Cosier School - Derry Township

Divider Line
First Crosier School - Left - Second Crosier School - Right
Written and Contributed by Anna Dolbeare Clark
Compiled November 21, 1990 - (Former student Fall of 1934 through Spring 1942)
First Crosier School South view on the left - compliments of Gertrude Adkins
Second Crosier School West View, 1989 on the right - photo by Anna Dolbeare Clark
Divider Line Crosier Teacher and Pupils around 1934
Crosier Teacher and Pupils around 1934 - Photo from Richard Garner

First Row: Maxine Dolbeare, Raymond Dolbeare, Lee Hoskins, Richard Garner, Clarence Dolbeare, Virginia Williams, Marjorie Williams, unknown, Bobby Williams
Second Row: Marjorie Sidwell, Mildred Williams, Virginia Motley, Alfred Dolbeare, Esther Smith, Mary Ellen Dolbeare, Hilda Walker
Third Row: Donald Dolbeare, Russell Dolbeare, Everett Walker Teacher: Kathryn Hoskins
Visitor in back: Leola Garner

January 9, 1991: Completes Study of Crosier School
Mrs. Arthur Clark (nee Anna Dolbeare) of Kinderhook, has completed a study of the Crosier School, located south of El Dara IL. Anna was an elementary student at the school from the fall of 1934 through the spring of 1942. The investigation has proved to be an interesting and enlightening experience concerning the former school, teacher, pupils and surrounding area. Anna would like to thank those that gave assistance and encouragement on this project. The Crosier research paper has been placed in the Pittsfield Library and the Barry Library for those interested in that particular school.

Crosier School history given to two libraries
Anna Dolbeare Clark of Kinderhook has recently completed an 11 page study of Crosier School an donated a copy of her research to both the Barry and Pittsfield Public Libraries, along with photographs. Mrs. Clark attended Crosier School south of El Dara from the fall of 1934 through the spring of 1942. "The investigation has proved to be an interesting and enlightening experience concerning the former school, teachers, pupils and surrounding area," she said. mMrs. Clark said she is grateful to all who gave her assistance and encouragement on the project.

American, in the past, found a means to learn. Some students acquired knowledge by self-education while others strove for a more formal education. Education has a starting point, whether it is at home or whether it is in a structured school building. In the early colonial times, many people were taught at home, but as the great wilderness was captured little country schoolhouses became more prevalent. The history of such schools, the people involved and their place in the community have proved to be very worthwhile and interesting. One in particular is in Pike County, Illinois

Derry Township had settlers arriving at a fast pace in the 1880's and many pleasant communities were being established. The people were honest and upright in their dealings, religious, debt free and generous to each other. For the pioneers Derry Township was a thriving agricultural area where they could easily survive because of the rich farmland. Wildlife abounded, and therefore their meat supply was easily obtained from the wild turkeys and deer. Others not so desirable animals were in abundance such as wolves, panthers and an occasional lynx.

Rural schools in Derry Township by the time of 1880 averaged nine in number, and it was noted that excellent schools were kept because of the parents and educators concern. ElDora, Illinois, later named ElDara, was a hubbub of a prosperous community which also had an excellent school. The small town of ElDara included some 350 residents at one time plus dry good stores, wagon shop, grocery stories, shoe and boot shops, drug store and three churches. ElDara was noted as being a beautiful little town.

South of ElDara, Crosier School was established. In the 1860 Atlas of Pike County there was no mention of the school, but showed Crosier property in Section 30 and Section 31. The 1872 Pike County Atlas clearly displays the school nestled amid the hills and close to a big spring. Since the area was thickly populated with several families, parents and educators soon felt a need for a centralized school for this area.

On February 26, 1856, Simeon Crosier bought 160 acres in the S.E. 1/4 of Section 30.. 5.5 of Derry Township from Samuel Purcell. On October 29, 1866, Mr. Crosier sold 40 acres to George McNutt (a brother-in-law, married sister Sarah Crosier) and by September 10, 1870 Mr. Crosier had sold 120 acres to Stephen R. Williams, thus keeping the Derry territory 14 years (p. 488).

The Crosier (Crozier, Crosiar) family came from the eastern part of the United States with the mention of William Crosier being born in 1796 in Pittsburg, PA. His wife, Isabella Cooper, was born in 1799-1800 in Kentucky. They were believed to have been married in 1819 in Brown County, Ohio. In the Census of Tazewell County in 1830 and the 1850 Census of Pike County, they are listed as having nine children: some six names and sketchy data are recorded:

  • Sarah Crosier born 1825, married George McNutt on August 25, 1844
  • Isabel S. Crosier born 1831, married Joseph Brown, died March 4, 1860
  • William H. Crosier, born December 15, 1833 in LaSalle IL, married Ruth Williams in 1851
  • Simon Crosier born 1836 married Martha Landrum in 1866
  • Jesse Crosier born 1838 supposedly died about 18 years of age in California
  • Nancy Crosier born 1820 (who apparently died in 1848) believed to have married Samuel Craig

As noted, Simon Crosier was born 1836 in LaSalle County IL and married Martha Landrum in 1866 in Pike County. Two children were born to Simon and Martha, then Martha apparently died. He had a second wife, Susannah Shields, married in 1876, also in Pike County. They soon moved to the state of Indiana, and to this union eight children were born. Thus while Simon Crosier resided in Derry Township he evidently donated the ground for Crosier School to be erected. The only record of a deed for the school lot was one dated 9/28/1936 when Fred and Alta Walker of Pleasant Hill, IL, (former residents of this area) sold some ground for the school at the minimum price of $125.00. So it appears Crosier deserved the school to be named after him as no records have been found to contradict this.

