Some History on Clinton's Schools

This is from the Clinton Herald's Centennial Edition June 18, 1955:

Even the every-day business of eking out a living from the lusty wilderness which then was Clinton didn't blind the city's pioneers to the value of education.

The same year that the city was platted -- in 1855 -- marked the beginning of Clinton's public school system.

In that year a dispensation from district directors of Lyons township inaugurated the first Clinton school in a log hut near the W. J. Young upper mill.  Isaac Baldwin, the master, had 30 pupils.

Election of the school board for Clinton district No. 1 was held July 25, 1856, with J. C. Bucher, president, H. McCormick, secretary, D. H. Pearce, treasurer.  In September there were 178 pupils in a frame building on Fifth avenue east of Third street.

E. P. Dole, board secretary in 1858, listed an inventory of school board property that included: one table, 32 sound and seven damaged chairs, nine benches, two desks with broken locks, one blackboard, one very small blackboard, two stoves and pips, two pails and cups and two small bells.

In the spring of 1856, a $6,000 school tax was voted, but it was later rescinded, and in March, 1860 the treasurey was empty.  W. F. Coan, F. P. Wilcox, C. H. Toll and J. C. Bucher, board members, advanced $4,000 by script issue in anticipation of a new tax, however.

That year a school was built where the city hall is now located.  Robert Leslie drew the plans and supervised the building for $3 a day.

Washington school was built soon after this and enlarged in 1865.  This school building was west of DeWitt park.  South Clinton school was started in 1869, at a cost of $15,000.  It seated 400.  A chimney caved in on its roof in the 1920s and it was replaced by the $68,000 Irving school.

A special $10,000 tax was levied in 1870 to build the old Jefferson school -- also razed in recent years.

The first grading of Clinton done according to the method then coming into popularity in larger cities, was done by Professor Henry Sabin, who became superintendent in 1871.

With the opening in 1879 of Roman Catholic parochial schools under the direction of the Sisters of Charity, the attendance in the public schools fell off.  In June, 1878, there were 1, 755 pupils enrolled, 29 teachers employed.  In 1879 the average monthly payroll was $1,500.

As a contrast to this, in 1931 there were 144 teachers in the Clinton public school system, witha a monthly payroll of $22,000.  There was a total enrollment of 3, 801.  In 1945-6 enrollment was 3,466; there were 140 teachers and the average payroll was $30,000. 

Camanche, then the county seat, was the site of the first school in Clinton county.  It was established in 1838, with Miss Ann Eliza Thomas as the teacher, and, like other early schools, was supported by a subscription plan and held in private homes.

The first local school partially supported by public funds was taught by a Mr. Banker of Troy, N. Y.  Classes were held in a building erected as a claim shanty on a farm a half-mile west of Camanche, later called the Bovard farm.  Children came from as far to the southwest as the banks of the Wapsipinicon river and from almost as far north as Clinton.

Clinton had its first school in 1842, the same year as Elk River township built its first.

One of the oldest private schools in Clinton was in the northend, at 3206 Garfield street, known as the Hall school.  Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hall, college graduates who came to Clinton from Dublin, conducted the school in the old stone residence.  Attended by hundreds of Lyons residents during its existence, the school collected a fee of $1 a month.

Day and night classes were held with many young people who worked in the saw mills attending at night.

The Lyons public school system at this time consisted of a frame building on the present site of South school and a two room brick building where the present residence of C. A. Buechner is located, 2308 Garfield street.  The Central school was builtin in the 1860s.

During its first 100 years, Clinton has been singularly fortunate in being free of any major fires or disasters involving schools.  The notable exception was the cave-in of the old Irving school about 35 years ago.  One child lost her life in the tragedy and several others were injured.

Early Citizen: Prof. Lachmund

Clinton once had a German Conservatory of Music at 8th Ave. west of 4th St.  It was started by Prof. Carl V. Lachmund, a native of Missouri, in 1877.

He studied abroad for six years before beginning the conservatory here.  In 1879, he had over 200 enrolled in his courses.  The history of Clinton county says Lachmund "labored indefatigably to raise the standard of classical music."

His sister, Miss Emma Lachmund, was also connected with the conservatory.  The professor in 1879 was still turning down attactive teaching offers from educational institutions in the east.

In 1877, he was married to Miss Carrie J. Culbertson of Fulton, Ill.

Clinton Academy Offered Courses in '58

Thorough courses in English education, Latin, French, music, drawing, embroidery were offered by the Clinton Academy in 1856, according to the first year's files of The Clinton Herald.

Directors were V. D. Bonessteel, Daniel H. Pearce, Charles W. Simmons, H. B. Ring, J. T. Vandeventer, N. B. Baker, R. H. Nolton, J. P. Sanger, Charles A. Lombard, J. G. Thorp, H. B. Horton, Samuel Crozer and C. H. Toll.