Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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Oconto County, Wisconsin
Mountain Memories
Pages 56 - 57

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Mountain loses its School to Fire
Disaster struck the town in the early part of the school year in 1904 when the school that had been recently built in 1898, was totally destroyed in a fire. The fire,-apparently stemming from an over heated wood furnace, left tne school lying in a smoldering heap of brick, wood, and ashes by sunrise.
From recollections of those who attended the school at the time of the fire, they had no way of knowing about the fire and had walked into town as usual, but certainly did not expect to see this sight of utter ruin upon their arrival. They all began to wonder whether 'this1 was to be the end of their school Mays in Mountain?
From the Town of Armstrong Record Books we find that in April of 1904, $1800 is funded toward the cost of replacing the school, but in order to continue the school year, various sites had to be chosen throughout the townsite enabling the children to receive their lessons while being without a school.
The old school house, which had been sold to the Modern' Woodman Lodge 6396 of the Oconto Company was then called back into use, but since the enrollment had outgrown this structure already years ago, class rooms for instruction were also set up in the old H.M. Baldwin store and in the Town Hall.
In the year 1905 the newly completed Mountain School opened its doors to the community and was enlagred to provide for eight years of elementary instruction plus two years of high school level courses as well.  In this educational structure the motto of the first school was renewed and enhanced upon for the Town of Armstrong and its settlers had proven that 'What Is Worth Doing - Is Worth Doing Well'.
Though education received top priority in the Towns spending, many of the students, especially the boys, were sporadic in attendance, being present when the weather was too bad to do anything else ! Many of the children living on the farms throughout the area were not able to attend school until the harvesting of the crops was finished in the fall, for they were needed at home to help with the work.
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Spring also called them away from their schooling for there were stones to pick and crops again to be planted, especially potatoes and sugar beets, the cash crops on many farms which supplemented their families livelihood. Visions of a high school education remained unfulfilled for them, it being necessary to help provide for the wherewithal of their siblings at home.
Discipline in the schools can be recalled with this item as Rusty related to us in one of our weekly columns, an incident told to him by his father when he attended the school atop the hill in Mountain.
Around the year 1905, the teacher in charge of the classroom was a young lady and was having difficulty in keeping her group disciplined, so she was either dismissed or quit, because in November a male teacher was then hired to replace her.
Well, I guess this fellow laid down the law as ordered, and for a few weeks he was more involved in discipline than teaching ! One day he gave a firm licking to one of the older recalcitrants, who after his chastisment, told the teacher, "I'm going to get my dad up here !"
"Go ahead," the teacher said, "bring him up here and I'll lick him too." which is what he did ! He gave the boy's father a thrashing right there in front of the school house, and from then on my dad told me, there was no problem with discipline ! Can you imagine such a happening in this day and age ?
A rap upon the knuckles by the teacher's ruler, or a firm yank of the ear lobe was justly served in the country schools of yesteryear when the teacher maintained such authority in the classroom. Schooling was considered as a 'gift' from the community, the school house was their pride in granting the children that gift of a free and fair education.  If a teacher was to discipline the children while instructing a classroom of eight grades, then these measures of 'disciplinarian action* were upheld by the community. This teacher gained everyone's respect and became regarded to as a 'good' teacher and a treasure to the community in which she served.