Bunker Hill Schools

Material for this article was supplied from previous articles written and published earlier.  Some material was supplied to the Committee by Mr. Elden Duelm and other material was copied from a book called, “Reflections,” which was compiled by local citizens and later published.

The demise of the one room schools.
            Most are not in existence any longer and the buildings that are left is used for something else. The one room school house, which was long the center of activities in rural sections, has disappeared from the scene in this area. Most of these schools were abandoned when the local Unit District was legally formed on July 1, 1948. Authorization and provisions for disposition of the buildings that housed rural schools was made when a state law was passed in 1944, making provisions for the establishment of a Community Unit District.  Under this law, the Unit District School Board was given the authority to close schools where it was deemed more advisable to transport the children to a central location rather than hire teachers for a small number of students.

Under the Unit plan of operation the schools in the rural areas were destined to oblivion, much to the disappointment of some who had always looked to the school as a community center.  To them that place was a part of their life and was considered the focal point of their community.  When standing vacant, a building deteriorates quickly and it seemed advisable to dispose of these buildings while something could still be salvaged from them or put to use as dwellings.

While voters in some districts turned thumbs down on the sale of their buildings, little or no opposition was encountered here.  Most people fully appreciated the Unit plan of operation and would rather see the empty school houses sold, so that they could be passed on to some one who could put them to use in some manner.

Brueggeman School #170, (known also as Possum Trot School) was located between Woodburn and Fosterburg.
            It was judged in poor condition by teachers from 1910-1915 due mainly to overcrowding and no place to play.  Bruggeman school picture, very hard to see, was in the article. There was no road to the school and in rainy or snowy weather it was not possible to cross creeks to get to school.  In 1906 there were 43 students, but by 1946 there were only eight in attendance.

Next we’ll look at Burton School #51, which closed at the end of August, 1948.

            The school was sold at auction July 8, l950, (five country schools sold for $1,646) to William Cooper and torn down for the lumber.  The property now belongs to Willis Wolf. Just the well remains on the corner of the land.  In 1907, Margaret Mize taught twenty-six pupils.  For this she was paid a salary of $35 dollars per month.  In her report to the County at the end of the school year, she wrote, “a new school building is badly needed.”

Marilyn Rust was the teacher the term of 1947-48.  There were ten pupils, and her monthly salary was $150.   She listed 62 library books.  This school was located at the intersection of Prairetown Road and Catholic Spring road.  A picture in the article listed the students in school in the year of 1939:  Marian Wolff, Roselie Knoche, Harold Spickerman, Jack Lehman, Alberta Knoche, Wilma Jean Lehman, Edna Mae Spickerman, Melvin Rust, Evelyn Lehman, Carl and Clinton Spickerman, Willis Wolff, Jr., Bernadine Knoche, Mary Lou Spickerman, Loretta Knoche Henry Rust, Eleanor Rust, Dorothy Wolff,  Dorothy Rust and the teacher, Lucille Mize.

Next, Centerville School, #143.
            The first regular school was begun in 1831 by John Hilyard.  The log building cost ten dollars.  It was covered with boards held down by poles.  The floor was of earth and windows were of oiled paper.  Writing desks were shelves against the walls.  In 1846 a school was built in Centerville, and a new school built in 1866.  The school closed in 1948 and Dick and Nelda Edsall bought the vacated school in 1951. Firebrands carried from their homes, by the pupils, was used to light the heating stove. The first one to bring a firebrand was placed at the head of the spelling class. Spelling was emphasized and pupils contested to be the best.   The floor was covered many times by hickory roots spit out by the pupils after the sweet taste was gone.  There was a picture of the school in the book with approximately sixteen students in the foreground of the school.  The school was located to the North of Woodburn and North West of Bunker Hill.

