Mountain Graded School
Town of Mountain
(formerly town of Armstrong)
Oconto County, Wisconsin
About the first Mountain Log
Frederick (Fred) Bartz who was born 1845 in Pommerania, West Prussia (now Germany), brother of William, came to the U.S. in 1884 with his wife Augusta C Zuelke (Zuehlke) and three children. They arrived in Mountain (then in Armstrong township), in Oconto County and set up house in an abandoned building that had at first been used as a log lumber camp building and then as the first schoolhouse in the area. The new schoolhouse had been built earlier that same year.
School in Mountain
Teacher (left) Miss Florence McKenney, later Mrs. Florence Baldwin
Front Row - George Elkey, ? Logan, Christian Jensen, George Baldwin, Walter Anderson, Willard Heins, Andrew Frost, Unknown, Clarence Kalies, ? Kalies, Walter Saffran, Lora (Laura) Fry, Emma Norton, Nora Jensen, Clara Bartz, Annie Olson, Ethel Elkey, Gertie Daly, Edith Cole, Mary Peterson.
Back Row - Harry Haines, Ed Saffran, Herman Elkey, Otto Bartz, Henry McAllan, Benton Kelsey, Maurice Kelsey, Nellie Anderson, Tillie Olson (Rasmussen), Mary Frost (Thompson), Alice McAllan (Kingston), Mary Bartz (Strong).
In 1897 a new school was built on the site where the present school building stands today. This was the residential area of that time. In 1905 the school burned down, possibly from an overheated wood furnace. The school was soon rebuilt on the same location. In the meantime, the children attended school in the town hall.
Mrs. Walfed Bloomberg, a Mountain resident who attended the early school tells the following story. “We came walking up the hill to school that morning and could not see that the school had burned until we came over the hill. I was ticked pink because I thought we would not have any school from then on. We all joked about one of the boys that had been in the first grade for four years. We figured for sure that the only way he would ever get out of the first grade was to burn the school down.” First School House in Mountain teacher was Mrs. Herb Baldwin.
The new brick Mountain Graded School, grades 1 - 12, was built at the top of the mountain, next to the wooden one room schoolhouse, in 1897. That building burned in 1905, possibly due to an overheated wood furnace. The morning after the fire, school children could not see that the building was destroyed until they had climbed the hill, and disappointing to many, they were immediately herded into the town hall where classes continued as usual. The school was soon rebuilt in the same location. Additions were built on both sides of this building a few years later and it continued to be used for both elementery and high school until 1948.
Oconto County Reporter
Flora Walsh will return to her school at Mountain tomorrow after a two
Mountain School Students and
Teachers (standing) were Harvey Tiegs and Lila McNutt.
Rows left to Right and Front to Back
Row 1 - Billie Nelson, Arnold Jorgensen, Gerda Friedland, Goldy Strohm, James Baldwin, Elsie Banta, Sumner French, John Lundquest.
Row 2 - Bennie Jorgensen, Albert Sromberg, Russell Kingston, Ida Jensen, Katherine Asplund, Evelyn Moede.
Row 3 - Ellis Palmer, Miles Hurning, Charles Stromberg, Howard Griepentrog, Beatrice Banta, Etta Cole, Elma Hurning.
For over 40 years she served as both a grade school teacher and principal at Mountain Grade School.
Mountain Grade School Cookbook
The history of Mountain School begins when the history of the community begins. It wasn’t until after the community had been established and had the possibilities of being a lasting hamlet that the residents made arrangements for educating their children in a permanent school.
The chief industry in the early days of Northern Wisconsin was logging pine. After all the forests near Oconto had been cut off, it was necessary for the loggers to move inland to find new forest area to cut. Little communities developed at stopping-off places which built up along the rivers. These communities served the needs of the logging industry, and it was at one of these places that the community of Mountain had its beginning.
Mountain’s “pioneer” settler was Tom McAllen who settled about a mile west of the present community on the North Branch of the Oconto River. The year was 1877, twenty years before the coming of the railroad. “Jab Switch” was the name given to this stopping place which was the destination of the teams who hauled supplies to the hungry loggers at work in the north woods.
New settlers moved into the area and the settlement was on its way to becoming a permanent community. In 1884 James Hine settled nearby. Fred Bartz arrived and lived in an abandoned camp which had been used for a school house. Along with Tom McAllen’s six children, the population continued to grow. Since this community was situated amid some of Wisconsin’s finest forest land, it was inevitable that Mountain would continue to prosper.
