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Picture – Wilton Public School built in 1876 – Courtesy of Catharine Herr

Our First High School

By Gale McClean

Transcribed by Elizabeth Casillas, February 6, 2016

     Wilton’s population in 1870 had reached 1322. The two room frame school building (built in 1857) was overcrowded. The people voted for the erection of a new brick three story school. It was to provide grade school accommodations and a high school for Wilton. The bond issue carried by 5 votes (131 -126). Work was started July 17, 1875. The building was completed on December 30 of the same year. The dedication address was delivered by Judge William F. Brannon who had been elected Muscatine County’s first superintendent of school in 1858. The architect was Mr. J.P. Walton of Muscatine. This new structure served as grade school and high school for Wilton. It also served as high school for south-central Cedar County, the northeast part of Moscow township and most of Wilton township for nearly 100 years.

     1876 Caffie’s History indicates that Prof. T. Mattison was principal. It also states that J.H. Leverick, W.E. Pulsifer, Mrs. E. Pulsifer, N. Roney and I. Toothaker were teachers in the school at that time.

     Rural pupils attending the high school were required to pay tuition. In 1910 the tuition was $2.00 per month. At that time the faculty were 3 . . .

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     This page sponsored in honor of Gale McClean by his grandchildren George Jr., Greg and Sandy McClean, Steve Kavka, Jim and Dan Davies and Don and Beth Rickert.

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Picture – Wilton Public School as Remodeled in 1915 – Courtesy of the N.N.C.

. . . in number; Mr. E.D. Bradley, Miss Ann Ringgenberg and Miss Sadie Saunders with one part time teacher who taught art, drawing and music.

     A couple of years later the tuition was absorbed out of tax money.

     The Wilton Exponent – Aug. 27, 1875 “Schools, School Houses and School Teachers. – Let it be remembered that our public schools commence next Monday. Prof. Mattison arrived yesterday . . . This term will commence in the old buildings, but all hope it will not be necessary to commence a second term in them.

     The new school house is progressing. The brick work has been laid to the bottom of the lower windows on three sides and in front much higher . . . “

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     “Dogs - According to the last census Wilton is subject to the howls of 103 canines, three more than a centennial. The township, exclusive of the town, has sheep destroying facilities to the tune of 186 individual yelps and 45 sheep were killed by these same pups during the year . . . West Liberty has the poorest dog soil and as only 25 are credited to that otherwise lively town, it can’t be called a a doggoned place, can it? Muscatine county has 2865 within her borders.”------ Wilton Exponent, Jan. 21, 1876

    Remember when Lamp’s Store bought two barrels of peanuts every fall, one of Spanish peanuts and the other jumbos? For five cents a hungry school boy could buy enough peanuts to last all the way home on that long cold ride to the country.

    Remember when a ham sandwich at the lunch counter of Ray and Earl’s Pool Room cost five cents? The sandwiches were made with Schroeder’s new-baked buns, fresh creamery butter and a generous slice of boiled ham. Good!

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Picture – Wilton Public School 1953 – Courtesy of Zella Abbott

Picture – Wilton High School 1976 – Courtesy of Iva Lillge

History of Wilton Public School

By Zella Noble Abbott

    The Wilton Community School, as it is known today, had its beginning in a red brick building erected in 1875 on the site presently occupied by the west end of the elementary building. It was quite an impressive structure, with gracefully sloping mansard roof, a belfry tower which housed the school bell, now cherished in a new setting as a ‘victory bell.’ The old bell tower, topped by a tall spire, the arched front door and matching arched windows, added to the beauty of the original building.

    In 1915, with more room needed, the old building was remodeled, the mansard roof was removed as well as the top floor, which had been a gymnasium. Additional classrooms were added, also a new gym – this time in the basement. The red brick disappeared under a more modern covering of stucco.

    As time went on, again more space was needed. Sometime in the early ‘30’s an addition to the stucco structure was added. This addition practically doubled the size of the building, adding many more. . .

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     This page sponsored in memory of Vesta Murdock by Mr. and Mrs. William Woller and boys.

