Stark County Schools and Institutes

from "History of Stark County, Illinois" by M. A. Leeson

Contributed by Karen Seeman

From 1821 to 1869 Illinois received no less than $713,495.45 from the proceeds of sales of school lands, together with $447,919 of the $28,000,000 surplus divided by Congress in 1836 among the states. The land grant for educational purposes comprised 985,066 acres for common schools and 46,080 acres for universities. The report of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for the year ending June 30, 1883, was issued in April, 1884.  It shows the whole number of persons under twenty-one years of age in the state to be 1,540,918, as compared with 1,529,318 in 1882, and 1,500,255 in 1880. The number between the ages of six and twenty- one years is 1,046,936, as compared with 1,037,567 in 1882. The increase under this head is 166,223 in the eleven years reported since 1872. There are now 1,096,540 persons in Illinois of school age, and the school enrollment is 743,343. Many changes have been made in the original school laws of the state, each one tending to improve the system. The amendment providing for the election of district school directors came into force in May, 1857. A few years ago the act regulating the meeting of teachers' institutes came into operation and has been attended with beneficial results.

The first school district was No. 1, of Essex in 1833, where a school-house was built July 4, 1834. Adam Perry presided here three months, receiving $55.50 from Isaac B. Essex. On July 8, 1835, Miss Sabrina Chatfield received $13 for teaching here three months. Miss Chatfield married B. L. Hilliard, and died in Clark county, Iowa, as related in the township history. From this small beginning the school system has grown up to its present important place. The action of the county commissioners in 1839, in appointing trustees for the school lands of the several townships, is referred to in the chapter on the organization of the county. In the history of the townships the schools are treated as fully as records would permit, so that in this chapter all relating specially to the townships is omitted.

The school commissioners or county superintendents from 1840 to the present time are named as follows: James Holgate, 1840; Chas. H. Miner, 1841-5 (died in Chicago about 1850); James B. Lewis, 1845-9. (Lewis taught school in the "Old Brick," which stood where Pierson Miller's house now is). Samuel G. Wright was elected in 1849 over Martin Shallenberger. He was re-elected in 1851 over Thomas J. Henderson and G. A. Clifford; reflected in 1853 over Lucius E. Miner. In 1855 K. C. Dunn was elected; re-elected in 1857; re-elected in 1859. N. F. Atkins was chosen in 1861, re-elected in 1803, but dying before expiration of term, his place was filled by J. W. Agard. Following Mr. Agard were B. G. Hall, now in Iowa; Alonzo Abbott, of Bradford, a member of the institute of 1886; Amelia L. Halsey, now a Chicago teacher, and W. E. Sanclham, the present county superintendent and member of the State Board of Education. The dates of election, candidates for the offices, votes and party to which each candidate belonged are all given in the political chapter.

The principal school statistics for each half decade since the close of the war are given as follows : The order of figures is: Year, 1st column; number of districts, 2d ; number of school houses, 3d ; school not kept, 4th; number of pupils under 21 years, 5th; number attending, 6th; number of males, 7th; number of females, 8th; number of graded schools, 9th; number of male teachers, 10th ; number of female teachers, 11th; total receipts for school purposes, 12th column :

1865 — 76 — 71 — 5—4798 — 3042—1550 — 1492— 1 — 24 — 115—17,494.39

1870 — 69 — 74 — 1 — 5014— 3138 — 1654 — 1484— 2 — 38 — 105 — 38,222.49
1875 — 79 — 84--------6192 — 3520 — 1833 — 1687 — 17 — 59 — 110 — 55,226.41
1880 — 73 — 72 — 1 — 5500 — 2772 —1453 —1319 — 6 — 51 — 110 — 59,294.80

In 1865 there were two private schools attended by thirty-five pupils. In 1870 there were nine colored youths attending school here.


