County WIGenWeb Project
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OCONTO COUNTY SCHOOLS
Low Valley School - Town of Lena
End of the Little White Schoolhouse
< style="text-align: center;"> Low
Built in 1895
Located four miles north of Lena on Highway 141
and three miles west on County Trunk M.
"Still sits the schoolhouse by
the road, A ragged beggar sunning; Around it still the sumacs grow,
running. The charcoal frescoes on its
Its door's worn sill, betraying The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing."
Although Whittier wrote his poem well over a century ago, the rural
schoolhouses like those he described continued to open their doors to
returning pupils long after other things of that earlier era gave way
Next week, however, with the ending of the spring term, the last three
country schools in the Oconto school district -McDowell, Pensaukee and
Brookside - will close. Conceding the advantages of the larger schools,
it is still difficult not to feel a certain nostalgia in the demise of
the "little red schoolhouse". So many things we associate with the good
old days revolved around these one and two-room schools perched on the
a country road.
The schools were built before the end of the 1900's and, although they
have been somewhat rennovated over the years, the evidence of their
beginnings are everywhere about them. The outdoor plumbing may have
disappeared, along with the wooden benches and the bucket and dipper,
but there is much that is just as it always has
been. Children bearing a marked resemblance through ancestry to the
19th century scholars still hang their coats on hooks stuck in the
wainscoting where their grandparents hung visored caps and hand-knit
sweaters. The bell,
sounded by pulling a rope extending from the cupola into the classroom,
still calls the children in from the playground, and the scarred doors
and worn treads of the steps all speak of generations of youngsters
coming and going.
Because they are pliable and resilient, the children will probably
recover from the closings sooner than their more rigid elders who feel
that something undefinable goes out of the community with the vacating
of the country schoolhouse.
Mcdowell school little river district
By MRS. CARL GRADY
The Little River school district was settled in 1870 and 12 years later
a school was built on land leased from Joseph Amore. Amore, Charles
Quirt, Francis Carriveau, J. Racine and Samuel McDowell were the
pioneer settlers of Little River.
The first teacher at McDowell was Viola Pierce of Wild Rose and she
hadn't been there very long when Sam McDowell began courting her and
eventually married the young school mistress. My husband, Carl Grady,
is Sam's grandson and we now operate the old McDowell farm. As the
present school teacher, it appears that i will also be the last.
The school got its name from the six McDowell families who lived in
Our school was the first in this area to have individual desks and
chairs for the pupils. They were installed in 1895 at the time the
schools were still making do with "built along the wall" desks and
By 1907 the enrollment had passed the hundred mark and a new addition
was built, making it into a two-room graded schoolhouse Improvements
were made over the years, including electrical wiring put in in 1936
and the drilling of a new well in 1948.
The number of students fluctuated over the years, but by the end of the
spring term in 1942 it was down to a point where the primary room could
be eliminated and we went back to being a one-room rural school. In
1946 that room became a kitchen and hot lunches were served from it
until 1961 when they began bringing the lunch from Oconto.
When the school district integrated with the Oconto district, a need
for more space again arose, so the Maple Grove school was moved and
joined onto McDowell. It remained a two-room school until the upper
grades, five through eight, were transferred to Oconto. Our present
enrollment is 26.
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