HISTORY OF HEBRON SCHOOLS
WRITTEN BY G. WARREN PHILLIPS, HEBRON PRINCIPAL, IN 1938.
HISTORY OF HEBRON SCHOOLS
Written by G. Warren Phillips, principal of Hebron high school, in August 1938, for a special Homecoming Edition of The Porter County Herald
In 1837, two years from the date of the arrival of the first settler, a log school house was built and established near the present Hebron cemetery. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught a few months each year by teachers of the community. Among the teachers in this first school house were Amos Andrews, James Turner, Lina Russell, Sarah Richards and Rhoda Wallace. The school was, of course not graded. Books were scarce and equipment was conspicuous by its absence. After five or six years the school was held in the Presbyterian church, and in 1844 it was held in the vacant house of William Bryant with Ellen Hemes as teacher.
The second log school house was built a mile and a half southwest of Hebron in 1840. Fortunately we have some information concerning it. It was about 18 feet wide and 20 feet long and quite likely had a floor. There was no fireplace, but instead the fire was built upon a mud hearth and the smoke supposedly found its way up to the mud and stick chimney fire or six feet above supported by projecting timbers. Needless to say, the smoke often failed to find the chimney and smoke filled the room and the eyes of the pupils. Windy days must have been the dread of the pupils and master alike. Among the early teachers in this building were George Espy and a well educated Englishman named Alexander Hamilton who later became one of the outstanding lawyers in Chicago.
In 1842 the neighbors in the immediate vicinity built a third log house on Sigler’s corner or the northeastern corner of section 15 on the site where now stands the Dinsmoore Chevrolet garage. This was the first school house built within what was later to be the town of Hebron. Two years later the school house burned. Mary Crossman was the teacher. During the same year (1842) the people living in the east part of the township built a log school house on the southwest corner of section 7 just two miles east of the present town of Hebron. About 1842 a fifth log school was erected on the south line of the north half of section 6, range 6, later known as the Hard Scrabble School, and a sixth was built on the south line near the quarter part of section 5, range 6. These buildings all were very similar in size and construction. In the winter of 1842-43 Giles Aylesworth, the grandfather of the present Giles Aylesworth, taught in one of the schools on the east end of the township for the tremendous salary of $11 per month. It was on this location that the first frame school house, known as the Tannehill school, was built in the township.
By 1853 sufficient interest was aroused in Boone township so that May 28, 1853, a "special meeting was held by the board and the voters of the township for the purpose of determining whether a special tax for the support of free schools in the township should be assessed, at which meeting four votes were given in favor of the tax and ten against". Evidently free public education was not of sufficient importance one way or the other to bring out a large number to vote. By 1854 the leadership of people in the township and educators throughout the state had sufficiently interested the taxpayers in free public education that a tax of fifteen cents on each hundred dollars of property was voted for school purposes. In November, 1854, in the apportionment of school funds, District no. 1 received $45.00; no. 2, $39.10; no. 3, $19.08; no. 4, $39.10; no. 5, 12.62; no. 6, $39.10. This no doubt was supplemented by fees paid by the parents of pupils attending school for the total available was not sufficient to provide an adequate school term or employ trained teachers.
In 1872 a "handsome brick" school building was built in Hebron (district 5) on the site where the present building now stands (on the property to the west of the scout cabin where the apartments are). Matthew Wilson was trustee. This building which had evidently been supplemented by a log building for "in 1871 Mrs. James E. Bryant taught in a log school house located near the center of town, that was built for a blacksmith shop. After it was used as a school house it was converted into a stable." From a blacksmith shop to a new brick building was surely a forward step.
The new building contained four rooms and cost $5000. It was, of course, heated by stoves. By 1897 the new high school and increased enrollment made imperative additional space so in that year there were added two rooms and a furnace was installed to heat an entire building, then consisting of six rooms and a library. John Wilson was the contractor and the addition cost $3000. The high school occupied two rooms.
