Maroa-Forsyth School Archives


Early Maroa Schools


The following is copied verbatim from Maroa Centennial Book 1

"The first public school in Maroa was in 1858-1859. No school building had been erected yet but by that time there were nearly two dozen children of school age in the village and immediate neighborhood, and the people realized the necessity of providing them the means of acquiring a common school education. The only vacant building in the town was a frame structure which had been the quarters of the construction gangs when the railroad was built, and abandoned when that work was completed. This building was fitted up where it stood, and in the fall of 1858 there was opened the first public school ever held in Maroa.

The teacher of this school was Robert Collins. The Board of Directors consisted of Joseph Jones, Garrett Schenck and O. J. Harlan. The pupils were Joseph, Charles, Mary and Esther Jones, children of Joseph Jones; Peter and Nathan Walter, sons of Wm. R. Walter; Mike, Ed and Mary Ann Grady children of Patrick Grady; Harriett and Elizabeth Hedger, daughters of Thomas Hedger; John and Charles Schenck, sons of Garrett Schenck; Henry, Malinda, Maria and Sarah Barger; Elias, Alec, Will and Pursis Ann Rogers.

A new school home was built during the summer of 1859. The building was a frame one and was located on the north part of the ground on which the present building stands [the school referred to here stood on the SW corner of E. Main Street and S. Locust Street]. The lot was bought from the Associated Land Co., a corporation with headquarters in Massachusetts, and it is a noteworthy fact that the deed to this lot was executed and acknowledged at the town of Salem, renowned for its witchcraft persecutions during colonial times.

On the night of March 31, 1861, a severe wind storm struck the little village and did a good deal of damage to the buildings. The new school house was lifted from its foundation and carried about ten feet to the east and quite badly racked. Temporary quarters were secured elsewhere for the school while the school building was righted and repaired.

At a meeting of the school board held Aug. 23, 1862, the tax levy for school purposes was fixed at one-half of one percent, and the sum of $330 was appropriated $275 for teachers, $30 for fuel, and $25 for incidental expenses.

By the fall of 1864 the school population had so increased that two teachers had to be employed for part of the year. Both teachers taught in the same room.

Additional ground having been purchased and the old building moved away, work was begun on a new school building in the summer of 1866. It was a two-story brick with four rooms. It required an entire year to build and furnish the new school and the first term in it began October 5, 1867.

The Board that year consisted of George W. Conover, A. Franklin and John Marsh. The Principal was C. A. McLean, under whose management the schools were graded as well as could be done at that time. An east wing of two rooms was added to the building in 1887.

During the summer of 1875 a one-room frame school house was built on the rear end of the school lot, back of the main building.

By 1877 the school had a principal and four teachers. The average monthly wage at this time was about $45 to $50 per month.

At a meeting of the board held April 3, 1882, it was decided that more ground was needed. Two acres of ground lying east of and adjoining the school lots were purchased for $500.

By 1890 the population of the town had reached a point where by law the management of school affairs should pass from a board of directors to a Board of Education consiting of a president and six members. At the regular election in April, 1890, the first board was elected as follows: Dr. E. A. Morgan president; members, A. J. Lutz, Albert Furman, Theodore Schafer, F. C. Brown, J. G. Happer and Charles Huff.

About this time it was decided to purchase a steam heating plant for the brick school. W. C. "Ted" Dine was given the position as janitor, and he held the position until July 16, 1941, completing almost 52 years of janitorial service to the school.

In 1895 improvements included the layout of conconcrete walks about the school buildings, and extending the city water mains to the school premises.

During 1914-1915 the present brick building was erected. It contained twelve classrooms, an assembly and a small gymnasium.

In 1940 Maroa elementary school was first in Illinois to receive a Certificate of Superior Rating under a new Program of Recognition. Loren Lewis was Principal at that time.

In the spring of 1947, about fourteen grade schools in Maroa Township and the south part of DeWitt County were consolidated with the Maroa Grade school and were known as the Maroa Community Consolidated School. Two buses were purchased during the summer, and the children were brought to town to school. The next spring a new law changed the system again the grade school and high school districts were consolidated under one Board of Education forming the Community Unit.

The school building was soon overcrowded and in 1953 four class rooms and a gymnasium were added on the south. The old gymnasium was converted to a kitchen and lunchroom for the hot lunch program. The assembly is being used at present as a visual aids room and the new gymnasium provides a space for public meeting and assembly.

It is interesting thus to follow the school history of the schools through the past century. Starting with two dozen pupils and one teacher in 1858, in a village of but a few scattered houses, a mere speck upon the broad, unbroken prairie, we have seen their gradual but constant growth and development until now there is an enrollment of over three hundred elementary pupils."


Upon completion of the new Maroa-Fosyth Grade School in Forsyth in 2004, the Maroa Grade School was sold to the City of Maroa. The original portion of the old Grade School building was demolished in 2012.


Notes

1 Maroa Centennial Book. Maroa, Illinios, 1954.


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