T H E
H I S T O R Y 0 F
0 N E I D A
S C H 0 0 L D I S T R I C T
Otherwise Known As
N O . 3
T H E
S 0 U T H O N E I D A
S C H 0 0 L
T H E S T R A N G E S C H O O L
RONALD A. BRUN GER
Cover Design by BARRY FREED
T A B L E 0 F C 0 N T E N T S
FOREWORD 1 page
I. THE PIONEER LOG SCHOOL
II. THE ERA OF THE FRAME SCHOOLHOUSE
Pa ges 1-7
III. THE BRICK SCHOOL IN ITS FIRST CENTURY 16-41
REGISTER OF THE SCHOOL TEACHERS :
1840, 1854-1900, 1905-1979 5 pages
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS THROUGH THE YEARS
(A Partial List )
1 pa ge
F O R E W O R D
Some months ago the author was surprised to receive a letter from Frances Strange Catey stating that she had two early record books of our country school, and that she wanted me to take them and write a history since 1979 would be the centennial year for the brick school house. Right away my interest was piqued. This project has been very congenial and interesting to me . I have anjoyed the task, and I am grateful to Frances for initiating the project and making it possible.
About the same time the members of the school board were noting that 1979 would be the centennial of our schoolhouse. They were immediately interested in the history project, and wanted the history completed for the celebration of the centennial. The present school
board is composed of EvaBelle Deer, President; Douglas Brunger, Secretary; and Richard Catey, Treasurer.
I am especially indebted to Douglas and Debra Brunger, EvaBelle Deer and Karen Burman for their interest and help . Many other people have given their help to the author . Hilah Haueter Perry who taught here from 1935 to 1939, has been most generous in writing letters, and in sharing memories in a personal interview .· Her fine history of the Canada Settlement School gave helpful information on our school .
Also I thank Herbert Calhoun and Alice Brunger Bouknight for reminis cences which I have ihcluded. Nellie Burman Ireland wrote me a most helpful letter; likewise Mary McMullen LaBatt. Mertie Frost and
Helen Strange Rueckert wrote letters of encouragement . I have enjoyed visits with reminiscences of school days, with Frances and Wilford Catey, Carl Cook, Lila Edwards and Mrs .Ervin Burman . Time was lacking for further visits which would have been helpful. I would note further
that we are indebted to the writings of Daniel Strange for virtually all our knowledge of the first log school .
This has proven to be a large project, and I have lacked the time to do all the background research that I would liked to have done . I have endeavored to be accurate, but it is all to likely that some errors of fact or judgment have crept into the narrative . I trust that I may
be forgiven for omissions or errors. Many more names and details could have been included. We hope this is a representative history, and that it will prove interesting and instructive to many who have been interes ted in our South Oneida School, or who received their elementary educa tion in our brick school now celebrating its centennial.
Ronald Alvord Brunger April 26, 1979
THE HISTORY OF ONEIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 3
Otherwise Known as The South Oneida School or The Strange School
I. THE PIONEER LOG SCHOOL
On Octo6, 1836, John and George Strange, Peter Kent, and their guide Mr .Groger of Eagle, were exploring the land in south Oneida Township and "met up" with six men from Canada on the east border - of section 34. That winter Solomon Russell and family became the first settlers in Oneida Townshipo In February Samuel Preston cut
a road 10 miles through the forest from the southwest, and built a shanty on his land, a little over a half mile west of our school corner, on the south side. The shanty had no floor, door, or window; blankets were hung over the openings and the next morning
a large wolf was just outside. Six men from Canada came on the last day of February, built a shanty and slept in it the first night .
Two of men returned to Canada in April to bring back oxen to draw the logs of the trees they had cut down . In June 1837 Truman W . Nichols arrived from Canada with the wives and families.l Their area was at once appropriately known as the Canada Settlement .
Sometime in 1837, Peter Huckens arrived and built a cabin in the southeast corner of Section 27• . In June 1838, John Strange re turned to settle permanently. On his first Sunday he attended a religious service at the Huckens'home; although "barefooted and
clad only v..rith homespun shirt and pants", he was "respectably dressed" for that frontier occasion and was cordially welcomed.2
The first school district on Oneida was organized in the Canada Settlement, and a log school house was built in 1838 or 1839, on
the northwest corner of what is now called Strange Highway and South Hartel Road (M-100)30 Soon after school opened with a 3t months ' term, taught by Miss Abigail Billings . In 1838 Miss Emma Orinda Sprague, possessed of a "zealous missionary spirit and feeling that she might be useful in helping to found a Christian community in the then wilds of Michigan," came from New York to make her home with her sister, Mrs .Rebecca Preston .4 She taught the second term at the
1 Daniel Strange, Pioneer History of Eaton County, Michigan, 1833-1866 (Published by the Eaton County Pioneer and Historical
Society, 1923), pp . 116f
2 Daniel Strange, ·An Adci.res s to John Strange and Other Pioneers ••" in Pioneer History of Eaton County.
3 Hilah Perry, The Canada Settlement, page 6.
4 Obituary of Emma Orinda Sprague in the Grand Ledge Independent, March 1905.
History of Oneida School District No. 3
Canada Settlement, evidently in the surrnner of 1839. In pioneer days, incoming settlers were often housed in the schoolhouse while they built their first shanty, if there was no school at the time . But
Ea Sprague had to put up with a family who were living at the school house while she taught . They were most cooperative . They hid their dishes in a box and went to the woods before schooltime . "The hus
band cut trees and the wife piled the brush until noon . The teacher and pupils sat in the shade of the forest to eat their lunch, while the wife prepared and ate lunch with her husband. Dishes were put away without washing and school again 'took up '.nl
In the northwest corner of Oneida, four Johnson brothers settled early and the settlement was known as the Johnson settlement . Their name was given to their school, which became District No. 2.2
In 1839 the settlers here in South Oneida were organizing a school district, and planning to build a log schoolhouse. The leaders in the move were "Samuel Preston, Peter Kent, Solomon Russel, and John Strange bachelor .113 In the spring of 1840 they built their log school, nearly a half mile north of our present brick school, on the hill to the
east of the present road. Rebecca Preston in a letter postmarked from Adrian on May 4, 1840, and sent to her family back in Ira ,
New York, W!'ote : "We shall have a schoolhouse here if they ever git
it done it is raised but it does not git along very fast.114
The log school stood "in the midst of the dense forest with no roadway within a half mile." From the school "seven wild woods paths" led out in the various directions toward the homes of the area.5 These paths must have headeg northwest, north, northeast, east, southeast, south, and southewst. Emma Orinda Sprague taught the first term
here in the surrnner of 1840.7 She was then married to John Strange Oct .1, 1840. Miss Sprague had only eight scholars that first term: Sarah Preston, Jasper Preston, Frances Russell, Jane Russell, Frank Kent, Matilda Houser, David Huckens, and Maria Nichols .3
Daniel Strange states that there was no school that first winter.
Evidently it was that winter when no school was kept, that Edward McMullen arrived with his numerous family and occupied the schoolhouse. McMullen had but 50 cents when he arrived, and with his last money he
purchased a pig. His pig was not kept in a parlor as a folksong and dance of the period suggested; neither was it kept in a pighouse.
It was kept in a hollow log securely fastened at the ends. A knot hole in the top served as a feeding place. After a light snow, bear tracks were often discovered around this log and even on top
"where bruin had smelled the pig beyond his reach. One morning bruin left his tracks upon the window sill.112
1 Daniel Strange, Pioneer History of Eaton County, p .120 2 D.Strance, op.cit., p .121
3 Ben McMullen, A History of our School, written about 1899, as quoted by Mary LaBatt .
4 "Sprague-Strange Letters" in the Michigan State University Archives .
5 Danie Strange, Autobiography.
6 In early times, there was a log cabin on the back of the Griffin farm which would have been straight east from the schoolhouse.
Nobody lives west of it.
The early township meetings were held in the Canada Settlement area, beginning with the organization meeting April 2, 1838 at the home of Truman W. Nichols. For two years most of the township board meetings were held at the Nichols home . For the next two years or
so, the annual town meetings were held at the Canada Settlement school. But the Canada Settlement was in the southeast corner of the township.
Settlement was now increasing somewhat across the township. The site
of the township meetings was changed to the Strange School, 2t miles west, which was more central .l
Daniel Strange, infant son of John and Emma, was born March 4,
1845. He relates that in the winter of 1847-48 before he was three years old, his sister Mary, then 5t years old, was attending the log
school. On some days that winter- when the snow was deep and she could not walk to school, their father hitched the horse to a homemade
sled which had room in front of the seat for grain to be taken to
the mill. The father set baby Daniel in his baby rocking chair in this space, and transported him to school with his sister . The schoolhouse had an immense fireplace occupying one end of the room. Dan was picked up, chair and all, and set before the great open fireplace. He remem bered long afterward, "Placed before the fire I rocked so vigorously that my chair hitched back so far - that I could call out, 'Teacher,
I'm cold."' The winter teacher was always a man . "He would gather me up, chair and all and replace me near the fire, when the process was repeated until I was again cold.112
The teacher determined that this youngest attendant at school
should learn something. Dan wrote, "I remember distinctly the teacher 's calling me up several times during the day to spell my word of three
· letters. At the last lesson he asked if I could remember to tell my mother when I reached home. I remember distinctly climbing o'J.t of the sled and saying, "Let me go firsto" I ran bang against the
door, B-0-Y, boy •• I learned boy, and cow. The next summer I didn't like the girl teacher and I remember I refused to spell. I insisted that I was tired.11 2 The perversity of three-year-olds evidently has not changed.
One summer morning Dan started out to walk part way with his sister, as she started on the path leading northward toward the school in the woods . He turned around to return home and found that their cows were between him and the house. One of the cows was known as
'Miss Hooker '; evidently she had long horns and a mean disposition . The little boy dared not try to pass those cows. He climbed a high fence into a yard next to the house. The grass was tall and he was quickly lost and began crying. His mother heard him and told the father to go and rescue him. But just then Dan stumbled upon his tame deer "cuddled into the grass . I grabbed at once for the bell strap a!'oand his neck and was having a tussel when father arrived."
l Hilah Perry, pc. cit., p .7
2 Daniel Strange, Autobiography
History of Oneida School District No. 3
"My uncle had gotten this tame fawn for me, a very •••beautiful pet with the rows of white spots upon his sides ." A few years later,
Dan and his cousin Charlie Preston were playing in the woods near the schoolhouse, when "a tiny fawn bleated and jumped up . He caught it and after catching it would follow like a kitten . We had gone
but a few steps when another fawn jumped up and I caught it, so we each had a tame fawn that season. A neighbor had shot a doe near there two days before and the creatures were nearly starved ." 1
The log schoolhouse had desks against the walls on three sides, with benches in front of them . "To write or 'cypher 'pupils faced the wall, but to ••recite they turned gracefully upon the bench and faced the teacher with the edge of the desk forming a back support ." "Twice each day every class in reading, was called to recite . First of all ·1toe the mark .'' Every toe was brought to a certain crack in the floor . 'Attention .'' All arms dropped to our sides ." 1
Dan Strange gives this example of a geography lesson, and of the kind of questions and answers that were approved in that day . "What is geography? The study of the earth 's surface . What is the earth?
· The globe on which we live . What .is its surface? The outside part. Of what is this composed? Of land and water . What is the water called? The sea or ocean . What can you observe of the ocean? Its saltness prevents it from becoming corrupt .111 The correct answers must be learned and parroted back to the teacher . The same pedagogy was employed in the church of that time, with questions and precise answers to be learned in catechism classes .
Grammar was emphasized to an extreme . "We studied grammar ••to what end? Why to ·learn to parse . We must be able to tell at sight the gender, person, number and case of every noun in the lesson . We did not learn until years later that, with the exception of a very few words as negro and negress, hero and heroin, czar and czarina, there is no gender in the English language.111 Pupils also learned the person of each noun, and that meant nothing practically.
To our surprise, we learn that there were no arithmetic classes per se, in the log school . "After hearing classes the teacher asked who needs help in arithmetic? There were always plenty of replies . The teacher did set by each and help him out. He could not get half around. Pupils were allowed to whisper and so helped each other with their 'sums '. One problem I remember ••If 7/8 of a yard will make one vest, how many vests can be made from 8 yards?"l
A great emphasis was placed on spelling in the log school, and later . The school often had spelling bees . The pupils stood in order as they had previously been numbered. They "toed the mark" . They
1 Daniel Strange, Autobiography.
folded their armso The teacher announced a word to the head of the class, then to others in order . When "one misspelled a word, the one spelling it correctly went around and above him." If several people missed, the correct speller went past all these, and so worked toward reaching the head of the line (or the school). "At the end of the lesson the class "nu.rnbered" off for their positions the next day .
A record was kept of the one "leading off ahead." The next day he took his place at the foot, "thus giving others a chance af the head. The one at the head the most times in a term won a prize." Often the spelling was a real "spelldown" . When a person missed a word, he had to sit down, taking his seat. The last one standing was the champion speller, and this was deemed a real honor or achievement .
Henry Trench, the early pioneer at Grand Ledge, had been educated at Oberlin College . For many years he was the township inspector of schoolsa He lectured in the log schoolhouses upon scientific subjects, and occasionally wrote educational articles in the press . He had a soldering iron and went about among the pioneers mending tin pans;
he was popularly known as "Tinker Trench".2 He must have been a character .
The early history of our school comes into a clearer light and focus in 1854, with the opening page of the earliest school record book now in existence. We learn first that the school district had been altered and cut down in size, to the four sections touching our present school corner, Sections 27, 28, 33, and 34. The book is
captioned: "RECORD OF SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 3 in the TOWNSHIP OF ONEIDA
including Sections 27-28-33-and 34. As altered and bounded by the School Inspectors of said Township. In the year 1854."
Previously the area to the north had sent pupils to our log school .
Irving Guilford in Section 21 had been in the District, and had a bill outstanding from the year 1852. In 1854 the Oneida Center District, District No .10, was established and their first school was held that year .
"The Annual meeting of the qualified voters of School District No. 3 of the Town of Oneida" was held in 1854 on Sept . 25 "at the school house in said district•• pursuant to public notice, the mod erator presiding." John Strange was clerk . The following officers were elected: Emanuel DeGraff, Moderator; Edward McMullen, Director; and Hiram Hardy, Assessor . The voters were all men . It was voted
"to allow Irving Guilford the sum of $2.23 cts for materials fur nished and services rendered for the year 1852." It was voted to allow John Strange one dollar for "materials furnished and services rendered said district for the year 1853."
