Hillsdale County


Jonesville High School

Jonesville, MI (High School) - contributed by Paul Petosky

History of Hillsdale County, Michigan, with illustrations and biographical
By Crisfield Johnson, Everts & Abbott, Philadelphia 1878

An interesting article was prepared by Hon. Witter J. Baxter, treating upon the history of the union school of the village and read as a centennial document in 1876. It has been recently substantially bound, and is now before us. We give it, nearly as written, for the benefit of the seekers after the secrets of history.

This school was established as a district school in the fall of 1832, though the district was not fully organized until 1833 or 1834, at which time it included the entire township of Vance (as it was then called), and said township comprised the entire county of Hillsdale, which was then attached to and formed a part of Lenawee County. The loss of early records, and the loose manner in which those which have been preserved werekept, renders it impossible to give with accurancy the names of officers of the district or teachers of the school for a number of years after it was organized. It would seem that Benaiah Jones, one of the first settlers in the county, who laid out and gave name to the village, and his brother-in-law James Olds, were the first officers, hired the first teachers, furnished the schoolroom, and boarded the teachers. The school was opened in the fall of 1832 by Dr. William Mottram, in a bedroom in a block tavern kept by Benaiah Jones, which stood on the northwest corner of what are now known as Chicago and Water Streets, on lot 24, Jones Plat of Jonesville. Dr. Mootram kept the school but a few weeks, and was succeeded by Dr. Chase, who taught during the remainder of the winter and the next spring. The entire village at that time consisted of one log tavern, four log dwellings, one small frame dwelling and two log barns.

In the fall of 1833 a log house, known as the "Bell House" which stood on what is now Maumee Street, and a little north of the present Methodist church, was fitted up for a school house, by boring holes into logs and laying boards upon wooden pins driven into them for desks, and school was taught for five months by Benjamin L. Baxter, then a lad of eighteen. Among those who attended his school were some who have since become leading men in Hillsdale COunty. A band of Pottawattamie Indians then had their headquarters near this village, and among his scholars was a son of Baw Beese, their chief, from whom a lake near Hillsdale takes its name.

During the summer of 1834 a small log schoolhouse, 12 x 14 feet, with shed roof, was erected, on what is now Chicago Street, near the present Presbyterian church, and from that time school was kept for five months by a male teacher each year, and by a female teacher during the summer months. This building was used about one year, when a small frame schoolhouse was built a little south and east of the log schoolhouse, and in 1842 was removed to the lot now used and occupied by Benjamin R. Credit, just north of the present school lot, and used as a schoolhouse until 1844, when steps were taken for the erection of a more commodious house. This schoolhouse still forms part of the dwelling of B.R. Credit.

The new schoolhouse was not completed until the summer of 1847, and in the mean time the Presbyterian session house, now Steve Gregory's marbleshop, and standing where it now does, -- the Baptist church, and the Methodist church were alternately rented and used as school-rooms.

The district appears to have been first organized as a union school district in 1843, when the township of Scipio comprising a part of the territory of the district, appears to have been organized. Among the earliest preserved records of the district we find a vote, APril 19, 1838, to raise by tax on the property of the district $62, to be used, so far as necessary, for the instruction of indigent pupils, and from that time forward, so long as the school was in part supported by rate bills, we find each your liberal amounts voted to be raised by tax for instruction of indigent pupils; and we find abundant evidence from the records, aside from the traditions of the school, that no child has ever been debarred from any of its benefits by reason of poverty. From the directors report, made Oct. 7, 1840 we find there were then in the district of school age; between 5 and 17, 86; attending school under 5 or over 17, 9; total in district, 95; attending district school, 84. There was at the same time a private school kept in the village, where the rest were no doubt taught.