By 1884 the citizens had erected their first school house. It was built of logs and traditionally graced with a cupola and shiny bell. The building was situated in the area where the Tabor Lutheran Church stands today. According to local historians, Mrs. Herb Baldwin was the first teacher at the Mountain school. Some of the early students were George Baldwin, Walter Anderson, Andrew Frost, Walter Saffran, Nora Jensen, Clara Bartz, Annie Olson, Harry Heins, Ed Saffran, Otto Bartz, Henry McAllen, Tillie Olson, Mary Frost, Alice McAllen and Mary Bartz.
In 1889 a man named Harry Baldwin moved to the community. He opened a new store which did a rushing business selling supplies to the logging companies. The store still stands and is operated as the Milky Way Bar. It was the social center of the town and eventually led to the locality of the town. Beautiful homes began to build-up west of the business section along the raod which is now County W. Because these homes were so fine in structure, the road became known as “Wall Street” and thus became Mountain’s residential area.
In 1897 a new school was built to improve the educational opportunities for the children of the area. Built on the site where the present day Mountain Grade School stands, the old school house was sold to the Modern Woodsmans Association and became the town hall.
In 1905 the school burned down, possibly from an overheated wood furnace. While the children attended classes at the “town hall”, the school was quickly rebuilt on the same site. A few years’ later additions were added onto the north and south sides of the building. Also the top of the building was given a “flat top” affect with the construction of a brick wall. The size of the building remained the same until 1961 when the all-purpose room was added. In recent years a portable classroom has been set up in order to provide two more classrooms to comply with an expanding curriculum.
Throughout its 98 year history Mountain School has developed many different personalities. Through the years Mountain shifted from a logging community to an area interested in developing farms and businesses. Along with economic changes came cultural changes, and the school played an important role in helping the people of the area to carry out their goals. From 1917 to 1927 Mountain School became the center point for the “Intertownship Fair”. People from the townships of Armstrong, Riverview and Doty held this annual fair to display products of a year’s efforts in many different skills. All the activities associated with the fair were set up in the school house. The students work was displayed along with domestic crafts, needlework, and farm products. County and local school officials were an important part of each years Intertownship Fair.
Mountain School may look much the same today as it did years ago, but the learning activities have been changed and adjusted to meet the needs of current times several times in its history. Mountain School held classes for both elementary and high school students until 1948. After that year students from the Mountain area attended high school in Suring. State consolidation in the early 1950’s caused several small elementary schools to close. Widening the boundaries of the school district meant changes in school responsibilities. Many students no longer lived within walking distance of their school. At first it was up to determined students’ legs or parent’s automobiles to get them to school on time each day. As more students desired an education, privately owned buses came into operation.
Cassie Fonferek was one of the first bus owners in the area. High school students were brought to Mountain from the Breed area. The cost of riding the bus was about 50 cents per day paid by the parents. Those early buses were red, white and blue rather than the bright yellow you see today. In 1949 Bernard Bowman took over the bus route in the Mountain area, picking up high school students and elementary students. The elementary students were brought to the Mountain school and the high school students continued their ride south to Suring.
As more elementary students were added to the school, Lloyd Schaut operated buses which picked up just the grade school students. He provided bus transportation for the students in the area for many years. John Brickner has now taken over the responsibilities of transporting both elementary and high school students to their respective schools.
Meeting the needs of the whole child has always been an important part of the educational philosophy of Mountain School. The hot lunch program is one of the many ways in which the welfare of each child is met. As far back as 1923 hot lunches were being served in the school on a part time basis. By the 1940’s a full time program was set up with state guidelines making sure each participant was getting a well-balanced meal. In 1969 the breakfast program was started as an experimental project. Breakfast proved to be such a success that it is still in existence today.
When state laws made it necessary for Mountain School to become part of the Suring District in 1959, many new educational opportunities were made available to the community. A class for Kindergarten was started in 1960. As the years went on, specialized teachers in the areas of art, music and physical education were added to the Mountain and Suring Grade School system.
Individual students’ needs are being met in many different ways. The Title I Program has been set up to help students overcome certain trouble spots in their classes. Also available are teachers for children who have learning disabilities, speech and reading problems. Guidance counselors, psychologists and social workers are all part of the present day school program and are available whenever a student has need for them.
The most recent program put into the school program offers educational help to preschool children in the area who have special needs and problems. This class not only has students from the Suring district, but also Wabeno and White Lake.
Many students and teachers have come and gone through the doors of Mountain School. Time and space will not permit the names of each and everyone. However, for the purpose of uniting the past with the present it is interesting to note that there are still descendants of those early students of Mountain School living in the area and attending Mountain Grade School today.
Time and technology have brought about many changes and demands from the school, but one thing has remained consistent throughout the years. All students have been given an opportunity to learn the Four Basic R’s of education – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, ‘respect.