The condition of the schools of the county in 1886, as shown in Superintendent Sandham's report to the Department of Public Instruction, is as follows: Males under twenty-one years, 2425; females under twenty-one years, 2311; total under twenty-one years, 4736. Males between six and twenty-one years, 1749; females between six and twenty-one years, 1711; total, 3460. Number of school districts holding school for 110 days or more, seventy; number of graded schools, six; ungraded, sixty-five; total number of schools, seventy-one; total number of pupils enrolled, 2683, of which 450 males and 454 females were enrolled in graded schools. In these  last-named schools there were eight male, and sixteen female, teachers employed during the year ending June 30, 1886. In the ungraded schools were thirty-six male, and eighty-six female, teachers, or in all schools 146 teachers. In the graded schools male teachers presided 57 1/2 months, and female teachers, 108 3/4 months. In the ungraded schools male teachers presided 151 1/4, and female teachers, 359, months in the aggregate. The number of brick schoolhouses is four, of frame houses, sixty-eight, giving a total of seventy-two buildings. Seven districts have libraries, aggregating 233 volumes. There are two private schools, attended by forty male, and forty-two female, pupils, presided over by one female, and two male, teachers. The highest salary paid any male teacher per month was $112.50, and paid any female $55 per month. The lowest in the case of males was $27, and of females, $25, per month. The amount earned by male teachers during the year was $10,477.92, and by female teachers, $17,608.20. The amount of district tax-levy was $31,190.63. The estimated value of school property was placed at $106,550; of school libraries, $740, and of school apparatus, $1205. The amount of bonded school debt in June, 1886, was $4350. There were four of school age in the county who could neither read nor write — one mute, one blind, and two mentally weak. The accounts of township treasurers in re- distributable funds, shows receipts, including balances in every township, amounting to $584,997, all of which was paid out except $223.13 on hand June 30, 1886. The account with school districts shows total receipts from special district taxes of $32,228.72, pupils who paid tuition fees, $509.70, and other receipts, bringing the total revenue of districts for the year up to $61,283.50. The whole amount paid teachers was $28,545.44. The total expenditure, reported by districts, was $39,084.86, leaving a balance of $23,098.64 on June 30, 1886. During the year a bequest of $18,309.50 was made by Lewis Austin to the schools of Elmira. The amount paid school treasurers was $4,193.40, moneys invested, $18,932.12. The names of treasurers for the year ending June, 1886, are Samuel Wrigley, Valley; A. G. Hammond, Essex; Joseph Swank, West Jersey; C. M. Beecher, Goshen; Levi Silliman, Toulon; Brooks W. Crum, Penn; H. J. Baldwin, Osceola; and W. M. Fuller, Elmira. The foregoing, with the exhibit of township fund, balance sheet, boards of education, high schools, and general report of the county superintendent, constitute the whole report for the year ending June 30, 1886. In his report to the Board of Supervisors he states that he had spent 124 days visiting schools; twenty days' institute work; twelve days on teachers' examination, and other official work, forty-six days. During the year 1885-86, had visited every school in the county three times, and live schools four times. In every township the efforts of the present superintendent to raise the school standard still higher are appreciated. The people know that his enthusiasm in school work affects the teachers, is carried by them to the pupils, and thence to the homes of the people. His administration of the superintendent's office has been attended with incalculable good.