There was another Simon Crosier, possibly an uncle to this Simon Crosier. During the California Gold Rush Days in 1839, there were three Crosier men who left ElDora, Derry Township, Pike County, 1849. They were listed as William, William Jr. and Simon Crosier. According to a descendant, little Simon Crosier was under 13 years of age and was at home with his mother. SO through the years the Crosier families moved away; and now only an old deserted schoolhouse exists.

The first Crosier school was a rather large one room school, with many windows on the south. Children usually faced the west in their school desks. Church activities on Sunday mornings led to the use of the school building by a group, and the church was known as the Primitive Baptist Church. Lengthy sermons were endured, sometimes the sermons started at 9:00 in the morning and lasted until noon. It has been stated that is the reason some adults refused to attend church services at a later age because of the endurance on the front row.

The area at an earlier age was a busy one. Children came from the north, south, east and west for their elementary education. Paths were made through the dense woods, and children plus the teachers encountered swollen creeks and the harsh winter months. The teachers were courageous, and it was their duty to have a warm school building when the youngsters arrived early in morning. The heat was supplied by wood stoves, and later coal was used. All lunches were home prepared and sometimes shared among pupils. The children dressed warmly and snow days were not observed. Many games were played outside in the snows during winter time, and in warmer weather other games were played. Since the early enrollment was large, the participation was great. The school often also provided evenings of entertainment for the entire family.

Situated close to the school was the big spring which was bountiful with water and is still giving forth much water. For the water supply teachers kept a roster of children's names who would trudge to the big spring with buckets and tote the water back to the schoolhouse for usage. The spring was about a half mile in distance from the schoolhouse, and the water flowed from a cave and tippled over rocks as it flowed downhill. By the time the young people arrived back at the schoolhouse much of the water had been lost due to merriment and their return. Today the spring runs in a strong stream having supplied the school, farmers, neighbors and visitors for many years.

From this little school situated among the hills and pastures, many scholars emerged to become teachers and others had reputable vocations. Regarding, writing and arithmetic were taught plus the popular subject of geography as stated by a former student.

From the Catalogue of the Public Schools, Pike County IL for the year 1883 - 4, compiled by R. M. Hitch, there was this description of Crosier School.

  • District Number 7 - Crosier School
  • Directors - James Stout, R.D. Royalty, A. Lyons from ElDara
  • Teacher: L.H. Harrison from ElDara
  • About 45 pupils: little interest shown; frame house, not well situated; furniture modern, but poor, in tolerable state of repair, poor supply of apparatus.

The first school was used by many students for a long time. On November 27, 1935, an issue of the Pike County Republican stated the schoolhouse burned. This was printed on the front page of the weekly paper, entitled "Rural School House Burned Saturday a.m."

The Crosier School building located southwest of ElDara and six miles northwest of Rockport, was destroyed by fire about 10:00 Saturday morning (November 23, 1935). School was in session since the teacher, Mrs. Edna Steers, had been absent 2 1/2 days during the term to attend funerals and was holding school Saturday to make up for the time lost.

When the blaze was discovered, she knew it was impossible to save the building , due to lack of water. Mrs. Steers sent the smaller children, in charge of the Durall girl, to the Stephens Williams' home. The teacher, the older pupils and Floyd Williams succeeded in saving the piano, the teacher's desk and some text and Reading Circle books, which were taken to the Williams home. Five tons of coal, stored in the basement, were lost.

School will be continued in the vacant Walker house nearby. President George Motley, Clerk Carl Hotley, and S.R. Williams of th School District Board conferred with Superintendent Homer L. Johnson Monday, and it was decided that this house, much more conveniently located than was the school building can be utilized. Carpenters are at work, remodeling it for the purpose, and later it is hoped a new school building can be built on the school site. It is probable that school will open again next Monday morning.

Everybody who has gone through the experience of a fire knows what can be done under stress of circumstances. There was a case in point in the Crosier fire carrying the school piano to the yard required only the strength of Mrs. Steers, Mr. Williams and a school boy. When it was moved to the Walker house, it took five men to carry it.

Such an event caused the community to gather and discuss the situation. The house that was substituted for classes was put to good use. Another spring close by furnished the teacher and students with good water.