Next the Corrington Chapel School #142.
            In 1907 the teacher, F. R. Shanner, had twenty-seven pupils and received a salary of fifty dollars a month.  The school year was 143 days, and they had 44 library books.  In 1925 the library was up to 90 books.  In the teacher’s school report, the school listed as in good condition, but no playground equipment.  The teacher’s salary was up to $225 dollars per month and she had 28 pupils.  The school closed around 1951. Presently, it is the home of Charles and Billie Caveny.  .In the book there are two pictures of the pupils and their teachers at different years; starting with the picture dated 1934: teacher Mary Combes, Majory Jaynes, Freeman Gerdes, Paul Meyers, Melba Hackney, Verda Meyers, Robert Welch, Billy Jaynes, Leonard Hopper, Lola Hackney, _______Gerdes?, Junior Reed, and Frank Enke. One student at this time was not identified.  Another picture possibly older, of the students of the school include;  Lottie Boree, Teacher, Grace Humme, Reba Callaway, Ida Hackney, Nellie Morse, Flossie Morrison, Millie Hackney, May Hackney, Harry Morrison, Joy Hume, Cornelia Lippoldt, Minnie Hume, Florence Teter, Bessie Morrison, Lillie Callaway, Earl Morrison Atheo Lippoldt, Clarence Teter, Lee Hume, Flossie Callaway, Gladys Hackney and Lawrence Morrison. The school was located North of Bunker Hill, in Hilyard Township.

Next the Hood School # 147.
            In 1907, teacher Tesora Fraley had sixteen students and made 30 dollars a month.
            Her sister, Inza Fraley, taught in 1912, and made $35 dollars a month.  Students were down to nine.  The school year was 149 days, and the average cost of tuition per month was four dollars.  There was no well, and the water to drink had to be carried ¼ mile.  Esther Fahrenkrog taught in 1919, and cousin Freda Keirle taught in 1928.  She had eight students and was paid $70.

            In 1943-44 four pupils were sent to Bunker Hill public school.  The directors for Hood School were Nelson Weidner-President, Joe Fahrenkrog-clerk and J.E. Weidner-director.

            Gypsies camped there several times from Friday evening to Monday morning.  They headed north in the spring and south in the fall.  They used the well (per Laura and Freda).

            The Hood school was on property now owned by, Rollo Fensterman, nearly due north of Bunker Hill.  A picture of the students and their teacher was in the book and dated 1906.  Students were as follows: Walter Oldnettle, Hugh Sneeringer, Mame Plager, Esther Fahrenkrog, Della Oldenettel, Eunice Sneeringer, Sina Hilyard, Tessie Fraley, Daisy Hilyard, Gertie Bley, Esther Plager Lizzie Sneeringer Annie Sneeringer, and Louis Oldenettle.  The student identification did not indicate who the teacher was.

Next,(the Liberty school or Benner school). #166.  The Liberty (Benner) school was near the Benner Presbyterian Church on land donated by the Benner family.

            In 1907 there were thirty-six students; the teacher’s salary was forty dollars a month.  The salary jumped to seventy dollars in 1925, and the library contained  sixty-four books.

            Mildred Pullen taught from 1944 to 1947.  Her monthly salary was one hundred and fifty dollars.  The school now had a piano,a radio, art equipment, maps, globe and linen window shades.

            A picture of the students at Liberty School dated 1921-1922, submitted by Ruth Marth, had these names listed: Jessie (Johnson) Partridge, Clara (Buhs) Duelm, Laura (Dingerson) Snedeker, Dorothy (Johnson) Breitwiser, Joe Johnson, Ethel (Dingerson) Hendrickson, Mildred (Johnson) Shelton, Mildred (Walter) Crowder, Ruth (Hallows) Marth, Velma (Buhs) Cochran, Evelyn Bott, Cordelia( Hallows) Heal, Jessie (Scheldt) Fensterman, Edgar Edington Alfred Buhs, Lenora Bott  (Teacher).