In the fall of 1847 the first two-story union brick schoolhouse, erected under the general school laws of the State, was completed on the west half of the present schoolhouse lot, at a cost of about $3000, being 30 by 60 feet, two stories high, with cupola and bell; and the school was opened in the new building by A.S. Welch, a graduate of Michigan University, and under his able management became, and since continued, one of the best union or graded schools in the State. At the annual meeting, Sept. 24, 1849, the district was reorganized under the law passed the previous winter, authorizing districts containing more than 100 scholars to enlarge the board by the election, in addition to the three officers previously allowed, of four trustees, making the school board consist of seven members. The two-story schoolhouse was found insufficient for the wants of the district, and in 1859 additional ground was purchased east of the Schoolhouse, making grounds 16 rods on Chicago Street by 12 rods on East Street, and steps were taken for the erection of a new school building. At the same time the district reorganized under the law passed the previous winter, by the election of a school board of six trustees, who, from their own number, elected a moderator, director, and assessor, which form of organization is still maintained. At the same meeting, under authority of the law last mentioned, all rate bills were abolished and the school made free to all residents of the district, and all moneys necessary for the support of the school were, and have since continued to raised by tax on the property in the district. The schoolhouse was repaired from time to time, and enlarged by making outside stairways and using the halls as school-rooms, and the church in the place, by lease, were used for the school until the fall of 1869, when the present elegant commodious and substantial schoolhouse was completed, at a cost for building, heating and seating of about $40,000, exclusive of the land. This building is of brick, three stories high, with stone basement, and entrance-towers on the east and west. It is divided into nine school-rooms and will accommodate, comfortably from 500 to 550 pupils, is heated with three Lawson furnaces and furnished with the best and most approved seats, desks and school-furniture. The school is divided into four departments - primary, secondary, grammar and high school, which are subdivided into grades and promotions are made from grade to grade and from department to department, on careful examination and certificate of teachers.. Instruction is given in all departments, so that a graduate of our union school may at once enter our State University or any college in the land. The board of trustees, of six members, elected for three years (two being elected each year to supply the places of two whose terms expire), have general control and management of the school, prescribe the course of study, make rules for the general government of teachers and of pupils, elect teachers by vote of the board, and have the supervision and charge of all matters pertaining to the school. Amond their duties is that of submitting to the electors of the district, at each annual meeting, estimates of expenses of the school for the ensuing year, and amounts necessary to be raised by tax, and an instance has hardly been known in the history of the district where the estimated amounts have not been cheerfully voted.

The school year is divided into three terms, one of 16 and two of 12 weeks each, making a total of 40 weeks....

The annual expense of running the school is usually between $9000 and $10,000. The following is a list of teachers who have been employed since the opening of the school in 1832, with personal remarks concerning each so far as their history is known. This list includes principals only:

1832 - Dr. William Mottram, taught four weeks; removed from Jonesville to Nottawa Prairie, St. Joseph Co. , Thence to Kalamazoo, where he still resides.

1832-33 - Dr. Chase, taught for four months; died at Coldwater, Branch Co MI.

1833- Miss Orra Nicholson, a niece of Benaiah Jones, taught four months, died at Jonesville in 1834.

1833-34 - Benjamin L. Baxter, taught five months; went to Dartmouth College and after his return to this State taught at Techumsch; read law at that place, and has there since practiced his profession; has been a member of the Legislature, and held the office of regent of the university for some years.

1834 - Miss Delilah Blackmar, four months - is not Mrs. Kempton.

1834 - 35 - Wolcott G. Branch, five months; was a lawyer by profession and died at Somerset in this county.

1835 - Miss Lucinda Kies, taught four months is now Mrs. Ayers.

1835-36 - Mr. Morse, five months; history unknown.

1836 - Miss Nancy Belknap, four months - deceased.

1836-37 Salem T. King, five months now deceased.

1837 - Miss Rachel Stilwell, taught four months and is now Mrs. H.L. Hewitt of Hillsdale.

1837 -38 - Mr. Johnston, five months

1838- Miss Belinda Sears taught for four months.

1838-39 - John Rose, five months

1839 - Miss Cordelia Van Ness, taught four months; now Mrs. J.M. Munroe, of Branch Co MI

1839-40 - Chester S. Kendall, nine months

1840-41- Same person taught nine months.

1841-42 - John Sweegles Jr. nine months - Published the Hillsdale Gazette and was afterwards State auditor general; died at St. John's Mich. in 1855

1842-43 - Jesse H. Owen, nine months

1843-44 - Thadeus Hampton, nine months; deceased

1844-45 - John C. Dunham, nine months; deceased

1845-46- S.S. Coryell, nine months, taught afterwards at Hillsdale and at Lansing, at which latter place he now resides.

1846-47 - George Fox - nine months;

1847-48 - Alpheus S. Welch, 42 weeks; salary $700; went from Jonesville to Ypsilanti as principal of State normal school, which position he retained until 1866, when he resigned and went to Florida; while residing there he was United States senator; left Florida on accounty of health of his family, and became first president of the Iowa State Agri. College at Ames IA., which position he still holds. He was one of the early graduates of the Michigan University. Taught at Jonesville also in 1848-49 - forty two years, at salary of $800.