In 1882 the trustees’ report of H. J. Nichols shows an estimated school property value of $8000; of equipment $60.00. This included the new building in Hebron and seven district schools. Teachers in the rural schools received an average compensation of $1.37 per day; in town, $1.78. It is interesting to note that in 1881, although the school was nine months, teachers were employed for only a three month term. During the course of that year in the seven one-room schools outside of Hebron, a total of thirteen teachers were employed. Between the years 1872-1882 the following were principals of the Hebron school in order: Mr. Catheart, Mr. McAfee, Rev. B.C. Thompson, J.C. Carson, Mr. Simonson, Mr. O.J. Andrews, and Mr. W.E. Swearinger. In a space of ten years no principal served 2 consecutive years with the exception of Mr. J.C. Carson. It was, of course, impossible to have continuity of work or policy. Even in the town schools teaching was not a profession; merely a stepping stone to some real profession or marriage. To teach in the elementary schools (there was no high school) did not require even a high school education.
During the three year school years 1886 to 1888 inclusive, principal H.H. Loring completed the work of grading the schools in Hebron and a high school was begun. In 1890 the first commencement exercises were held for a graduating class of six girls and two boys: Ora Bryant, Nettie Carson, Charles Childs, Helen Green, Sadie McAlpin, Virgil Nichols, Mary Patton, and Bertha Rice. The high school course was at that time of three years length. In a year or two the fourth year was added. In May, 1938, the 49th annual commencement was held for a class of 28. Between the time of Mr. Loring, first high school superintendent, and G. Warren Phillips, present principal since 1932, there appears the names of W.B. Swearinger, 1889-1891; G.A. Hawkings, 1891-92; H.H. Kreiling, 1892-93; A.A. Hughart, 1893-95; A.B. Kirk, 1895-96; W.A. Hamilton, 1896-99; G.A. Lovett, 1899-1903; S.N. Geary 1903-1906; M.E. Dinsmoore (now county school superintendent) 1906-1920; F.A. Harrington, 1920-1922; C.H. Reider, 1922-1925; A.E. Steele, 1925-1928; H.M. Hill, 1929-32, as principals of the high school. Record of the trustees of Boone township dates back to 1872-1873, Matthew Wilson, Amos Andrews, J.E. Bryant, M.J. Stinchfield, Charles Leeka, H.J. Nichols, L.H. Coplin, A.M. Blanchard, George Davis, E.E. Dilley, Jay Buchanan, Grover Wilson, Lewis Keller, and the present trustee, Harry O. Williams.
In 1902 the movement toward consolidation of schools was begun when in that year the Bates school on the southeast corner of section 10, range 7, township 33 and the Hard Scrabble school on the north line of the south half of section 6, range 6, township 33 were both closed. In 1913 the Malone school on section 2, range 6, township 33 was discontinued. In 1916 the Tannehill (a brick building) on the southwest corner of section 7, range 6, township 33, was abandoned. In 1917 the tornado destroyed the frame Aylesworth school building. Mr. Jay Buchanan, the trustee, immediately issued $8000 in bonds and built a new modern two room brick building near the center of section 9, range 6, township 33. The masonry was erected by Marsden and Wolf of Hebron. In the same year the Fry school on the northwest corner of section 17, range 6, township 33, was closed. In 1922 the pupils of the Bryant school (a brick building) on the southwest corner of section 23, range 6, township 33 were transferred to the Hebron school and that school was closed. In 1935 the Aylesworth building, in operation only eighteen years was closed and consolidation within the township was complete. The greatest factor in consolidation has been the improvement in transportation making possible convenient and economical hauling of pupils into Hebron. In 1920, Charles Lightfoot, who was driving a horse-drawn hack, removed the body of the vehicle and transferred it to a chassis. This was the beginning of the school motorbus in this township. In 1927 he added a second motor bus and in 1931 Edward Casey became the driver of the third.
In the early part of 1914 plans were made for the erection of a new school building in Hebron. Reasons for building were given in the Hebron News of January 15, 1914, as need for more recitation and class rooms, the inadequacy of the heating and lighting and ventilating of the old building and the desirability of attracting high school students from adjoining townships. In April, 1914, $30,000 in four and one-half percent bonds were issued for 15 years, by Trustee E.E. Dilley and Advisory Board members J.E. Carson, P.E. Hoshaw, and Emery Dye. The general contract was let to Wiley Bros. of Chicago for $23, 524. Lige Heating and Ventilating Co. installed the heating and plumbing system for $4366. Charles Kendricks was the architect. Materials were salvaged from the old building and used on the new.
