Mackinac County MI

Engadine High School 1940's
Hessel School 1940's
Moran Schools
Newton Twp. Schools
Ursuline Academy

The Upper Peninsula Chapter V -
A history of the upper peninsula of Michigan Volume III Fuller, George Newman

As in all pioneer communities, the early schools of the Upper Peninsula were the log cabins so familiar to our grandfathers, yet in the later settlements in the mining regions, the development of the communities was so rapid, that schools were established under general education laws almost at the first, and excellent facilities were provided for the children.

The mission school at St. Ignace must be given the credit of laying the foundations of education among the first white children and the Indians of that region, and for many years it flourished, continuing on the Island even into the nineteenth century. The founder was Father Marquette, beloved of his Indian charges, and the succeeding priests at the mission continued the work he had so ably begun. During the years immediately following the closing of the Catholic mission at the straits and prior to its re-opening, apparently no school was maintained, but the mission school remained the main educational institution until after the erection of Mackinac county and the establishment of public schools by the residents at the straits.

Soon after the establishment of the county seat at St. Ignace and the new life that came to the village thereby, the people provided for a public school, marking the beginning of the school system that has maintained an unbroken existence to the present time.

Escanaba began its educational work with two teachers, but with the development of the city, the facilities were increased to keep pace with the ever-growing number of children. Today, the city boasts more than a half dozen ward school buildings and a high school building of the most modern design and equipment. For years, the crowded conditions of the school forced the authorities to devote one entire building to the eighth grade pupils of the city, a move that presaged the establishment of the 6-3-3 plan of grade division that has now become widely accepted throughout the country as the most practical and efficient arrangement of the graded schools. The parochial school of St. Joseph's Catholic church is one of the largest institutions of its kind in the Upper Peninsula and has worked hand in hand with the school board of the public system.

Sault Ste. Marie, like St. Ignace, found its first schools in connection with the missions that were established here, but practically nothing has been left to tell us of the first school kept in this county. School buildings were erected in 1829 in connection with the establishment of the Baptist mission at the Sault, and these were among the first schools to make their appearance here. From these beginnings have evolved the present fine school system of the city and county, and since 1878, Sault Ste. Marie has been surpassed by no city of her size in the matter of school buildings and curriculum.

Baraga County. The first school district was organized in Baraga county in 1857 at L'Anse, although the Methodist and Catholic missions had done good work among the Indians and the first settlers to come to the county. The amount of $8,000 was voted by the county school authorities in 1882 for the erection of a new school building to supplant the frame buildings that had been used prior to that time, and from this time forward, the schools of L'Anse and Baraga county have made steady progress. Houghton County. The first school district organized in Houghton county was in Portage township and was established April 11, 1857. A small building was erected opposite the Catholic church to serve the purposes of the comparatively small number of children who then needed schooling. As the city grew under the rapid development of the mines, a Union school district was soon formed, for which a $35,000 building was erected, containing a library of some 800 volumes in addition to the schoolrooms. It has a splendid school building at the present time costing approximately $60,000.

Houghton is the seat of the Michigan College of Mines, one of the leading institutions of its kind in the United States, for it is admirably equipped to give its students the best practical as well as theoretical training in mining due to its proximity to both copper and iron mines. It was established by an act of the legislature in 1885, and was opened to receive students, September 15, 1886. That such an institution was established at Houghton, is largely due to the efforts of Jay A. Hubbell, of Houghton, who realized that the mining interests of Michigan would be well served by the maintenance of such a school for the training of mining engineers in the fields where they might be most likely to seek their careers. Though the majority of the students are drawn from this state, many come from other states of the Union because of the enviable reputation the institution has acquired. Twenty-three students matriculated the first year, and the succeeding terms have witnessed the enrollment reach well into the hundreds. An $85,000 brownstone structure is the principal building on the campus, while other buildings, totaling nine in number, serve the various departments of the institution. The first school organized in Hancock was kept in a frame building on Franklin street from 1869 to 1875, but in the latter year a school was erected at a cost of approximately $30,000 just outside the western corporate limits of the village, the lower grades and high school being maintained there.