1 Daniel Strange, Autobiography.
2 Daniel Strange, Pioneer History ., pp .122-23.
History of Oneida School District Noo 3
This epochal school meeting then proceeded to move the site to our present location, as this would be the center of the newly cut down district. They also proceeded to vote for the building of a new frame schoolhouse. The Canada Settlement 's log schoolhouse had burned down in 1843, the year the Millerites (later the Adventists) said that the "world would end and burn . When the children awoke
in the night and saw the light of the schoolhouse burning they thought the world was surely on fire." The Canada Settlement had proceeded
to build a "larger and framed school house and thereby they assumed to have better schools" our historian tells us.l This then was in the background of the action of our district. The people were about rea dy to advance from log houses to frame houses; John Strange
would build a large barn in 1856 and the large frame house (part of it still standing today) in 1857. People were in a mood to improve their school, for schools were highly important to them. Furthermore it appears that the log school was now in very poor condition, in addition to being away from the center of the district.
At this 1854 meeting, the motion was made and seconded that the site of the schoolhouse be ghanged to "the North East corner of section thirty three owned and occupied by Henry Verplank. The motion was carried by 11 to 3.11 Voting affirmatively were Emanuel DeGraff, Asathel Geer, Samuel Preston, Benjamin White, Gasper Preston, Henry Verplank, Ephraim Stockwell, Charles Strange, George Strange, John Strange, and Theodore Thomas . Voting against the move were Smith Mitchel, Hiram Hardy, and Edward McMullen.2 Did the negative voters feel the log school was good enough, or react against the prospect of higher taxes? We do not know their thinking.
The people at the meeting proceeded to bargain with Henry Verplank for a half acre of land on the northeast corner of his farm. They agreed on the price of $20. "Said meeting bargained with Henry Verplank for one half acre of land on the North East corner of section thirty three (33) for a School house Site and agreed to pay him twenty dollars for the same and voted to raise $20 dollars for the aforesaid site."
They then voted to build a frame schoolhouse "about the size of the one in Wm. Henry's district" and that it be enclosed with pine wood, and the desks were to be made of black walnut. The voters agreed
to raise $150 toward the cost .
A Building "Cormnitty" of three was appointed: Ephraim Stockwell, Samuel Preston, and Emanuel Degraff. It was voted that the Cormnittee draw up a draft of the desired schoolhouse and call for sealed bids
to be presented within three months, and that the job be let to the lowest bidder . The "Proposer" was to give good "Security for the performance of the same in a good and workmanlike mannero" It was
1 Daniel Strange, Autobiographyo
2 From the minutes of the meeting, as found in this first record book of the District. Most of our subsequent material will be drawn from the school recordso
History of Oneida School District No. 3
voted that the old log school and the "appertenances therunto belonging" would be sold at auction to the highest bidder, after a proper notice
of the auction. And finally they voted to raise "fifty cents" to buy a "blank book for district reckords ." This first record book, a substantial one, cost only 50¢ in the fall of 1854.
A few days after the meeting Hiram Hardy filed his acceptance as Assessor, and Emmanuel DeGraff filed his willingness to serve as
Moderator . But on Oct.6th, the required 10 day period having expired, it was found that Edward McMullen had not filed "his acceptance as Director ." John Strange was evidently elected Director, by the other members of the board. Edward McMullen was apparently so opposed to
the school move and the building project, that he did not want to be associated with the school business .
At the 1855 Annual Meeting held on Sept.24, it was reported that school had been held for two three-month terms . Theodore J. Thomas has taught for three months for $50 salary, and Ellen C,
Degraff for three months for $19.50. On the frontier it was customary to have a young woman teacher in the summer months, when only the smaller children and girls would attend. The spring and fall months were reckoned to be too busy for school; the children were needed
at home to help in planting and harvesting the crops. In the winter months when farm labor was noticeably lessened, the older boys up
to the age of 16 or even 19, would come to school for perhaps a ''bit of larnin" and fun. They were notably undisciplined. The teacher had to be one who could horsewhip them if need arose, one who would be able to enforce discipline . Always on the frontier, a man would be employed for the winter term. Some moderns might hold that male chauvinism was evident in the mU.ch higher salary paid to the man teacher, but all must agree that he had a bigger school and a tough job . Theodore Thomas and Ellen DeGraff were the last teachers to
be employed in the log school .
History of Oneida School District Noo 3
II. THE ERA OF THE FRAME SCHOOLHOUSE
The Building Committee for the new schoolhouse, informed the schoolboard on February 14, 1855, that they had given out the notice for bids on Nov. 10, 1854, and that "George W .Nichols being the lowest bidder they had led Said Job to him for (400)four hundred dollars ."
A contract had been drawn up, and that day Nichols had given Bond for · the satisfactory performance of the job . The board ordered that Nichols be paid the initial $150 on the contract . Six men on Feb .5th had
called for a notice of a "Special Meeting ••for the purpose of altering the plans and Construction of a School House to be built." This meeting of the district voters occurred on Feb.16, but the plans of the mal-contents suddenly fizzled out. The record of the meeting was simply this: "No business being Presented Meeting Adjourned."
The building project progressed through the spring and summer. By Sept.17, 1855, the Building Committee could report to the school board that the . "School house was Completed and Accepted of by them Sept .1st excepting Painting which is to be done on or before the first day of October 18550" The board proceeded to draw "Orders in favour of George W .Nichols for (250)Two Hundred and fifty dollars to pay for Said House Payable Feb .1st 1856." They also drew orders to pay Irving Guilford $2.23, John Strange $1.00 and Samuel Preston
50¢ for the school record book, thus finally paying the small bills
which had been voted the year before .
The old log schoolhouse was put up at auction on Sept. 22, 1855.
It sold for only $1.02, which was the highest bid received! The old building must have been in terrible shape, justifying the movement
to build the new school !
The first annual meeting "of the qualified voters of School!
District No. 3" held at the new schoolhouse, was on Sept . 24, 1855. The voters elected Thomas Brunger Director . He was a native of England, had lived in New York state briefly, and in Canada West
(Ontario) for 25 years where he had cleared two farms, and only in
May had he come here, purchasing the Huckens farm. Perhaps his education seemed superior, or his knowledge of life in other places . Anyway he was accepted by his new neighbors, and quickly elected Director . Fayette Johnson was elected Moderator)· and Ephraim Stockwell Assessor .
The contract for the schoolhouse was read. The motion was made and seconded that $250 be raised to complete the payment for the schoolhouse. The motion passed by the slimmest of margins, 10 to 9. Those voting in favor were Thomas Brunger; John Strange, Charles Strange, Jasper Preston, Benjamin White, Fayette Johnson, Samuel Preston, Ephraim Stockwell, and Emanuell DeGraff. Among those voting against paying the debt were Edward McMullen, who had been against the new school in the beginning, and surprisingly, Henry Verplank,
who had sold the land for the school . Perhaps now he did not like
History of Oneida School District No. 3
the schoolhouse lot out of his farm; perhaps he was now tax conscious. Only the week before the school board had drawn an order for builder George Nichols for $250 to be paid Febo 1, 1856. The district narrowly missed defaulting on its obligation.
Thomas Brunger recorded that on Oct .24, 1855, two stoves belonging to the district were sold at "Publick Aucton" for $1.69. Evidently
they were not too good. On Nov .3, the director was preparing for
the winter term by buying some small items--one pail, one broom, one chair. Also that day he purchased for the new school a "box Stove" costing $12.50, 33t lbs .of pipe valued at $4.09, and 3 elbows which cost $1.13, a total of $17.72 for the heating plant .
The winter school teacher in 1855-56 was again Theodore Thomas; his salary was now $73. The following summer a three months summer term was taught by Sarah Anne Nichols for $24 salary. The district received $ 36.92 from the township, and from Ephraim Stockwell their assessor, $56 "collected by Rate Bill for School purposes ." One day
the director paid 25¢ for a broom, and 18¢ for turkey down for a chair.
The total cost of maintaining the .school that year was $115.40; the income had fallen short .
The annual meeting in 1856 voted to pay Thomas Brunger $2 for procuring the stove, Samuel Preston 50 cents for stove pipe, a bill
·that was nearly one year old then . They "Voted that there be one Dollar to a schollar be raised to support school"; evidently parents were to pay a dollar for each child, to help balance the budget . In these figures we can sense the poverty of the people, 'the low wages and prices of the times.
South Oneida was still in a frontier condition. There was no road north of our school. Irving Guilford as he cleared his land a mile north of here in 1851-52, found that the hungry deer ate the leaves off the trees felled the day before, by the next morning .
Some of the log cabins of the area were very crude. We are told that the Strange log house, like those of the near neighbors, was of better caste. "The Elm logs were of uniform size and all were pealed of
bark and the ends squared so house corners were even as those of a
brick house. The logs were hewed flat upon the inner side and papered •• The fireplace was of brick•••Upstairs were beds fqr several•••All of
the furniture was "homemade ". "They had no carpets on their floors,
nor any cooking stoves ." A stoop on the back sheltered the grindstone, shaving horse, work bench, etc. , and there were hung the scythes, rakes, and garden tools.l
In 1856 the Stranges b-J.ilt a lc:rge barn . From the roof the boy Daniel saw his last wild deer in the area. Wild turkeys had been common . Perhaps about 1861 Dan Strange, home from co.llege, saw his last wild turkeys across the road where Ed McMullen 's house was later
1 Daniel Strange, Autobiography.
built. In 1857, the Stranges built their large frame house, part of which is still standing. The Thomas Brungers lived in an old log house until about 1864, when they built a fine frame house . William Brunger, a young man of 20, entered the employ of his Unle Thomas
in 1855, and helped clear part of his farm. He bought the first
tread power threshing machine owned in the township, which was operated by horse-power . Thus we see that around 1860, the people in Oneida were struggling to move away from the conditions of the pioneers .
Let us note that in Grand Ledge, the first school had opened in the spring of 1851, with 9 pupils. The settlers tired of using
boats to cross the river, and in 1853 managed to build a wooden bridge. By 1860 Grand Ledge had a population of 225, with 6 stores, 2 wagon shops, a school, one gristmill, one sawmill, 3 blacksmith shops,
2 stoneware factories (where churns and the like were made) , one cooper shop, one cabinet shop, and two asheries (soap and ash products). By 1860, the farmers of South Oneida did not have to go far to get their wheat ground into flour.
The South Oneida annual school meeting in 1857 elected Theodore
J. Thomas, the teacher during the two previous winters, as Director . He served less than a year . The Moderator and Assessor elected, neglected to file their acceptance of their office. The township School Inspectors had to appoint these board members. The annual
meeting also had voted to supply a Webster Dictionary for the school, and that families should supply t cord of "good hard wood" for each
"schollar" within 10 days after the cormnencement of school.
The winter term of school in those years usually cormnenced in mid-November . Salaries remained quite level . F.H.Wells received
$60 for 3 months in the winter of 1856-57; J. V. Jones received $60 for 4 months the next winter, and $63 for 3t months beginning Nov o 15, 1858. Harriet Brooks received $35 for a 4 month term in the summer
of 1857; Lang Monyer received $30.25 for a term of 13 weeks in the summer of 1858; the next summer Lucy Murgan received only $28 for a
14 week term. The 1859 annual meeting called for it cords of hard
wood to be furnished for each pupil; if not brought in, parents must
pay the amount in taxes, by "the rate bill". The voters authorized
$2 for glass and other "repairs about the schoolhouse"; $2.81 to the Director for his services and one pail purchased; 30 cents to John Strange for "one Cup and Broom." The 1858 annual meeting elected
Thomas Brunger Director, Ephraim Stockwell, Moderator; and John Strange Assessor . This board evidently gave satisfaction and served for
three years together.
In the winter of 1861-62 a lady teacher was hired; we surmise that with the outbreak of the Civil War there was a shortage of avail able men teachers. Miss E.D. Bills received $48 salary; the next summer Miss Eszilla Teman received only $16025 for 3 months of summer
school . It was not until November 1864, that a man teacher was hired againo The expenses in 1865 at the close of the war, reveal that the prices of some things had edged upward . A pail cost 46 cents, a broom 45 cents. New Director John Earl paid 10 cents for a key, 5 cents
for a stam for the teacher 's contract (this was being done in a legal manner now) and 10 cents for an Assessors Bond. The Director paid
$1.00 for 10 "pains" of glass , 45 cents for a second broom, 15 cents
for a dippero
In the fall of 1863 it was voted that privies should be built for the school . The raising of $20 was authorized for this purpose .
The Director , now Samuel Preston, was to draw a plan for them "and
let the job of building them to the lowest bidder, after having posted notices of said letting at least ten days previous." A second notable advance came two years later, when it was voted to raise $35 (a large sum at that time) for a "Kit of Books bought of Adams Blackman & Co."
Apparently the school would now have a small library for the first time .
Our second school record book, a large one, was brought out by Adams & Blackmer in 1864, and purchased here in 1865. The book was a practical and helpful one . It contains the proper form for the
notice of the Annual School Meeting, along with a form for the record of the Annual Meetings, the Register of District School Officers and their acceptanceo The book lists the following 12 duties of the School (or District)Board:
1. Employment of Teachers
2. Adoption of Text Books'
3. Auditing Director 's Account of Expenses Incurred
4. Acceptance of Assessor 's Bond
5. Making Conllracts for Building and Repairing
6. Selecting Books for District Library from the list contracted for by the State Board of Education, and ordering same from Contractor .
7. Appointing Officers to fill Vacancy
8. Appointing Librarian for the year
9. Adopting Rules for Library and providing suitable Case and Fixtures for the same.
10. Adopting Rules and Regulations for the Government of the school
11. Exempting indigent persons from payment of Rate Bills, and providing Text Books for such pupils.
12. Admitting non-residents to school, and determining Rates of Tuition for the same .
It appears that now the state had become more active in regulating local education and elevating the standards for district schoolso Now each school was expected to have a library in a suitable bookcase , and a librarian, and books were to be purchased from a state listo This
would mean much in the education of future generations of pupilso
In the fall of 1865 the Board contracted for wood for winter school at $1 per cord; and hired John Strange to teach the winter term at $24 a month . The wood bill was $15. The following year it was $15 for 17 cords, and $40 was voted to repair the schoolhouse . In 1867 the annual meeting voted to pay $10 for wood, the job to be let to the bidder furnishing the most cords for that amount . Henry Verplank agreed "to furnish twelve and one half (12t)cords, Maple
& Beach sound body wood, on the school house yard, nicely piled, on or before the first day of January 1868."