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Picture – Anna Ringgenberg, revered Wilton teacher – Courtesy of Gale McClean

. . . classrooms and a large gym, to meet the growing needs of athletics. Red brick was used again, which matched the mother structure of stucco, ‘not at all.’

    In 1952, a bond issue for $102,000 made possible the present 2-story ‘east wing,’ which provided more class rooms, plus the new cafeteria and kitchen, and storage space in the basement. Fortunately, the newest wing was a matching red brick and the west end stucco was outnumbered 2 to 1.

    The Community School District of Wilton was created by virtue of a special school election held on June 29, 1954, whereby certain school districts (including the Wilton Independent School District) were wholly or partially united into a single school district. This action called for bussing of country students, and a substantial increase in enrollment. Another special school election on May 1, 1958 further enlarged the Wilton Community School District by including districts in Farmington, Sugar Creek and Rochester townships in Cedar County. On July 8, 1966, the Rochester Township No. 6 School District was accepted as a part of the Wilton District for the following year.

    With the enlarged school district, a long-range building program was needed to meet the steadily growing enrollment. In 1957, the school board left the townspeople breathless and shaking their heads, when they purchased what seemed an enormous amount of farmland, lying at the northeast edge of town. Their foresight and planning provided ample space for our present high school building and football field, with plenty of room for the additions which would come later.

    The building and grounds were ready for use the following year, and for the first time, Wilton had two separate school buildings.

    The year 1972 brought the biggest step of all, a $1,060,000 bond issue, . . .

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     This page sponsored in memory of James and Margaret Atwill who came from Ireland in 1875, by their son and granddaughter, Richard and Arvella Atwill.

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Picture – Wilton First Grade 1898 – Courtesy of Blanche Kelley
Front row – left to right: Birdie Chasteen, ?, Lillie Franklin, Grace Friedericksen, ?, Frank Weatherly, ?, Cora Beard, Miss Stella Creitz teacher, George Jacobs, Esther Hilfman.
Second row: ?, ?, Ida Miller, ?, Lillie Fredericksen, Elizabeth Cronin, ?, Andrew Christensen, Bennie Hilfman, Adam Thurston, ?, Hazel Piggett, ? ? ?.
Third row: ?, Pearl Chasteen, Hazel Cummings, Alma Reese, Eddie Bouland, Pauline Bunker, ?, Bill Wilkerson, Vella Chown, Charlie McCroskey, ?, Viola Weirhauser, ?.
Fourth row: ?, Tommy Murphy, ?, ?, Hulda Schroeder, Blanche Bridges, George Whitmer, Eddie McCartney, ?, Irma Wildasin, Ruth Ringgenberg, Frances Kelley, Robbie Hickey, Steve Teeple, Richard Atwill.

. . . which, when passed, made possible the construction of an ultra modern addition to the elementary building. – this time the west end, after the demolition of the remainder of the original stucco-covered brick building. This same bond issue, provided for the large modern gym and additional classroom space added to the high school. During the year 1972-1973 demolition and construction cut classroom space, so it was necessary for the kindergarten and first grade classes to be held in St. Mary’s Parish Hall and the Presbyterian Church. Third and fourth grades were bussed to the old Atalissa school building. Classes remaining in the building competed with jackhammers, filtering dust, billowing plastic walls and unbelievable fire escapes. But when school opened in the fall of 1973, the elementary building was a beautiful, long, two-story brick structure, coordinated and matching in architecture and material, at last.

     During the crowded years, the school board purchased a mobile unit which housed one kindergarten for 6 years, then a fifth grade for one year, and finally has been the superintendent’s office for two years. Another building on the elementary ground, dubbed the bus barn,’ has done duty for two classrooms (elementary), then served as a high school shop building – all in the effort to keep up with the growing enrollment.

     At present, in the fall of 1975, (the School’s Centennial Year) a new building for shop and Vocational Agriculture is nearing completion, just to the northeast of the high school building. The size and . . .

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     This page sponsored in memory of Gladys Atwill, daughter of James S. Atwill by Arvella and Richard Atwill.