In 1867, the people of Calumet, or Red Jacket, built a two- story, frame school, and in the same year a second school district was formed. In 1869, the schools were graded. In 1875, the Calumet & Hecla Mining company built a new building, then one of the largest in the state, it being three stories in height and being 196x100 feet in size. Every possible need of a modern school of that day was anticipated by the builders, and Calumet could well boast of the exceptional educational facilities provided by the company. The supremacy thus gained has been maintained throughout the succeeding years, and the Calumet schools are among the best in the state.

The first school was erected in 1867 in Lake Linden, the funds therefore being raised by taxation and personal subscription. Subsequently, an addition was made by the people and a second by the Calumet & Hecla company, the entire structure representing an expenditure of $20,000. It was destroyed by fire in November, 1881, and was rebuilt the same year at a cost of $15,000.

Keweenaw County. In 1872, when the school census showed a population of only ninety-six children of school age, the people of Eagle Harbor erected a school, forming the nucleus of the village's school system. The first school established at Eagle River was also used by various church organizations as a place of worship. In 1878, the Central company erected a $7,500 schoolhouse, it being a three-story structure, 40x70 feet. The Lake Superior Copper company built the school at Phoenix, as is common in most communities which are devoted entirely to the mining industry such as this place.

Menominee county. As far as can be determined, the first school kept in Menominee county was taught by Emily Burchard in 1857 in the house of Henry Mason at his shingle mill on the Bay Shore, and like most pioneer schools, it was maintained by subscription. It is said that a school was kept by a daughter of A. F. Lyon prior to this time, but nothing in confirmation of this report has ever been learned. The first schoolhouse erected in the county was built by A. F. Lyon, Henry Nason, W. Q. Boswell, Andreas Eveland, E. N. Davis, and others, at the junction of Ogden avenue and the railroad in Menominee village in 1857. It was made of hewn logs and was put up by volunteer labor. After the organization of the county and the division into townships, the schools came under the supervision of the various school districts. The first building used for school purposes in District No. 1, Menominee township, was a small structure owned by Samuel Abbott and used by him for the storing of fish nets. This was used only during the winter of 1863-64, and in the latter year, another and more suitable building was erected. This soon became too small for its purposes and was supplanted in 1868 by a frame building costing approximately $7,000. Ten school buildings now serve the needs of the community, and the Menominee County Agricultural college has done much to train boys for the vocation of farmers.

Ontonagon County. The first school was started in the village of Ontonagon in 1851 by James Scoville, a graduate of the University of Michigan. He rented a room and charged tuition of $3.50 per pupil per term. When the Methodist church was completed in October, 1852, the people used it for school purposes during the week days inasmuch as the village had no school building of its own. William Fox, a graduate of the famous Oxford university, England, was employed as the first teacher and continued in that capacity for two years. By 1857, the number of pupils had grown so large that the church could no longer accommodate them, and James Burtenshaw was awarded the contract of building a union school at a cost of $4,000, which was completed and occupied in June, 1858, O. E. Fuller, of Maine, acting as the first superintendent. During the winter of 1857-58, one public and two private schools were operating in the village. In 1877, an addition was made to the building costing $1,500. Such were the beginnings of the fine Ontonagon school system of today.

Iron County. Mr. McDonald, the groceryman of Iron River, owned the first school building in that place, where Thomas Flannigan taught the first term in the winter of 1883-84. In 1893, the schools were incorporated by the legislature, and in 1905 they were reincorporated. The city today boasts several ward school buildings and a high school that cost $125,000.

The schools of Stambaugh were also incorporated in 1905, and in addition to the fine central buildings include several smaller school buildings throughout the city.

The first school in Crystal Falls was taught by Martha Parmenter in the summer of 1883, the building she used being located on the south side of Superior avenue between Third and Fourth streets. A high school building costing $65,000 and a graded school erected at a cost of $125,000 arc today the boast of the city.

