Lee County Illinois
Part of American History and Genealogy Project

Dixon Graduates 1864-1880

Following are the names of graduates since the adoption of a course of study down to and including 1880

William H. Boardman
Clarence A. Howell
Rebecca Story
Madgie Brooks

W. Lafayette Davis
Shephard G. Patrick
Josephine Goble

Henry Brooks
Henry J. Stephens
Annette Simonson

Nathan McKenney
John Hine
Adelia Huntley
Libbie Kimball
Mary Pickard
Mary Stephens
Ella Williams
Emma Williams

Lila Fargo
Hattie Barlow
Lizzie Gardner

Irvin Lewis
Henry L. Trimper
Emmet Julien
Sophia Barlow
Orilla Drew
Mary Dimick
Ella Hatch
Mary T. Little
Ella J. Pratt
Jennie Williams

Anna Fargo
Julia Gilman
Kate Jerome
Anna Murphy
Hattie E. Davis
Estella Osborne
Alice Kerr and
Edward A. Morse
Charles VanArnam
Fred L. Shaw
J. H. Edwards
Horace Fleck
Martin Curtis
Carrie W. Eells
Fannie Murphy
Emma Ayres (This was the writer's class. He did not graduate.)

Abner Barlow
Frank Judd
Sharwood Strong
Herbert O. Smith

Georgia Herrick
Mary Bressnehan
Lizzie Miller

Ida Strong
Dora Eaton
Harriet O. Sterling

George Vann
Charles Morey
George Bowles
Fannie Rosbrook
Emma Gilbert
Idell Deland
Carrie Pratt
Cornella Daley

Joseph Petersberger
William O. Sterling
John Cropsey
Ed T. Smith
Matilda Weibezahn
Sophia Deland

Al Simonson
Jennie Hollenbeck
Homer A. Judd
Cora B. Maxwel

Whole number children of school age, 953; whole number pupils enrolled, 695; whole number male teachers, 1; whole number female teachers, 10; highest salary paid male teacher, $1,500; highest salary paid female teacher, $500; average salary, $455; cost per pupil for tuition, $13.25; entire cost per pupil, including contingent expenses, and interest on value of school property, $22.33; average number pupils belonging, per year, 465; average daily attendance, 429; per cent of attendance, 92; number tardiness, 1,395; total number days taught, 83,912.

At the time the foregoing report was made, James A. Hawley, John D. Crabtree and Reuben O. Hall were directors. By reason of the fact that numbers of our citizens resided on the north side of the river, in North Dixon, it very soon became apparent that school facilities for the children on that side of the river must be furnished. So early as Dec 7, 1854, 1 find an item in the old Tele-graph to the effect that a schoolhouse had been built by the citizens in the usual way, by subscription. This building stood, and in fact is the present house of Amos Bosworth, facing Crawford Avenue. Less than four years previous, North Dixon contained but three dwelling houses. At the time of which I write, there were seventy and seats had been provided in the new school building for one hundred and thirty pupils. Before 1860 this school of two rooms had become crowded and another building for primary scholars had to be erected on the same lot on its north side. In these old schools, the names of the teachers, so far as I can remember, were Miss Campbell, who subsequently married Eugene Pinckney, Miss Blood; the lady who subsequently became Mrs. John V. Thomas, Colonel Wood, who was principal when the war broke out, find John V. Thomas. Of course there were others, but not many.

These schools in turn became crowded and in the autumn of. 1868-9 a beautiful new two-story and mansard brick school was built, the one still used, and by the side of which still another has been built since. On Jan. 15, 1869, this new building was dedicated with imposing ceremonies. Richard Edward of the State Normal made the address. This building cost the district $20,000. When the schools were opened, the grade system was installed by the principal, John V. Thomas. Following Mr. Thomas as a principal were, Mr. Hague in 1874; J. L. Hartwell in 1875; Julius Lloyd in 1877; C. O. Scudder in the fall of 1878.

I have just found the names of the old superintendents of the North Side schools from the beginning: I. H. Williams, 1859; W. S. Wood, N. J. Gilbert, J. A. Flagg and then in 1863, John V. Thomas followed and continued until 1874.

While the early schools so far were denominated public schools, at first they were of a private nature, paid for by private subscription and supported by tuition. Nevertheless they were not what is understood to be private schools of which Dixon had many in its earlier history.

As early as 1855, several enterprising gentlemen sought to give to Dixon the advantages of a first class educational institution. To that end on May 7, 1855, W. W. Harsha, a Presbyterian minister commenced the first term of the Dixon Collegiate Institute in the basement of the Lutheran Church then located on Crawford avenue between Third and Fourth streets.

Following him as teachers in that institution were Eli C. Smith, Mrs. E. A. Smith, Mrs. C. L. Harsha and Miss Jennie L. Backus.