Let us look at district finances in this period. The Board started the year 1867-68 with no money. They received from the 2-mill tax $37.70, from the Primary School Fund $27.72, from Rate-bills
$49.58, other district taxes $38.00, and other sources 14 cents, for a total of $153.14. The winter salary that year soared to a high of
$100, and Mary Strange who taught the next summer received $39. The district must have just squeaked by financially. The next year they were in the red. In 1870 when the income jumped to $258.85, the district became solvent. That year the district began receiving a small amount of dog tax.
In December 1866 considerable repair work was done on the school house, now 11 years old. The following expenses were recorded: for mason work $7.50; for glass, nails, putty, broom, etc. $3; for car penter work, a team and material, $25.38; work done by John Earl
$6.62; work done by Edward Earl $2.50; Elzy Edwards team and work
$8.15; Henry Verplank 62t¢; mason work $6; for lime, hair, nails, putty, and tacks, $10.90. It is not made clear what the repairs or renovation was at that time.
The first school census recorded in our record book, was made by John Earl, Director, in 1867. The school census included all the
children and youth from the age of 5 through the age of 19. The District
School had to take youth in their upper teens if they appeared. The school census, or potential for winter school, was large with 45 potential pupils! They were as follows: Eugene Edwards Age 16, Elzey Edwards 14, Louise Edwards 12, Charles Edwards 5, George Wright 13, William Wright 10, Frederick Wright 8, Amelia Trumbull 14, Hattie
Trumbull 10, Cass Trumbull 7, Benj McMullen 14, Edward McMullen 10, Teresa McMullen 8, Louisa McMullen 12, George V.Plank 15, Martha
V.Plank 13, Hiram Cummins 15, Arvilla Cummins 13, Margarette Cummings 7, Kate McMullen 9, Joseph McMullen 15, Dwight Backus 11, Volney Backus 10, Ada Backus 8, Burton Backus 6, Chas Donaldson 13, Alice Donaldson 19, Permenius DeGraff 18, Inez Farewell 11, Dalston Strange 16, John
Strange 18, Anna Brunger 18, Eliza B:runger 16, Thomas Brunger 14,
John Brunger 11, Frederick Brunger 8, Alice Brunger 5, Frank Brunger 15,
Richard Glendenny 12; Chas Clendening 14, Frederick Mitchel 6.
Let me make two observations regarding this census. First, the ages stated are not very accurate . Second, the large census reflects a large population in the countryside, and large families obviously.
Farms or tilled lands were small then; the standard of living was
much lower . The present Brunger farm with two families today supported five families around 1890, and probably that many in 1865. We can
readily imagine that the teacher of the winter school had his hands full.
The 1869 annual meeting, with only a "few legal voters" present, was evidently a difficult one . Mr .Otto was elected Assessor, but refused the honor; William McMullen was then elected. The voters allotted only "two dollars" for wood, and found one willing to furnish 11 cords of beech or maple wood . "A motion was made to put a wall under the school house, also to paint and repair it." But the motion lost by a vote of 3 to 4. Lacking a wall to make the schoolhouse warmer, they then decided to bank the schoolhouse with sawdust, to improve its warmth for the coming winter . The voters then faced their financial situation, and voted to increase their taxes to the sum of
$233.85. The next year the issue of fencing the school yard came up . The clerk recorded that "it was thought best to leave the fencing of school house yard until a new school house was built and then build
a good one." Evidently there was some thought that the schoolhouse, only 15 years old, would not be serviceable too much longer, and that
a new schoolhouse was imminent . The first generation settlers believed in progress; they had already built two schoolhouses.
In the summer of 1869, the school term closed earlier than expected, on July 24, "on account of school being so small--5 scholars ." The
term had started with 18 pupils, 9 boys and 9 girls, of whom 13 with drew during the term. The explanation was recorded thus: "Many of the scholars left school on account of the measles . Others to pick berries & a few to work through harvest ."
In the winter of 1869-70, William R.Davies taught school here for 12 weeks of 5i days each! He received $105 salary, and it was
recorded thereafter, "Taught full time and gave full satisfaction ." The next winter Thomas Henry received a salary of $150 for 16 weeks; it would be 12 years before this figure would be equalled. In the winter of 1871-72, the board hired a woman teacher, Mar-J Parsons.
She had taught here in the summer of 1870, and must have been regarded as a good teacher . She received $84 salary for 14 weeks beginning Nov. 6, plus board at Stranges, "and fires built." The next winter the board hired another woman teacher, Asenath DeGraff, for $35 a
month . The following winter Maria DeGraff received a salary of $122.50.
After that they returned to the earlier pattern of men teachers in the wintertime for some years.
The summer women teachers in this period received from $2.50 to
$4.00 per week . Mary Parsons received $42 for 14 weeks in the summer of 1870; Gertie Thompson $35 for 14 weeks in the summer of 1871;
Mary Parsons received $60 for 15 weeks in the summer of 1872.
The 1871 annual meeting voted to pay for charts ordered by the board. These cost $35.60, a large amount. Were they for the teaching of physiology? The next year the people voted to sell the old stove, apparently too small, and "buy new one 2 sizes larger ." This new
stove cost $14. The wood contract went to John Earl in 1870, to William McMullen in 1871, to Mr .Otto in 1872, to Herman Backus in 1873 at 8 shillings a cord. In 1874 after a motion to build a brick school had lost, a motion was made to reconsider the fence vote and "build a plain hard wood board fence, Oak posts to be capped."
This motion carried unanimously. The public is indeed unpredictable.
The 1875 contract for'the Cutting & delivery of the wood was Taken by Thomas Brunger Sr at 84 Cts per cord." This was a time of depression, the price of wood was low. Note that this wood was "to be sound
beech & Maple wood, said wood to be Delivered and split fine and piled on a School House ground." This was a lot of work.
The 1870's were a time of depression, but the teachers'salaries here did not decline·appreciably. After the high mark of $150 for the winter teacher in 1870-71, we see such salaries for the winter
teachers as $84 (plus board, _ and fires built), $122.50, and in 1877-78,
$130. The summer term tended to become longer in the '70's, from 16 to 20 weeks . Summer salaries sometimes were quite high. Mary Strange in the summer of 1875 received $95, plus board half time, for a 20 week term. Two summer teachers in 1874 received $140 _ apparently. On the other hand, the teachers in the summers of 1878 and 1879, taught 16 weeks, and received only $48. In March 1879, Burt Backus a lad of 14, was paid $5 for building the fires through the winter term.
The school expenses in the last century seem ridiculously low to us today . In 1876 the board paid $2.50 for banking and repairing
the schoolhouse, $1.25 for repairing the seats, and $2.50 for cleaning the schoolhouse. One expenditure for glass, putty, and nails, was
one dollar. An iron kettle for ashes cost $1, a stove shovel 35¢,
a broom 35¢, a box of crayons 30¢, a wash dish 40¢, and a tin cup 10¢. In 1870-71, the total expense of operating our school was $242.32.
In 1878-79, the expenditures were only $199.30.
Evidently in November 1877, part of the schoolhouse was replastered.
The board paid $2 for plastering, $1 for one barrel of lyme, $1 for one load of sand, 50 cents for one bushel of hair, and $2 for mixing and tending the mortar . The board purchased a teacher 's bell, for
$1.00. We note that the school census remained high throughout the 1870's. In 1870 the census stood at 34, in 1871, 39; succeeding
figures were 41, 43, 41, 37, 41.
Apparently some of the leaders in South Oneida, had been thinking for several years, that District No .3 ought to build a good brick schoolhouse! When the issue of fencing the school yard came up in 1870, it was defeated. The clerk noted that "it was thought best
to leave the fencing of school house yard until a new school house was built." At the annual meeting Sept.1, 1873, a motion was made
to build a "brick school house in said District during summer of 1874."
The motion lost by a vote of 4 yeas and 9 nays . A motion was made to start putting money into a sinking fund for this purpose, but it also lost . At the 1879 annual meeting on Sept.1, it was voted to raise $75 to repair the school house, and that the Board could use its discretion as to whether more money needed to be spent.
Some of the leaders felt strongly that it was unwise to spend so much money on the old frame schoolhouse, now 24 years old. Six legal voters, Thomas Brunger, William McMullen, Edwin Raldall, F.Ro
Sherman, William De8oo, and James M. Clark, petitioned for a special meeting which was held on Sept.11, 1879. John S.Strange made the motion that a school house be built within one year . It passed barely; 14 votes affirmative and 12 votes negative . The voters were out in force. T.Trumble made the motion that "we build a brick school house this fall." Evidently the pro forces were organized. This passed
by a vote of 15 to 9. Herman Backus, William DeCoo and Alford Mitchell were elected the Building Committee. John S.Strange moved that
$500 be raised toward the cost; the motion passed 13-0. John McMullen then moved that the new schoolhouse should not cost more than one thousand dollars; the motion passed 18-0. A new brick schoolhouse was to be built.
But after this crucial meeting, some of the people remembered that they had forgotten to rescind the action of the annual meeting
to repair the old schoolhouse . So it was necessary to call a special meeting the next week on Sept .18. We read in the record: "A Special meeting called by the Board to take in consideration the recinding
the vote of annual meeting of raising $75 for repairing of house also to authorize the Board to hire money also to in-large school house site ." The citizens voted to rescind their vote to repair the old schoolhouse, to rescind the vote passed for a four months school,
to authorize the Board to give bonds "and hire $500••to apply on new house." Nothing was done about enlarging the school site; this proposal would wait for 40 years. A motion was made and carried that "we sell old house tonight to the highest bidder and to be moved off the ground within ten daysa" The old schoolhouse was sold to Elzy Edwards for the sum of $3.50!
The last teacher in the old frame schoolhouse, was Florence Goodrich, who taught a 16 weeks summer term, beginning May 18, 1879, for the salary of $48. It was recorded of her that she was "A good teacher, No. l."
History of Oneida School District No .3
III. THE BRICK SCHOOL IN ITS FIRST CENTURY
The school officials moved with dispatch and things happened that fall of 1879. The old schoolhouse was quickly removed from its corner. The Building Committee contracted with George Campbell to build the new brick school at once . The Board sold bonds to raise
$500, and levied $660 in taxeso The new school took shape rapidly and was completed by late December, so that a winter school term
could be held. It was a neat looking building; with its two-tone brick exterior it had class. On Dec. 23, the District paid George Campbell $992.94 "for building the schoolhouse." On Dec o 17, the District had paid the Racine Coo $148025 for the new schoolseatso
Joseph Otto, Director, was paid $4 for repairing the old privy, banking the new school, and picking up the yardo He was also paid $5 for
four trips to Potterville with horse and wagon, to freight the seats, and for cleaning the school after the builders were through . The Board paid Campbell $1.50 for varnishing on Deco 31, and the new building was finished and ready . Further supplies purchased for
the new school were a water pail 9osting 60¢, a broom 25¢, a dipper
20¢, and a box of crayons 25¢.
The first term in the new brick schoolhouse began Deco 29, 1879 and ran until March 20, 18800 G.Do Blasier was the first teacher . Mattie Kaufman taught that summer for four months beginning May 10, and received only $40. At the 1880 annual meeting it was decided
to build two "Brick Privies this fall." They were built, the old
ones destroyed, and the school ground had a more attractive appearanceo The privies were paid for in July 1881, and their cost was $150.54.
The debt on the new school was retired by January 18820 The 1882 · annual meeting voted to raise $30 for grading the school groundso In 1883 it was decided to ·purchase "A bell for the school houseo" Much progress had been made in a short timeo
The Board switched again to a woman teacher, Ella Farnsworth for the winter of 1880-81, and she was the next summer 's teacher. She received $104 for 4 months of teaching in the winter, and $56 for 4 months in the summer . Evidently the summer school attendance was still markedly less, and the job was regarded as easiero The next three winters men teachers were employed; the following two
winters women teachers presided over the school. M.A. Jones received a high salary of $152 for the winter of 1882-83. For the winter of 1887-88, the Board turned to a man teacher again, Howard Hall. He taught 4 months beginning Nov .7, and received $120 salaryo He was the last man teacher to be employed for many yearso The frontier conditions had passed away. No longer did older teen-agers throng into the school in the wintertime, to make things difficult for the
teacher . School teaching was becoming regarded as primarily a woman 's job.
At the 1884 annual meeting, the people had a difficult time electing an Assessor, evidently the least popular of the three offices on the Board. On the second ballot J.C. Beekman was elected, but he declined to serve. On the third ballot A .Quantrel was elected; he
declined the office. On the fourth ballot J.M. Clark, a former director, was elected. The people voted "to open the schoolhouse for political campaign speeches ." In earlier times schoolhouses had been extensively used for religious services, political meetings, and social and com munity events generally.
At the 1885 annual meeting, a wood contract for 5 cords of beech or maple wood, n20 inches long, split fine and piled in ranks on the school ground", was awarded to Thomas R. Brunger for $1.25 per cord. Evidently there was a need of wood delivered soon during the busy season, and a higher price had to be paid. A second contract for 15
cords of wood, with the same specifications, was let to Charles Brunger at 99¢ per cord; this wood did not have to be delivered and nicely piled until Jan.15. The voters agreed further to buy a new Webster 's Unabridged Dictionary.
In the middle 1880's, our scool district suddenly swung toward the modern school year, with school held in the fall, winter, and spring months, and recess in the summertime! The frontier custom of
a winter and summer term was still in vogue here in 1884. E.P.Tanner taught in the winter of 1883-84 for $140 salary. A summer teacher in 1884 received $40 on June 28; perhaps the summer term was ending early on that date. The frontier pattern of subsistence farming was now
long past . As the farmers harvested larger crops of grain in mid surmner or late surmner, they probably began to feel that this was the time of year they most needed help from their children . Mer y F. Moore evidently taught a fall term in 1884; she received $45 on
Oct. JO, and $15 more on Nov. 15. Then she proceeded to teach a long
winter term, running to the end of March . Grace C. Dow taught a fall term in 1885, receiving $45 salary; a winter term in 1885-86, with a salary of $80, and a spring term with a salary of $56.25. Suddenly a transition had been made, in the school year.