Gogebic County. Miss Gertie Fitzsimmons started the first school in Ironwood in 1887, and she was succeeded in that work by Professor Carus and then by Prof. L. L. Wright, the latter of whom organized the high school and served for eighteen years as superintendent of the Ironwood schools. In 1908, a high school was erected at a cost of 535,000, while the present high school cost $120,000. Of the ten graded schools, the Central is the most imposing, having been erected at a contract price of approximately $200,000. The high school at Bessemer, costing $45,000, is indicative of the high character of the schools of that place. Dickinson County. The first school in this county was kept in a logging camp between the Vulcan mine and the mouth of the Sturgeon, Miss Reath serving as the teacher. In 1880, work on a school building was commenced in Iron Mountain, it being located on Brown street between Stephenson and Iron Mountain avenues. It was ready for occupancy January 1, 1881, at which time William N. Shepard took charge, the first term lasting eight months from that date. During the time the school was being built, the population of the city grew so rapidly that the children were forced to sit two and three in a seat. Other rooms were added before the opening of another term. The city now has two high schools, costing $150,000 and $75,000, a manual training school, a school for the deaf and dumb, five brick and two frame graded school buildings.

Marquette County. Once the iron deposits in Marquette county had been uncovered, the settlers began flocking into the region. Almost overnight, Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpeming, as well as the smaller communities, sprang into being, attaining within a short time the status of incorporated villages and then of cities. Thus it was that the villages and cities of the county jumped into a class where schools were concerned far beyond their ages in years. The laborious building up of a school system by starting with part time teachers, short terms, crude log buildings, and similar disadvantages were pleasingly free. By this time, too, the state had evolved a public school system for incorporated villages and cities that gave the communities of this county a basis on which to work. The newspaper files of the old publications give ample testimony to the progress made in educational lines in the county, and the splendid school buildings in the villages, the cities, and the counties today show that the pioneers were not slow in obtaining the best for their children. Marquette, with eight graded schools, a junior high school, Howard high school, and the new Graveract high school building on Third street, is offering the most modern and up-to-date elementary courses for the children, the 6-3-3 plan being the prevailing one in this city in accordance with the latest ideas of public school work. Negaunee is possessed of fine graded schools and a fine high school that is one of the modern ones in the county, for it was completed in June, 1909, at a cost of $120,000. The courses offered provide the manual training education that is one of the more recent developments of public instruction in the high schools. Ishpeming is no less progressive than her sister cities, and the school buildings there leave nothing to be desired for the adequate instruction of the children of that community.

Northern State Normal School was established by the legislature in 1899, and the first classes were opened on September 19, that year, in the Marquette city hall. By July, 1900, the normal school building had been completed, and in that month the classes were removed to that place. A science building was completed in June, 1902, and a library was started in May, 1904, and completed in September of the same year. The Longyear School of Pedagogy, which was built in June, 1900, burned in December, 1905, and rebuilt and completed in the spring of 1907, is a three- story building. Additions and improvements have been made from time to time, and the library containing close to 20,000 books is an excellent one, indeed. In May, 1902, an arrangement was made with the University of Michigan whereby graduates of the Northern State Normal school could be admitted to the university with a total advance credit of fifty-six hours. An excellent art collection is also maintained at the school.

The Peter White Public library was named in honor of the man who donated so liberally to its support and who was the prime mover in securing the institution for the city. In 1872, he gave the city $4,000 with which to found a library. On August 12, 1879, he donated the old city hall building, located on Spring street in back of the First National bank, to the trustees to be used for a library building. He gave it to the common council with the privilege of using the lower floor as a city hall provided that the council permit the library to occupy the upper floor. In 1886, he fitted up a library room in the First National Hank building at a cost of $1,800 with the stipulation that the city pay the librarian and Peter White to pay the other library expenses. On January 12. 1892, he donated the Thurber building and lots No. 134 and No. 136 on Washington street to the city for the library, which had shortly before been made a department of the city. The value of the gift was then estimated to be in the neighborhood of $20,000. With this start and supported by the city, the Peter White library as it was now known, was eventually able to build its own building, the present one, at the corner of Ridge and Front streets. The library, in point of view of size and usefulness is much in advance of other libraries of cities of the size of Marquette, and the people have shown their appreciation of this fact by making the most of the opportunities for study and amusement afforded by the institution.