Cushing Iowa History
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One thing early settlers did was to provide a place for their children to learn. So it didn’t take long after the town began to develop, that a country schoolhouse was moved into town. It was referred to as the school that the town stole, as a vote was taken to determine whether a schoolhouse should be moved into town. Since there were more voters in town than in the rest of the district, the decision was naturally in favor of the town. The date this was done in unknown, but we do know the school they moved to town was located on the southeast corner of the Henry Kurtz farm. This farm is located about a mile southwest of Cushing and is now occupied by Merle and Mardy Kurtz and their family.
In 1889, the first addition to the town of Cushing was platted and added to the town. This addition included the original site for the first school.
By 1890, a square two-story frame structure was erected at a cost of $1500. At first only the lower rooms were used. Adding the third and fourth as they were needed. Two teachers were in charge of the new school. One of the rooms on the second story was used as an Odd Fellows Lodge room, and was kept locked. This, of course, made the children very curious.
The first commencement exercise was held in the Methodist Church in 1895, with one girl in the class. Only eleven grades were offered at that time.
High School courses offered in 1895, were: general history, arithmetic, physics, physical geography, physiology, algebra, reading, grammar, and rhetoric.
Eva Heilman remembers the big round window in the belfry of the school with the date on it. One of her first teachers was Nettie Wells, who was form Sac City. She lived with the Kurtz family, who were living in what is now the Earl Joy home. Some of Eva’s first books were Birds’ Christmas Carol, Eskimos, and Beautiful Joe. Daisy Safely was one of her brother, Ross’, first teachers. Daisy later married Dr Frink. She also remembers that Bess Oregon and Nora Carter were two of the early graduates.
This article, taken from The Cushing Mirror in 1898, tells a little about the school at that time.
‘Cushing has a large two story frame building which was erected at a cost of $1500 and has four departments. The school has an average attendance of 150 pupils and the board is made up of he following gentlemen who take an active interest in educational work: I N Bondhus, secretary; E W Sawyer, treasurer; E D Vorhees, J W Kelley, W S Meek, A S McIntosh, and W L Crain, directors.
‘The principal of the school, Prof Scarbo is a thorough master of his chosen profession. He has been connected with this school but a short time, but before coming here had been teaching for four years. He received his education at Highland Park and State Normal schools and is a studious and painstaking teacher and the school is prospering under his direction. The school has had a regular course of study and some valuable changes will be made along this line at the end of the year.
‘Prof Scarbo has the esteem and respect of the pupils and their parents and they/themselves should congratulate themselves on having secured the services of such a learned gentleman. He invites the parents to give the school a call and see for themselves all its workings. His assistant, Miss Nettie Wells, is also held in high esteem by the residents of Cushing and is a highly accomplished young lady. She has the good of the school at heart and the pupils are advancing rapidly under her teaching.
‘Cushing certainly has good reasons to feel a laudable pride in her public schools and may those receiving instruction there fully appreciate the benefit it confers on them and occupy themselves diligently to the acquirement of useful knowledge in the days of their manhood apply that knowledge to discharge of their various duties to neighbors and themselves so that in their old ages they may enjoy the happy reflections consequent on a well spent life.’
According to the minutes of the town of Cushing dated August 7, 1899, a committee was appointed to investigate the condition of the old school house as to its worth for town purposes. The school was reported in good condition and a motion was made to pay $250 for it. They also moved that the bell be included in the sale and that this building be moved to the lot the town purchased for $35. This school building was used for many years as the town hall and later as the fire station. The building is still standing on Main Street; the bell has been removed and is now located in front of the service board.
Before the decision was made to build a new school, the school found it necessary to find additional rooms to hold classes. Manual Training Classes were held in the upstairs of the old hotel building. The school paid Ole Linge $10 a month to rent these rooms. Home Economics classes were held in the house south of the Methodist Church. Before consolidation, basketball was played outside. The fall before moving into the new building, J B Johnson let them play in his new brick garage.
By 1898, the Cushing School had an average attendance of fifty. The Cushing community was one of the earliest to see the advantage of consolidation.
Interested groups visited other schools who had taken advantage of this pioneer step in education advancement before making this important decision and finally brought it to the vote of the people.
