Carroll County IAGenWeb


A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement



Transcribed and donated by Marilyn Setzler.



There are no records relating to the first school taught in Carroll county, and all that can be learned at this date comes through William Gilley, who is the only survivor of the community in and about Carrollton in pioneer days, back in the '50s. He tells how the parents, realizing the need of instruction for the few children so remote from school facilities in older settled portions of the state, put forth an effort to provide a schoolhouse and to secure a teacher, who would be content to endure the isolation of the frontier life and give the little ones the attention they needed. It was a day of small things, and only actual needs were demanded by the community. A small sawmill was procured and set up some distance southeast of Carrollton, in the vicinity of Strong Davis' old home. There the work of sawing out lumber was begun and in due time there was enough material for a schoolhouse turned out. Shingles were split with a froe and shaved with the "draw shave," and it was not long till material was on hand for the new building. When completed, the new schoolhouse was not a very elegant structure, but the community felt it would serve its useful purpose for some time to come. It was a small building, probably fourteen by sixteen feet, shingled with shaved shingles, sided with rough boards, up and down, battened and trimmed with uncouth finishing, and lighted with scant windows of small panes, puttied in with poor skill of men not accustomed to such work.

When completed men and women, young and old, and children of all ages, were invited and the house-warming was an event in the community. People were proud of the new schoolhouse, and in the autumn when the judge came to Carrollton to hold the first term of court in the county, school was dismissed and court opened with all the solemn dignity and formality of modern temples of justice. Some of the noted lawyers of the state were in attendance, and the rafters of that modest building resounded to the eloquence of men who afterwards became noted in the history of the Hawkeye state.

It was in the fall of 1856 that Miss Jane McCurdy opened the first school in the room described above. The new teacher was one of the spinsters of the neighborhood, regarded for rigid notions of life in general and puritanic rules of conduct in particular. She had served an apprenticeship with the "rod and rule" and was skilled in the art of giving instruction in the "Three R's." She had the self-possession and poise in the schoolroom that age and experience give. When she opened school that autumnal morning only a few children greeted her presence. Many youngsters were still busy helping their parents in the field, and for other reasons were detained at home. There were children in those pioneer families of course, for race suicide had not then entered the house, and baby cries were not heard with unmixed dread. In those prairie homes that skirted the woods and hugged the river bluffs there were children galore and the time was coming when more room would be necessary for school purposes, and firmer hands than Jane McCurdy's were needed to wield the rod and maintain discipline. As the season advanced the attendance increased. Parents living down on the Brushy, and on the lands back of the brakes, sent their children to Carrollton to attend school and spend the winter at the county seat. Children were there from up on the North Coon, and every family that had relatives or friends in the country round about had some child or youth in the home who was attending Jane McCurdy's school. Thirst for knowledge is cumulative, and when parents who had been isolated from school advantages so long, had a chance to place their children within reach of an institution of learning, however primitive, they missed no opportunity. This helped the school in the on-march of civilization and culture, along material and moral lines, open to interested and loyal supporters.

The teacher in due time divided her endeavors between teaching the young and ministering to one Robert Hill, who came along and pleaded with her to share with him the joys and ills of life, to which proposal she fain consented, and undertook the life of housewife in place of the work of school ma'am. She is known to those who first received instruction in Carroll county as Jane Hill and few recall her as the spinster Jane McCurdy who pressed the button in the fall of 1856 and started the educational machinery to run in the primitive haunts nearly sixty years ago.

