The Sterling education history dates back to 1837 when the "three R's" were administered by Mrs. Eliphalet B. Worthington, the first school teacher in Sterling.
The year was 1837 and the earlier children of the pioneer settlers in the area were without the educational process for some three years before Mrs. Worthington accepted the office.
The Sterling history indicates the first frame school building built on a lot near Broadway and paid for by the citizens of Harrisburg, the name of the town at that time. Later, a brick school house wsa built and then school districts formed and on Feb. 14, 1846, and the the first school officials were elected in the office of Hugh Wallace, E.B. Worthington was elected school treasurer and his bond was set at $100. Jesse Pensore was appointed treasurer in 1854 with a bond of $8,000.
In 1855, L.L. Emmons and Henry Tuttle and Fred Sackett were elected trustees of District No. 3, which was divided, the second ward retaining the number three, the first ward being number seven and the third ward District No. 8. School was held in the first ward building and in the old courthouse until 1860, when a two story brick building was built at 15th Ave. and East 5th Street a a cost of $3,000.
The first directors of the district were R. DeGarmo, J.E. Cobby and George W. Brewer, the latter holding his office for 33 and one-half years and was a leader in the movement to consolidate his district with that of the second ward in 1898. The first ward school continued to grow and by 1902 the building was so crowded some of the pupils were provided temporary quarters in the old enclosed pavilion which stood in nearby Lincoln Park for many years.
In 1906, bonds were sold in the amount of $10,000 to finance an addition to the old Lincoln School. The old Lincoln School was demolished around 1950 and a new school building completed in 1951.
The old second ward school (Central School), was erected in 1867 and was a three story brick veneer erected in 1886, while on the northeast corner of the square was a small frame house used as a janitor's residence. The larger building was devoted to the grades and the smaller building was the high school. The absorbing of the high school by the Sterling-Coloma Township high school (now the Sterling Township High School), in 1898 left the smaller building available for use by the grades. In the fall of 1898, the third floor was abandoned and the grades moved to the smaller building.
In the Central School yard at one time was a granite sundial donated in the name of Alfred Byaliss, who was superintendent of the second ward schools from 1874 to 1895. The monument was dedicated in ceremonies held Aug. 28, 1912. Another monument, still a landmark in Sterling today, is the stone in the Central School schoolyard which marks the place President Abraham Lincoln spoke while visiting in Sterling on July 18, 1856. The old Central School building was demolished and replaced by a new structure in 1921 which remains today.
The first Wallace School was a brown, dingy, one-story frame building erected in 1856. It had but two rooms and an entry. As the school district grew, frame buildings were added. In 1865 an election was held for the purchase of more ground and this addition gave the school the entire block. Another election in 1874 paved the way for a building not to exceed $25,000. In 1889, additional bonds were approved and a primary building for four rooms was added to the main structure.
In 1884 the school was named "Wallace School" as a tribute to Hugh and James Wallace, father and son, who had long been identified with its growth and development. On April 23, 1909, the Wallace School was partly destroyed by fire and then reconstructed. In 1927 both of the old buildings were razed and the present school building erected at a cost of $95,000.
STERLING HIGH SCHOOL
The necessity of a better high school was realized by the community and after an election April 11, 1896, approved the establishment of a township high school. Those first members of the high school board included C.A. Wetherbee, the Rev. E. Brown, James Platt, F.W. Wheeler and W.A. Sanborn.
The first board selected a site for the building which was approved during an election Aug. 1, 1896. The site was the grounds of the old Catholic church at the corner of 5th Ave. and 4th St. In another election May 11, 1897, voters approved the issuing of $40,000 in bonds for the new building. Sterling High School opened in the fall of 1898 with almost 200 students.
The first section of the current Sterling high school complex was built in 1949 and an addition in 1963. The former building was used as a junior high school before it was razed and today, yet, the site of the first high school is a vacant lot. While the original 1898 high school opened with 200 students, for comparison, during the 1975-76 school year nearly 1800 students were enrolled.
First Ward School, and now District No. 7 in Sterling township, was organized in 1856. The district at that time was unable to build a school house, but Mr. Hezekiah Brink, always ready for any emergency of the kind, came promptly to the rescue, and put up a stone house which was rented for school purposes until 1860, when the present building on Spring street, between Fourth and Fifth was erected, costing three thousand dollars. The district employs three teachers. The grounds have a large number of native shade trees, making them very attractive. The average attendance of pupils in 1877 is two hundred and twenty. The School Directors are, K. Bowman, A. Landis, L. H. Woodworth. To show the generous manner in which the citizens of Sterling support their schools, we append the following tables of taxes for school purposes 1865 to 1876. First Ward: 1865, $1.097.38; 1866, $1,555.63; 1867, $1,343,98; 1868, $1,783.95 1869, $2,236.07; 1870, $1,943.24; 1871, $1,824.55; 1872, $1,054.08; 1873 $1,299.30; 1874, $1,749,10; 1875, $1,667.82; 1876, $1,005.87.
Second Ward School
Photo contributed by Barbara
The back of the photo reads: Room 4 taught by Lottie leFevre in 1886.
Back row L-R: Ezra Kenney, Paul Johnson, Frank Hoofstitler, Christ Weller, Walter Breidlung, Arthur Davis, Gus Buber, Harry Williams, John Decker and Will Dudley.
Third Row R-L:John Rourk, Will Oyer, Frank Aument, Charles Hoofstitler, Ben Aument, George Beckey, Frank Libby, Romeo B?, Frank Bossler, Oscar Buck and Will Kadel.