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Picture – Wilton High School 1900 – 1901 – Courtesy of A. Wacker Family
Back row (Left to right) – Edward Maurer, Miss Chalker, Miss Landon, Caroline Marolf, Prof. Focht, Leonard Moore.
Second row – Pearl Maurer, Mary Jacobs, Pearl Kaufmann, Mary Ruff, Marie Dornsley, Olga Port, Vera Sherberger, Alpha McClain, Nellie Henderson.
Third row – Edna Smith, Stella Moony, Iroline Port, Bessie Nicolaus, Anna Murphy, Vera Ayers, Vera Mason, Olga Smith, Agnes McSwiggin, Grace Woodhouse, Edith Nacker, Myrtle Kurtz, Stella Sherberger, Belle Edge, Nellie Lewellyn, Vera Miller, Elle Bannick.
Fourth row – Orin McCoy, Elbert Knott, Leslie Whitmer, Frank Agnew, Louis Miller, Mike Cronin, Willie Tattle, Paul Collier.
Bottom row – Clarence Klein, Arthur Wacker, Roy Dawson, Earl Whitmer, Alex Atwill, Charles Kaufmann, Charles Ninebor.

Picture – Wilton 8th Grade Graduates 1907 – Courtesy of Mrs. Blanche Kelley
Back row, left to right: ?, Phil Dornseif, Lizzie Wacker, Walter Marolf, ?, Robert Hickey, ?.
Second row: Grace Friederichsen, ?, Margaret Woodhouse, Lawrence Dornseif, Elizabeth Cronin, Frank Wetherly, Ruth Ringgenberg.
Front row: ?, ?, Glen Miller, ?, ?, Cora Beard.

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Picture – Wilton Second Grade Spring 1910 – Courtesy William Nelson

Picture – Interior of Wilton High School -11911, Courtesy of Blanche Kelley
Standing – left to right - ? Ticklin, Ralph Potter, Clara Thiering, Charles Wright, Winnie Cronin, Vernon Lear, Clorinda Thede, Terry Ayres, ?, Prof. Bradley, Anna Ringgenberg.
Left row (seated) – Eva Ayres, Norman Abbott, Blanche Lenker, Roy Christison, ?, ?, ?.
2nd row – Richard Atwill, Mearle Heabner, Earl Woodhouse, George Collier, Ernest Brammeier, Louis Reid.
3rd row – Emma McSwiggin, Edwin Bannick, Gale Looney, Ernest Nolte, Charles Mockmore, Frank King.
4th row – Herman Thurston, Ruby Robinson, Harold Brammeier, Gladys Burris, Frank Budelier, Erma Port.

. . . equipment of this latest addition should add greatly to our present facilities.

     As a fitting tribute to the years of growth of our school, the Wilton Alumni and friends made possible, through donations, a bell tower which was erected on the high school lawn in 1973-74 to house the old school bell. Once again it is hung in a brick bell tower, as it was originally in 1881. A bronze plaque with inscription dedicates this bell to Albert ‘Daddy’ Winsell who rang it for 36 years. To Allan Duffe (now deceased) we also dedicate this bell, for his vision to preserve it for future years - that this faithful old bell will continue to ring out . . .

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Picture – Wilton Junior H.S. 1927 – Courtesy of Harriet Jensen
Front row, left to right – Ed Smith, - Knouse, Carlton Winters, Francis Gray, George Kook.
Second row – Margaret Dwyer teacher, Charles Crispin, Harold Templeman, Clifford Christiansen, Paul McCabe.
Third row: Lyle Oveson, Berniece Daut, Richard Lauser, George Bannick, Bob Mason, Einor Ericksen.
Fourth row: Roy Hinkhouse, Mildred McDermott, Clara Schoor, ?, Marjorie McCoy, Violet Greummer, Anatasia McCoy, ?, Mary Hart, ?.
Back row: Elaine Rottman, ?.

. . . joyously for Wilton victories. This was Allan’s dream that came to fulfillment. May its tones remind us all of the steady progress, through the years, of a school that has grown, to better serve a growing community.

Picture – Wilton World War I Veterans in Parade – 1920 – Courtesy of Edna Maurer
Taken at Corner at Cedar and Fourth Streets.

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    This page sponsored in memory of Elmer Swanson, long time educator in the Wilton Public School, by his friend, J. Curtis Frymoyer.

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Page created February 6, 2016 by Lynn McCleary