Fremont County Iowa

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A View from the Attic

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A View From The Attic

 20 April 2009


by Lotus Foster

 

ONE ROOM SCHOOL

SIGNS PROJECT

 

History books tell us that probably the first school in Fremont County was a log cabin on the Lovelady farm west of Riverton. It was built in 1843. Much later the Bee Hive School  was built north of that first school. 


There have been at least 122 one-room country schools in Fremont County. They were not all in existence at the same time. An example would be when the Mount Hope School, located in section 22 in Prairie Township, burned on April 22, 1943. It was replaced by Center School which was built in section 25 of Prairie Township.


The rural schools were placed two miles apart so that the children normally would not have to walk more than a mile. 

 

 I began my research for the school locations by finding various old maps. A man who worked for the County Engineers office had a map on which he marked the names and locations of the schools. This was a tremendous help. 

 

More difficult to find were the dates the schools opened and closed. When the County Superintendentís Offices closed, the records were taken to the Area 13 Education office and were put on microfiche.  Only record I found from them for Fremont County was  a part of one file on microfiche.  

 

Page County placed signs at the sites of their one-room rural schools for the Sesquicentennial in 1996. Since I was active in the Fremont County Historical Society, I felt that the one- room schools were an important part of the history of Fremont County as well and their schools should be identified and marked.    

 

I found an 1875  map, an 1891 and a 1910 Fremont and Mills County history at the Museum in Sidney and with all of the other information I had collected to arrive at an approximate time that a school opened. In Fremont County there were eight country school names that had either two or three schools with the same name in different townships. There were three Fairview schools, two College Hill schools, three Morning Star schools, two Centennial schools, two Lone Willow schools, three Spring Valley schools, two Sunnyside schools and two Center schools.

 

The closing years were not quite as hard because I had several sources of information I used. In a few cases a school would close when the number of students dropped below five and then reopen if five or more students moved into the district. 

 

As the town schools consolidated the country schools closed. In Scott and Green townships all but two were closed by 1920. This was also true in Riverton Township. Sidney Township, one of the largest townships in the county at one time, had at least twenty country schools. Many of these closed before 1940.  Bright Side and Hazel Dell in 1946, Lacy Grove in 1945 or 1946, Spring Valley in 1948, Grand View  in 1950, and West Grove in 1951 or 1952. The last two schools to close in the county were Honey Creek and Sunny Slope, both in Monroe Township, in 1959.


With all this information at hand it was time to approach the Historical Society with the idea of making signs and placing them in the location where the country schools stood, but that is another story.

 

(We look forward to another View from the Attic from Lotus to share the next step in this project.  Meanwhile you can contact her on her

 e-mail at  lotus@mchsi.com)