Second Row- L-R: Miss LeFevre, Ida Overholser, Nellie Herrman, Mable Lingle, G? Smith, Edith Buzzard, Pearl Capp, Emma Rutt, Sara Hartman, Gerry Green, Carrie Gettel, Teckla Tornrouth and Metra Crand?
Front Row R-Left: Ida Camp, Anna Schimmelpfenning, Kate Buek?, Elsie Wagley, Grace Pfisterer, Hattie Phillips, Lillie Wooley, Li? Wood, Alice Knabe, May Johnson, Polly Hague and Belle Harpe?
In foreground: Charles Over-left, Charles Sprinkel center and right ? Horner.
Second Ward School forms District No. 3, and the school for quite a time was held in a wooden building erected in 1859, on the ground where the present building now stands. The building originally cost two thousand dollars, and with some addition served until 1867, when the noble structure which is now the pride of Sterling was erected. This building is four stories high including basement, and contains eleven well furnished school rooms which will seat six hundred pupils. Its original cost was sixty-five thousand dollars. School was first opened in it on the first of April, 1867, under the principalship of Prof. C. C. Buell, with five assistants. The school has grown steadily since that time, until thirteen teachers have to be employed. The Principals of the school have been successively: Clinton C. Buell, Mrs. S. S. Robertson, Hailan P. French, O. J. Stowell, M. W. Smith, and Alfred Bayliss. The school is organized into four departments - Primary, Intermediate, Grammar, and High School, the three lower departments being divided into grades. The, time spent in a grade is not fixed, but pupils are advanced as fast as their abilities demand. The High School course covers a period of three years. The first class graduated in 1873, and among them are some of the most successful teachers in that school, as well as in others in the county. The number of scholars now attending the school is over six hundred, filling every room to its utmost capacity. The number of graduates so far have been: 1873, nine; 1874. eleven; 1875, eleven; 1876, sixteen; 1877, nine. The Second Ward has had for sometime a Board of Education, the present one being composed as follows John G. Manahan, Elias LeFevre, W. F. Eastman, Ralph B. Colecord, M. S. Henry, and Sidney T. Osmer.
To show the generous manner in which the citizens of Sterling support their schools, we append the following tables of taxes for school purposes 1865 to 1876 Second Ward :â€”1865, $8,901,63; 1866, $7,866,38; 1867, $9,574,08; 1868, $12,241,69; 1869, $13,693,69; 1870, $13,751,85; 1871, $13,656,93; 1872, $15,084.79; 1873, $18,536,54; 1874, $15,873,84; 1875, $18,455,79; 1876, $10,221.19
[Bent & Wilson History of Whiteside County, 1877]
Third Ward School comprises District No. 8, of the township and was organized in 1866. Until 1874 the departments of the school were kept in three wooden buildings originally erected at a cost of about five thousand dollars These buildings were separated from each other, and caused a great deal of inconvenience. As the Ward grew in population, it was found that new buildings had to be erected for the convenience of teachers and scholars, and in 1874 the present imposing stricture was erected at a cost of twenty-eight thousand dollars, including heating apparatus, wells, fencing, etc. The building is constructed of Milwaukee pressed brick, and situated on Fourth street, between E an F streets, and has a seating capacity for five hundred pupils, every department being now occupied, requiring nine teachers. The rapid growth of the Ward will soon call for more school room. The Board of Directors consists of William A. Sanborn, B. C. Church, and James M. Wallace.
To show the generous manner in which the citizens of Sterling support their schools, we append the following tables of taxes for school purposes 1865 to 1876 Third Ward :1865, $3,436,16; 1866, $2,760.10; 1867, $4,093,39; 1868, $4,945.26; 1869, $4,759,58; 1870, $3,595,42; 1871, $3,595,42; 1872, $5,121,56 1873, $6,126,29; 1874, $9,861,99; 1875, $15,375,28; 1876, $10,258.77. [Bent & Wilson History of Whiteside County 1877]
The city was divided into three wards, and each ward was a school district. As the population increased and the city was divided into five wards, the names First, Second and Third Ward schools was incorrect, as district No. 3 included the Second, Third and part of the First wards. The First ward, district No. 7, named their school the "Lincoln School." The Fourth and Fifth wards, district No. 8 called theirs the Wallace School. The board of district No. 3, thinking that eventually there would be but one high school, decided to name the school the "Sterling School." We find no reliable records of district No. 3 until April 1864 when Joseph Golder, A.A. Terrill and L. Vaughn were the directors. Theyw ere the Board when the present large building was erected in 1866 and 67. Prof. C.C. Buell was the first superintendent in the new building, with five lady teachers. He first graded the school, organized the high school, and arranged the course of study. Prof. Buell was succeeded by Sarah Hackett Stevenson, one years, (since noted in literary circles), then Prof. H.P. French, O.J. Stowell, M.W. Smith, Alfred Bayliss, C.H. Crandell, then Prof. Bayliss again, adn the present efficient Superintendent H.L. Chaplin, with sixteen lady teachers and two specials. In 1886 the building was so crowded that it became necessary to have more room, and the new building just east of the main edifice was erected which is used exclusively for the high school. The first class was graduated in 1873, and the present number of graduates is 276. The first Board of Education (Six members) was elected in April 1873. The members of the present Board are Rev. E. Brown, President; John W. Niles, Secretary; C. Burkhlder, J.H. Lawrence, R. Keeney, W.W. Davis and W.W. Haskell. [The Sterling Standard December 11, 1896]
BACK -- HOME
© Copyright Genealogy Trails