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Updated on February 13, 2011

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Pioneer Schools In Cedar Rapids

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As described in the book:
Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1839 to 1849
Rev. George R. Carroll, Times Printing and Binding House, Cedar Rapids, IA 1895
Pages 56-57. Transcribed by Terry Carlson, April 2004

Chapter IX
Our First School House

Our first school house in the neighborhood was erected in the fall of 1842. We had by this time some valuable additions to our community in the way of families, in which there were children large enough to go to school. There was the Lewis family, as also those of Messrs, Lutz, Stucksleger and McKee.

These neighbors all seemed to feel the importance of having a school and were ready to unite in the work of erecting a building at once.  The location was fixed on our place opposite to and a little beyond our house.  By the beginning of winter the school house was finished and the teacher was engaged.  This must have been on of the first school houses in Linn county.

Our first school teacher was Mr. Putnam R. Lawrence, who had but recently come to Marion.  The school passed off very well, so far as I remember.  We had our spelling schools and our exhibitions and our debating society, which were well sustained, and which proved to be not only a source of improvement, but of a great deal of pleasure.  One of our text books was the old "English Reader," whose moral tone, and the excellence of whose selections have scarcely been surpassed by any of the school books published in these later years.  Our public exhibitions in the school were, I dare say, hardly up to those of our modern schools, in point of merit, nevertheless I can easily imagine that they might have been of a much lower grade.  I can only recall a few of the pieces spoken.  One was the "Nightingale and Glowworm," by Cowper, and another was "The Beggar's Petition."  This latter was spoken by Wm. Lewis.  Emerging from behind the curtain, in the garb of an old man, bent low by the weight of years, and leaning heavily upon his long staff, he began in a low and feeble tone of voice his sad petition:

"Pity the sorrows of a poor old man,
Whose trembling limbs have borne him to your door;
Whose days are dwindled to the shortest span;
Oh, give relief, and heaven will bless your store."

The whole scene was so real and so pathetic as to leave a lasting impression upon the minds of us younger children.

The teachers in succeeding years were, Mr. Joseph Greene, in the winter of 1843-4, and Mr. H. M. Manley in the winter of 1844-5.

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