Tuscola County Michigan


Contributed by Diana Hart
Source: Nikki Hart, Frankenmuth Museum


Lovira Hart Jr., and 1836 pioneer of Tuscola County, built the Hart Schoolhouse with the help of his neighbors sometime between 1855 and 1860. It was built on Hart's property on Hart Road, an eighth of a mile south of Frankenmuth Road. It was designated as South district #2 in Tuscola County.

A pioneer in the mid-1800's was presented with many difficult problems. The two most urgent ones Lovira faced were adequate housing and education for his six children. Although he had built a one-room log cabin when he first arrived in the county, it was much too small for the six children and three adults in the family. Lovira decided to build a seven-room New England style farmhouse that would be adequate for his family. The farmhouse was nearly completed when they moved into it early in the spring of 1852.

The log cabin was then available for use as a schoolhouse, but it did not have adequate light for proper education, so Lovira looked for another solution. He learned that the legislature had passed a law stating that all money from the sale of land in the 16th section of each township was to be set aside for the build of schoolhouses.

He soon set out on the three-day journey by foot to Lapeer to apply for a permit to build a schoolhouse on his land. Tuscola County was just beginning to be developed. Lapeer County was the nearest office handling state business. Lovira filed for permission and funds to build a schoolhouse, but it took sometime for the transaction to be completed due to slow transportation and different communication.

Meanwhile a school had been established in the village of Tuscola which had become a thriving little community. The History of Tuscola and Bay Counties, published in 1883, included the following statement: "Mrs. William H Harrison taught the Tuscola School in 1850 which was the first school in the county," listed as School District #1. In a letter written to her family in New York on June 30, 1838, Lovira's wife, Hannah Emeline Hart, mentioned that they "have a school her this summer, Sarah Harrison, teacher."

The next mention of a school was a letter dated August 24, 1845, when 13 families lived in the area. Emergine and Mary Hart, 8 and 6 years old, were attending school together with their bond boy, William. "The children are hearty and go to school regularly," Hannah Emeline wrote. "We have a good teacher and the child learn (as) well as can be expected. They lack for books - our schooling comes high."

When the Hart School was finally built in the late 1850's, the neighbors traveled to Pine Run, about 12 miles away, to obtain nails and glass. These they carried home on their backs, each man carrying a load of about 50 pounds. The school was built according to the plans set out in the "School Laws of Michigan."

Finally, the new school was open. How excited the students were to enter the school smelling of freshly cut wood and paint! Three large windows on each side of the room provided plenty of light for reading and writing. A black cast iron stove, which stood near the teacher's desk at the front of the room, was lit during the winter months, and the smoke pipe crawled along the ceiling of the room to spread out its heat.

The winter term was October to March, and the spring term April to June. Often the boys would be absent during the harvest or spring planting time in order to help their fathers in the fields.

An old teacher record book from the Hart School, spanning the years of 1900 to 1906, records the student's names and the grades they received in various subjects. The subjects taught to the 8 grades of students included: reading, writing, spelling, geography, language, grammar, U. S. history, and arithmetic.

The first Lutheran missionary families arrived in the area from Germany in 1845, and soon many of their countrymen followed. As German families settled the land near the Hart School, the parents sent their children to the Hart School. They spoke only German at home and wanted their children to learn the English language at school. They continued this until St. Lorenz Lutheran Church opened the Tuscola District School in 1898 about one-half mile ease of Lovira's homestead.

In 1921, the year Raymond Hart was old enough to begin school, few students were now attending the little white schoolhouse. The school district decided to close the school and send all the children to the larger school in the nearby town of Tuscola. The students were all transported to Tuscola by private automobile.

Old school records from 1898 show that the following students attended the Hart School:

1898 - Spring Term, Mary A. Foster, teacher - 23 students

10-1st graders:
Emeline Trinklein, Lena Witt, Mary Taylor, Viola Schoens, Leo Ormes, Helen Hochthanner, Amelia Bickel, Cecil Newman

2-2nd graders:
Verna Dennis, Hermann Bickel

2-3rd graders:
Clara Schiefer, Lena Trinklein

4-4th graders:
Myra Taylor, Florence Schoens, George Hart, Don M. Veeder

3-5th graders:
Maude Schoens, Horace Hart, Amos Schoens

1-6th grader:
Cora Schoens

1-8th grader:
Elsie Hart