For several years the school recognized a fall term, a winter term, and a spring term. Usually there was a two-weeks break, or more between terms . The fall term in 1886 began Sept .10 and ended Nov. 9; the winter term began Nov . 24, 1886 and ended Mar. 11, 1887; the spring term began April 4 and ended June 10, 1887. In 1891-92 terms were no longer set up . The first regular school year as we
know it came that year; school began Sept.7 and concluded on June 12.
It was not until 1896 that Michigan Agricultural College turned to
a modern school year, and eliminated their traditional winter recess that had enabled college students to go forth and teach winter terms in district schools.l
1 Madison Kuhn, Michigan State The First Hundred Years (The Michigan State University Press, 1955), p .254
The school census for 1888 listed only 26 potential scholars for District No. 3, 10 of whom were 16 to 19 years of age. The following names appeared on the list: James Backus 19, Clyde Backus 14, Ella Strange 16, Mary Strange 12, John Strange 8, Mattie Brunger 7, Keith
Otto 17, May Otto 19, May Brunger 14, Myrtie Clark 17, Nellie Mitchel 19, George Trumbell 16, Jay Edwards 17, z.Edwards 16, Clara Ball 19,
Mina Root, 14, Eddie Beekman 10, Rozettie Robinson 11, Archie Robinson 15, Harry Brunger 7, Cliff Brunger 5, Altha Hickock 11, Montie Strange 5,
Louise Strange 7, George McMullen 5, Ray Leaparrell 5o A notable school picture was taken that year by a Grand Ledge photographer, and was preserved by Cliff Brunger. By 1893 the census went up to 38, and the school must have been fairly large again. ·
The voters in 1886 decided to exchange the National Readers which had been in use in the school, for the new Barnes Readers! The 1891 school meeting decided that the Board should repair the blackboards
and "all other necessary repairs including the out houses & painting the Cupola of the school house." The 1894 annual meeting instructed the Board to pay an assessment of the Ionia, Eaton & Barry Insurance Co. of $160. The assessment was high, but the people wanted to keep the schoolhouse protected with insurance. They also voted to pay half the expense of building a fence between the school "site" and the A.B.
Quantrell farmo The 1898 meeting rejected a motion to have free text books, an idea promoted by the state.
Between 1886 and 1899, our school evidently had a series of able teachers; most of them were complimented in the School Register.
Florence Ame.s in the fall of 1886 and Mattie Campbell in the spring and fall of 1887, "Gave Good Satisfaction." Of Howard Hall (winter of 1887-88)it was recorded, "Have heard no complaint ." Of Jessie Hancock in the winter of 1889 and the fall and winter of 1889-90,
it was recorded, "Taught a good school." Myrtie Clark taught 4 terms in 1890-91; it was recorded that she "Taught a good School" or "Gave excelant (sic) satisfaction ." The author remembers that she was a favorite teacher of his father 's. Myrtie Clark taught a 10 weeks fall term in 1890 from Sept.1 through Nov. 7; a 4 months winter term from
Nov. 24 to March 20; and a 10 weeks spring term from April 5 to June 12.
She received $20 a month for the fall and spring terms, and $25 a month for the winter term; a total of $200. In 1891-92, for the first time, a 9 months school was taught, and no differential allowed for winter teaching.
Perhaps it was a bit hard for the teachers just at first, to adjust to the idea of teaching a long nine months' stretch . In that epochal year, 1891-92, Myrtie Clark taught 6 months, Ada Parsons 3 months . The next year Ada taught 6t months, Helen Wheaton 2t months.
The following year Myrtie Clark returned to teach 9 months for the
sum of $260, and "Gave excelant (sic) satisfaction." Mary (or Mamie) Palmiter taught next for two years and "Gave good satisfaction."
Clifford Brunger remembered her well 70 years later, kept a picture of her, and stated that she lived 3 miles south. Did she drive to school with horse and buggy in the fall and winter months, and keep her horse in the church sheds across the road, as some later teachers did? We wonder . She also "Gave good satisfaction."
For the year 1896-97, Mamie Strange was the teacher . Her salary was $222. Her young cousin Helen Strange, wrote of her in complimentary terms . "She was by far the best teacher we ever had. She gave us
much that was outside the textbook . How I loved the books she read aloud to us; and the quotations which she wrote on the board and we memorized each week, and remained with me .111 Helen also wrote of the discipline problem caused by her big brother Montey, now a lad of
14 or more . The other boys Montey's age had graduated the spring before, but Montey had not passed. "Montey, the one big boy of the school, was somewhat unruly. When Mamie felt she could take no more, she kept him after school to talk things over . She gave him his choice of three things, she would give him a whipping, or she would talk to his father about his behavior, or he could decide to behave. He chose the last.111
The next teacher was Alice B. Van Auken of Potterville, an attrac tive and intelligent young woman, likewise remembered 70 years later
by Clifford Brunger who kept her picture. She was 18 when she came here, had attended the State Normal School (probably one summer) and had passed the examinations in Charlotte on Aug. 19-20, 1897, with
generally high marks, such as 90 in U.S.History, 95 in Grammar, 90 in School Law, and 85 in Orthography.2
A later teacher in our school had not fared so well in the examinations for prospective teachers in the summer of 1898. She received 41 in arithmetic, 40 in civil government, 20 in school law, along with higher marks of 92 in reading and 81 in penmansh ip. No certificate was issued for her then. She must have persevered and done better in a later exam.
The county records reveal that two visits were made to our school in the year 1891-92. On an October day Myrtie Clark was rated "good" in her ability to govern, to instruct, and to gain and hold attention . The seating capacity of the school was given as 36. The desks were 'suitable '. The school had a dictionary but lacked maps, globes, and charts . There was no well. The condition of the outbuildings was
· poor, of the grounds fair. The School had the adopted course of study, and taught the effects of narcotics and communicable diseases . Miss Clark had had 3 years of teaching experience.
1 Recollections of Helen Strange Allured, passed on to the author in a letter from Mary McMullen LaBatt, April 1979.
2 "Register of Examinations Held at Charlotte", in the archives of the Eaton County Intermediate Office.
At the annual meeting Septo 5, 1898, the people supported a motion "to Build Wood house 12 x 16.11 No longer would the wood have to be piled carefully against the schoolhouse to keep it somewhat out of the rain and snow; it could be thrown into a large woodshed where it would keep dry . If the wood had to be split, this could be done away from rain or snowo A woodshed was simple to build. Oliver Doan received only $7, for the building of it. Bills were presented, from the Hall Lumber Co. for $20.09, from Clark Hardware Co. $1.54, for moving wood
$1.00. A man was paid $1.50 for hauling material for the woodshed. Two gallons of paint cost $2.60, and a man received $1.50 for painting the new building . It appears that the new wood house cost the mag nificent sum of $35.23. A bill for a "Flag rope" amounting to one
dollar, was also paid at this timeo Evidently the school had a flagpole. Progress was being made .
The annual meetings in this period often did little more than elect the needed officers . No longer did they worry about procuring a proper supply of wood; they left this up to the school board. The people of the connnunity had mellowed; they were more agreeable and
tolerant. It is notable that officers now often served much more than a three-year term. Tom Ro Brunger served 12 years as Assessor from 1890 to 1902. A.Bo Quantrell served 12 years as Moderator, from 1895 to 1907. The McMullen family monQpolized the office of Director during this time; Joe serving from 1894 to 1900; Edward (his brother) from 1900 to 1906, and George in 1906-1907. A little earlier Joseph Otto served as Director 6 years, 1876 to 1882, and John S.Strange as Moderator for 9 years, 1883 to 1892. The active and permanent families were generally tapped for public service, sooner or later .
We have records of occasional school board meetingso The Board on Sept.13, 1889, held an important meeting at the residence of
Joseph Otto, then the Assessor. The Board voted "to adopt the following textbooks to be used in our school viz. Harpers new series of Readers- Harpers Geography's--Swinton's Grammar & language lessons--Pattersons Speller--Robinsons new complete Arithmetic ••--Webster Wells Algebra- Barnes History--Steel's Physiology--Young's Civil Government-
Chittendens elements of English Composition." The Board voted "that the Teacher be instructed not to allow any other text books to be used in the school after Monday Sept. 23, 1889.11
It is interesting to note that the school board, once at least, met in a barn . On Dec. 5, 1891 the board met in the barn of Dalton
Strange; there were two members present, T.R. Brunger and J.S.Strange . Strange, the Moderator, recorded, "The Director, S,C. Trumble, having removed from the district, the Board appointed J.M .McMullen to fill
the vacancy." This Board on Feb.17 met at the McMullen home and voted to "purchase a Teachers Anatomical Aid."
A special meeting of the district tax payers was held at the schoolhouse on Feb .10, 1896. The voters decided to establish a distric t library . The district had had a library years before, apparently it had been allowed to lapse. The 1865 annual meeting
had voted to raise $35 (a large sum at that time) for a "Kit of Books ." In 1896 I suspect that the people were helped to this noble decision, by small allotments of library moneyo In 1900-01, the district
received $6 library moneyo Since 1896 the School has always had a library.
The finances of the period around the turn of the century may
be illustrated by the year 1900--0L Director Ed McMullen on Sept .2, 1901 gave this report of the year 's receipts : Balance on hand at the beginning of the year $55.42; November Primary $42090; May Primary
$12.00; Mill Tax $130.15; Voted Tax $140.00; Dog Fund $).90; Library money $6.00, for a total of $390.340 The district had paid a salary of $234 for 9 months, $75.55 for seats, $5 for labor, $8.40 for wood,
37¢ for repairs, $1 for repairs on the stove; $1 for a school register,
$2 to the Eaton Barry Co. , $2.26 to the Ionia Co .; 25¢ freight on
the seats, $1 for flagpole repairs, 30¢ for a broom, $2.45 for cleaning the schoolhouse, and 35¢ for chalk, a total of $334.23 in expenditures .
A nice balance of $56.14 was on hand, approximately the same as the
year before. Inflation was not raging; costs remained quite stationary.
The time of the Annual School Meeting was July. Always before it had been in Septembero
changed in 1905 to early The 1904 annual meeting
was held at "Eight PM Sept .5th." · But in 1905 the annual meeting was held on July 10; in 1906 on July 9.
We have in our school record book , the Contracts between the District Board and the Teacher for many years, beginning with the contract that John Earl Director, made with Helen R. Teman for the summer term in 1865. A loose leaf penciled contract dated 1906, follows the form of 1865! This contract was made between "Geo S McMullen of District No .Three (3) in the Township of Oneida ••And Miss G.Faith Otto, a legally qualified Teacher in said Township."
The contract stated that "the said G.Faith Otto shall teach the Primary School of said District for the term of Nine months, commencing on the Fourth day of September, A.D.1906, and the said
G. Faith Otto agrees faithfully to keep the List and Record required
by law, and to observe and enforce the Rules and Regulations established by the District Board.
"The said Geo S McMullen, in behalf of said District, agrees to keep the School House in Good repair, and to provide the necessary Fuel, and to pay said G.Faith Otto for the said services as teacher, to be faithfully and truly rendered and performed, the sum of Two Hundred and Eighty Eight Dollars ($288.00) •• to be paid on or before the Tenth Day of June, 1907.
"Provided that in case Faith Otto shall be dismissed from School, by the said District Board for gross immorality or violation of this contract, or shall have her Certificate annulled by the School Ins pectors or Examiners, she shall not be entitled to any compensation from and after such annulment or dismissal.
In Witness Whereoff, We have hereunto subscribed our names this Thirtieth Day of July, A .D. 1906
Geo S McMullen, Director Faith Otto Teacher
Approved by A B Quantrell Moderator
E W Barnes Assessor"
It is interesting to recall that the Director and Teacher that year
fell in love, and they were married in 1908. Quantrell as the Teasurer was bonded that year for $1000, signed by the board members . Director George McMullen was also a Notary Public, and this was handy for the board.
By 1903 the school was burning considerable coal, along with wood.
Coal gave out more heat, held the heat better, and eliminated some of the work connected with wood for the women teachers. Coal was about
$4040 a ton then, which probably seemed fairly expensive as compared with wood . A July report mentioned four purchases of coal, one for 2565 lbs .at a cost of $5.56; a second for 2900 lbs.priced at $5.80;
a third was 2330 lbs .($4.95) and the fourth for 2310 lbso cost $4.60. Such an amount of coal, a little over a ton, would be slowly freighted out from town by a farmer 's horses and wagon . In 1907 two purchases
· of coal cost $14.90, and wood purchased came to $8040. In the 1920's, wood and coal were still being used together in a similar way.
In the early years of the century, the cost of many items was still very lowo The District bought a new stove for $18.80 in the year 1903-04, and paid 50¢ to have it hauled out from town . The District paid $2.25 for coal hauling, and 50¢ for wood hauling. The board paid for erasers 15¢ and chalk 50¢ (duplicating this purchase later), $2 for insurance, $2050 for cleaning the schoolhouse, and
50¢ for mowing the yard . In 1907 ten cents was paid for hinges,
15¢ for a door latch, $3.75 for curtains, $2.75 for record books, 25¢ for a door panel, and 87¢ for window glass . Chalk cost 25¢, a dust pan 10¢, erasers and blacking 35¢.
By 1910 Eaton County had a County Commissioner of Schools, Cynthia A. Green, whose duty it was to visit all the schools, and make reports and evaluations of the grounds, buildings, and work of the teachers . She visited South Oneida School on Nov. 2 that yearo
Fern Wilson was the teacher; she was a graduate of County Normal and had taught one year . Her salary was $45 a month, $405 for the year, a large increase from 5 years before. It was stated that she took two teacher 's journals, that 17 pupils were present of 19 enrolled
and their deportment was good, but the teacher was only rated at C+. The property was in bad shape. The grounds were not clean, the house not clean; one outbuilding had been abused and the door was off; the desks were rated as medium . There was no ventilation and no water,
but the school had a flag. The school had maps, a globe, a dictionary, charts, and pictures, but no organ . The educational hierarchy at that
time were promoting organs in schools, with no thought for the limited number of teachers who could have played them! The School used the Baldwin Readers, and followed the adopted course of study. The teacher had sent for books to aid her in teaching about communicable diseaseso Thus runs the 1910 report.
