Friday, February 23, 2018

Wisconsin Country Schools

Once a country schoolhouse, now a private residence
Barron County, WI
Photo taken last week.

Yes, the house above was originally built as a school. If I had been close enough to get a photo of the west side, you would see the bank of tall windows.

"In 1919, there were 190,000 one-room schools scattered all around the American countryside. Today, fewer than 400 remain.  These schools, the mainstay of the Wisconsin public elementary school system, had their origins in the Land Ordinance of 1785 where land was set aside to fund education. It said that section 16 in every township in every county be set aside to raise money for the use of schools. The land could sell for no less than $1.25 an acre. Sales commenced May 1, 1850, raising the first money for public education. In the town of Mitchell, section 16 is still known as the school section and remains in much the same state as 1850." - From

Joliet School
Now part of the Barron County Historical Society Museum

 Earl, WI Public School, 1924
Now an antique shop

 Sunny Valley School
Originally located in the town of Wheaton,
Later moved to Irvine Park, Chippewa Falls
as a museum

Wisconsin's country schools were built on one acre of land and were located every couple miles. That meant that most kids walked to school, rain or shine, winter or winter. (Winter takes up most of the year up here). 

 I think this former schoolhouse
is located somewhere west of Bloomer, WI

 Woodside School in Barron County,
Now completely gone from the landscape.
I attended this fabulous school in grades 1 and 2
And I'm not responsible for the broken window.
I don't remember learning a thing except that the chocolate goiter tablets were delicious
and most of the other kids would give theirs to me!

About walking to school, uphill both ways: There was one large Catholic family in our school district who did occasionally transport their kids to school in their wood panel station wagon. I remember the dad once asked if I wanted a lift home from school. Of course I said no because they were Catholic. I don't ever remember my parents saying anything negative about that family, so it must have been the kids in the school (figures, doesn't it!) with their strange tales who gave me a fear of Catholic adults. That poor family, undeserving of ridicule and suspicion!  I think they were the only Catholic family in our school. And I'm pretty sure we were the only Baptist family. (Most of the others were Lutheran and Methodist. There was one Communist.) Fortunately I was young enough that the tall tales didn't really affect my relationship with the Catholic family's first and second graders, but imagine...!!!  Besides, what stupid kid would turn down a perfectly good ride in order to walk home in the cold and snow with older brothers who ran on ahead! And why were we so trusting of Lutherans?? (just kidding). :-)

Thank you for your patience and mercy, dear Lord. Help us to remember that your family is made of ALL whose trust is in You. Possibly even Baptists.

District No. 5
Somewhere west of Arland, WI
This is also currently a residence.

 This schoolhouse-turned-residence
is located in Dunn County, WI
Look at all that GREEN!

 Actually, this water cooler with a spigot was a modern contraption.
My school had a bucket and dipper.
We got all our communicable childhood diseases taken care of in just a couple years.

 Inside the Joliet School, pictured above
Most of the country schools were set up like this:
Chalkboards all along one wall
Stove at the back or front
Photos of Washington and Lincoln on either side of the flag
(No, neither was President at the time I attended)
Windows all along another wall

Of course there was no school cafeteria in those days and we carried our lunches to school in our Roy Rogers metal lunch boxes. I remember a common lunch packed for me was a couple hard boiled eggs, a tomato, itty bitty Morton S&P, and surely there must have been some good old carb in there, but I don't remember it. Maybe my brothers stole it from my lunchbox. Very Likely.

Cute grandkid doing his schoolwork
at my old-fashioned country school desk
in our home library

I think that desk came out of the Earl School when they had their auction years ago.
I also got an amazing deal of a set of world history pull-down maps.

Some Wisconsin kids still attend country schools
(this one in my neighborhood)


'Wisconsin Amish'
Set of four photo greeting cards and envelopes
Blank inside for your own message

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Cathy Keller said...

How I wondered what it was like to go to a country school. I loved reading Little House on the Prairie books and wishing it would be quite an experience to go to school then. Thank you for this lovely post! Have a wonderful weekend!

Sandra said...

I.LOVE.LOVE.LOVE.LOVE this post. All of the photos flipped me back in time, like a school house time machine. i want to live in the first one, but not with snow. love that one best. the school you went to for 1 and 2 grades, i went to one just like it, 2 rooms, 1-3 in one room and 4-6 in second room. in my fifth grade glass there were 4 girls and 1 boy who was the most beautiful boy ever. i even remember his name. Donny Money.... oh my and for grade 7 and 8 the school was just like that big brick school but was frame, shaped the same. did i say how much i love this post???? and i am still giggling at the Catholic thing, we were Baptist and my first best friend in middle of 9th grade, was Catholic and we are still best friends now and are in contact on FB and email daily. my dad was horrified that he could not break our bond. i was in her wedding she in mine, she had to get special permission to go inside a Baptist church, i was not allowed to stand on the inside of the rail around the party. i am so glad TIMES HAVE CHANGED and all these silly things no longer matter

Lynne said...

