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HISTORIC OCONTO COUNTY SCHOOLS
 Spruce School

Oconto County, Wisconsin


photo contributed by:
Bill Fonferek


Please click on the photo below for a larger view.

Spruce School Building  
Established 1889

Photo by: Jill Gondeck 2010

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Spruce Schoolhouse

Article contributed by Larry Grady
(transcribed from news article below)


One of the improvements at the Spruce graded school is the modern cafeteria set up in the school basement. About to be served their lunch by the school's cook, Martha Pawlak, are from left to right, Allen Palishok, Mariana Hanek, Eugene Wosiey and Nancy Luisier.

The History of District No. 3 Spruce

The first settlers of this district were Mr. William Morrison and Mr. Turtlette (sic; Tourtilotte - Tourtillot) who came from Oconto by way of the logging road as far as Johnson's Corners. There they built rafts and came down the little river and settled here on homesteads in 1870. Mr. Morrison settled on the farm Mr. Kralovetz now lives on, and Mr. Turtlett (Tourtilotte) settled where Mr. Deresinski now lives.

The first thing they had to do was build houses which they made of logs which were abundant here. Then they took these logs and cut notches in them and laid them one on another until they had the walls up. They had no lumbdf and could get none sawed, so they had to use logs. They took the logs and hollowed then out and laid then side by side and then they took another hallowed log and laid it over the edge. They called these roofs scoops. The floors of their houses were also made of logs which were hewed square on one side so as to make their floors level. As  there were many kinds of game, it was not hard for them to find food. Most of theif homesteads were one hundred and sixty acres. They had to lice on these five years, and make improvements before they could prove up. They had to clear land so as to raise  crops.

Their nearest trading station was about fourteen miles, where a man named Mr. Lee kept a store. Then the government surveyed a road from Oconto, and the job was gicen to Mr. Morrison to clear so they could travel to Oconto to get lumber and supplies. After they built the road from Oconto, this town was settled fast.

The first school was kept in Mr. Morrison's house. Some of the first pupils wore Claude McLean, Agnes McLean, Amelia Schweiberg, John Terosinski, Wallace Rifle, Lizzie Bode and May McLean. They had only a few books, not near as many as we have, and they only had a few studies such as Arithetic (sic; Arithmetic), Spelling. Reading and Geography.
 
They had poor roads and no bridges across the river. They built booms in order to get across. Sometimes the river would rise and take these booms away and the people could not get across for many days. After they kept school in Mr, Morrison's house for awhile, they built a schoolhouse where the school now stands. They didn't have any seats like ours. They only had benches and a small blackboard.

Soon alter the road was built, a railroad was built into Lena, which also helped in increase the settlements. The roads were not very good, and in the wet seasons they could not be traveled.

The next settlers after Mr. Morrison and Mr. Turtlette (sic: Tourtilotte), were Mrs. Babka, Mr. Rifle, Mr. Schweiberg and Mrs. McLean.

After it got pretty well settled, the town was set off,  Maple Valley which consisted of five townships.  Three townships were set off  in 1892, which were Brazeau, Spruce and Maple Valley. They divided because they had some trouble over roads and taxes. This town had not name when it was set off so the people met and selected the name Spruce because there were a lot of Spruce trees here. They held their first election in the spring of 1893. The officers which were elected at the first election were:chairman,  Mr. Schweiberg, supervisors, Mr. St. Mary, Mr. McLean; clerk. Mr. Tracy; assessor, Mr. McDougald;  treasurer. Mr. Prausa; justice. Mr. Flynn, Mr. Millard; constable, Mr. Kadlec.

Soon after the town was set off, they organized the school district. It was organized by Mr. Turtlett (Tourtilotte), Mr. Morrison, Mr. Millard. Mr. Rode, Mr. Steere, Mr. McLean, Mr.Schweiberg and Mr. Morrison. The teacher's monthly salary was then twenty-five dollars.

The first church in this district was organized by r. Teresinski, Mr. Neta, Mr. Pytleski, Mr. Slupiniski, Mr. owalchi (sic) in 1892. It was built in 1893 about a mile and three quarters from Spruce.

About a year later the first cheese factory was built in the village of Spruce by Mr. Kumbra. The first cheesemaker was Mr. (missing)...........

Since the early settlers of 1870. the country was changed a great deal. The early settlers used oxen and home made wagons. They didn't have good machinery such as seeders, binders, hay loaders, mowers, and many other kinds which have lately come into use. At the time this district was organized, there were about twenty families. Now the population is about three hundred people. The early settlers had log barns. Now they have large basement barns and silos to keep their corn in. The same farmers that used to have two and three cows, now have twenty and   more. Their homes are made large and comfortable with bathrooms and water works. They have coal stoves
and some have furnaces. The old houses which they used to live in have been discarded long ago, and have been nade into work (missing)....................




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