When the County School Commissioner visited in December 1913, she found one outbuilding "sadly out of repair", and the school had no well. But she had good things to report . The teacher, Marian Dunning, was a "good teacher" and the schoolhouse and grounds were neat. The school was still using the Baldwin Readers, along with
Milne's Arithmetic, Morton 's Geography, Montgomery 's History, Overton 's Physiology, Alexander 's Speller. The number of books in the library
was reported at 77.
By Sept. 22, 1961, our school had a well. There are no reports in existence for 1914 and 19L5 in Charlotte, and I am not able to give a precise date for the wello This was surely a step foreward.
For ten years, from 1907 to 1917, our school had a heavy pre ponderance of girls. Nellie Burman Ireland who began her "unforget table days'at the Strange" in 1912, writes that "it seemed we had many more girls than boys in those early days." This was correcto
In 1912-13 our school had 5 boys and 15 girls, a ratio of 3 to 1.
The next year the score was 7 to 14; in 1916-17 it was 4 to llo
Zulu Walters was the able teacher here for two years, 1911-130 Her salary of $J60 the first year, was jumped to $450 the next, as she was well liked. She drove a horse and buggy from her home 2t
miles southwest, leaving the horse and buggy in the church sheds across the road. Nellie remembers playing " Spy" and "May I?" in recess periods in her early years at school . Also that each pupil had his "own cup hanging on a hook in the hall;" but this was after the well
was installed o l Frances Strange Catey who also started school in 1912, remembers a kind of uniform dress for the girls, dark blue dresses
with a big belt and two buckles on either sideo 2 Nellie recalls how the pupils enjoyed the Christmas exercises and party.1
The author 's memory of our school starts with 1917. The teacher in 1917-18 was Lepha M. Bateman, but she went by the name of Mildred. She was well liked, and even our dyspeptic school connnissioner rated her at B+. Her salary was $55 a month, or $495 for the year . The school had suddenly changed that year. It was large and well balanced
with 14 boys and 16 girls, and she had all eight grades to teach .
The school had 73 books in its library, a flag, a globe, maps, but
no large school dictionary. The school had a pleasant aspect to one small boy . It had new desks; and several pictures on the walls, including portraits of Washington and Lincoln.
1 Letter to the author, April 6, 1979
2 In a discussion of our memories of schooldays, April 6, 1979
The school board at this time and for years thereafter, consisted on Montie Strange Director, Clifford Brunger Moderator, and Ervin Burman Treasurer. The Moderator was elected to the board in 1913,
the Treasurer in 1914, and they served for about 20 years . D. M. Strange was elected in 1915, and served at least 10 years . Generally speaking the teachers did not have too much trouble with discipline, for it was talked in school that the board would back the teacher up . It was known that Cliff Brunger had been a champion wrestler in college and the other board members were strong men and farmers too.
Let us glance at the district finances at this time . This year the Treasurer handled over $1,000 for the first time . In July 1917, the board had $144.45 in the general fund and $2 I2 in the library fund . The district received from the primary school interest fund
$208.80, from district taxes $673.92, and from the library fund
(penal fines) $2.03, giving the board $1,031.33 to handleo The salary was $495, the district paid $80 tuition for four graduates in high school, and $107.18 for general purposes, leaving a fine balance of
$349.20 to start the next year .
Our teacher in 1918-19 was Myandia Shaw. The school was large that year; in the winter I believe attendance soared to well over 30, and seats had to be brought in. The ordinary arrangement then was
for two rows of eight seats and desks each on the south side, two shorter rows of six seats and desks each on the north side because the stove was in the northwest ·corner, and a short row of 3 or 4 seats in the middle at the back, giving a seating of Jl or so. In the front there was a bench to the right of center, the recitation bench, on which a class sat when it was called forward to recite. The teacher 's desk was in the middle at the fronto
We have the record of the "School Census of District No. three of the township of Oneida ••for the school year ending July 8, 1918, as taken by D M Strange in a house to house canvass, during the last fifteen days next preceding June 1. D.M. Strange above named being duly sworn, says that the following is a correct list, as taken by
him of the names and ages of all children belonging to District No .3 aforesaid, five years of age and under twenty years ••
Subscribed and sworn to this 24th day of June, 1918 Before me
John B .Strange Justice of the Peace ." The census listed 39 children and youtt.-, with the names and ages,
and name of the father or guardian. Of these eight were 15 years old or above, and not in - school.'
At the end of the year Miss Shaw reported 28 pupils; the county report in May gives the same figure. But the Holbrook family with three girls, the Phelps family with two children, and Rev. Ogle's family with one daughter, had moved away by May . It was a well balanced school, with eight grades and no less than 3 in any grade . I believe there were 3 Eighth Graders--Mable Beemer, Margaret Beemer, and Lloyd Dunn who was sweet on Mable; in the spring I remember his
- singing "ff-K-K-Katie", a popular song just then to her . Later they were married o
Miss Shaw had attended the Ypsilanti Normal School and had a life certificate . She was a disciplinarian and kept a razor strap
in her desk, as a threat. On one oceasion, the why of which I do not remember, Miss Shaw used her strap on several of the big girls in school, a frightening experience to a little boy . On the other hand she gave more parties than other teachers of the time; I remember carrying home in a napkin from one of these, some large pieces of homemade candy, and probably a cookie or two.
Early that year came the climactic event of Armistice Day, the sudden delirious news that the war in Europe was over . On that day, Nov. 11, 1918, all the school bells were kept ringing. Different larger pupils were given the coveted task of keeping our bell ringing. In the afternoon, around 1:45 p.m., our bell ringer turned the bell over. To our chagrin our bell was silent. At afternoon recess we could hear the bells of the Earl and Oneida Center, or perhaps the Doane, but our school was no longer in the celebration. The next morning a school board member came to climb up and restore our bell
to a ringable position.
I remember well being in the second grade . The seventh grade that year studied "Snowbound"; I 9at and listened to them and learned the opening lines which they went over a lot as the teacher explained that this poem was in iambic tetrameter . In the spring they studied "Evangeline", and ever after I remembered how that poem begins with
the "murmuring pines and the hemlocks" and includes a sad love story.
We used to listen to other classes a good bit. This was a big
advantage of country school; the small children learned from the bigger.
The big girls could help the small children put on their wraps in the winter, or sometimes as a treat carry them on their backs at recess, or give other attention that the little children loved.
In the spring of 1919 a fine new chimney was built on the back
of the school, and a large new Hero room heater installed. One little boy crawled into the opening at the bottom of the chimney and could hardly be extricated. The school board that year spent the large sum of $320.06 for general purposes. The County Commission on her visit in May listed for ventilation--"Heater-good" .
The Cormnissioner made an unusually long visit on May 1, of 2
hours and 10 minutes, instead of the usual 30 minutes or so. Evidently there had been some complaints . The deportment of the pupils was
listed as "fair to good" , and the teacher was given an estimate of C-. The grounds were rated as good, but small. The desks were single and "not old,the outbuildings were fair, and the House was of brick and clean!"
At the end of the year Miss Shaw gave all the pupils a lovely printed School Souvenir, with a colored front cover showing an American eagle and flag over the western hemisphere, and below a picture of
the Statue of Liberty. American pride, patriotism, and idealism,
were in evidence . Between the pictures was the verse,
"Rise up! proud eagle, ride up to the clouds
Spread thy broad wings o'er this fair Western World Fling from thy beak our dear banner of old
Show that it is still for freedom unfurled."
Below was the motto "Knowledge is the only jewell that will not decay ." Inside was a drawing of a country school,with a message .
This little momento is of slight value now; but if you find it among other keep-sakes in years to come, it will prove to be a treasured possession--reminding you of friends who help to mold your character and career .
I hope that you will look back upon this school-year as a
bright spot in your lifeo My best wishes go with you. Your Teacher ."
On the next inside page was a list of the 28 pupils at the close
of the year as follows: Mable Beemer, Margaret Beemer, Bernice Shrontz, Erma Burman, Lloyd Dunn, Kale Miner, Frances Strange, Nellie Burman, Mildred Miner, Zenith Whitman, Harold Strange, Arlo Catlin, Donald Shrontz , Dorothy McMullen, Thelma Catlin, Royce Williams, Helen
Katherine Strange, Carl Cook, Carrol Shrontz, Vaughn Williams, Joseph Otto, Raymond McMullen, Ronald Brunger, Boyd Burman, John Strange, Earl Brunger, John Catlin, and Orley Phelps .
In 1919-20, our teacher was Helen Ingler . With the prosperity of the farmers at the end of World -War I (when the price of wheat jumped to $2 a bushel) and general inflation, Miss Ingler's salary had risen to $75 a month . One fall morning in 1919, a neighbor came while our family was at breakfast and protested to my father Cliff Brunger (who had been on the school board for six years) over this outrageously high salaryo My father patiently held that this salary was necessary and in line.
The County School Commissioner came by to visit our school on Oct.22. She would tiptoe quietly through the front door, the entry way, and one of the two doors into the schoolroom; suddenly she was there . Her visits were a cause of nervousness and trepidation for the teacher, and somehow we pupils always felt a bit afraid of her .
She made her evaluation in 40 minutes. The desks were single and new .
The flag; a new one was needed. The school had maps, a globe, 10 good pictures, and 87 volumes in the library, but no organ . The teacher was a graduate of Ypsilanti Normal , and had one year 's
experience . The deportment of the school was good, but the commissioner graded the teacher with a 'C'. But an impression gained in one short visit could be wrong.
I have no hesitation in recording that the Commissioner was wrong, and that Miss Ingler was an efficient and creative teacher. She was thin, active, and keen mentally; she had no problems with discipline. As we went into the year, she introduced a geography class in the afternoon for th third grade . She read a book on the life of the Eskimos over a period of time, which fascinated us, and
then moved to a book on the life of natives living in a tropical jungle village . From that time on geography was a most interesting subject to at least one of her pupils. That year the school had one day off for the County Fair in Charlotte, two days off for County Institute for the teachers, Armistice Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the last day of school. Probably that was the first year that the last day was celebrated, with a program and a ball game . The year before we had walked joyfully home after school hours, with our report cars indicating that we had passed to the next grade .
The teachers in those years generally boarded and roomed at the Montie Strange home, the largest in the neighborhood, or on occasion with George McMullens Cars were undependable then, and often put up during winter months; the roads were poor and at times impassable
from snow in the winter, or from mudholes in the spring. Lilah Miles, our next teacher, roomed at the John B. Strange home.
Through my years in this school from 1917 to 1925, we always had a large school and could field baseball games in the spring without difficulty. Recreation was a great advantage of the country school . We always had games on our minds to play. It might be Pom-Pom-Pull away, or Every Man 's Bye, or Tag, -or Red Rover, or Prisoner 's Goal,
or Stealing Sticks . It might be One-Old-Cat if not too large a group wanted to play ball, or Anti-I over the School House, or regular baseball which in later years tended to be softball. Usually we
would concentrate on one game for a while, and then turn to another . We had morning recess of 15 minutes, 10:30 to 10:45 usually. The noon hour ran from .12 to 1, minus the time for eating lunch, a preciou s hour. Then we .had a 15 minute afternoon recess at 2:15 or 2:30.
Recess always seemed short; all too soon the bell rang for us to go back into the schoolhouse. School always ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p .m.
We did not play after school. Soon after 4, we were walking in pairs or groups in one of the four directions out from school, lunch-pail in hand.
I had a red, rectangular tin lunch-pail, with a tray in the top for dessert. Some pupils often had fried-egg sandwiches; I often had hard boiled eggs, with a bit of salt and bit of pepper wrapped
in pieces of wax paper . Sandwiches often had jam or jelly, sometimes cheese, occasionally peanut butter (pretty dry stuff in those days) or meat . At times I had a little jar of sauce to moisten the meal, some fruit, or a piece of celery. In the top tray would be a piece of cake, cookies, or maybe a donut.
About 1920 I think, the District bought another half acre to the south doubling the size of the grounds . The County had brought some pressm·e to this end. Now we - had plenty of room for ball games in
the spring, or for 'Fox <rnd Geese' in the winter . This favorite winter game was great fun. A double-circular track was made; this circle
was cut by two straight perpendicu lar tracks into quarters . Then
there was a long tail, a single track looping back and forth in close loops for ready jumping, and ending in a short loopo One fox started out to catch the rest of the pupils who were geeseo The geese could step over from one track to the other in the circle, or jump from loop to loop in the tail, while the fox had to walk around by the track. But as soon as a goose had carelessly, or by design, allowed
himself to be caught, he became a fox. When the foxes had increased to the number of three, they could catch geese readily, and the game speeded up to the inevitable end. We had great fun with this. There was also a line-game that we played in the snow, of the same sort, whose name I have forgotten .
At times in the fall or spring, we would play "Anti-I-Over the School-house" for days, so infatuated with this game would we become . A rubber ball that bounced and was not too hard,was used. At first the sides felt honor bound to throw the ball over the schoolhouse nicely, so that it would probably bound two or three times on the roof, and not be too hard to catch. If someone on the other side caught it, a runner with the ball was chosen, and that side would
pour around the two ends of the school in real or mock pursuit of the people on the other side. Only the person with the ball could actually catch those players. Side I tried to escape the invaders, or at
least the one they guessed would have the ball, and make their way safely around to the other side of the school . Those caught were now on Side II. The object was to get all the players on one side.
Inevitably as time went on the two sides would be at war.
Someone would inadvertently throw the ball a little hard. The other side would have their thrower pitch the ball a little harder so that it would not hit the roof and would be more difficult to catch. The other side would likely respond with a ball thrown a little harder, landing some distance from the schoolhouse. Presently both sides would be utilizing their strongest throwers and the ball might sail far beyond the schoolhouse. The players were dispersed farther and farther out.
Then one side would decide to throw a very nice ball, just clearing the roofpeak and bouncing nicely on the other side. Chances were this ball would not be caught as the players were out afield.
Then this side would be honor-bound to throw a nice ball in return and this one was likely to be caught. So the game went. We might continue the game with the sides as they were at play's end, from recess to noon, to recess, to next day . We had great fun at country school. The leadership came from the pupils, the big boys or girls. Occasionally the teacher would be coaxed outdoors, but usually she was busy with records, or preparing for her next round of classes.
Most of the teachers in my early years, had a School Opening of 15 or 20 minutes, in which we would sing a number of songs from the School Knapsack, and finally give the pledge of allegiance to the flag. The School Knapsacks promoted in Michigan at that time, were
edited by Henry Pettingill, and had been published in Lansing in 1905.
