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Cherokee County Schools

Grand Meadow

Early History of Grand Meadow
by Ella Heaton Irwin - written in 1970

On January 19, 1877, Cherokee County was subdivided.  Grand Meadow was described as Twp. 90, range 42.  In 1868 Frank Kimberly located on Sections 19 and 20. (In 1970, 19 was the home of Larry Klingensmith) It is thought school and worship convened in the Kimberly home.  Other names mentioned as earliest settlers were a Mr. Nash and a Mr. Baldwin.  In 1881 they moved from the community. 

March 6, 1879, the township of Grand Meadow was organized and named.  Early settlers who signed the petition were:  G. Otto Pixler, Henry Luge, T. J White, August W. Nafe, John H. Baker, J. W. Lease, G. A. Bushman, Jerome Card, Aaron Card, Isaac A Harvey, R. D. Harvey, F. C. Noe and James Parkinson.

Very early a desire for a place to worship and to educate the children became a reality.  In 1881 the United Brethren from Kingsley organized and built a church, "Evening Star", located on Sec 17 (Iver Johnson farm). A few years later this church was moved across the road from G. M cemetery on Harrison land. In early 1900's, it was struck by lightning and was burned and was not rebuilt.  Other early churches were "Morning Star" (Evangelical), "Trinity" (Evangelical), "Providence" (Methodist" and "United Brethren", now merged and called "United Methodist."

In 1877, Lone Star School was located one mile north of Meadow Star Church.  Today's older citizens have no recollection of such a school.

In 1881 two one-room schools were built.  One at Grand Meadow Township center (Dist 5) and the other two miles south of Center, known as the John Crom School, later as the the Fuller School or Dist. No. 8. Logs were floated down Little Sioux River from Cherokee to Washta to build these two schools.

My mother, Mrs. Lewis (Estelle) Heaton, taught the first school at Center in 1882 and 1883.  She rode horseback, side-saddle, from the Heaton home - one half mile south of Fielding.  During the week she stayed at the Dalzel home - a quarter of a mile east of the school. Mrs. Dalzel was fearful to have her walk alone. "She might be attacked by bands of hungry wolves."

It is interesting and perhaps a precedent that her three daughters, Maude Barkley Keck, Ella Irwin, and Lula Heaton, down through the years, taught schools in Grand Meadow, as did her daughters-in-law Susie O'Donnell and Florence Rockwell.  Her youngest son, Floyd, attended the first high school for two years before entering the service.  He later married Susie O'Donnell.  Her son Lewis married Florence Rockwell.

Also of interest, in 1946 Mrs. Heaton's  son-in-law, James W. Irwin (Jim) and grandson, James L. Irwin, remodeled the same school building into a dwelling for Supt. Ball and family.  This now occupied by a teacher.

Grand Meadow's Consolidated's first well was dug with spades by James W. Irwin and her son, Lewis Heaton, Jr. (Jim had the longest tenure as bus driver, after consolidation). Also he was township clerk for over 35 years and I was registrar of births and deaths during these years.  My father, Lewis Heaton, Uncle Ed Heaton (who lived on the Wm. Downey farm) and Jim Haggin (who lived just north of the cemetery) plotted and placed marking stones on each cemetery lot.  They also planted the evergreens which border the cemetery. (I think George Harrison Sr. assisted with the planting of evergreens).

Later seven more district schools were built so that every two miles there was a school.  Elsewhere as near as possible, a list is compiled of the teachers who have taught in Grand Meadow schools.

For some years people of Grand Meadow with County Superintendents interest entertained the idea that their children were entitled to advantages of an education superior to what they had had.

March 11, 1911, at a regular peoples meeting a motion was carried that the directors of the nine districts provide for a special election to vote on bonding the township to the extent of $4,000 to build and equip a two story school house erected on Center school ground - a  high school upstairs and a grade down.

Sept 5, 1911, a special election favored the plan. Dec 22, 1911, the Grand Meadow Board adopted resolutions for such. Jan 29, 1912, the two story building was completed.  The former one-room schoolhouse was moved across the road on Cooper land for board meetings and a voting precinct.  After voting was done in the consolidated school, it was a dwelling for several different families.  Later it was again moved onto school ground and remodeled for the superintendents home.

The new building cost $3,266. There was a good barn on the ground costing $250. The school was equipped with a good set of Manual Training tools and benches, a library, a piano, free text books and gas lights.  Jan 29, 1912, school was opened for four and a half months with C.A. Grubb as superintendent.   Three boys, Will Hodge, Forrest Hiller, Alvin Crom and three girls, Erma Hiller, Ila Kitson, and Ellen Law were enrolled. Freshman course of study was Algebra, General History, Rhetoric and English.  In 1915 the three girls were graduated.  Later the three girls taught in grade schools in Grand Meadow.

Quote by Erma Hiller McQueen: "We the Class of 1915, mention a few comparisons of the present beautiful school building - its modern showers, rest rooms, lunch room, gymnasium and stage and teachers' homes, to our first High School.  Our teachers roomed with nearby neighbors.  Instead of buses or cars we drove the horse and buggy on all kinds of roads not graveled."