The picture of that pioneer educational undertaking is not complete when Jane McCurdy is shown to pass from the schoolroom to the home of the pioneer farmer, for conditions were still new and formative. The school population had increased rapidly, there were big boys among the new corners not amenable to moral suasion, and there was evident need of a governing hand to hold them in check and to maintain order, if substantial progress were to be made along educational roads. About the time Jane McCurdy, with firm set jaws and nervous eye was installed as first teacher, there came from his home in New England a young man, fresh from college, with scholarly look and frail physique. He stopped at Carrollton and spent some time straightening out the books of different merchants and doing what clerical work he could find to do. He then went to Denison, which at that time was a town of some pretensions and well known throughout this section. He was there engaged in teaching when he was induced by William Gilley and others to come back to Carrollton and take charge of the school. By that time the school population had increased till it was necessary to provide two rooms, and the scholarly New Englander, who was none else than T. B. Aldrich, took charge and became the village schoolmaster. Aldrich in the course of time married a daughter of Judge Price and it was thought would become a fixture in the community. But when the war broke out and the county did not furnish its quota of troops he was drafted into the service. On leaving home to enter the army, he was lost to the home and family he had acquired in the new western community and dropped from mind and memory. But as the second teacher in Carrollton and presumably in Carroll county he is still remembered by the few who came in contact with him.

There was nothing new or eventful in the evolution of the public schools in Carroll county. As the population increased new schools started up and multiplied and educational facilities were amply provided for the added school population. In the first few years, because of the fact that settlement was mostly confined to the timbered portions, schools were established only in the eastern part of the county. But in later years, with the settlement of the fertile lands of the central and western sections of the county, schools were established as provided by the general laws of the state. The county has ranked well up among the first in Iowa from the beginning for its liberal support of the public schools, and the impetus given the cause of education by the hardy pioneers has been maintained by the officers and patrons, who have contributed to the cause to the present day. Now the cities and towns in Carroll county are among the foremost in the state in the character of school buildings and the support given to their schools.

From the record, it is shown that the first superintendent of schools was William H. Price, who afterwards became prominent in the history of the county. After serving three years, beginning in 1858, he was suc­ceeded by L. McCurdy who served a term of two years. Then the record runs: T. B. Aldrich, 1864; William H. Price, 1865; Charles T. Mulloy, 1866-67; John K. Deal, 1868-69; M. W. Beach, 1870-71; I. A. Beers, 1872­73; W. F. Steigerwalt, 1874-77; W. H. Bean, 1878-79; Gurdon W. Wat­tles, 1880-81; C. C. Colclo, 1882-85; H. J. Gobel, 1886-87; D. A. Rohan, part of 1887; F. A. Snydam, 1888-89; C. C. Colclo, 1890-91; Frank J. Salmen, 1892-93; J. J. McMahon, 1894-99; J. M. Dunck, part of 1899; J. M. Ralph, 1900-03; W. J. Barloon, 1904-08; W. T. Bohenkamp, 1909 to date.

There are in Carroll county 106 school districts, with 187 schoolrooms, there being 127 rural schoolrooms and 60 in the graded schools of the towns. There are 141 schoolhouses; 12 in cities and towns, 141 in rural districts. There are 261 teachers employed, 21 males and 240 females. The average wages paid are, $79.70 per month to males and $44.63 to females. This is based upon the amount paid in graded schools as well as rural schools.

The number of persons of school age in the county is, between the ages of 5 and 21, 6,825 males 3,452, females 3,373.

The number subject to law for compulsory attendance, between the ages of 7 and 14, is 3,628; males 1,846, females 1,782.

Total number enrolled in the public schools of the county, 3,750.

Average daily attendance, 2,864.

Average cost of tuition per pupil per month in the county, $3.05.

Value of schoolhouses in the county, $208,775.

Value of apparatus in schoolhouses, $13,286.

Number of volumes in school libraries in the county, 8,172.

The amount of tax received in 1910 for school purposes is $87,130.49, distributed as follows:

 Teachers..........................................  $61,578.27

Contingent......................................       2,176.49

Schoolhouse...................................     19,294.15

Schoolhouse Bond.........................       4,081.58

 There is received an apportionment from the state toward the school fund.



        The population in many localities being largely Catholic, the church maintains a number of schools in the county. These schools have attained an efficiency highly creditable to the persons in charge and give a thorough training within the scope of their curricula. Prizes were won at the World's Fair in Chicago by exhibits from parochial schools in this county, and again at Saint Louis the parochial schools were an attractive part of the exhibition from Iowa.