In 1918, approval being gained, two additional country schools were moved into take care of the increase in pupils until a new school could be built. It appears that this consolidation included all the schools in about a four-mile radius of Cushing. Eva Heilman remembers these schools as being included in the consolidation:
The ‘Freedom School’ which was located on the northeast corner across the road from the north corner of what is now the Schrieber section, formerly the Siebold section;
the ‘Hart School’ which was located on the corner three miles southwest of Cushing;
Battle No. 3 which was located on the north corner of what is now the acreage occupied by Dave and Connie Carstens, formerly the Bruce Spaulding farm;
the ‘Croxell School’ located two and one-half miles south of Cushing on the corner of the Dale Juelfs farm, formerly the Croxell farm;
‘Liberty School’ located on the corner of the farm where Steve Evans lived, formerly the Harry Holst farm;
and the ‘Mann School’, Battle No. 4, located on the corner north of Lars Ludvigson. It is believed that the Hart School and Liberty were the two moved into town.
As the school consolidated it became necessary to provide transportation for the students. Horse-drawn buses were first used. These were driven by one of the older boys on the route. They would drive the bus home and return the next morning with a full bus. One of the drivers on the horse-drawn buses was Al Ehlert.
These buses proved very unsatisfactory so the bus drivers built their own bus and the school provided the engine. Since they were built individually, they were not all alike.
As the school continued to grow the town felt the need for a new school building.
Construction of the brick building on the hill began in the spring of 1920 and was in progress that summer when work was delayed when a small cyclone hit Cushing. The inside walls were completely demolished and a portion of the south wall was blown off.
The move to the new building took place about Christmas time. Irene Volkert Sears remembers each pupil carrying his belongings from the old school to the new building on the hill. The formal dedication ceremony was held on March 9, 1921.
The following article, taking from The Cushing Sun dated March 16, 1921, tells us about the dedication.
‘March 9, 1921, will be an important date in the school history of Cushing, Iowa, for it was on that date that our ‘house of knowledge’ up on the hill was dedicated.
‘The auditorium was artistically decorated with bunting and flags, and several beautiful ferns decked the front part of the stage.
‘The Cushing orchestra favored the large and appreciative audience with several numbers. Rev C H Moore then gave the invocation, after which all sang ‘America’. The glee club girls, dressed in a uniform costume of blue middies and white skirts, sang two numbers, ‘Amaryllis’ and Stars Brightly Shining’.
‘After the introductory address, which was given by Sup’t J H Trefz, our County Sup’t, J F Garnes, and George A Brown, Iowa State Inspector of schools, each gave a short talk, in which they congratulated Cushing on her progress and on her wonderful new building. President Frank E Mossman of Morningside College delivered the main address of the evening, which was highly appreciated by all present.
‘Between the last two speeches, a trio composed of Helen Bullock, Cass Lyman and Alfred Bullock, sang ‘O Solo Mio’.
Another article taken from The Cushing Sun dated April 6, 1921, had the following to say about our school.
‘We should be proud of our new consolidated schoolhouse, as indeed we are. It is one of the biggest and finest in this part of the country, and ought to produce some real scholars. Who knows, maybe a future president of the United States will graduate from it? There are about thirty-six rooms in the building, all told. At one time this year nearly 200 pupils were enrolled in the school, and of these about 32 were high school students. There are about four teachers for the high school, and five teachers for the grades.’
After the new school was built in 1920, the school in the park was sold to a painter in Holstein. He tore it down and took the lumber to Holstein and built three houses. One of the little school houses was sold to the St John Lutheran Church. The church used it for confirmation classes, Luther League, Ladies Aid and other meetings. It served this purpose until 1940, when it was sold for $200 to Art Durham. He moved it to its present location and completely remodeled it. It is now the home of Charles and Alice Snow. We were unable to learn what happened to the other little school house.
Seventy years later, in the school year 1965-66, the curriculum included: English literature, American literature, general math, Algebra I, Algebra II, geometry, general science, geology, physics, American government, American history, world history, sociology, economics, French I, French II, typing I, typing II, bookkeeping, shorthand, home economics I, home economics II, shop I, shop II, driver’s education, vocal music, chorus and band.
When the school was reorganized in 1966, patrons of the newly-formed Eastwood District cooperated to eliminate differences. Loyalties die hard and it was difficult for the graduates of Cushing High School to transfer those loyalties to Eastwood Community School. After all, Cushing and Correctionville had been rivals for many years, but to the credit of both communities, the reorganization was accomplished with a minimum of bitterness and everything is going smoothly.
The new district provided new and exciting opportunities for students. Music students presented The Sound of Music, Godspell and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; the drama department was able to perform more challenging plays, including a Greek tragedy. To the delight of the students, football was now included as part of the over-all sports program. In this section on our schools we have attempted to bring back memories of school days in Cushing. We hope it brings back some memories to you.
If you know of any corrections or missing information please contact me.
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