We sang favorite Stephen Foster songs, "Old Folks at Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", "Old Black Joe." We sang songs that we thought were comic as "King of the Cannibal Islands,"(I remember my mother dis approved ot this, but to us it was just a fun song) and "Fair Songo" We sang "Love's Old Sweet, Song" and "A Spanish Cavalier." But par ticularly we sang Civil War Songs, which were prominent in the Knap sack. We sang with gusto, ''Marching Through Georgia." We also sang "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" and the tear-jerker, "Just Before the Battle Mother ." Even as a small boy, I wondered why we sang all those civil war songs . But in general I enjoyed the singing and we learned a
store of songs that were favorites of our parents and our grandparents.
The youth of today do not have that common cultural inheritance with the generations ahead of them.
Teachers in those days usually had good penmanship, and could write a nice hand on the board. On the first day of school, the Schedule was placed on one of the boards . Some of them like Mamie Strange in '96-97 placed good thoughts or quotations on the board, for pupils to memorize, or think upon . As school went on, the pupils
placed many arithmetic problems on the board for the teacher to quickly check . And there would be examination questions. On rainy days, when the pupils had to be inside for recess, two-sames might gather at the boards playing one-old-cato One rainy day game around 1920 was "Skip to My Lou ."
I wish I had a copy of some of those school schedules; it is difficult to see now how the teacher got all of those classes in. Reading came first in the morning for the first six grades, and with
5 minutes for each class, reading occupied most of the time up to
recess. Then we moved to arithmetic for most of the school. And then geography I believ . In the afternoon we came to language and spelling. Penmanship came in there some place, and orthography some days for a couple of the upper grades . The eighth grade class had agriculture for half the year, and civics for half the year. The small children, through the second grade probably, went home at afternoon recess .
At the appointed time, the teacher might say, "Fourth Grade Reading, rise." We would grab our book and stand. Then "Pass to the front ." We would pass quickly to the long front bench reserved
for recitation, and the teacher would hold the class. Dismissed, we went to our seats and another grade came forward. What mental gymnastics the teacher had to go through. If we wanted to teacher to help us, we would put our hand up; if we wanted to go to the toilet, we put up our hand with two fingers up . The teacher might get a class to working and pass through the room. She might give a pupil per mission to sit with another and get help, or might allow an older pupil to help a younger . Country school was a simple school, whi.ch
focused on the basics . Any pupil who wanted it to a reasonable degree, would get a good education in the "3 R's" and moreo
The school had its simple wonders for the farm boys and girls of the time who knew nothing of television, probably had not seen a movie or travelled far, and who had few books at home . The globe stood for a vast world. The teacher whirled the globe and pointed to where a distant country was found. This pupil was fascinated
by the book case with its small library. We greatly loved a big book on Lincoln with some of the stories he told, and the Carpenter
books of travel, one for each of the continents, with black and white pictures and text about far-away lands and peoples.
Lilah Miles was our teacher in 1920-21. She was well liked. The salary was now up to $130 a month, $1170 for the year; it had risen markedly within a few year . She had 24 pupils, 16 boys and 8 girls, and all eight grades to teach . The textbooks listed that
year were as follows: Reading--Graded Literature; Aritbrneti c--Milne; Geography--Brigham & McFarlane; Spelling-Alexander; Grammar--Montgomery; Penmanship--Palmer; Civil Government--McKone; Agriculture--Man .
The First Graded Literature Reader started out with these sentences: "I see. I see. I see a robin." A few years later the young readers would read about Dick and Jane, and their dog Spot . "Run, Spot,
run ." The library now contained 122 volumes; the schoolhouse was valued at $1500. District expense_s came to $1,713.76, including
$250 paid for tuition and $474.46 for general expenses. At the beginning of the year the school had been repapered and refurbished.
At Christmas that year, Miss Miles gave me a book, "Boy Scouts in the Everglades", and my brother Earl received a flying machine.
Evidently all the pupils that year received a Christmas present from their teacher .
The next year 's teacher was Eva Rathbun of Potterville, a graduate of the County Normal . She conceived the idea of a hot lunch program, with the thought that it would be nice for pupils to have a warm item of food with their noon lunch brought from home. I believe we had
a hot plate. Two of the bigger pupils were delegated each day to work on the project . Tapioca pudding often was the item cooked. The project was not too successful and was not continued.
In the fall of 1921, our school had a baseball game with the Doane, on their grounds . - Our school went down there one afternoon, at recess time I think . We were proud and happy to win by a score
of 33 to 11. Obviously the pitching and defense of the schools was
not up to the big leagues . A number of parents must have been in volved in transportation, but I do not remember those details. On the evening of Nov. 28, 1921, our school held a Halloween Social, though it was a bit late for that theme . They had a big tub of water in which people ducked their faces to bite off an apple; there was a fish pond and a fortune telling booth . It made an event for young and old, something to go in a time when there was no radio, television had not been dreamed of, and few went to the movies.
Miss Rathbun taught 6 months and 13 days to receive $598.50 and was succeeded by Ruth Bradley, who had a third grade certificate
(a high level certificate) and who taught 2 months and 3 days for a salary of $215. School kept for 170 days that year . Ten days were taken off, for institute two, the County Fair one, Exams two, and sickness five . The schoolbboard that year paid high school tuition
for 11 graduates, at $60 apiece . This was a heavy burden financially;
I remember that at times the board members worried over how many
high school students there would be the next year. Incidentally, the expenditures that year exceeded the income.
Our teacher from 1922 to 1924 was Dorothy Brace. She lived on Saginaw Rd. and drove a car to school. She was black haired, some what plump, pleasant, and given to putting on long school programs at Christmas and other times . These programs were much appreciated by the parents. One School Christmas Program had several plays in addition t the - recitations and exercises. The plays had been a great deal of work; the strain had been great, and before the end
of the program the teacher broke down with feminine tears . But she was reassured that the program had been a great success, and not a failure as she had feared.
For her first year Miss Brace received a salary of $810. The salary had been cut the previou s year following the depression of 1921. For her second year, she received $900. The District paid tuition on 10 graduates her first year, and 9 the next. Our School continued to be large . Miss Brace had 28 pupils her first year
(22 boys and 6 girls), and 39 pupils her second year (29 boys and only 10 girls). For several years now there would be a heavy pre ponderance of boys in the school. In her second year 22 books were purchased. But with discards and perhaps losses, the library only counted 113 volumes . It was reported that the school had one flag-
very poor, and no good maps. In those years we always had a Halloween Party and a Valentine Party. These would be held after the last recess, just before closing hour. On Friday afternoons we might have art; and often we had spelling bees! It was recorded that in 1922- 23, the district took these days off: "Thanksgiving, Memorial &
Labor Days, 2 days for bad weather, 2 days for Institute, 1 day for County Fair, June 8 Closing day picnic."
The teacher in 1924-25 was Bertha R. Frith. Her salary was $900. She lived in Nashville, and drove those miles during much of the year . She was weak in discipline and by spring the school was rather out of hand. Pupils began asking in mass to go outdoors to study on nice
days, and she was so weak as to allow this. One day Joe Otto and the author climbed the big oak tree back of the woodshed, to get away
from the noise and hubbub so that we could study, and this made us locally famous for a time . In the school report that year, we note the question, "Has your district all supplies, dictionary, globe, maps, etc. required by law? NO-No flag, small dictionary, but good maps ." The district this year had only 6 high school students, and paid $360 tuition.
On May 15-16, 1913, the eighth graders of the area had gone to Grand Ledge to write county examinations, administered by Jonas Sawdon . On their successful passing of these examinations, depended their graduation, and promotion to high school . In 1916 the examination
site was moved to Oneida Center. By 1917 the seventh and eighth graders both had to write exams near the end of the year in May.l In 1924, for the first time the seventh and eighth graders went to
Potterville School to write their exams . In 1925, three of the four eighth graders passed successfully. The author 's parents were presently informed by the County Commissioner, that their son had
the highest marks in the county, and was the valedictorian of the county class. Some of the people decided that education had been taking place in the school after all.
In those years, a graduation program patterned after the high school graudation, was planned and held at the Oneida Grange Hall for all the eighth grade graduates in the township. The hall was
decorated nicely. The seventh graders marched in first, forming honor lines on each side of the aisle. Then the eighth grade graduates
filed through to their seats .l A country school might have only
one graduate and at the most only a few. Usually the eight township schools had about 20 graduates . This coming together with increased numbers, added to the enthusiasm and meaningfulness of this program, marking a true milestone in the lives of country children.
The 1925 Eighth Grade Commencement Program was held at the Town Hall on the night of June 10. The eight schools had only 17 eighth grade graduates. Three came from our Strange School, four from Oneida Center, one from the Centennial, two from Canada Settlement, one from the Earl,three from the Watson, one from the Johnson, and two from
the Aldrich. Rev. H.A. DeLong gave the Invocation and Benediction; Mr . & Mrs. Wayne Robinson played saxophone duets; Supt. E. H. Chappelle of the Charlotte Schools gave the address; Ronald Brunger gave his
short valedictory; Gertrude Pringle, the County School Commissioner presented the diplomas, and the audience sang, "America."
In 1925 the school board hired Herbert Calhoun as teacher. He was the first man teacher in nearly 38 years, but they wanted to restore discipline. Herb was a winsome, bright young man, who was much beloved. He was an excellent teacher and stayed two years.
He writes of his memories of his term at South Oneida, and encloses a daily schedule. He reminds us that there was ."a difference in teachers, how they arranged the subjects and time allotted to each . If one was fortunate enough to be missing one grade, it helped tremendously in finding an extra few minutes to devote to another group."
1 Hilah Perry, The Canada Settlement, page 13
ONE ROOM RURAL SCHOOL SCHEDULE
9:00 - 9:10
9:10 - 9:25
9:25 - 9:35
9:35 - 9:45
9:45 - 9:55
1:00 - 1:10
1:10 - 1:20
1:20 - 1:35
1:3.5 - 1:.50
1:.50 - 2:10
2:10 - 2:30
I-II Reading III Reading Dl Reading
V Reading VI Reading VII Reading
VIII Civil Gov (2) History (3)
I - II Numbers III Arithmetic Dl Arithmetic
V Arithmetic VI Arithmetic VII Arithmetic
III - IV Language
I-II Language VII-VIII Grammar Penmanship
Recess (First, second, and third grades go home)
IV -V Geography
3:00 - J:l.5
VI Geography (3) Physiology (2)
VII Geography (3) Physiology (2)
3:30 - 3:45
VIII Agriculture and Science
Spelling and Orthography
"Opening Exercises usually consisted of singing from the old "Knapsack" and "Pat's Pick", or reading an interesting short story; in winter "Games" were in order to get the place warm enough to go on with the studies. A "Current Event" by each pupil of the upper grades was usually the opening exercise on one morning of the week.
"As I recall, one of the "bugbears" of the country teacher was the ability of he or she to find "Busy work" for the lower grades, while upper grade classes were in session . I am certain that some
of the things we provided for little hands would be scornfully frowned
on today, because they were not "creative" and "stiffled the imagination"
of the child; such as "stringing corn", "sewing cards" with bright colored yarns, "chain making" and weaving paper matso But in those days who knew we were supposed to be creative?
"Lwas at the Strange (Oneida #3)school from 1925-27. One of the things I remember vividly was my challenging class of eighth graders. The first year I was there, it consisted of four boys, Boyd Burman, Earl Brunger, Joseph Otto, and John Strange . They were all excellent students and kept me mentally alert. The one that gave me the most concern was Joe Otto. Joe was no doubt one of the most particular persons that ever breathed. He would never hand in a paper unless it was in perfect condition. If he made an error of any kind of a blob in any way, he would insist on doing the whole
thing over •••It hurt his feelings if I said, "Joe, let it go, that 's good enough ."••
"Perhaps one of the most perplexing and yet fulfilling situations I ever had to handle at Strange School was a beautiful little six
year Mexican girl, who didn 't know a word of English, but was with us for about four weeks while her family were blocking beets in the neighborhood. Whether she ever gained anything from us in unknown, but we learned so much from her in her quiet and charming manner; for most of us it was our first encounter with one of a different race ••
"Recesses and noons were fun times for all of us. Of course there were the usual games that kids play (in the absence of thousands of dollars pf playground equipment of today) such as soft ball,
volley ball, hide and seek, prisoners goal, and "single tag", which was one of the most popular games at strange.
"It barely seems possible but no longer ago than 1925, we were enjoying air-conditioned out-door bathroom facilities, a galvanized water pail and its long handled dipper, a tin wash basin and a years supply of soap (one bar of Hard Water Castile) and during the year
we graduated from the old roller towel to paper ones (a big stride). We most always had plenty of good fresh water, if the pump wasn 't frozen or the leathers worn out. It always seemed that the school
board delighted in buying coal for the "Old Waterbury System" that came about 4 or 5 chunks to the ton and required a lot of whacking to get it to door size.
"All the little folks at Strange were delightful, but two stand out in my memory, Barbara McMullen and Harry Brunger; Barbara had
the loveliest rosy cheeks and a permanent smile, and Harry was clever beyond his years and about as droll as they make themo.Mary McMullen was an expert little horseman and would ride up and down the road after school (bareback) and I still marvel how she could control a spirited horse, but she did o
"In the cold months of 1925, we did quite a lot with having something warm for our lunches, sometimes we would have baked potatoes, or some homemade soup and rice pudding; which we made on our oil
stove and oven•
••"I would be remiss if I failed to mention the fine people who gave me support; the glorious patch of purple violets across the
road between the church and the cemetery; the mud holes of spring between the Brunger and Zimmerman farms (that Cliff helped me out of on numerous occasions); and one of the most terrible tragedies of all time, the Bath School Explosion which occured on our last day of school.
"In conclusion, I feel that the rural school of 50 and more years ago, made a tremendous contribution to the well-being of our country . It was a time when you didn 't hear that the child couldn 't read or write. It was a time when respect and discipline had meaning. It was a time when the school was the life blood of the community and neighbor knew and respected his neighbor and his job . We will all agree that today 's youth are better informed; Why?, because our means of communications are so overpowering; because the
world is so much smaller than it was 50 years ago; because our
scientific prowess is so staggering and because bluster requires less courage than does patience and restraint. While it is true that one cannot go home again or turn back time, it is comforting
to know the years past provided a rich and fulfilling life for those who knew it and in some way prepared them for much of the inglorious news that flashes across the media daily." -- We are indeed indebted to Herbert Calhoun for this account of our school in the 1920's,
and this evaluation of the oldtime country school .