Teachers' Institute and Association.—In a letter addressed to William Nowlan by Rev. S. G. Wright, replying to one asking for information in. re the county institute, the following history is given: "My recollection is that Rev. A. Lyman, of Geneseo, at my invitation, conducted the first county institute at my house, just north of Toulon. Rev. R. C. Dunn afterward told me it was the first institute held in Illinois. I have a minute book in my journal under date of March 19, 1850:  'Last Friday I drew up a constitution for a teachers' association.' Also, under date April 1,1850: 'Last week attended Teachers' Institute'.  Also, in May: 'attended institute in Lafayette.' I find, also, in November, a notice of a teachers' institute and essays of a high order read. I have a notice of having addressed the institute in October, 1852. I think we had at that time a county institute with sub. or local institutes, as at Lafayette. Mr. Nowlan, continuing the subject, believes that the meeting of October, 1852, was the first public or regular meeting of the teachers. From this period until 1859 meetings were held, but the organization was little more than a social meeting club. In the summer of 1859 E. C. Dunn and Oliver White were the only persons who responded to a call for reorganizing the institute. A few evenings later the teachers of Toulon assembled at Mr. Dunn's house, where, with Mr. Dunn, were Rev. A. J. Wright, Baptist; Rev. Matthews, Methodist, both of Lafayette; Rev. S. C. Humphrey, Christian church, Toulon; Rev. G. A. Leaver, of Wyoming. During this session one B. F. Taylor delivered his lecture. Among the readers were L. D. Gleeson, Miss Rogers, Dr. J. C. Copestake, Miss Mary Berfield, W. W. Wright, C. J. Gill, or 'Jud' Gill. Gill won the prize, although Rev. G. A. Leaver announced publicly that he could not distinguish Jud's reading from a gymnastic exercise. This meeting adjourned to the spring of 1860, but did not reassemble then.

In the spring of 1867 B. G. Hall received a premium of $50 for getting a number of subscribers for the Teachers' Journal. This he donated to the teachers' institute, to be applied in founding a library. Some money was added to this sum and. books were purchased. This led to the formation of the Stark County Teachers' Library Association, which ceased after a short time, and with its downfall the book collection disappeared. Then followed the teachers' institute as we now know it, haunted with lecturers, school book agents and ambitious readers like Gill.


The teachers who received certificates in 1861 were: Rebecca Trickle, William P. Barr, Albert S. Johnston, John F. Rhodes, Levi Silliman, Charles Atherton, Eugenie Hull, Rate F. Johnston, Ellen Stanton, Ellen V. Spencer, Ann L. Himes, Eliza Drumm, Olive Smith, Martha M. Burnham, Rebecca Nicholas, Ella Bales, Jennie McCullough, Lucy Oziah, William Seely (local preacher), Angelina Trickle, Miss Lyman, Eliza C. Smith, Miss Sabra Wood, Ada Willcox, Clara Pike, Martha Pratt, Martha Porter, Alice Fuller, Mary J. Lennon, Mary J. Pettit, Mrs. L. D. Burge, Mary Perry, Fanny Hicks, Harriet Rhodes, Ellen King, Mary Gillette, Mary B. Whitaker, Martha Sherborne, Ellen Lynch, Jane Lynch, Joshua Thorp, Olive Decker, Peter A. Ferbrache, Charles Thompson, Alonzo P. Johnson, Martin Johnson, Edwin Smith, Eugene M. Gallup, Eliza Marvin, John Watts, Henry H. Leonard, William Bell, Salathiel Fast, James Ferris, Robert Barr, James Holgate, Ezra Griffin, Lucia Gregory, Albert.Crawford, Herbert Bassett, John Kell, Harmon Phenix, Mary Goodrich, Philip Tabor, Ben. Drake, D. V. Redding and William W. Miller.

Among those to whom certificates were issued in 1862 were Samuel Burge, James M. Severens, W. A. Jones, Sanford Clark, James Robinson, George Brown, N. C. Bishop, George Smith, Martin Stitsel and Orra M. Allen, the only males among sixty-nine admitted. In 1863 there do not appear to be any certificates or examinations held, and only eight in 1861. In 1865 the following notice was published:

"A teachers' institute was called to he held at Toulon, commencing April 20, 1865, and a good deal of pains taken to persuade teachers from abroad to attend, but it being the week of the assassination of our President, the editor gave notice that the people could not prepare for the institute; it was therefore not held and no other one called.

