J O H N S O N  C O U N T Y  S C H O O L S

History of Johnson County, Iowa Schools

During the first twenty years of the history of Iowa, the log school house prevailed, and in 1861, there were 893 of these primitive structures in use for school purposes in the State. Since that time they have been gradually disappearing. In 1865, there were 796; in 1870, 336, and in 1875, 121.

Iowa Territory was created July 3, 1838. January 1, 1839, the Territorial Legislature passed an act providing that “there shall be established a common school, or schools in each of the counties in this Territory, which shall be open and free for every class of white citizens between the ages of five and twenty-one years.” The second section of the act provided that “the County Board shall, from time to time, form such districts in their respective counties whenever a petition may be presented for the purpose by a majority of the voters resident within such contemplated district.” These districts were governed by boards of trustees, usually of three person; each district was required to maintain school at least three months in every year; and later, laws were enacted providing for county school taxes for the payment of teachers, and that whatever additional sum might be required should be assessed upon the parents sending, in proportion to the length of time sent.

The system of graded schools was inaugurated in 1849; and new schools, in which more than one teacher is employed, are universally graded.

For more see: pages 97 and 98 History of Johnson County 1836-1882.

First School in Johnson County

The first school in Johnson county was established by Jesse Berry, in 1840, in a small frame building, situated on College street, Iowa City. This house was still standing in October 1882, being then in use by J. B. Schofield as a rag carpet weaving house. The building was sided with oak clapboards which were split and shaved by David Cox, Esq., who now lives {in 1882} in Pleasant Valley township, on the site of the old Poweshiek Indian village and Gilbert’s trading house. {See diagram on page 207.} He also made the shingles in the same way. The original floor and the laths were also split lumber instead of sawed. The house is only one story high; stands on the north side of College street between Clinton and Capital streets; was used for some years as sheriff’s office, and for other public purposes; is an interesting relic and landmark of the city’s early days; and is probably the oldest house now standing in the city.

For more see: page 381 History of Johnson County 1836-1882

Rural School Library
 in Court House Basement
Colleen Sehr in back
School Days

Johnson County Maps
Click to enlarge

    updated  27 Nov 2010

Schools Index Page