacity crowds; also the day-school needed more room; so the trustee, John W. Dinwiddie, directed that a larger frame building be built on the Northwest corner of Section 26, Township 33 North, Range 8 West, in 1860. While Charles Brownell was trustee, about 1896, the frame building was sold to Jerome Dinwiddie, and has since been used for a granary. The third building, another frame one, was put up at a cost of $900.00; this was sold to Claude Brownell for $168.00, [in] 1927, by W.A. Bryant, trustee.
It might be of interest to state at this time that in 1860, John D.* Dinwiddie, as trustee, had school-houses built in District Number 2, or Plum Grove; District Number 3, or Center; District Number 4, or South Eagle Creek; and District Number 6, or Doty. The contractor was John Wilson, Lyman Dunn assisting. [*NOTE -- Trustee John Dinwiddie's middle initial was "W" for Wilson.]
From the History of Lake County of 1882 the following account was taken:
"April 22, 1853, Michael Pearce, Samuel Turner and S.O. Servis, trustees, met at the home of M. Pearce, William Brown, clerk, A.J. McCann, treasurer whose bond was $1500.00, with John W. Dinwiddie and S. Andrews as bondsmen. The treasurer was ordered to pay Caroline Berdine (Flint) $26.00, services rendered in School district Number 6, Township 33, Range 7 West for winter of 1852 and 1853."
"Mary McGill, $10.10 for teaching in the same district.
"Mr. Huffman, 44 cents as treasurer of township 33, Range 7 West.
"On May 23, 1853, a tax of 53c on the $100.00 was voted for school purposes."
November 18, 1853, $9.60 was voted to Cynthia Wallace for services in District Number 1.
Continuing with our survey of the districts we now come to the Southwest corner of Section 13, Township 33 North, Range 8 West, the very spot where this crowd is assembled tonight.
The first school sessions were conducted in Thomas Temple's residence just north of this place. The first school-building was erected in 1860 by John W. Dinwiddie, a frame structure about 24 by 36 feet. At the present time it is the garage for this consolidated school, -- this fine brick edifice of four class rooms, modern basement, including this big auditorium, all up-to-date in every respect.
Eagle Creek township citizens have reason to be proud of this monument to their interest and efforts, and are to be congratulated on their good judgment. The cost in dollars is 40,000.00, but its value in service to the township's boys and girls and to the adults, as a community center, will be far greater. The contractors were F.E. Muzzal and sons; the trustee is Win A. Bryant. The bonds were issued to the amount of $30,000.00, payable $2000.00 annually.
The frame building just described as well as the school-buildings of Grove, South Eagle Creek and Doty districts which were built in 1860, were rebuilt in 1895 by Lyman Dunn, as contractor and M. J. Brown as Trustee.
Going over nearly to the center line of Section 20, Township 33, North Range 7 West, on the east side of Eagle Creek, we find the location of a log school-house built in conjunction with Districts Number 4 and 5, between 1840 and 1850. This was near the south line of the Susan and David Turner farm, now known as the Kate Wilson farm. Sam Clavin, Teacher.
The second building, a frame, was located in the Southeast quarter of Section 20, Township 33 North, Range 7 West, by John W. Dinwiddie, in 1860, and was sold to M.J. Brown by Win Bryant, trustee, in 1927, for $125.00, and is still at this place. The land was sold at the same time for $35.00 to the same person.
We will next consider North Eagle Creek School, which did not come into existence as an independent school until 1861 or 1862, when a small frame house was built a short distance west of the present residence of John Anderson or the north line or Section 20, Township 33 North, Range 7 West. The school was closed in 1912 on account of small attendance. Starr Brownell, trustee, sold the building for $77.00 to T.K. Fisher, and it is now used as a granary on Fisher's farm.
Over in the southeast quarter of Section 9, Township 33 North, Range 7 West, 1¼ mile west of Hebron, on the north side of the road, John W. Dinwiddie erected another frame building in 1860 where school was maintained until 1902, when it was sold to Mat Witters who moved it to Hebron and made it over into a dwelling on the east side of North Main Street, now occupied by Roscoe Witters.
The first brick school house was built by Hugh Boyd, trustee, in the Southwest quarter of Section 11, Township 33 North, Range 8 West, on land deeded by Edward Donnaha to the township with the provision that when it ceased to be used for school purposes it should then revert to the grantor with any improvements thereon. School has been discontinued since 1900 and the building torn down.