Loved this school house journey back . . .
Seeing Wisconsin School Houses brought back some memories . . .
I remember being inside of a School House near Lone Rock, Spring Green or thereabouts.
I think I remember it referred to the school, “in the valley.”
One of my mothers friends taught in that school.

The old school desks were in the small Lone Rock school where my parents taught.
My mom was my first grade teacher, my dad the principal.
Someone carved my name in one of the desks . . .
with a “slur” on our family name. (Wow, that sure has stayed with me.)

Michigan has small schoolhouses scattered throughout the state as well.
Most have been restored as residences . . . antique shops.

At one time I had an old school desk for my children to “play school.”
Wonder where it is now . . .

I remember a . . .”they are Catholic” comment too.
Having lived where everyone was Congregational, Methodist or Lutheran . . .
“Being Catholic” brought in some kind of “anomaly, strangeness” I guess.

Strange how I remember the “fragrance” of old school rooms, buildings . . .
Must be the combination of real wooden floors, chalk dust and old upright pianos.

Thank you Judy for this post.

NanaDiana said...

I loved this post, Judy. We have several of the old schools around here and I love it when they have been rehabbed and made into a home or business. I hate to see them abandoned and falling down. It is just plain sad, I think.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. xo Diana

Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow said...

Those are so charming, and sad to think some are gone. The church style ones remind me of Little House. I like the old desk in your library with your cute grandson working at it. We had a couple of old desks when we were little. My father was a plumber and he use to do a lot of work in the old Catholic churches and schools. I've been underneath some in the cellar and the cellar has the outlay of the building above. Some have another entire church beneath with an alter and seating underneath, sometimes shrines to walk around on the outside of the seating. Sad to see them torn down and not preserved for their history. So many built by specific immigrant groups like the Italians, French, and so on. xoxo Su

podso said...

Wonderful, interesting post! And that you went to such a schoolhouse. It's so nice if they repurpose the old school houses and not tear them down. Enjoyed the denominational talk! :-)

Preppy Empty Nester said...

As I type this, I have CNN on and long for the good old days. Great post, Judy. Enjoy your weekend, dear Judy.

Susie said...

Judy, I love all your wonderful old school photos. So interesting . There's an old school house about two miles from here. I keep thinking someone will safe it. Speaking of Catholics. My mother in law used to tell the story of waiting by a fence and calling this one boy a Cat-Licker...some kind of spin on catholic. Well that boy chased her down once and thumped her head. She went home crying and her mother said , "Now Francis, what did you call that boy? " My MIL told her mom and her mom said , so behave, you asked for that thumping. LOL The strange thing is...that boy and Francis grew up and they had children that married and made them relatives. LOL. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

Robin said...

I love these pictures. Have a great weekend.

Kate said...

Your post was a pleasure to read. I loved the photos of the wide variety of the school houses around WI.

Marcia said...

Enjoyed your series on old one rooms. We took a drive today north to PA and I noticed on of these that's now a residence. No photo though.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Love this post, Judy! Great photos of so many school houses in your area. My parents lived in an old school house in their later years. It has now been torn down since a huge tree fell onto the roof and sliced it in half. ♥

Terri D said...

I didn't attend a one-room school but my school was kindergarten through 12th grade in multi-rooms. Don't see those much anymore either. You have some amazing photos here. And that handsome grandson is the best one!

Cindy said...

Those schools are truly amazing. I love the history behind them and the fact that many are still standing and in use!

Dicky Bird said...

I love the old school turned to regular house. Our friends did this a few miles down it was the Town of Easton - not sure what district - school. Adorable! I'm pretty sure I was in that antique shop - LOL

Vee said...

What a fun read! Your wit makes me grin. Childhood communicable diseases indeed. First I have ever heard of chocolate goiter pills. Guess that with all the extras you took, you’ll be goiter free straight through the millennium. I very much appreciate old schoolhouses and feel right at home in them. I think that you do, too.

ellen b. said...

Haha! Possibly even Baptists. My hubby and I have a few jokes about our Baptist heritage and other influences, too. Love all those school houses. Hubby's mother's first teaching position was in a one room school in Kansas. Hope you have a good weekend.

Mrs.T said...

Such a fun and interesting read, Judy! My mother went to a one-room schoolhouse right through 8th grade and never stopped singing its praises. In the 1960s my younger brother went to a 2-room school. Too long a story to go into here, but due to a physical handicap he needed to be on one level. Our local school refused to move a classroom to make that possible, so he was tuitioned to another area school that could accommodate him. The local school would never get away with that nowadays!

Missy George said...

WE have some very similar looking old school houses in PA..My grammar school looked very much like the brick one..Enjoyed your photos..interesting post..Have a good week..

Lady Fi said...

What charming buildings!


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