In 1927 Nellie Burman was hired as teacher, and she taught for a continuous stretch of 7 years . She had graduated from our school
in 1920, and is one of the apparently few graduates who have returned to teach here. She proved to be a vigorous and able teacher, and
was highly regarded by pupils and parents . By 1928 the school was smaller with only 18 enrolled, 13 boys and 5 girls. The Director
now was Simeon R. Cook; Cliff Brunger .and Erv Burman remained as Moderator and Treasurer. The District sold bonds for $300 to pay off a debt . The school was large during Nellie's first year, with
enrollment of 32 (22 boys and 10 girls) and then became rather small.
Nellie remembers her salary as starting at $100 a month in 1927, increasing to $110 in 1928, and $120 a month in 1929. But presently with the depression it was cut way down to $50 a month. She felt
"lucky·to receive that as many taught for $35 & $40." Nellie Burman was presently married to Glenn Ireland. In 1928-29 the enrollment was 16 boys and 9 girls, a total of 25. Thirty books were added to the library that year; 163 volumes were reported. The schoolhouse
was now valued at $2,000; the assessed valuation of the district was then $217,100. The district paid $600 tuition for 10 high school pupils.
Nellie writes: ''When I taught at the Strange in 1927 I found I had a very good group of students for which I give Herbert Calhoun much credit. They were exceptional as they were good students and friendly. We sat in a group eating our lunches . Had one hot dish cooked by the children with a little aid. Had a one burner electric plate. Our meal could be bean soup, chile or whatever. Two children did dishes . As the children were interested and worked well at their studies, we would work on plays after lessons . The plays were given at P.T.A 's•"1
Nellie feels that the personal attention the teacher in country school could give, was a decisive and helpful factor. "At our school we worked hard with the kindergarten, especially as we couldi teach them to read •• That's the beauty of our one room school. No one to say "You can't do that'1 As she thinks of some of her former pupils who went out to make names for themselves in varied chosen fields, and others who remained in the home community and set a good example of sturdy citizenship, she feels that the school in our community
has performed a fruitful service through the years.
One of the pupils here from 1928 to 1935, Alice Brunger Bouknight, has written her memories of "Strange School" during this period, as follows.
"Seven years of country school - I had Nellie Ireland 6 years and I remember the folks feeling so bad that she couldn't be my teacher all the way through . She let me take second ang third grade in one year - very possibly because there wasn 't anyone in one of the grades ••
Recess - What fun to play pom-pom-pu li-away with the sides some times being the fence and the road and I wonder how anyone got across without being caught especially after there was more than one who was "It". This would be played on the north side of the schoolhouse.
Sometimes we played right in front of the building - (before the shrubs were planted). More exciting then this game tho was anti-i over when you threw the ball over the schoolhouse roof and if it was caught the whole side came thundering or sneaking around the end of the schoolhouse to try and catch you. We sometimes played using the
wood shed roof but it wasn't nearly as exciting. Also played baseball every spring.
Hot lunches - I don 't know how long this was done but can still remember how good they would smell - especially the goulash. The students did the cooking while Nellie continued to teach which when you think about it was pretty un-usual. Of course there always had to be a dishwashing 'person' and I don 't recall that as being so much fun. Don't remember any dish but goulash and bean soup but just
that it was good. It would be so cold outside and all that steam and smell made the day seem more cozy and brighter.
1 Letter of Nellie Ireland to the author, April 6, 1979
Fun - to listen to the big folks recite •••sure do remember Harr;y creating disturbances and getting Nellie to talk - most probably not on the lesson .
Excitement - of getting ready for special days - not only Thanks giving, Christmas and Easter but May Day and Mother 's Day . This was done ONLY after the lessons were finished. We would finish our day 's work early then every-one w9uld work on making things or practicing
the programs. We made simple things but we enjoyed it. (Never forget the orange crepe paper butterfly that I was allowed to paint around the edges with beautiful gold and then on Mother 's Day creeping downstairs early to pin it on the curtain thinking it was so beautiful). We spend hours practicing for special programs and the day was pretty special when the big curtain was put up and it was pulled to show us 'acting' . I remember especially the hours spent on drills - around and across that stage over and over and of course the best time was when I became the leader. We made May Day baskets for flowers to deliver on that day .
Beauty - one year we had a county wide beautification project .
We planted a semi circle of bushes in front of the schoolhouse on either side of the flag pole . That was exciting as some one came to look at it. The only problem there was we could no longer play in front.
Discipline - I don 't remember Nellie had any problem with the younger children but do remember some disturbances with all the Hogle boys (Lee, R.V ., and Albert) and Don Moist. She came out the winner tho because she was firm."
In the 1930's, the school enrollment was generally lowero In 1931-32 Nellie Ireland had 24 pupils, 15 of them boys. By 1936-37 under Hilah Perry-, the roll was down to 12. Two years later it
was up to 17.
About 1936 or 1937, the Strange School,the Canada Settlement School, and the Doane School, arranged for an exchange of parties. Three parties were planned for the year--Halloween, Valentine 's Day, and Easter . Each school acted as host for one party. The host school prepared the invitations the program and the refreshments.l The children enjoyed it; the teachers felt that it was an enriching experience .
From 1935 to 1939, Hilah F.Perry- was our teacher . The depression held its grip upon the people; Hilah received $40 per month salar;y
her first year, and $10 per month janitorial fee. During this period with W.P.A .money, the school was modernized and extensively remodeled. The south windows were removed, and new windows put in on the north side to reduce glare in the school .
In the: late 19JO's, came a palace revolution in which the women took -- over the school board for the first time. Women had been ver;y active in the Churches since the days of the Civil War. Only after
1 Hilah Perry-, The Canada Settlement, p .18
years of feminist agitation, were then given the right to vote by the 19th amendment in 1920. Our school board had continued to be monopolized by the men . In 1935-36, the Board was composed of Simeon Cook,Erv Burman, and Keith Otto. By 1938-39, a change had come Evelyn Strange was now Director; Ethel Brunger Moderator; and Nellie Ireland assuming
a new role in the district, was Treasurer. Nellie served on the Board until 1945 when she returned to teach again .
In 1937-38 our teacher 's salary was $690; times were improving .
The pupils that year were the following: Raymond Rener, Robert Herner, John Catey, Danny Catey, Chudleigh Strange, Esther Bradley, Edwin Arndt, Don Wolodko, Keneth Bodo, Raymond Eastman , Bruce Eastman, Richard Miller, and Betty Hale.2
Mrs.Georgia Studt of Grand Ledge, taught from 1939 to 1942. Her salary the first year was $810. She had 15 boys and only one girl enrolled that year, with six grades to teach, no 6th or 8th grade . As she ended this year, school had been in session in District No .3 for 100 years! The early large school record book
purchased in the 1860's, had a section for the registration of library books which had never been used. In 1941 while Dora Reed was Director, an Accession Book for school librries, was purchased.
This book lists the author, name of book, publisher, and year
of publication, and the cost. Two hundred and thirty books are listed alphabetically in the first handwriting, evidently the library in 1941. The library was quite large, and evidently there was a strong interest in it at this time. One book on China was published in 1887. There were a number of books from the early years of our century, including books that I recognize as having been in our school library around
1920. These included the Carpenter Geographic Readers on Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Eurpoe, published in 1899. The library contained such old favorites as books by
Louisa May Alcott; Carolyn Bailey's "Boys and Girls of Colonial Days" and "Boys and Girls of Discovery Days•; nature story books by Thornton W .Burgess; Frances Burnett 's "Secret Garden" (which Miss Miles read to us serially in 1920-21); Eulalie Grover's "T'He Overall Boys";
Helen Orton 's "Summer at Cloverfield Farm" and "Winter at Cloverfield Farm"; Robert Louis Stevenson 's "Treasure Island" and a "Child's Garden of Verses"; Booth Tarkington's "Penrod", etc. Quickly other books were purchased including stories by Zane Grey, and Stefansson
on his artic travels, "Pinocchio", "Hans Brinker", "Story of Michigan", and five dictionaries .
By May 1943, the listed books numbered 300, some of which may
have been discarded. Twenty-five books were added the next two years, 15 in 1945-46, and 14 in 1946. Most books ran in price from $1 to
$1.50, few cost over $2.00 at that time. In November 1947 for the first time, it was noted that a list of books were paper backs . They would not last so long, but they were cheaper. A long list of books
purchased at that time contains titles to attract children, such as "Little White Rabbit", "Molly, Pete and Ginger", "Two Little Tigers and How they Flew'', "Little Lost Dog', "My Dog Laddie", "Hundreds of Turkeys", "Frisky the Goat", "Peanuts the Pony", "Donald Duck & His Nephews", "School Days in Disneyville."
Our school was larger in the 1940's, than it had been in the 1930's.
When Marjorie Snavely was teacher in 1942-43, the enrollment was 24. Two years later Fern Clark reported 28. Nellie Ireland in 1946-47 again had 28, with 5 in kindergarten . Catherine Baker closed the decade with 27 pupils, 17 boys and 10 girls. Again there must have
been enough children to manage ball games again. Let us note also
that Nellie Ireland returned to teach in our school from 1945 to 1948.
Altogether she taught ten years here; she holds the record in tenure by far.
The salary went over the $2,000 mark first in 1948-49, when Anoma Pelton received $2250, and reported that the school had an electric pump and inside toilets. No longer the brick toilets out back, so cold in wintertime, and often smelly, dirty, and abused .
School was different now; the rising standard of living had come to the Strange School . Pauline Calhoun, wife of Herbert (who had
taught here in 1925-27)came here in 1950-51 and received a salary
of $2475. She had 18 years experience, and was an efficient teacher .
By the 1940's, the Parent Teacher Association had come to South Oneida, in a countrywide endeavor to involve the parents more closely with the school . It is interesting that the teachers in their Attendance Record Books began to note the PTA Presidents, rather
than the Directors . The first one noted is Wilford Catey, President in 1943-44. Leo Merrill was P.T.A. President the next year;
Mrs .Otto Deer in 1947-48; Mrs .Merrill in 1949-50; Mrs.Mabel Nagel in 1951-52; Mrs .Richmond in 1953-54.
Abigail Cushing taught three years from 1951 to 1954; her salary increased from $2700 to $2925. Beulah Powell received $3,260 in
she had 15 boys and 6 girls enrolled. That year a series
of books on the Childhood of Great Americans was added to the library, including Buffalo Bill, Kit Carson, Will Rogers, Ben Franklin, Tom Edison, Clara Barton, Lou Gehrig, Abe Lincoln, Molly Pitcher, Tom Jefferson, and Davy Crockett . The next year nine more in this
series were added, including such women as Pocahontas, Jane Addams, and Amelia Earhart . In 1957 came a series of Anne of Green Gables books, and stories of the children of various nations. By April 14, 1958, the library accession list included 651 titles!
By the 1940's, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction
and his office, were actively promoting school conBolidation. School buses were sent out into the country to bus the school children to
the larger schools in the towns . Larger schools were supposed to be
more efficient, and offer a broader curriculum than could be offered in a one-room country school, where one teacher had to teach many grades the basic subjectso Often country schools had such small enrollments that classes and recreation and the school fellowship, were not interesting to the pupils. The attraction of town schools was evident, and many country schools were closing with their consolidation into a larger district centering on a nearby town .
In the 1950's, the pace of consolidation quickened. More and more pressure was put on country schools to close their doors and consolidate . The people in our district had held out and wanted to keep their school . It was felt that the children did get a good basic education in country school. There was an economic motivation also; it seemed that con soldation brought higher taxes with the need of larger school buildings, more school bureaucracy, and more and more buses. Furthermore the
Strange School with its programs, the PI'A, and school meetings, had long served as a community center, along with the church across the road.
About 1957, the Grand Ledge Scho61 District put the screws down and endeavored to force the holdout schools to quickly consolidate, by decreeing that pupils from independent districts could not longer
be received for high school, even if they did pay tuition . The school board of our school held out, and made an arrangement with Sunfield,
· that our pupils could go there for the higher gradeso Some eigth graders were sent to Sunfield that year . But Sunfield was really too
far away, for families to be interested and involved in school activitieso There was a great deal of dissension over the issue. Some felt that
a large school would indeed have advantages. Some were frightened over the prospect that their teen-agers could not go to Grand Ledge High School . They began to utilize subterfuges, putting their home and a strip of property running to land that was already in the Grand Ledge District, into that district so that their children could go to
Grand Ledge . Oneida District No. 3 was being chopped down and reduced
in size, and tax base.
Our school board tenaciously held out against the pressures of the state officials, and their evident displeasure. The enrollment in our district fell, since some families with children were now in the Grand Ledge School District. Beulah Powell came here as the teacher in 1955, and she taught for a long term. The school board · showed creativity, in moving toward cooperative arrangements with neighboring school districts. In 1957-58, the Sixth- and Seventh Grades from the Wetmore School (south of the Thornapple on Otto Road) came to our school . From 1958 to 1960, our school building was
closed (but not the district) and the Strange pupils all went to the Earl School, where Beulah Powell was teacher .
In 1960 a Union School was established by the adjoining districts.
The kindergarten children and first and second grades went to the Earl School, and were taught by Urcie Powers . Beulah Powell taught again at the Strange, the third, fourth, and fif th grades . A Mso Laturzel taught at the Doane with only sixth and seventh grades
attending. Soon there was a shift, and the third grade was at the Earl. In 1961-62, Ursie Powers at the Earl had a good sized school of 27 pupils. She had 10 beginners, 5 in first grade, 4 in second
grade, and 8 in third grade . Her salary between 1960 and 1964
ranged from $4,000 to $4400. Beginning in 1963, Crystal Buxton taught at the Doane. In January 1965, Urcie Powers left the Earl, and was replaced by Margaret Loveless .
It would seem that this Union School plan was a good idea. Even the state officials rather liked it. There were enough children in each grade to make the classes more interesting. The teacher only had to teach two to four different grades; her task was much less com plicated than it had been traditionally in country schools.