            Another picture, not dated, submitted by Violet Wiemers, had these names listed as students: Nellie Thomae, Chester Thomae, Pearl Fensterman, Susie Wood, Viola Huette, Edith Dingerson, Harry Marth, Ben Jones, Etta Jones, Lena Scheldt, Edna Thomae, Myrtle Dingerson, Bert Huette, Roy Brenker, Ireain Dingerson, Ida Wood, Clara Huette, Emma Gabriel, Ethel Wood and teacher Alice Barnes.

Next, Luken School.  Luken school was located between Bunker Hill and Dorchester (where the railroad tracks crossed  State Route 138).

            In 1907 there was a different teacher for each semester. Pay was $30 to $35 month.  There was no library, and tuition the second semester was $4 per month.

            In 1909 there was still no library because the books were destroyed by people who slept in the school.  By 1915 the school had thirty- eight books, and had blackboards and slates.

            In 1944-45, three students were transported to Dorchester #135 School, and one student to Bunker Hill #164 School.  The building that housed Luken School was destroyed by a tornado in 1948.

            A picture of  students dated 1932 gave these names:  Teacher, Edna Wohlert, Elveta Mae (Sauerweirn) Schaffer, Evelyn (Rose) Landreth, Elvera June ( Sauerwein) Baldridge, Elroy Meyers, Jack Benjey, Norman (Butch) Rull, Jewel (Benjey) Sandersan, Opal Mae( Johnson) Welch, Charles, Verna (Rull) Brackenhoff, Vernadine( Sauerwein) Fleming.  Picture submitted by Evelyn (Rose) Landreth.

Next, Millville school #163.

            In 1907, teacher Gertrude Love earned forty dollars a month and taught eleven pupils.  Tuition was $3.636 per month per student.  In 1908, the building was listed as a brick building with six windows, 17 desks, and two trees.  In 1920 the students had new desks, and sold buttons at ten cents each to buy new library books.

            Mrs. Irma Owen, the teacher (1946-47), received $150 a month, and the school had accumulated several hundred books.

Millville School was sold July 8, 1950, to LaVerne Gosch, and used for a home. There is a picture of Millville School with  three ladies pictured by the school: one was Gertrude Love, the teacher, her sister and a cousin.

Next, the Nesbit (Mize) School.

The Nesbit School was started in 1860 after a school meeting on November 26, 1859.   At this meeting a site was selected and a sixteen square foot building was authorized at a cost of fifty dollars or less.  On March 11, 1860, Miss Mary Sinclair, the teacher was paid twenty-four dollars.  Another early teacher was paid ten dollars per month.  The district boarded the teacher, and if they had no children in school, they would receive two to two dollars and fifty cents per week for boarding.

In 1870, Benjamin Mize repaired the school for forty dollars, replacing glass, sealing windows, patching plaster and preparing wall for painted blackboards.  Wood to heat the school was provided by parents of children in school. The teacher at this time earned thirty dollars a month.

In 1882, a new building was built to house the school by G. W. Mize for eighty dollars.  Waste material salvaged from the old school built a fence for $8.80.  Members of the Mize family served for many years on the Nesbit School, Board of Directors.  The school was sold July 8, 1950, at an auction to William Cooper, and torn down for the lumber.

Next, Ness School. #161.

In 1907, teacher Ella Hinz taught twenty one students and earned thirty five dollars a month.  Subjects were reading, writing and arithmetic, language, grammar, history, orthography, geography and physiology.  A picture of the school was provided but no students were listed.

In 1910, the school held a social and made enough money to purchase blackboards.

In 1947-48, there were l8 students, and four hundred books in the library.  The teacher received a salary of two hundred twenty five dollars a month.  The school year was 170 days.

Next, Pleasant Hill School #165.

            In 1907, teacher Mary Aveiss received thirty-five dollars a month.  They had seventy library books.  The average cost of tuition per month was one dollar and sixteen and two-thirds cents per month.  In 1926, Miss Claribel Seim taught nine students at a salary of eighty dollars per month.  The building was new and in excellent condition, and there was a basement.  By 1946-47 there were one hundred fifty five library books.