Turning about, and traveling almost due east to the northwest corner of Section 9, Township 33 North, Range 7 West, we come to the location of the Dave Wilson or Ed Hough school, built by trustee Hugh Boyd, of Eagle Creek township and trustee Jacob Wise, of Winfield township. The land, owned by Charles Simpson was south of the line, or in Eagle Creek. The tuition money of the Winfield pupils helped to defray the school expenses. In 1917, May 26, the most destructive cyclone in the history of the region demolished the building, which was not rebuilt.
The Bowers or Dammeir frame school building, built by David A. Fisher, trustee, in 1890, at a cost of $600.00 was located in the Southeast quarter of Section 34, Township 34 North, Range 8 West. It was sold by Jay Pearce, trustee, to Charles Blume, in 1918, for $120.00. It was discontinued on account of scarcity of pupils.
Following the draining of the Kankakee marsh, the land was fit to cultivate; consequently the farms were settled, and a necessity for a school house was felt. The trustee at that time, 1910, was Starr Brownell, who had a small frame building put up on Pearce Ridge, Southwest quarter, Section 31, Township 33 North, Range 7 West, at a cost of $600.00. In 1922 it was sold by Jay Pearce, trustee to the Presbyterians, who used it for a church. In the meantime school was held in Dr. Geisel's residence, about four miles southwest (also in the old building).
In 1920 F.E. Muzzall and Sons, contractors, built a fine brick two story structure in the Northeast corner of Section 12, Township 32 North, Range 8 West, at a cost of $16,000.00, known as Liberty school (J. Pearce, trustee).
In the passing of the district schools in Eagle Creek Township four private institutions have been noted, fifteen public ones. Three buildings were log; eleven were frame, and one brick. All of these have disappeared, to be replaced by two large brick buildings, one of two rooms, the other of four, with large basements and modern improvements, to accommodate the boys and girls who come from the former, then separate districts. Since 1840 a grand total of twenty-one structures of various sizes and materials have been built at the expense of the tax payers.
Michael Pearce (53 yrs. old) died 4/4/1861; John W. Dinwiddie (47 yrs. old) died 4-12-1860*; G.W. Handley, 1867; H.W. Bryant, Wm. Fisher, John Crawford, John Brown, Jr., Wm Brown (4 yrs.); Hugh Boyd (4 yrs.) 1879-1882; Timothy Serjeant (4 yrs.) 1885-1889; David Fisher (4 yrs.) 1889-1893; Chas. A. Brownell (4 yrs.) 1893-1897; M.J. Brown (4 yrs.) 1897-1901; Wm. Cochran (4 yrs) 1901-1905; C.E. Black (4 yrs.) 1905-1909; Starr Brownell, 1909-1913; J. Carl Brownell (2 yrs.) 1913-1915; Jay M. Pearce (8 yrs.) 1915-1923; Win Bryant (6 yrs.) 1923-1929. [*NOTE -- Plum Grove Cemetery records at the Lowell Public Library show that John Wilson Dinwiddie's death date was actually Apr. 12, 1861.]
TEACHERS OF EAGLE CREEK TOWNSHIP
SOUTH EAST GROVE (DISTRICT 1)
Cynthia Wallace, Olive Hixon, Eliza Kinyon, Rev. D. Crumpacker, Rhoda Wallace, Mary Jane Wallace, Pleaides Kingsbury, Ellis Sargeant, Ben Williams, Mr. Cutler, Mr. Cunningham, Rev. Edis, Jennie McClaren, Ella Kisscadan, Anna McWilliams, Lucinda Nash, Sophronia Erb, Charles Jones, Richard Mackey, Sam Dilley, Carrie Sigler, Oscar Baird, Mr. McCarry, Celia Ketchum, Clara Irish, James Herrick, Martha Barney, Jane Hide, Mary Boyd, Frank Doak, Merta B. Johnson, Matilda Beattie, Pearl Holton, Mary Martin, Le Roy Doak, Nina Ward, Mary Merton, Retta Stewart, Alice George, Bertha George, Margery Brough, Myrtle Hill, Fred Ewer, Sr., Tecla Anderson, Margaret Stahl, Kate Brownell, Anna Boyd, Robert Quillen, Ruby Simpson, Myrtle Clites, Phoebe Baird, Lucy Jenkings, Bessie Robertson, Anna Henderson, Eliza Muzzall.