On July 4, of the year 1855, after securing an endowment for the Dixon Collegiate Institute, of $25,000, the comer-stone was laid with imposing ceremonies. Subscriptions in money, apparatus and lands made by the citizens of Dixon raised the sum to $37,000.

B. F. Taylor, of Chicago made the principal address on the occasion. John Stevens and others delivered addresses too on the occasion. Not very long ago I unearthed the one made by John Stevens.

In 1857 this institution was incorporated by a special act of the Legislature. But from one cause and another the school did not progress as anticipated, and in 1858, the presbytery abandoned it.

Its construction must have been slow because on Aug. 27, 1857, when Prof. A. M. Gow took hold of it to reorganize it, but two stories and a basement were all that were finished.

On April 18, 1861, the building then completed was purchased by Rev. O. W. Cooley, of Wisconsin, for the purpose of establishing a female seminary in it. Just what he did, I am unable to learn; but the next notice I find of it is Sept. 8, 1863, when S. G. Lathrop and M. McKendree Tooke, two Methodist ministers opened the Dixon Seminary. For a time this institution under the management of these two gentlemen, flourished. Large numbers of pupils attended, especially from the farms.

On Nov. 1, 1875, the name of the institution was changed to the Rock River University and O. G. May became president and M. M. Tooke became regent.

But the public school by this time had been brought to such a degree of usefulness that in a small town the small private school could not compete with it and so after a long period of reverses, Mr. Tooke lost the property and title passed to George L. Schuler. After this the building stood empty for a long while and people who desired took up their residence in its rooms without molestation. But after awhile it became rumored that the old building had become unsafe and Mr. Schuler had it demolished.

Architecturally it was a handsome building. Sitting on the brow of a beautiful hill, it was the first building seen from afar. From the car window, it presented a most picturesque appearance. Now the site is the beautiful Bluff Park in which so many beautiful homes have been built.

The last reference I find made to the old Rock River University is on the ending of the year 1880, where the building is spoken of as a five-story brick and stone edifice, on a high eminence in the east part of town, and that the institution had practically settled down to a Preparatory and Military Academy, yet giving instruction in the Normal, Business, Musical and Art departments.

The board of management and instruction were at that time, Jay R. Hinckley, president; Maj. H. O. Chase, military instructor; W. H. Chamberlain, business manager; Henry M. Douglas, Mrs. Jay R. Hinckley and Miss Lucy Whiton, teachers.

On July 15, 1857, an attempt was made by Rev. J. W. Downing to establish a Female Seminary under the auspices of the Episcopal Church. A frame house just west of the Illinois Central depot was rented and the school was begun, but like the other efforts to establish a private school the efforts of Mr. Downing failed and after a little while the school was closed never to resume.

In 1880, I find the schools summarized about as follows: The north side building already referred to is 54x63 feet, ground plan. Including basement it is four stories high. The first and second stories, each 13 feet high, are divided into two school rooms, 25x38 feet, with a recitation room for each. The mansard roof is one large room for study 39x48 feet, 16 feet high, having a rostrum in the north end 10x12 feet, with an ante room entering upon it from either side. C. O. Scudder was then principal. In the different departments there were 180 pupils, not a heavy increase in twenty years.

Miss Welty was the assistant principal; Miss A. Raymond taught the grammar room; Miss M. Yates taught the intermediate room and Mrs. A. C. Holbrook the primary room.

On the south side in 1880 there were 459 pupils. E. C. Smith was principal and superintendent; Miss Emma Goodrich was assistant and taught high school with fifty pupils. The first gram-mar room was taught by Miss Adelia Pinckney with an attendance of twenty-seven pupils; Miss Nellie Soule taught second grammar with an attendance of thirty-four.

The first intermediate was taught by Miss Harriet O. Sterling with an attendance of fifty-six pupils; the second intermediate room was taught by Ida Deland with forty-five pupils; the third intermediate was taught by Miss Emma Burnham with forty-nine pupils, and the fourth intermediate was taught by Miss Fannie Murphy, with fifty-seven pupils. The primary department was taught by Miss Amelia McComsey with fifty-one pupils. On Second Street in the old Methodist Church school. Miss A. G. Curtis taught primary department with forty-five pupils. West of the Central Depot on Seventh street Mrs. L. L. Woodworth taught a primary room with forty-seven pupils.

The old Dement town school used before this last named was built, was held in the brick building on the comer immediately across the street, on the northwest corner. The first teacher I can remember teaching there was a Miss Gunn.

In later years, the Truman school in the west end of town and the big new high school building have been built.

The Catholic Church began in our midst a parochial school in the year 1872, by Rev. Father McDermott. At first it was con-ducted in the old church building, but later under the guidance of Father Foley it was enlarged and removed to the beautiful property where it stands now.

In the year 1912, the buildings were visited by fire and they were all entirely destroyed. But as if by magic they have been very materially enlarged and now are caring for more pupils than ever.

Dixon Schools

Lee County History

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