In the fall of 1966 there was no school at the Strange, until
the Earl School burned in November . Then the school for kindergarten, and grades one, two, and three, with Margaret Loveless as the teacher, moved to the Strange School for the rest of the year . From 1967 to 1971, there was no school here. But the district remained alive, ready to care for the education of children when they appeared in the district.
In the year 1971-72, three students moved into the district.
School was resumed again with three students, and Max O'Neil the teacher . He remained and taught until 1975. The next year the teacher was Dawn Williams; the following year Carol Shubinski. In 1977 Nancy Green came here as teacher . She had 13 students in 1977-
78. This past year she has had 11 students, as we have completed
the first century in the brick school .
Oneida School District No. 3 has had a long and notable history .
One hundred forty years ago the district was organized. School has been held here regularly, with few interruptions, since the summer of 1840. We have now completed a century of education in our brick
school . We cannot predict the future. But looking back we see that our South Oneida School has given a good basic education to a small host, to hundreds of boys and girls, and served this community well.
REGISTER OF THE SCHOOL TEACHERS ONEIDA DISTRICT NO. 3
Sumer of 1840 Emma Orinda Sprague
Winter of 1854-55, 3 months T.J. Thomas $50.00
Summer of 1855 3 months Ellen C. Degraff 19.50
Winter of 1855-56
Sunnner of 1856
Theodore J. Thomas Sarah Anne Nichols
Winter of 1856-57 3 months ending l/31 F.H.Wells Summer of 1857 4 months Harriet Brooks Winter of 1857-58 4 months begin.11/16 J.V .Jones
Summer of 1858 13 weeks Miss Lang Monyer
Winter of 1858-59 3t months beg. 11/15 Summer of 1859 14 weeks beg. 5/2 Winter of 1859-60 3 months beg. 11/21 Summer of 1860 4 months beg. 4/30
Mr . J.V .Jones Lucy B.Murgan Henry Curtis
Winter of 1860-61 3 months beg. 11/19 R.L.Pancrest Summer of 1861 4 months beg. 4/29 Louise Gibson Winter of 1861-62 3 months beg .li/18 Miss E.D. Bills Sunnner of 1862 3 months Miss Eszilla Teman
($1.25 a week)
Winter of 1862-63 3 months beg. 11/17 Miss Asenath DeGraff Summer of 1863 4 months beg. 5/11 Miss Betsy Bouton Winter of 1863-64 3 months beg. 11/23 Eveline Preston Summer of 1864 10. weeks Maria DeGraff
Winter of 1864-65 13 weeks beg. 11/1 Burnard McMullen Summer of 1865 13 weeks beg. 5/1 Helen R . Teman Winter of 1865-66 13 weeks beg. 11/20 John Strange Sunnner of 1866 13 weeks beg. 5/7 Alphie Boice
Winter of 1866-67 13 weeks beg. 12/1 Asenath DeGraff 78.00
Summer of 1867 13 weeks beg .5/7 Miss Ella C. Baker 32.50
Winter of 1867-68 68 days beg. 11/25 James F.McCarger 100.00
(Closed school in Feb.52 days - ill health) Summer of 1868 13 weeks or more 5/11 Mary- Strange 39.00
(Gave full satisfaction)
Winter of 1868-69 3 months beg. 11/15 Winter of 1868-69 69 days beg. 12/7
Bernard McMullen 100.00
(Served briefly; moved)
R. Davies 105.00
3 months or more Lura A .Streit
beg. 5/7 (School closed July 24)
Winter of 1869-70 12 weeks of 5t days Wm. R. Davies 105.00
beg. 11/15 (Taught full time & gave full satisfaction)
REGISTER OF SCHOOL TEACHERS (cont.)
Summer of 1870 14 weeks or more beg. 5/2 Mary Parsons $42.00 Winter of 1870-71 16 weeks beg. 5/8 Gertie E.Thompson 35.00
Winter of 1871-72 14 weeks beg. 11/6 Mary Parsons 84.00
(Salary included board at Stranges &
Summer of 1872 15 weeks beg. 5/6 Miss Mary Parsons 60.00
Winter of 1872-72 14 wks. or more beg. 11/11 Miss Prudence DeGraff' 35.00
Summer of 1873 18 weeks beg .5 / 5 Miss Mary Parsons 72.00
Winter of 1873-74 3t months beg. 11/10 Miss Maria DeGraf'f 122.50
Summer of 1874 12 weeks beg .5/11 Emma Jones 108.00
(Did not complete term)
Sumer of 1874 8 weeks Mary Strange 32000
Winter of' 1874-75 16 weeks beg. 11/16 N.J. RU.Ssell 120.00
Summer of 1875 20 weeks beg. 5/8 Mary Strange 95.00
(the district to board her half time)
Winter of 1875-76 12 weeks beg. Dec. F.A. Tabor 35.00 mo.
Summer of 1876 16 weeks beg.5/1 Helen M .Keep 64.00
Winter of 1876-77 16 weeks beg .11/20 Dwight Backus 120.00
(Gave full satisfaction)
Summer of 1877 12 weeks beg .4/30 Nellie Wareham 42.00
Winter of 1877-78 16 weeks beg . li/12 M.D. Sutherland 130.00
(A poor school)
Summer of 1877 2 months beg. 7/30 Nellie Wareham 28.00
(taught 5 months)
Summer of 1878 16 weeks beg .5/6 Nellie Wareham 48.oo
(A poor term)
Winter of 1878-79 16 weeks beg.
C.C. Blanchard 120.00
(Money thrown away)
Summer of 1879 16 weeks beg. 5/11 Florence A. Goodrich 48.00
(A good teacher, No. 1)
IN THE BRICK SCHOOLlIOUSE
Winter of 1879-80 12 weeks beg. 12/29 G.D. Blasier 90.00
Summer of 1880 16 weeks beg. 5/10 Mattie Kauffman 40.00
Winter of 1880-81 16 weeks beg. 11/15 Ella Farnsworth 104.00
(1 week vacation)
Summer of 1881 16 weeks beg. 5/6 Ella Farnsworth 56.00
Winter of 1881-82 16 weeks beg. 11/10 G.D.Bla$.ier 140.00
Summer of 1882 Mimie Messenger 80.00
Winter of 1882-83 16 weeks beg. 11/13 M.A .Jones 152.00
Summer of 1883 8 weeks Lucy M. Schmidt 48.00
Winter _of 1883-84 E.F. Tanner 140.00
Summer of 1885 A.P.Knott Mary F.Moore Lena McCormack 40.00
Fall of 1885 Grace c.Dow 45.00
Winter of 1885 Grace c.Dow 80.00
Spring of 1886 Grace c.Dow 56.00
REGISTER OF SCHOOL TEACHERS (cont.)
Fall of 1886 2 months beg. 9/13 Florence Ames
(Gave good Satisfaction) Winter of 1886-87 4 months beg .11/22 Lillian Searls Spring of 1887 2 months beg. 4/4 Mattie Campbell
Fall of 1887 2 months beg. 9/5
Winter of 1887-88 4 months beg .11/7
Spring of 1888 2 months beg .4/16
Fall of 1888 8 weeks beg .9/3
Wfunter of 1888-89 3 months beg. 12/11
Spring of 1889 10 weeks beg. 4/1
Fall of 1889 10 weeks beg. 9/2 Winter 1889-90 4 months beg. 11/18
Spring 1890 10 weeks beg. 4/14
(Good Satisfaction) Howard Hall
Hattie Sutherland Jessie Hancock
Fall of 1890 10 weeks beg .9/1 Winter 1890-91 4 months beg .11/24 Spring 1891 10 weeks beg .4/5
Myrtie Clark 50.00
Myrtie Clark 100.00
Myrtie Clark 50.00
School-Gave Excellent Satisfaction)
Fall & Winter 1891-92 6 months beg. 9/7 Myrtie Clark 120.00
Spring of 1892 Ada Parsons 60.00
Fall & Winter 1892-93 6t months beg.9/5 Ada Parsons 162.50
Spring of 1893, 2t months beg. April
Helen Wheaton 62.50
Year 1893-94 9 months beg.
Myrtie Clark 260.00
Year 1894 9 months beg .9/3
Mary Palmiter 198.00
(Lived 3 miles Year 1895-96
- Gave Good Satisfaction)
Mamie Palmiter (Mamie a nickname) Mamie Strange 222.00
Alice VanAuken (Lived in Potterville)
(5 new scholars)
(Sadie Swindlehurst was teacher one of these years - roomed with
9 months beg. 9/4
(George McMullen Director)
2t months 62 months
(7 boys Minnie Henshaw 12 girls = 19) Ella Kenyon
REGISTER OF TEACHERS (Cont .)
5 months 7 days 3t months
(7 boys - 13 girls = 20 --- No 4 months
N. Fern Chapman
2nd or Jrd Grade) Glenna Doug Mabel Brunger
(5 boys - 13 girls = 18 --
(10 boys - 14 girls = 24)
(7 boys - 14 girls = 21)
Cynthia Green, County Comm.
Zulu Walters Zulu Walters
(5 boys-15 girls = 20)
(7 boys-14 girls = 21)
(86 volumes in the library)
1914-15 Marion L.Dunning
(5 boys-11 girls = 16) (School $1600) 1915-16 Lulu Hatch
(5 boys-12 girls = 17) (96 volumes - 2 flags - Grades 1916-17 Lulu Hatch
(Average attendance 19? - Grades 1-7 A WELL !!!) 1917-18 Lepha M .Bateman
(14 boys-16 girls = JO!) (Grades 1-8 -- 72 volumes) 1918-19 St months Myandia Shaw
(17 boys - 20 girls = J?) (Grades 1-8 -- 70 volumes)
1919-20 Helen Engler
(19 boys-14 girls = JJ)
1920-21 (Roomed at John Stranges) (16 boys - 8 girls = 24)
1921-22 6 months 13 days
2 months J days
(16 boys-? girls = 2J)
(22 boys- 6 girls = 28
Eva Rathbun Ruth Bradley
Dorothy M. Brace
10 graduates in G.L.H.S.) Dorothy M. Brace
(29 boys-10 girls = J9 -- Av. 27 -- llJ volumes
(18 boys-? girls = 25 --- Tuition paid $J60)
-- 9 grades)
1925-26 -- 1926-27 Herbert Calhoun
1927-28 through Nellie Burman
19J4-J5 (1927-28 $1000.00 - 12 boys-4 girls = 16 -- 9 grades) (1928-29 $1080.00 - 16 boys-9 girls = 25 - JO books
purchased, total 16J. - Budget $2,1J5.J4) (19Jl-J2 -- 15 boys-9 girls = 24)
(193J-J4 - salary received was $50.00 a month)
Glenna Osgood Hilah F. Perry Hilah F. Perry
Mrs .Georgia Studt
(15 boys-1 girl=l6 -- No 6th or 8th grades)
REGISTER OF TEACEERS (cont.)
Mrs. Georgia Studt Mrs .Georgia Studt
Dora Reed, Director Mrs .Marjorie Snavely
3 in Kind.
PTA Pres. Wilford Catey Fern E.Clark
PTA Pres.Leo Merrill
23 enrolled - 3 Kind.
Nellie Ireland Nellie Ireland
$1800.00 22 enrolled
28 enrolled; 5 Kind.
Nellie Ireland 1980.00
PTA Pres.Mrs.Otto Deer (10 boys-10 girls)
Anoma Pelton 2250.00
(Electric pump; inside toilets) Mrs .Catherine Baker 2250.00
·PTA Pres.Mrs .Leo Merrill
PTA Mrs.Richmond Abigail Cushing
.- Beulah Powell
6th & ?th grades from Wetmore came to Strange
Teacher at Earl; Strange pupils all went
1959-60 Beulah Powell Teacher at Earl; Strange pupils all went
UNION SCHOOL HELD AT THE EARL, 7 FRACTIONAL ONEIDA 1960-61 Ursie Powers 4000.00 8-10-18
Beulah Powers at Strange with Grades 3-4-5 Ms .Laturzel at Doane with grades 6 & 7
1961-62 Ursie Powers 4200.00 13-14--27
(Kind. 10; First 5 ; 2nd 4;
Jrd 8) Beulah Powers at Strange with Grades 4-5
1962-63 Ursie Powers 4400.00 11-13=24
(Kind 5 ; 1st 9; 2nd 6; Jrd 4)
Beulah Powell at Strange Ursie Powers
Beulah Powell at Strange Crystal Buxton at Doane
(Kind ?; 1st 4; 2nd 11; Jrd 8)
Urcie Powers at Earl to Jan.- replaced by Margaret Loveless Beulah Powell at Strange -- Crystal Buxton at Doane
(Same as year before)
No School at Strange Until Nov. , when Earl School burned. Margaret Loveless came as teacher for Kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 3.
1967-68 through 1970-71 --- No School at Strange
1971-72 Max Oneil began teaching - 3 students moved into District 1972-73 through 1974-75 --- Max Oneil
1975-76 Dawn Williams
1976-77 Carol Shubinski
1977-79 Nancy Green
Salary 8000.00 13 students in 1977-78
11 in 1978-79
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS ONEIDA DISTRICT NO. 3
1854-55 John Strange 1854-55 Emanuel DeGraff
1855-57 Thoma.s Brunger 1855-56 Fayette Johnson 1857-58 Theodore J; Thomas 1856-65 Ephraim Stockwell May-Sept . 1858 Emanuel DeGraff
1858-61 Thomas Brunger
1861-64 Samuel H.Preston
1854-55 Hiram M .Hardy
1855-56 Ephraim Stockwell
1856-57 Henry Verplank
Samuel Preston 1858-63 John Strange
1863-64 Michael McMullen
1864-65 Julius Squier
1864-67 John Earl
1867-70 Julius A. Squiers 1870-73 Julius A. Squires 1873-76 James M. Clark 1876-79 Joseph Otto
1879-82 ·Joseph Otto
1882-85 Dwight Backus
1885-91 J.C. Beekman
1891-92 C. Trumble
1892-94 D. Strange
1865-68 Herman Backus
1868-71 Leonard Trumble
1871-78 B .C. Backus
1878-80 G.B. Dodge
1881-83 A. Mitchell
1883-92 John S.Strange
1892-95 J.C. Beekman
1865-67 Leonard Trumbel
1869-72 William McMullen
1872-75 William McMullen
1881-84 Leonard Trumble
1884-87 J.M .Clark
1887-90 Joseph Otto
1890-1902 Thomas R .Brunger