" J. W. Agard,

"County Superintendent of Schools"

The teachers to whom certificates were granted in 1864 and 1865, and who may be considered members of the post-bellum institutes, are named as follows: W. H. Blanchard, Francis Davis, George Nicholas, Charles Myers, Allen P. Miller, Edwin Butler, Robert J. Dickinson, James H. Turnbull, George Bradley, Leona Blanchard, Jane Deys, Elvira Newton, Susan A. Beatty, Emily Tilden, Louisa L. Wilson, Eliza A. McGlashan, Maria L. Cutter, Martha O. Trickle, Nancy S. Bennett, Alice Raymond, Harriet Witter, Eliza Eckley, Mary B. Carter, Henrietta J. Flint, Amelia A. Halsey, Harriet G. Grant, Kate A. Hablit, Mary J. Munson, Hannah Munson, Rosie Pratz, Jennie Bevier, Henrietta Riddle, Rebecca Fonts, Mrs. Townsend, Jane E. Shemerborn, Mary C. Lyon, Annie E. Dyer, Eliza Jane Moffitt, Juliet P. Judd, Mrs. Mary A. Bailey, Eliza J. Stockner, Amanda Mohan, Libbie A. Bryan, Emi- line Taylor, Louisa Whiffen, Emily Kellogg, Lecta Nicholas, Anna B. Kinmouth, Olivia A. Rhodes, Celesta Eastman, Jennie Dixon, Eliza A. Stickney, Lucy A. Libby, Almira M. Snyder, Henrietta L. Snider, Susan P. Nash, Mary O. Stevens, Miss Anthony, Josephine Dyer and Celestia Dyer.


From November, 1865 to December 7, 1866, there were one less than 154 teachers' certificates issued, many being renewals. Among the number were Orlando Brace, a returned soldier, James E. Finley, Cyrus A. Anthony, Charles Butler, Charles R. Thompson, all returned soldiers; Albert W. King, Josephine Dyer, of District No. 8, Penn, who presided there for a number of years; Mrs. Maria P., widow of N. F. Atkins; Robert Fell and Alfred Hemmant, returned soldiers. In 1867 certificates were issued to Augustus Hulsizer and Edwin Butler, returned soldiers, and eighty-eight others. In 1868 ninety-nine certificates were issued, only twenty-nine to male applicants. In 1869, 92 certificates were granted; 1870, 103; in 1871, 92; in 1872, 141; in 1873, 99; in 1874,146; in 1875, 111; in 1876, 242; in 1877, 160; in 1878, 103; in 1879, 115; in 1880, 108; in 1881, 119; and in 1882, 124 certificates were issued. Even now, four years after the last list was made, a large number of the ladies have married, or are scattered throughout the west — very few are engaged in the schools of Stark county.

The Teachers' Normal Class was organized in the "Old Brick" at Osceola, March 23, 1868, by B. G. Hall, with the following: Bartlett G. Hall, Dr. H. B. Upton, William C. Kay, Louisa A. Stone, Ellen Hall, Emeline Lyle, Mary Adams, Martha Rule, N. Clark, Rev. S. G. Wright, Edwin J. Smith, Ed. P. Wright, Anna P. Oliver, Esther Hall, Bertha Parks, Anna Davis, Ellen Gurley, Mary P. Wright and Florence J. Chamberlain.

The Stark County Teachers' Association was organized at Toulon, October 27, 1869. W. C. Dewey was elected president; Mrs. A. J. Dyer, vice-president; R. Fell, secretary, and Miss Henrietta Riddle, treasurer. F. M. Shallenberger, W. P. Wing, Misses A. J. Dyer, Louisa Taylor and L. Witter formed the executive committee.


From this time down to the present day the teachers of Stark have been held together by organization; but of their meetings, brief notices are only at hand.

Paul Newton was president and Grace Jones secretary of the Stark County Teachers' Association in 1880-1, and both are today prominent in the school circle of the county.