PLUM GROVE (DISTRICT 2)
George Doak, Mr. Curtis, Fannie Van Houten, Lizzie Foster, Henrietta Ball, Cynthia Hogan, Norman Stone, Chas. Post, Mr. Fotte, Dorcas Adams, Sadie Starr, J.W. Hole, Mary McGill, Martha Haste, Myron Mee, Carrie Buchanan, Ellen Daum, Jennie Talcott, Maggie McKnight, Le Grande Meyer, Starr Brownell, Mollie Blake, Marguerite Will, Lizzie Baird, Lela Bryant, Morris Newby, Bessie Griffith.
CENTER (DISTRICT 3)
Jane Turner, Janette Pearce, Harriet Pearce, Sarah Kenney, Marian Brown, Chas, Burham, Birdie Hanley, Ruth Barney, M.J. Brown, Edith Brown, Will Brown, Luella Fuller, Mary Dunn, Alice Brownell, Cora Sargeant, Myrtle Gidley, Agnes Mae Stewart, Myrtle Hill, Lillie Wright, Laura Hale, Libbie Kenny*, Sarah Kenny*, Martha Buchanan, Alys Hess, Marie Landen, Margaret Pearce, Mamie Dilley, Jessie Turner, Beth Pearce, Mabel Sparling, Smith V. Glass, Elizabeth Bradford, Mildred Sparling, Bertha Garriott, Opal Lewis, Cynthia Green Brayton. [*NOTEThe last name of school teachers Libbie and Sarah should have been spelled "Kenney" rather than Kenny.]
SOUTH EAGLE CREEK (DISTRICT 4)
John Fisher, J.H. Dowd, Nelta Bliss, Clara Bliss, Eva Bryant, Ed. Mee, Ida E. Fisher, Ella Talcott, Clara A. Bliss, Effie Wilson, Mary Sargeant, Sarah Hughes, Lillian Hughes, Nettie Hughes, Elizabeth Hughes, Nora Sargeant, Margaret Ludy, Doris Stauffer, Clara Matthews, Pearl Huntington, Sue Turner, Lillie Lamberg, Mary Bryant, Cerilla Saylor, Bessie Wilson, Margaret Wilson.
NORTH EAGLE CREEK (DISTRICT 5)
Sam Turner, Jessie Simpson, Rev. J.N. Buchanan, Tom Fisher.
DOTY (DISTRICT 6)
Mr. Patrick, Calista Andrews, Anna Kelley, Sue Hildreth, Ella Dennison, Hattie Bryant, Susie Bagley, Eva Shoup, Cynthia Green, Mabel Crawford, Fay Rolston, Mabel Brown, Belle Garrison, Sue Turner, Dorothy Nichols, Bernice Bagley, Ethel Richardson Zim.
DONNAHA (DISTRICT 7)
Mabel Burgess, Jurilla King, Lora Henderson, Cynthia Wood, Edna Seims, Margaret Buchanan, Loren Boyd, Effie Boyd.
WILSON (DISTRICT 8)
Mary E. Davidson, Lizzie Simpson, Charley Childs, Luther Roper, Phoebe Westbay, Minnie Wilson, Nannie Kelley, E.E. Dilley, Tom Scott, Fern Wilcox, Allie Sherwood, Margaret Ross
BOWERS (DISTRICT 9)
Elbert Boyd, Myrtle Pearce, George Tangle, Chas. Warner.
FIFIELD (DISTRICT 10)
Mabel Dinwiddie, Walter Beck, Loris Cornell, Paul Sheehan, Ola May Wilson, Zora Dunn, Lena Heick, Mary Fisher, Edmund Hough, Hubert Long, Martha DcCook*, Estella Clarkson. [*NOTE -- The name DcCook is probably a typographical error and should be either McCook or DeCook.]
Miss Clark, C. Kelley, Letha Dickinson, Allie Faulkner, Maud Meeds, Nina Giles, Fannie Giles, Marie Bormer, Lizzie Cornell, Isabelle Spaulding, Jessie Death, Ruth Bacon, Ruby Bacon, Jessie Bryant, Emma Wilson, Sarah McQuire, Dorothy Berg, Lucille Wheeler, Eunice DeCamp, Ernest Lock, Ida Fleming, Genevieve Cunan.
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