            In 1947-48 (the last year?) Nellie Mize had twenty- four students and made two hundred dollars a month.  There were ten trees at the edge of the grounds.  A picture was shown, but no students.

            The school was sold July 8, 1950, to William Cooper and torn down for lumber.

Next, Smalleytown School #162.

            In 1906, Frances Smalley, teacher, had twenty- four students and her salary was forty dollars a month.  The school year was 146 days.  The last annual report was 1947-48, the teacher was Laura Snedeker, who received one hundred fifty dollars per month and the library had two hundred fifty books.

            January 4, 1944, the school received a letter from County Superintendent of Schools congratulating the students for winning first place in the recent scrap drive.

            In 1944-45, the school had a radio and a warm lunch program; (lunch heated on an electric plate).

            When the school was closed, the students had a choice of where to go. The three girls chose to go to Woodburn and the three boys went to Bunker Hill.  A small portion of Smallytown School was pictured with students dated 1906-07.  The students were as follows: Lester Smith, Frank Smith, Lydia (Heal) Dey, Billy Bort, Bertha (Peters) Stammer, Goldie( Peters) Rull, Bessie Marston, Lester Heal, Henry Smith, Mildred (Wood) Lloyd, Beulah (Barnes) Omsted, Elsie (Bort) Shaller, Ferna Jacobi, Della (Peters) Buhs, Annie Bort, Chester Kehr, Harry Jones, Rose (Peters) Penning, Van Jacobi, Francis (Smalley) Pennington (teacher) Oliver Marston, Viva (Wood) Leggett, and Milton Jacobi.  The school was sold July 8, 1950, to T. W. Kirby, Jr., and used for a home.

Next, Woodburn School #167.

            The Woodburn school went through many changes as enrollment changed.  It was first housed in the Baptist Church in 1837, then a brick building in the center of Woodburn in 1846, with an overflow in the Congregational Church during 1850-51. In 1852 a two-story red brick building was built, which lasted until 1913.  Children kept on going past eighth grade as long as they wanted.  They had such courses as botany and advanced math and a music teacher from Shurtleff College came out to teach music for paying students.

            In 1952, Woodburn was the only other school beside Meisener School in Bunker Hill that was in operation in Community Unit #8 school district.  It had an enrollment of 59 students and had three rooms to accommodate them.

            The teachers who were employed there were Mrs. Mildred Pullen who had grades one through four, and Asbury Walk, who had grades five through eight.

            The building was enlarged to nearly double its former size in the summer of 1950.  An addition   was made to the rear of the school at a cost of twelve thousand two hundred fifty dollars. This addition was used by Mr. Walk’s classes.  Three pictures were shown, one in 1852, and one in 1912, plus a picture of the new addition talked about in the paragraph above.

Mrs. Pullen’s classes occupied the south room in the original building.  The other room was used for various purposes, such as a recreational room in winter months, and also a study hall for classes when there were other classes in session in their rooms. A picture of the students in front of Woodburn School, dated, October 1927, was shown with names of students as follows: Arthur Partridge, Orrin Schmidt, Leighton Sanner, Nelson Gugger, Olen Hallows, Harold Brueggeman, Everet Wood, Irving Bostick, Opal (Gugger) Adcock, Lois (Thyer) Weishaupt, Fern (Reader) Long, Ruth E. Bouillon, Eldarene (Buhs) Kohle, Dorothy (Welch) Fite, Lola (Payne Zarges) Hallows, Arlene Wood, Dorothy (Brueggemen) Welling, Ralph Partridge, Virgil Schmidt, Harry Show, Dale Welch, Charles Payne, Lyman Hallows, Melvin Buhs, Albert Wood, Hallie (Bostick) Hand, Mary (Wood) Seward, Rosey (Show Callahan) Staggs, Anita Partridge Reynolds, Anita Schmidt, Dorothy (Clayton) King, Evelyn (Elliott) Schmidt, Teachers Viva Doty & Erma Schaum.