1849-50 - Calvin S. Kingsley, 42 weeks, salary $700; a graduate of Michgian University; entered the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal CHurch ;removed to California, and thence to Nevada; studied law and divided his time between the pulpit and the bar.

1850-51 - A.S. Darrow, 30 weeks, salary $500

1851 - A.S. Welch, 12 weeks $230.

1851-52 - Same, 42 weeks $800.

1852-53 - George E. Dudley 42 weeks $700.

1853-54 - Same, 42 weeks, $800. Mr. Dudley entered the hardware business with R. Gardner and after a year or two of business life was appointed professor of Mathematics at Ypsilanti, which position he held until his death, some years since, in Detroit.

1854-55 - Rev. A.B. Dunlap and wife, 42 weeks $1100. Mr. Dunlap was a Presbyterian clergyman; afterwards removed to Grand Traverse Co.,

1855-56 - Moses M. Ham 42weeks $750.

1856-57 - Same, 42weeks $750.00; went from Jonesville to Detroit, as assistant editor of the Detroit Free Press, and from there removed to Dubuque Iowa where he became editor and proprietor of one of the leading newspapers of the State.

1857-58 - Rev. G.W. Bancroft, 42 weks $750.00: went from Jonesville to Hastings MI, where he taught for some years , and was afterwards ordained as a clergyman of the Episcopal Church, becoming rector of that church at Hastings.

1858-1859 - Same; same time and salary; also 1859-60

1860-61- J.C. Curtis, 42 weeks $750.

1861-62 - Same, 16 weeks $200;

1862 - Henry C. Noe, 29 weeks $400; entered hardware business at Burr Oak MI; afterwards became telegraph operator on lineof Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway.

1862-63 - Ephraim M. Murch, 42 weeks $600;

1863-64 - E.A. Frazer, 42 weeks, $650; a graduate of Michigan University; taught a number of years at Kalamazoo, where he now resides; is a member of the bar at that place.

1864 - Rev. E.W. Childs, 14 weeks - $700

1864-65 - Same, for languages alone, 28 weeks $200; present pastor of Presbyterian Church, Jonesville

1864-65 - Francis Smith, 28 weeks $700; a graduate of Michigan University and Law School; now in the practice of his professon at Muskegon.

1865 - Benjamin F. Wells, 14 weeks $700

1865-66 - Newman Dryer, 28 weeks $700

1866-1872 - F.B. McClellan, 42 weeks each year, at salary from $1000 to $1200; removed from her to Albion Calhoun, Co MI where he took charge of the public schools.

1872-73 - A.F. Cate, 40 weeks $1400 now in business at Manchester N.H.

1873-74 - G.A> Slayton, 40 weeks $1100; yet teaching in the State.

1874-76 - J.D.H. Cornelius, 40 weeks each year $1200; a graduate of Michigan University.

"The history of teachers would be incomplete without some mention of assistants, both male and female, but the records are so imperfect that only a portion can be given, and even these with no certanity as to date when they taught; nor have we the time nor facilities to ascertain their subsequent history. Some taught but a single term, and some for several terms and even years. We give, so far as we can, the dates when they commenced teaching in this school.

Mrs. John Sweegles, 1841 - deceased

Miss Mary Hopkins, 1844; now Mrs. Isaac Alden of Coldwater, Branch Co MI.

Miss Emeline Bacon, 1845; now Mrs. J. Eastman Johnston, of Centreville, St. Joseph Co. MI.

Miss Mary Hale, 1846; now Mrs. Wyman, of Sidney Ohio

Miss Coburn 1848 - returned to New Hampshire

Miss Clarissa Nimocks, 1841; now Mrs. H.W. Tuller, Jonesville.

Miss Delia Barnes, 1849; now Mrs. J.H. Hastings of Hillsdale.

Mrs. C.S. Kingsley, 1849; now in Colorado

C.H. Buck 1849

Miss E.M. Orton, 1850; now Mrs. Hudson, Sandusky OH

John Starks, 1851; Presbyterian clergyman in Illinois

J.M.B. Sill, 1852; superintendent of Detroit public schools.

Miss Sallie Beaumont, 1852; now Mrs. Prof. Sill, Detroit.

