|Lincoln School was located on the Corner of N. Main St. & Depot St. (Cherry
The "Public School" to the right of this photo postcard was
Lincoln Graded School in Oconto Falls.
While researching it in the newspapers there are two different dates for it being built, 1891 & 1893. The public school building was closed in 1915 and was purchased by St. Anthony's Parish in 1917. Later an addition to Lincoln school was added; a kitchen, and original section being the gym & the parish hall. It was taken down in 1958.
In 1958 Joe Plain described the original school building,
only the fence is missing from the photo above:
"there was originally a rather elaborate front entrance with double front door, a covered porch and wood steps leading from a wood walk that connected with a wood sidewalk on the street. A wood picket fence was supposed to keep the pupils off the street and out of the danger of run-a-way horses. The roof was wood shingles with a large bell in the belfry at the center and a large chimney at each end....There was a well and pump in front, and an outdoor toilet in the back yard. "
School identified and information provided by:
The former Lincoln Public School 1954 - Times Herald
Oconto Falls, Wisconsin – The demolition of the old Parochial School on the corner of Main and Cherry Streets established another mile post on the road to education. To new comers, it was just and old brick building that should have been torn down a long time ago. But to most people living here today, who were born and raised here, it is a symbol of progress.
Sixty-seven years ago, 1891, Oconto Falls found itself in much the same condition as it was last year, the is, not enough classrooms. More space had to be provided. Up to that time the Jefferson School across the river was the only school in town. Then it was decided to establish a new school district on this side of the river and erect the building being dismantled. The deed to lots 1 and 2, Block 2 Caldwells addition was signed by David Caldwell and wife Elizabeth and issued to School District No. 4 It was dated August 17, 1891. No one seems to know who the construction crew was, and the date of erection, but it is assumed that it must have taken some time, since the 1906 High School Annual in the possession of Eugene Guthier says classes started in 1893. It was considered quite an addition to our community. The builders would hardly have recognized what has remained for the last few years.
In place of the wing that extended toward Main Street, there was originally a rather elaborate front entrance with double front door, a covered porch and wood steps leading from a wood walk that connected with a wood sidewalk on the street. A wood picket fence was supposed to keep the pupils off the street and out of the danger of run-a-way horses. The roof was wood shingles with a large bell in the belfry at the center and a large chimney at each end. No windows were bricked up then. There was a well and pump in front, and an outdoor toilet in the back yard. There were no street signs or anything else to obstruct the view, except hitching posts.
It was only eleven years earlier (1882) that Jefferson School was built and of course at that time it was adequate, but later on a wing had to be added. That wood building was struck by lightning in the summer of 1920 and burned to the ground. The following school year emergency classrooms were established where ever they could be obtained.
The first school board in Oconto Falls was established 101 years ago (1857) with John Christie Volk, clerk; Henry Volk, treasurer; and James Tourtelott, director. They rented a chicken coop neat the saw-mill (now the paper mill) and fitted it up for a school room. William Seward was hired as teacher for the three month school term.
The next year our first school house was built. 22’ x 40’ and quite adequate. Maria Volk was the first teacher at the age of sixteen. Maria had moved from place to place with her parents so often that her own education was more or less hit or miss. Her mother was her teacher when private tutors were not available. When Jefferson School was built twenty-four years later, this 22’ x 40’ building was sold and moved to what is now the Benson Schaub farm. Part of it was used in the construction of the present Schaub residence.
The evolution of Townships and school districts follows closely the conversion of our cut-over land to agriculture. The Anson Eldred saw mill at Stiles supported a boom community and consequently what is now the townships of Stiles, Oconto Falls and Gillett were all in the Town of Stiles. In 1868 what is not Oconto Falls and Gillett was set off and called Gillett after Rodney Gillett who built the first frame house in Gillett. Then in 1891 the Town of Oconto Falls was established. And so until 1868 the Stiles School was District No. One and remains so to this day. Our Jefferson School was known as District No 2 of Stiles. Then became District No. 2 of Gillett, and finally District No. 2 of Oconto Falls, which designation has never been changed. District No. 1, being the North Branch school, was not formed until 1872. All schools selected names for the purpose of identification instead of district numbers sometime before World War I. This building that is being dismantled now was known as Lincoln School while it was publicly operated and was a separate district from Jefferson school. They were not united until 1901 when grades were established and high school work begun.
The building of the Washington High School was deferred until 1903 and twelve years later the corner stone was laid for additional class rooms and an auditorium. This was the school that was destroyed by fire on March 8, 1957, the debris of which is just now about completely removed.
Upon completion of this new addition to the Washington School the Lincoln School was abandoned (1915) and stood idle until Joint School District No. 2 of the Towns of Oconto Falls and Stiles and Village of Oconto Falls issued a deed to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. This deed was dated August 12, 1917. It has been a parochial school ever since, and provided needed additional class rooms. Following the depression a wing was added to provide a kitchen. The original parochial school (1913) on Franklin street, built under the direction of Rev. Fr. J. J. Looze and later enlarged was finally razed last winter (1956). This past year the Lincoln school provided two class rooms and hot lunch facilities wile the vacant garage across Main Street served as another class room. Besides the Harlan Metzler basement at 319 S. Main Street and Cook Memorial Library basement also served as emergency class rooms. Now,l however, a new modern Parochial School will be ready for the coming year.
It is interesting to note that while this school had classrooms scattered all over town, our Public School had suffered a severe fire and used as emergency class rooms, the Methodist Church basement; the Lutheran Church basement; the Public Library basement; the Bill Larsen residence; the Geo. Malcomson residence basement; and the J. C. C. Clubhouse. Here to, a new modern school is ready for the coming school year. And so, this is an eventful year (1958) in the history of Oconto Falls schools.
If this old building could tell you what it has seen and heard you would hear about the gradual disappearance of the lumber industry; the logging camps; the log drives; the saloons; and the burning of the last sawmill in 1911 after sixty-four years of continuous operation; the story of how George Witham made the first sheet of paper in Oconto Falls (1894); and how Anton Gustin, Sr. put the first kraft paper made in the United States into production here in 1910. You would hear about horse drawn traffic that went around that corner to and from the railroad depot where we had passenger service six times each day; about the dust and mud from Main street before it was paved; about the livery stable (now the vacant garage) across Main street that was the center of local transportation; about Dr. Goggins first Ford Car; and John Bach's; and Herb Temple's one cylinder Reo roadster; and John Hillis's Stanley Steamer, as well as several other automobiles and their owners.
Alon story would be the arrival of C. D. Perkins who bought out the Oconto Falls Leader in 1898 - our first newspaper. It was published in a neighboring building that was dismantled only last fall and stood next to the McDougal & Bauer store. ( This was real news to the newspaper).
There is something about an old school house which impresses itself upon you even tho stripped of it's desks and equipment. There is character, history and tradition in the timbers and walls themselves.
Who can stand before any old building such as this one and fail to sense the character which radiates? Only a skeleton remains but one can see the presence of young lives and minds that studied here.
I went to school in Swedetown and so missed episodes that occurred here, but will venture a guess that there were many would like to learn about any human interest story. If you know of an interesting occurrence and will tell me about it we will write again about "Life At The Lincoln School."
Signed Joseph Plain
Dated July 28, 1958
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