There was an article in the Pike County Republican on Wednesday, January 15, 1936, illustrating a family night that existed at the school. (P2). It read as follows:
The Crosier PTA entertained at an oyster supper Friday night. Guests were seated at a long table, and oyster soup, celery and sandwiches, pie and coffee were served. Music was furnished throughout the evening by Virginia Motley, Alfred Dolbeare and Glen Dale Steers. The following families were present:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Carl Motley
  • Mr. and Mrs. George Motley
  • Mr. and Mrs. Glen Steers
  • Mr. and Mrs. Harry Dolbeare
  • Mr. and Mrs. Claude Durall
  • Mrs. Ethel Smith
  • Mrs. Ethel Garner
  • Nellie and Conrad Lewis
  • Marjorie and Louie Sidwell
  • Mr. and Mrs. Asa Hoskins were invited guests

In the Pike County Republican there was a notation on March 18, 1936 that the PTA of the Crosier Dist. will meet this Friday night, March 20. (p6)

In the Aril 1, 1936, issue of the Pike County Republican paper there was this article.
The Crosier PTA met March 20 with a good attendance. Your county superintendent was present and gave a talk on the proposition of rebuilding a schoolhouse to replace the one that burned last fall. There was a fine program of music and singing. Sandwiches, pie, coffee and punch were served. The next meeting, the last day of school, will probably be a fish fry. Mrs. Edna Steers is the teacher. (p6)

Again there was an interesting article in the November 18, 1936 issue of the same paper of the County School News:
Crosier District will dedicate the new school building with a program and a box supper Friday night. Prizes will be awarded such as a coke for the prettiest girl, a pie for the ugliest man, a box of candy for the most popular girl, a pair of socks for the man with the biggest feet, and jar of pickles for the most devoted couple. The directors have worked diligently to replace the burned building with a more up-to-date new one of a completely new location and the dedication will no doubt bring out a good attendance. Winifred Motley is the teacher. (6p)

From the Pike County Republican of November 25, 1936 there was mention of a pie and box supper followed by a program, and the people of Crosier District did dedicate their new building. The county superintendent made the dedication address with comments about the building being a fine one, on an entirely new site just south of the old site where the former building had burned last year. (p6).

From the November 5, 1945 issue of the Pike County Republican is this article: 217 Pike County Board members met in the Circuit Court Room Monday of last week to consider and vote on the proposition of forming a School Survey Committee. The vote in favor of the proposition 151 to 63... to study school problems. (p7)

Another article in the Pike County Republican of April 2, 1947 gave this information: 1946=47 there were 44 closed schools as compared with 28 the year before. (p6)

The Pike County Republican on May 15, 1946 stated Crosier had three graduates. (p6) on May 7, 1947, the Pike County Republican reported Crosier had one pupil to graduate that spring. (p10). There was no teacher listed for the coming year.

The Pike County Republican September 3, 1947 read: Four of the schools around ElDara are sending their pupils there since the ElDara board has employed a second teacher, thus relieving the teacher shortage in that area .. (p7)

On September 24, 1947 there was an interesting notation from the Pike County Republican that read as follows -- about legal requirements for a community unit record district. (p10)

The school had continued until the year of 1946 - 47. Time took its toll on families moving away, and consolidation of smaller schools. The second schoolhouse still stands amid the rich farm land, and the big spring still gives an abundance of water daily. The school ground is now owned by Melvin Ward of Hull, Illinois.

There is a William Crosier buried in the Hornback Cemetery one and a half miles southwest of El Dara. Mr. Crosier expired October 11, 1864, being 68 years of age, the one who immigrated from Pennsylvania. The daughter, Isabel Brown, was also found buried in the cemetery in the cemetery with the expiration date of March 4, 1860 as previously stated. Her son, Perry Brown, is buried there, was 22 years old and died May 27, 1881. This writer personally toured the cemetery in November 1990 and viewed the mentioned grave sites. Other information concerning the burial of this family is unknown.

The name of Crosier still remains in the neighborhood, and the big creek that runs south by the woods is referred to as Crosier Creek, formerly known as the Williams Creek. Time and things change, but an account of such a historical place in American history should remain forever.

Sources:

  • History of Pike County Illinois Derry Township, Charles C. Chapman and Co. 1880, p. 754, 755, 756
  • History of Pike County IL, ElDara, Charles C. Chapman and Co. 1880 p 757
  • 1860 Atlas of Pike County, Virginia Hart Pleasant Hill. Genealogist
  • 1872 Pike County Atlas County Clerks Office, Courthouse Pittsfield p 116
  • County Clerks Office Court House Pittsfield Book 50; p 72
  • County Clerks Office Book 66 p 597
  • County Clerks Book 80 p 488
  • Crozier - Virginia Hart Pleasant Hill IL. Genealogist
  • Deed- County Clerks Office Book 220 p 15
  • Primitive Baptist Church, Gertrude Adkins, former pupil Interview Aug. 18, 1988
  • Teachers - Winifred Motley and Mary Ellen Shannahan interviews August 27, 1988
  • Reading, writing and arithmetic - Rachel Garner, former pupil, interview August 26, 1988
  • R.M. Hitch, Catalogue of Public School 1883-4 p 42
  • School Ground, Letter from Don Boyer of the Town and Country Bank, Quincy IL., 10 Sep 1990