The Teachers' Institute in 1882 comprised the following members: A. L. Halsey, H. M. White, M. Starrett, B. G. Hall, Amy I. E. Reed, Elvira Demuth, H. J. Byatt, Sarah Berfield, Frank Akins, M. A. Hall, F. E. Saunders, A. B. Abbott, W. R. Sandham, H. J. Clark, R. J. Dickinson, F. S. Rosseter, Mary Christy, E. H. Farley, Lizzie Meehan, Neva Newell, A. Keller, William Nowlan, James Kinney, Robert Fell, Hattie J. Dator, S. A. Little, Henry Nowlan, F. C. Wilson, Mary Heywood, E. E. Ackley, George Nowlan, E. B. Humphreys, M. H. Keyes, Paul Newton, W. C. Henry, Joseph Chase, Al'bt Snare, D. T. Osenbaugh, E. C. Rosseter, Frank Rist, Mary A. West, Anna Heywood, James Chambers, Ella Turney, Grace Jones, Josie Tjaden, Kate Driscoll, Nellie Jones, B. F. Jackson, Adna T. Smith.

In 1883 the Normal Institute was organized under the new statute.

The Stark County Normal Institute met at Wyoming, July 18, 1886, with Superintendent Sandham presiding. He was assisted by Mr. A. B. Abbott, of Bradford, and Miss Grace Jones, of Wyoming. The list of members present, by townships, is as follows: West Jersey Township.— Lizzie L. Lyon, Minnie Bradley, Jennie Sweat, Madge Adams, Sarah Fulton, Caspar Hanawalt. Goshen Township.— Hattie Hendricks, Mary Maginis, Amy Byatt, Willie White, George W. Heskett, Mamie Byatt, Eva Beers, Nellie M. Jones, Frank Johnson, Cora Galbraith, Will F. Johnson. Essex Township.— Beatrice Kinkade, Lucretia D. Ogle, Ella B. Finley, Jennie A. Colwell, Ella E. Turney, Nettie E. Wiley, Jenny Jordan, Cleora H. Quick, Kate A. Thomas, Alma Trimmer, Minnie Gehr, Eveline Lory, Henrietta Graves. Toulon Township.— Jennie Gharrett, Alice M. Mawby, Elsie J. Mawby, Anna C. Chase, Hattie White, Carrie White, Mary Fulton, Hattie Byatt, Anna Heywood, Mary Heywood, Lena Trouslot, Addie Keeling, Georgia Biles, Rosa Swanson, Fred Fox, Frank Nowlan, Frank Smith, Nina E. Hartz, Carrie Holgate, Hallie Sargent, Anna Copestake, Blanche Wolfe, Ella Wolfe, Maud Brees, Alice Graham, Dora B. Pliter, Mamie Pliter, Laura Dickinson, Effie Adams, Sarah Kerney, Dell Lyon, Maggie Perry, Charles Foster, Frank Jones, W. F. Nicholson. Elmira Township.— Mary E. Prosser, Vena Johnston, Lottie Oliver, Maggie Haswell, Alice Green, Lucille Buswell, Alice Martin, Stella Sterling, Elmer E. Briggs. Valley Township.— Clara L. Joh, Allie V. Cox, Florence Peterson, Mary Gill, Alice A. Selders, Molly McManus, Cora Jarman, Georgia A. Parker, Melvin B. Patterson. Penn Township.— Mary Colgan, Florence A. Proctor, Ella Wickham, Marie E. Dolan, Sallie Clark, Nellie Bunnell, Attie Martin, Paul Newton, Percival G. Rennick. Osceola Township.— Clyde Buswell, Effie Christy, Abby A. Damon, Lillie Phenix, Lizzie Howes, Mary Sharky, John M. Davies, Florence Russell, Hattie Bray, Jacob Wasson, Sara A. Little, Stella Sterling. Monica, Peoria county.— Ida Whittington, Emma McKown. This list embraces many names connected with former meetings, and almost covers the entire roll of teachers then in the county schools.

The institute of 1880 is the fourth held under the administration of Professor Sandham, and the last of the four normal drills held under the new school law.