            Also listed was a map of country schools, showing 13 in number and their location.

Next, Bunker Hill Community Unit School District by Elden Duelm.

            The first school in Bunker Hill Township was established between 1825 and 1830 at a location between Bunker Hill and Woodburn.

            The citizens of Bunker Hill erected a building in the fall of l839 that housed both a church and the schoolhouse.  It was 18 feet by 26 feet and was only a few feet from the present Congregational Church.  It was moved many times and was torn down and destroyed in 1883.  Picture included.

            A brick schoolhouse was built, date unknown, later referred to as the old red brick schoolhouse.  It was a two-story brick building, and the building supposedly remained until 1948, Then it was damaged by a tornado in 1948 and was reduced to a one-story structure.

            In 1862, the Bunker Hill Military Academy was leased and used as a public school for seven years.

On Monday, October 21, 1867, a vote was taken at the “old red brick schoolhouse”.  It was either for or against borrowing money to buy ground to build a badly needed schoolhouse.

A ¾ acre area opposite the Methodist Church was purchased.  The entire school matter was highly controversial, but a building was built and was opened on December l, 1869 with some 300 pupils enrolled.  Picture included.

The first formal graduation of students from the new school was held on Tuesday, June 14, 1881 with nine members of the class.

In March 1928, the state threatened to withdraw the high school’s accredited rating and also to stop payment of $2,000 annually from the state distributive fund if steps were not taken to remodel the very antiquated building.

On Thursday March 15, 1928, an election was held and $18,000 was approved 403 to 30 to repair and remodel the old school building. That very week, however, Mr. George N. Meissner, from St.Louis, came forth with an offer to match dollar for dollar with the school district, up to $30,000 for a new school building.

A community meeting was called March 26th at the Lincoln theatre and a resolution was drawn to accept the challenge. Petitions were circulated calling for an election to put the building proposition to a vote. The work on the new building was started in the fall of 1928.  The old school building was utilized that year for the last time.  It stood just in front of the new structure and had to be razed as soon as the new building was ready for occupancy.  The $80,000 Meissner School was dedicated on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1929.  A picture of the first Meissner School was included in the article.

Late in 1948, the formation of Community Unit District #8 was approved with Bunker Hill being located almost in the center of the district.

After the organization of the unit, which went into effect on July 1, 1948, a movement began to promote the building of an addition to the school to replace facilities lost in the tornado of that year and also to promote proper accommodations for an increasing enrollment.  While the matter was still in the preliminary talk stage, George N. Meissner made visits to Bunker Hill and gave a check totaling  $15,000 to be used toward the building.  This gave the planning the needed impetus.  A bond issue was approved by the district for $323,000 to build an addition to the school, and also build a new gymnasium.  A state grant of $40,000 for the restoration of tornado losses was approved.  Work started on the structure in July.

Work progressed slowly, and after receiving another gift of $15,000 from Mr. Meissner to be applied on the school, the plans were altered to include a basement not in the original plans.  The new addition was built and furnished at a cost of $276,544 and consisted of a regulation size gymnasium, ten classrooms and two large basement rooms.  The building was put into use during the school term 1951-52.  The graduating class of 1950-51 was the first class to graduate from the school in the unfinished gymnasium.

A bond issue was voted on to build a new high school.  It passed and the building was completed in early 1964, and the move was made at the beginning of the second semester, January 1964.  Six-rooms had been added to the south end of the high school building by 1968.  Two building financing issues were brought to the public in June of 1970.  A bond issue of $100,000 was approved 268 to 70.  A rent fund was approved, 255 to 81.  Fifteen acres were purchased at the end of West Orange Street and a new building, Wolf Ridge Educational Center, was built to house pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first, and second grades.

The school district continues to use rooms in the Duelm Administration Building as classrooms as well as the administrative office of the District Superintendent.  During, 1999, the school district passed a referendum to make matching funds available for the State of Illinois Funds to add facilities on the Wolf Ridge Campus.