UNION TOWNSHIP SCHOOL SYSTEM
The first grade schoolhouse was built of logs in 1857 in section 12. The school seats were made out of logs, split with flat sides up. They were called puncheon seats. William Kivett was the first teacher at the Wilson School.
In about 1869, a schoolhouse was built of logs on Section 8. T. W. Neville, who came to Union Township in 1869, was the first teacher. He was a man of culture, with an education and excess amount of energy. He gave the best of his young manhood organizing schools all over the county, and taught for many years. His debating societies and spelling school drew patronage for many miles. He also served as an efficient Superintendent of Schools for the county.
In these two schoolhouses, school was in session only during the summer and fall, because there was no heat in the schoolhouses. The older children were needed to help with farming. The winters were too severe to walk to school to gain much education.
The system grew, and by 1893 there were eight one-room schoolhouses in Union Township. The schools weren’t all spaced properly because of the roads. Locations were due to ridge top moving of vehicles before the roads were built and graded, and before culverts and bridges were built. At this early date, access to Creston, Spaulding, Orient and Greenfield could be made by ridge travel without having to cross any wet draws or creeks.
Location of Rural Schools
North Star in Section 6.
Evans in Section 9.
Wilson in Section 12.
Zion Center in Section 16.
Neville in Section 17.
Berrin (no. 9) in Section 30.
Wimmer in Section 33.
Prairie Lawn in Section 35.
Later, in about 1913, Riverdale was built in Section 23.
This prevented any students from walking over two miles for an education. The school year was nine months long by this time. It was divided up into fall, winter and spring terms. There was, at times, a change of teachers for each term. The records show that in 1915 the township had one male teacher and fifteen female teachers. One hundred and ninety-five students were enrolled in all the township schools, with an average attendance of 95. The nine schoolhouses were valued at $3,750.
December 19, 1919, a consolidated school system to be located in Zion was voted on and carried by 66 voting for and 44 against. By the fall of 1920, several of the school buildings were moved to Zion and interconnected to form a school complex. When September came, the students were bused in from all areas. This new system took care of all twelve grades. The new school building was started early in the spring of 1920. By the fall of 1921, the new school building was opened with all twelve grades under one roof. The school still stands on the hill next to the church.
In the year 1960 the school was reorganized again with Orient, Richland, Macksburg and Zion forming the Orient-Macksburg School System. All four schoolhouses were used at that time. As of the 1975-1976 school year, the Zion building has Kindergarten first, second and third grades in session. Zion School’s first buses were made of wood.
transcribed by Mary Cochrane, Adair County History, 1976