Before consolidation, the township was set up in nine districts, two miles apart each way.  Each was a one-room schoolhouse. The teacher usually boarded in the director's home and was his or her own janitor and fired up an old heating stove which made it too hot close by and freezing farther away.  The pupils took turns walking to the nearest far house and carried water to keep the water cooler filled.  The directors of these nine schools at the time of consolidation were: No. 1, Henry Schleef; No. 2, D. J. Miller; No. 3, H. C. Smith; No. 4, D. M. Harvey; No., 5, H. U. Klingensmith; No. 6, S. G. Dawson; No. 7, Edd Fellom; No. 8, A. C. Powell; No. 9, C. P. Nafe.

G M schoolhouse

Grand Meadow No 3 One Room Schoolhouse
G M 2storyschoolhouse

Click on photo to enlarge

Time marched on, and the population of Grand Meadow increased. Rumblings of school consolidation were heard throughout the land.  The parents of the community realized this was an opportunity to better the educational facilities of their area, and in 1919 voted to consolidate.  Bonds were let for $100,000.

George Williams of Washta contracted to dig the basement and work started. Several local people, including Ray Marsh, Howard Flisher, George Jenkins, Willie Dawson and Delbert McQueen, worked with horses and scrapers.  The building progressed until the funds were exhausted and work stopped  until more funds could be voted.

The cornerstone was laid in 1920, the contents of which seem to be unknown.  The directors at that time were H. U. Klingensmith, Albert Keck, Willis Carver, Leroy Pease, T. J. Leesley, F. D. Harvey and A. H. Nafe. The building was not entirely completed in time to start the 1920-1921 school year, so it opened officially in the fall of 1921. The first faculty consisted of D. F. Funkhauser, superintendent, Goldie Jackson, Lucille Shalla, Florence Rockwell (high school teachers), Georgia Clark (seventh and eighth), Alta Baker (fifth and sixth), June Mason (third and fourth), and Lula Heaton (first and second). William Herrold was caretaker, and his wife boarded the teachers.

grand meadow school    
Superintenden. Funkhauser

The earth removed from the basement was used to level off the grounds and the old center high school building was moved to the south to be used as a teacher's residence.  At one time it accommodated eight teachers and the custodian and his wife. It now boasts one kitchenette apartment upstairs.

The era of all single teachers passed and more housing was needed. The original one-room center school had been moved across the road and used as a town hall.  Now it was moved back to the five acre grounds and remodeled for the superintendents house. Later another small building belonging to Roy Kintigh was moved to the grounds and made into an apartment for a married couple (later torn down) and a new home was also erected. The barn that originally housed the buses had disappeared with the years, so the complex now consists of the schoolhouse, teacherage, two homes, a temporary trailer home, a manual training and a music building (quonset huts). The playground is spacious and a lunchroom and kitchen have been incorporated into the building.

In 1949 a kindergarten course was added to the curriculum.  In 1959, after much argument, culminating in some farms being withdrawn from the district, reorganization with Marcus took place.  Starting in August 1962, all Grand Meadow High students and all seventh and eighth grad pupils ceased attending the local school.  Since then, in order to eliminate extra teachers and to keep the per-pupil cost down, some transfers have been made. One year the entire sixth grade was bussed to Marcus as the class was too small to warrant a special teacher.  Other years, in order to equalize classes, some Marcus pupils have attended Grand Meadow, on a voluntary basis.  At present the total enrollment is 158.

Since reorganization, our part of the district has been represented on the Board by Kenneth Irwin (six years), and at present by Marlin Hodge, who has served three years.

On November 29, 1921, starting at 2 p.m., the Grand Meadow School was officially dedicated.

P. T. A. Organized
Shortly after the new school opened, the patrons and faculty organized a parent-teacher association, adopting by-laws and a constitution.  The following officers were elected: Lula Heaton, president; Alta Baker, vice-president; and Mrs. O. K. Barkley, secretary and treasurer.  During the years, the meetings helped to promote community solidarity.  Lunch was served after the meetings, giving parents an opportunity to become better acquainted with the teachers.  Volley ball was a favorite after-meeting pastime.  Interesting and informative programs have continued through the years.

The first alumni association consisted of graduates of the Center High School.  They and their husbands or wives call themselves "The Grand Meadow Group and the surviving members still meet annually.  The present alumni association was formed in the late twenties, and was more or less active for several years. In 1934, in order to revitalize it, a banquet was held in the school auditorium, which was attractively decorated.  The meal was served by the ladies of the United Brethren and Morning Star churches..  President Glen Klingensmith presided as toastmaster.  The program included a vocal solo by Mildred Little, a piano solo by Fern Baker, a male quartet (Fuller, Elser, Woods, McQueen), a skit by Earl Fuller and Lester Baker and a vocal solo by Marie Woods.  Officers elected for the year 1934-1935 were : Opal McQueen, president; Ruby Walker, vice-president; and Esto Carver, secretary and treasurer.  Records have been lost, so their later activities are merely a matter of memory.  The present officers are: Mildren Naim, president; Wesley Hirschman, vice-president; and Dorothy Bryant, secretary and treasurer.

Source: Grand Meadow Golden Jubilee compiled by the Grand Meadow Alumni for the fifitieth anniversary of the Consolidated School. Dated July 7, 1970.

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