The new building, built on the same site, was completed by the beginning of the 1914-15 school year. It contained eleven classrooms, a combination auditorium and gymnasium, a laboratory and a shop room. At the time of its completion it was proudly accepted as most modern and complete. It represented a forward step in educational offering and made possible the immediate addition of manual arts and increased science offering in the high school program by M.E. Dinsmoore, principal.
Of even greater importance than the growth of the building facilities in the past hundred years, but less spectacular, has been the growth of the curriculum- the nerve center of any school. It is not possible here to give the history of development of the educational offering, but if we will go back only so far as 30 years ago in the high school we find a bare and strictly limited academic curriculum. The student took the entire course. Since then in our local school manual arts (already mentioned) has been added, biology has replaced academic botany, an embryonic program of health and physical education is beginning to take form and home economics is well established. In 1925 Trustee Grover Wilson and principal A.E. Steele installed a course in typewriting, thus inaugurating the beginning of a steadily growing commercial course. Although music had been more or less sporadically taught for several years, it reached its present excellence under the direction of the late August Bucci, 1933-1935 and the present director L. Rush Hughes. Both vocal and instrumental music are on a high plane. The local school now has a playing band of 45 members. Instruction is given throughout the year. A testing program is being carried on and an adequate system of records is installed. It is the aim of the present administration to provide a well-balanced program for each pupil enrolled. Since 1932 work has been steadily carried on in the field of supervised study. Teachers and principal have taken extension work in the field and the school program has been shaped in that direction so that in 1938 the high school program is so designed that the lengthened period, supervised study plan will be followed entirely.
Increased enrollment and changing educational demands provided the background for a rude jolt received by the school officials and citizens of Boone township in 1929 when the state department withdrew the continuous commission of the local high school and demanded that improvements be made before it be re-issued. Points scored were need of more room, adequate laboratory, gymnasium and auditorium, play space and heating facilities. Mr. Lewis Keller, trustee, began to make plans for building, but the depression soon made expansion less feasible and the plans were accordingly shelved. In 1932 Mr. Keller and Principal G. Warren Phillips affected a complete reorganization of the school at a cost of a very few hundred dollars. The entire elementary school was placed on the first floor for the first time and the high school given exclusive use of the second floor; toilets and drinking fountains on the second floor were repaired and put to use for the first time in fifteen years; the assembly room plan was abandoned for the home room plan, making possible a twenty-five percent increased capacity; lockers for physical education were installed; two small class rooms were made into a commercial suite; and heat was supplied to the office and laboratory for the first time since the erection of the building. These efforts paid big dividends, for in the spring of 1933 the state department re-issued the commission. At present the school has a teaching personnel of eleven teachers including the principal. There are about three hundred pupils enrolled in the school, very evenly distributed throughout the twelve grades.
In the spring of 1936 cause for further alarm came from the report of inspection by the state fire commission. Recommendation for improvements were so sweeping that many believed it would be folly to try and meet them on the old building. The limitation of space of the present site prohibits the erection of a new building here and renders impractical the remodeling of the old building. The people and school officials of Boone township face a school problem at the present time which demands careful and thorough thought and planning in light of the school and community need of the next fifty years.
Also appearing in this special edition was this item.
-From Porter County Herald, Aug 4, 1938.
"The erection of a new school building for Boone township is regarded as a certainty", was the statement issued Monday from the offices of Trustee Harry Williams.
In a letter received by Mr. Williams from G.L. Rounds, acting regional director of the PWA the official statement reads:
Grant allotment to school, Boone township of Porter county, for school building project, Docket Int. 1382 F. increased from $45,073 to $73,636.
"All obstacles now appear to have been removed", said Mr. Williams. The grant is 45 percent of the entire cost of the building which will be about $164,000. Located in Seneca Park, part of the grounds were purchased in 1936 and an adjoining piece of land in 1938. Surveying for the location of the building has been done. As soon as the sale of bonds has been negotiated, the contract will be let and building operations started, which will probably be sometime after the first of September.
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