Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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HISTORIC OCONTO COUNTY SCHOOLS


City of Oconto - First School Building
Oconto County, Wisconsin
contributed by Dave Cisler

Commentary written by local historian George Hall in 1969.
"In one end of the building where Hart (pioneer businessman Edwin Hart) kept his store, school was taught by a man named Quires who employed the old-fashioned method of instilling knowledge into he mind by sometines applying the switch to the legs. The school had an enrollment of about fifteen. Desks were board nailed to each side of the wall at a proper angle and the seats consisted of two stationaty benches in front of the rough board de4sks. The pupils sat facing the walls. Before that, James A. Glynn taught children in his home."
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Oconto County Reporter
October 23, 1880

                                                     An Old Landmark Gone
Part of a 1871 birdseye view drawing of the city of Oconto showing the building used as the first city school in Edwin Hart's store.
1. Building directly above the number is the original Hart store built in 1851, where classes were held.

2. A Hart passenger/freight steam ship is at dock. The "laker" has a full head of steam as indicated by the smoke from the stack, and has just arrived or is about to depart. to the right of the number is a sailing scooner used to ship cut lumber and other supply freight on the Great Lakes to booming markets in, among others, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

3. Section Street Bridge over the Oconto River and "cut" dug to facilitate the use of the river both for logging and watercraft.

4. Logs jam the "cut" at Holt Mills near the Superior Street Bridge.

5.The original town plat.

 Many citizens will remember, when, years ago, they attended the old school - the first one Oconto ever had.  It stood - or did a few days ago - near Section Street bridge.  There are men in Oconto today, no doubt,  who do not forget the wallopings they got in that old school house on the banks of the Oconto years ago. Great changes have come over the scene since then.  Boys and girls have grown to men and women; some have left the scenes of their childhood for other climes; some of them sleep the sleep that knows no waking; while those who have “grown up with the town” oft think of the good old times they spent in and about Oconto’s pioneer school house.  But it is no more; it was pulled down a few days ago, and the place that knew it once will know it no more forever.  The building was erected by Edwin Hart in the year 1851, twenty nine years ago.  In it was opened up the first store ever in this place, exempting one belonging to a mill company that was doing school, room was in the back part of the building.  In it, also, the first Sabbath school met, and in the days of long ago it was looked upon as the prominent building of the “town.”  But its usefulness is o’er and it has had to make way for the continued improvements that are being made in our growing and prosperous city.
 

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