Fairview Township's Schools

This excerpt was contributed by Karen Swegle Holt.
Thank you Karen!


Taken from History of Fairview Township and The Village of Fairview, 139th Anniversary, 1836-1975 by H. E. Wood


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As soon as the settlers had provided living accommodations for their families, they turned their attention toward the establishment of churches and schools…. Also, they recognized the need for learning, and accordingly, schools were established to provide the more formal training for the children.

That the parents were interested in education is evidenced by Matthias Swegle, the first known settler in Fairview Township, who attended school for three months with his younger children, even though he was about forty years of age and weighed 340 pounds. It is not known what school he attended, but from the location of his land holdings one might surmise he attended either the Pisgah or Johnson school, as there were a number of families who settled very early in this part of the Township.

The first school in the Village of Fairview was a log cabin with puncheon floors and slab seats without backs. The teachers were almost always efficient instructors and disciplinarians, and used ferules and switches to command respect and obedience. The first schools were of the neighborhood subscription type as we find the following descriptions.

In 1838 just after the Village had begun to function, Simon S. Wyckoff was employed by the villagers to teach school in an old log cabin, set aside for that purpose, which was located on the south side of the Public Square. Abraham Gulick, the second teacher in Fairview, taught the 1839 term with the following families represented: Groendyke, Martin, Voorhees, Wilson, Wyckoff, Davis, Gilmore, Pumyea, Darland, Hageman, and Polheums. Each family paid $2.00 per child. School began April 8, 1839 and ended June 14, 1839. The teacher received $28.91. There was a school in the northeast part of Fairview (in the Richard Addis neighborhood) in which the following families were represented: Foster, Leeker, Davis, Tipton, Williamson, Addis, and Martin. There were two sessions in 1838, and the teacher was paid $13.95 for his services. T. M. Morse, who lived in Section 2, taught a subscription school for $15 per month. He took what for pay and hauled it to Farmington where he sold the wheat for 25¢ per bushel.

The Fairview Academy was built in 1838 just east of the present location of the Reformed Church. The structure was 26x40 feet in size with two stories, and was constructed by Isaac Hageman, Sr. and Isaac Hageman, Jr. The upper story was used for religious purposes until 1841 when the Reformed Church Building was completed. The first teacher at the Academy was S.S. Cornwell. School was continued in this building until 1863. The U.S. Bureau of Census of 1840 listed the Academy as having forty-five students.

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… During this period the schools shared in the building growth of the Township. In 1863 a two-story frame building was erected in the northwest part of town at a cost of $3500. The Fairview Academy was sold and moved east of its original site to the property now owned by Eugene Suydam. The new school was surrounded by beautiful grounds, with delightful grove and lawn not excelled, perhaps, by any public grounds in the County. Its rooms were well furnished, giving ample and comfortable accommodations for 225 pupils. This building was located on the site of the former Fairview Grade School. School was held in this building until 1899 when it was sold and moved to the south part of town, where it was converted into

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a residence and is now occupied by Harry Vollmar. M. M. Cook, who was born in Fairview on November 9, 1855, served as Principal of this school for 15 years before being elected County Superintendent of Schools in 1894. He served in this capacity from 1895 to 1919. Cook served as a teacher in the Grade School before becoming Principal, as we find the following item in the Saturday Leaf, dated October 21, 1876: “We have printed Report Cards for teachers Mapes and Cook. We gladly chronicle this advance in school discipline.”

On June 17, 1899, the people of Fairview voted to build a new school building, and to bond the district not to exceed $10,000. T. H. Travers, J. W. Gaddis, and C. Gilmore, Board Members, were inspecting buildings on Tuesday, June 20, 1899. William Wolfe of Galesburg was employed as architect. The contract for construction was let to Hjerpe and Munson for $7,950. The building was completed in 1900, and continued to be used until 1973 when all school were combined into a K-12 building. Fairview’s first high school was established in 1897, and was held in the building on the corner of Pumyea and Carter Street until the new building was completed. Mrs. E. H. Murphy taught from 1898 to 1900, and she was in charge of both grade and high school. The first Baccalaureate Sermon was delivered in the Methodist Church by the Rev. G. P. Snedaker to the first graduates Edgar Zabriskie, Ruth Wilson, and Carl Polheums who received their diplomas on June 7, 1900. The following year there was no eleventh grade so that the second class graduated in 1902. At this time the high school course was only three years, but in 1908 the fourth year was added.

By 1870 the following schools had been established in the Township outside the Village of Fairview: Maple Grove, Johnson or Pleasant Hill, Pisgah, Rosedale, Smoke Row or Oak Grove, Smith, Sunbeam, and Lamb or Schleich. All or some of these schools were, no doubt, established as early as 1840, but no factual evidence as to date of establishment is available. Some of these schools were moved slightly from their original location, but each continued to function until closed or absorbed by unit districts in the late 1940’s.

Any contributions, corrections, or suggestions would be deeply appreciated!

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