Miss Sarah Kinman, 1852; now Mrs. Goadby of Coldwater.

Miss Gertrude Mulholland;

Miss Louisa George, 1853; now Mrs. George Button of Minneapolis MN

Miss Mary Wells, 1853; teaching in the South in 1876

C.B. Crane, 1853; now Baptist Minister

D.W.C. Wisner, 1854; now merchant in Jonesville.

Miss Caroline Walter, 1854; now Mrs. William Waldron, of Hillsdale.

Mrs. A.B. Dunlap, 1854; now of Grand Traverse

Miss Sophia Wright 1855 now of Grand Traverse Co.

Miss Sarah Van Ness, 1856; now Mrs. J.F. Munroe Detroit

Miss M.E. Osband 1856

Miss Harriet Taylor 1856

Miss Martha Sinclair, 1856 now of Adrian College

Miss E. Hampton, 1857

Miss J.H. Wheeler 1857

Miss Jennie Sinclair 1857 now of Jonesville

Miss Harriet Wells, 1857; now of Boston

Miss Sarah Wells, 1858; now Mrs. J.V. Copeland Hudson

Miss Elizabeth Eugh 1858; now of Jackson Co MI

Miss Helen Kimble, 1858

Miss Barker, 1858

Miss Frances Calkins 1858

Miss Ida Taylor, 1859

Miss Stoddard, 1861

Miss Antoinette Baxter, 1861, now Mrs. W.H. Brockway of Albion MI

Miss Amanda M. Rowley, 1861

Miss Rachel Murch, 1862; now Mrs. Buell, Jonesville

Miss Nora SInclair, 1862 - now Mrs. Perry, Lowell MI

Miss Caroline Delavan, 1864 now of Alma MI

Miss Ellen Olds, 1864- now Mrs. Charles Stowell, Hudson

Mrs. Sutton, 1864

Miss E.S. Race, 1864

Miss L.C. Graham, 1864

C.W. Glasgow, 1865; now lawyer at LaGrange IN

Miss Mary Ann Prowdly, 1865

Miss S.R. Taylor, 1866; now Mrs. Wm. H. Niles, Ottawa Co MI

Miss Anna J. Cliff, 1867

Miss Emma Mitchell, 1867; now Mrs. Silas W. Glasgow, JOnesville.

Miss Lillie Beaumont, 1868, now Mrs. F.B. Graham

Miss Ella Wade, 1868

Miss Mary C. Delavan, 1869- now of Alma MI

Miss F.J. Holt, 1869; teaching here in 1876

MIss Ione St. John, 1869

Miss Minerva Krapp, 1869; now Mrs. Tubbs, Jonesville

Miss Sturgis, 1871; now of Scipio township

Miss Nancy C. Tuller, 1871

Miss Celeste Barrett, 1871

Miss Emma Meddick, 1871; teaching in 1876

Miss Clara Munroe, 1871; since at Syracuse N.Y.

Miss L.O. Woodruff, 1872

Miss Mary Reinohl, 1872; teaching in 1876

Miss Ella Teed, 1872; Jonesville

Miss Belle Kempton, 1872

Miss Frances Dickinson, 1872; died in 1873

Miss Elizabeth Gaige, 1872; died in 1874

Miss Agnes LaKore, 1872; Jonesville

Miss Ella A. Farnsworth, 1873; afterwards of Holly, Oakland Co.

Miss Hattie Hopkins, 1873; now Mrs. Ida Bentz, Jonesville

Miss Olive H. Bentley, 1873

Miss Jennie Alvord, 1873; JOnesville

Miss Mary M. Purdy, 1873; Jonesville.

The present corps of teacher (1878) is as follows; Principal, Professor Gass; First Assistant, Miss Kittie Smith; Grammar Dept. , W.F. Hoag; First Intermediate, Miss Jennie Tuller; First Primary, Miss Dunham; Second Primary, Miss North.

The School Board consists of the following persons: E.O. Grosvenor, Moderator; W.J. Baxter, Director; James H. Wade, Assessor; D.A. Wisner, G.W. Chadock, J.S. Lewis

The present union school building is one of the finest in the State, for a village of the size of Jonesville, and the school itself continues to reflect credit upon its founders and teachers, and is a worthy monument to the educators of the early days, whose liberal ideas laid the foundation of the present admirable system, and whose memory is justly cherished in its connection.