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8092 Elm Lane Road
Little River District
Oconto County, Wisconsin

Photo contributed by family descendant: Julie Eckberg  

McDowell Graded School

Teacher: Edna Bridger - far right with dark hair

All Dressed Up For Picture Day

Erik Eckberg and his sister Winnie Eckberg are among the 34 students and teacher pictured. The photograph is slightly blurred because natural light was used in a relatively dark room, which required a timed exposure. The subjects were crowded together in the desks, asked to sit so that all faces could be seen in the camera and asked to hold their breaths during the process. Considering all that, the students managed to stay still admirably well, while the photographer slowly counted seconds.

Other surnames of students in the picture included several Lindgren children, Cisar, Fiferek, Belongia, Amore, Grady, Trapania, Kazde, LaFortune, Noack, McDowell, Richardson and Presl.

A portrait of current President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt sits along the chalk rail behind the students.

It took a bit of census and old plat map research to identify which school this picture was taken in, with only the year and one student name to go on.
Please click on the photo, below, for a larger view.

This is a picture from the McDowell school.  I think it is sometime during the 40's.  Jack, Lavern and Margaret Ann Carriveau are in the picture. This school house was on a corner of my grandfather, Felix Carriveau's farm and after it closed it reverted back to Earl (Curley) Carriveau. Contributed by R.C. Bork

Photographs and information below contributed by: Larry Grady

A tribute to teacher Mrs. Carl Grady

Please click on the 3 photos, below, for a larger view.

McDowell School in the 1950's.

Contributed by
Larry Grady

Students at the McDowell School with Teacher Mrs. Grady in 1965.

Contributed by
Larry Grady

McDowell School, right, attached to the Maple Grove School in 2010.

Contributed by
Larry Grady

There’s a history of the school that my mother wrote for the newspaper article in 1969 (below). 
The separate picture is from 1996 (above).

For a larger type version please scroll down

Mrs. Carl Grady stands behind her class of first and second graders who will all be attending school in town when the fall term opens.

McDowell stundents romp on the playground  while waiting for the bus to take them home.

- It will toll next week for McDowell country school whose doors will close Mau 29. The tousle head pulling the bell rope is James Ybanez.
The End of the Little White Schoolhouse
"Still sits the schoolhouse by the road,
A ragged beggar sunning;
Around it still the sumacs grow,
And  blackberry vines are running.
The charcoal frescoes on its wall;
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 to "progress".

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 side of
a country road.

The schools were built before the end of the 1900's (1800'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.

NO. 2


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 this area.

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 other rural schools were still making do with "built along the wall" desks and benches.

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.