There are in the county twelve Catholic parochial schools having from one to eight rooms and caring for the wants of 1,400 pupils. The following data are taken from the report at the close of school, June 30, 1911: St. John's, Arcadia, enrollment 108, three rooms, established in 1880, Rev. J. A. Schulte, pastor and superintendent; St. Bernard's, Breda, enrollment 196, six rooms, nine grades, established in 1883, Rev. G. H. Luehrsman, pastor and superintendent; Carroll, St. Joseph's, enrollment 120, four rooms, nine grades, established in 1880, Rev. P. F. Farrelly, pastor; SS. Peter and Paul, Carroll, enrollment 260, eight rooms, ten grades, estab­lished in 1885, Rev. Joseph Kuemper, pastor; Mt. Carmel, St. Mary's, enrollment 205, five rooms, nine grades, established in 1875, Rev. F. H. Huesman, pastor; Halbur, St. Augustine's, enrollment 95, two rooms, eight grades, established in 1901, Rev. John Baumler, pastor; Sacred Heart, Templeton, enrollment 194, four rooms, eight grades, established 1889, Rev. B. A. Schulte, pastor; St. Mary's, Willey, enrollment 121, three rooms, eight grades, established in 1887, Rev. J. Heinzlmeier, pastor; St. Francis, Maple River, enrollment 70, two rooms, eight grades, Rev. Warzawa; Dedham has a one-room school with an enrollment of about 6o pupils in charge of Rev. Huelshorst, pastor; Coon Rapids, two rooms, Rev. Rabuck, pastor Roselle, three rooms, enrollment of 65, eight grades, Rev. Gehling, pastor.

The above named Catholic parochial schools, having an enrollment of more than 1,400 pupils were conducted for the school-year 1910-11 at a cost of $8,050. This money is mostly raised by tuition received from the pupils attending.



Arcadia—Principal, H. M. Stiles, salary $945.00, nine months school, eleven grades, enrollment 50, two assistant teachers, salary $50.00.

Breda—Principal, Elizabeth Huss, salary $600.00, nine months school, nine grades, enrollment 32, assistant teacher, salary $45.00.

Carroll—Superintendent, W. H. Gemmill, salary $1,600.00 Principal, L. P. Dove, salary $1,035, nine months school, thirteen grades, enrollment 467, seventeen assistant teachers, salary, males $100.00, females $58.50.

Carrollton—Principal, Emily Willey, salary $540.00, eight months school, nine grades, enrollment 64, one assistant teacher, salary $45.00. Carrollton is a consolidated Independent district formed by the union of four rural districts making a territory of 16 sections. A splendid, modern, two-room school building was built last year and is proving a success. This is the first consolidated district in Carroll county.

Coon Rapids—Superintendent, H. T. Ports, salary $1,200.00, nine months school, thirteen grades, enrollment 361, ten assistants, salary $56.05.

Dedham—Principal, Josephine I. Bruce, salary $720.00, nine months school, eleven grades, enrollment 96, three assistants, salary $60.00.

Glidden—Superintendent, W. H. Manifold, salary $1,125.00, nine months, twelve grades, enrollment 168, seven assistants, salary $55.00.

Lanesboro—Principal, Laura Maulsby, salary $480.00, eight months school, ten grades, enrollment 74, two assistants, salary $45.00.

Lidderdale—Emma Chambers, salary $450.00, nine months, eight grades, enrollment 31.

Manning—Superintendent, J. W. Meyer, salary $1,350.00, principal, Katherina Varuska, salary $675.00, nine months school, twelve grades, enrollment 359, thirteen assistant teachers, salary $55.00.

Ralston—Principal, Gertrude Barnard, salary $675.00, nine months, ten grades, enrollment 56, one assistant, salary $50.00.

Templeton—Mabel Vollmer, salary $500.00, ten months school, nine grades, enrollment 16.

A summary of the above will give us the interesting information that Carroll county has within its borders twelve city, town, and village schools offering from eight to twelve grades in school work, conducted by seventy-one teachers at an annual cost of about $40,000. The enrollment for the year 1910-11 in all city schools was 1,839, with an average attendance of 1,467 pupils. Carroll maintains a fully accredited high school course and was this year placed on the Normal Training school list, giving its pupils a choice of three courses: Classical, Scientific, and Normal Training.

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