From History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan
by Samuel W. Durant
Published 1880 by D.W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia


School was first taught in the township at Jefferson village, by Mary Ann ROLFE, in a log school-house which was built in the summer of 1837, Miss ROLFE teaching a summer term that year. Miss Lydia M. WELLS, of Delhi, now Mrs. William P. ROBBINS, of Alaiedon, taught in the same district (No. 1) four months in the summer of 1840.

In District No. 2 a small log shanty was built, for use as a school-house, in 1839, and Miss Harriet CHILD - now Mrs. WRIGHT, of MASON - taught in it for six weeks. The building was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1839 -40, and the district now contains a neat and substantial brick school-house, built within a few years.

Oct. 3, 1839, District No. 1 reported twenty-six pupils. Seven months' school had been held in the district in that year. In 1841 the several districts reported as follows:

No. 1 Twenty pupils Six months' school
No. 2 Six pupils Three months school
No. 3 Twenty-one pupils


No. 4 Twenty-five pupils Four months school
No. 7 Twelve pupils Three months' school

From the report of the township school inspectors for the year ending Sept. 1, 1879, the following items are taken:

Number of districts in the township (whole 8; fractional, 1) 9
Number of children of school age in township 446
Number of children in attendance for year 429
Number of school-houses (brick, 1; frame, 8) 9
Number of seatings in same 515
Value of school property $4330.00
Number of teachers employed (males, 9; females, 14) 23
Wages paid same (males, $824.25; females, $493.50) $1317.75
Total expenditures for year $3349.97


The first meeting of the board of township school inspectors was held May 21, 1837, at the house of E.T. CRITCHETT, but no business was transacted, and they adjourned to meet August 12th, at the house of William PAGE. The meeting was held at the place and on the day given, when the south half of what is now Leslie township was organized as District No. 1; the north half of the same town as District No. 2; that portion of what is now Onondaga township lying east of the Grand River as District No. 3; that portion of the same township west of Grand River as District No. 4; the south half of what are now Vevay and Aurelius as District No. 5; and the north half of the same township as District No. 6. Nov. 6, 1837, the southwest portion of what is now Alaiedon was organized as District No. 7; on the same day District No. 8 was formed, including sections 3,4,5,8,9,10,15,16,and 17, in what is now the township of Vevay. Various other changes were made as the population increased and the township was divided. In 1843 the various districts in Aurelius contained pupils as follows: No. 1, 73; No. 3, 17; No. 4, 22; fractional No. 6, 20. A new school-house was built in that year in No. 1, at a cost of $100. In No. 1, seven and a half months of school were taught by John E. SMITH, at ten dollars a month, and four and a half months by Julia A. SMITH at a dollar per week. In No. 3, Jane AUSTIN taught taught for a dollar per week, and in Fractional District No. 6, Daniel PALMER taught four and a half months at thirteen dollars a month, and Elizabeth NOYES four months at a dollar and a quarter per week. other teachers were employed in the years named, in the various districts as follows:

1843, Luther B. HUNTOON; 1844, Martha SMITH (certificate given June 22, 1844, for one year), Zaccheus BARNES, Maria S, HOWLAND; 1845, Matilda A. MONTGOMERY, Hannah MILLER, Susan MILLER; 1846, Lucretia COCHRAN, Hannah CONVERSE, Mary Ann ROLFE, Mary HILL, James C. BUTTS.

The first school in the township was taught in the southwest corner thereof, in the summer or winter of 1837, in a small log building which stood in the extreme corner of town at the county-line. The name of the teacher is not now recollected. When the family of Joseph L. HUNTINGTON arrived in the township, in the spring of 1838, they occupied this building until they could prepare a dwelling on their own place, a mile north.

In the north part of town a log school-house was built on the farm of George B. WEBB in 1844, and a summer term of school was taught in that year by Martha SMITH. That was the first in the neighborhood.Among those who sent children were Reuben R. BULLEN, George B. WEBB, John and Ezekiel NILES, John WRIGHT, and others.

From the report of the township school inspectors for the year ending Sept. 1, 1879, the following items are taken:

Number of districts in the township (whole, 6; fractional, 4).....10
" of children of school age in township.....510
" of children in attendance during year.....466
" school-houses (brick, 1; frame, 8).....9
" of seatings in same.....506
Value of school property.....$4800
Number of teachers employed (males, 7; females 20).....27
Wages paid same (males, $625; females, $632.90).....$1257.90
Total expenditures for year.....$2281.70


The first school in the township was taught in the cabin of George PHILLIPS, in 1840, by his sister-in-law, Miss Lydia M. WELLS, now Mrs. William P. ROBBINS, of Alaiedon. She also taught the first two terms in the log school-house at the Centre. Thomas NORTH was among the early teachers, and taught in District No. 2 as early (his brothers think) as 1841.There was probably a school-house in District No.1 as early as 1840. The first school taught in No. 2 was in a shanty on the farm of Roswell EVERETT, by Miss BUCK.

The first school building at the Centre was of logs, on the ground near where now stands the present fine brick building, and according to the best information was erected as early as 1840. It served a very good purpose until about 1852, when a larger frame building was erected where the log one stood. This did duty until 1875, when the present building was erected at a cost, exclusive of furniture, of about $1800. The furniture cost $500. The old building was moved a few rods to give place to the new one, and is still standing. The new one has a fine cupola and bell. It is divided into two large rooms, and has accommodations for 100 scholars. The present school is divided into two departments, primary and intermediate, and employs two teachers. It is the largest school in the township. The next largest is the Maple Grove School No. 5, fractional with Windsor township, in Eaton County.

The number of school districts in 1880 is eleven, of which seven are whole districts and four fractional.

Number of school buildings (brick, 2; wood, 8) 10
Value of school property $6550.00
Total expenses for year $2357.91
Total number of school children between ages of five and twenty years 481

The first record touching school districts in the township bears date March 2, 1843, at which time the boundaries of school district No. 1 are described as follows: Sections Nos. 15, 22, west half of 23, and 14.

Though this is the first action, it appears farther along in the record that District No. 2 was organized as a school district on the 6th of December, 1842, and was composed of sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The school inspectors were then David WAIT and Caleb THOMPSON.

District No. 3 is described, under date of March 2, 1843, as being comprised of sections 1, 2, 11, 12, 13, 24, 25, and the east half of 14, 23, 26.

At a meeting of the inspectors, held May 6, 1843, Thomas J. BROWN was appointed "to visit and examine the several schools that may be taught in the Township, and to give such advice to both teachers and scholars as he may think propper."

Fractional District No. 4, of Delhi and Alaiedon, was formed March 22, 1844, to include sections 25 and 36 in Delhi, and sections 30, 31, and part of 32, and the west half of the southeast quarter of section 29 in Alaiedon. District No. 5 was formed April 23, 1853.

Among the early school inspectors were Thomas J. BROWN, Israel R. TREMBLY, David WAIT, R.P. EVERETT, Don A. WATSON, H.H. NORTH, James JOLES, Manning CURRY, L.R. CHADDOCK, and John D. CORY. All previous to 1860.

In the list of early teachers examined and licensed we find the following:

Elizabeth EVERETT District 2 Sept. 28, 1843 Louisa G. JOSLYN Dec. 22, 1847
Thomas J. BROWN District 1 Sept. 28, 1843 David W. SANFORD Dec. 11, 1848
Randolph STRICKLAND District 1 Dec. 21, 1844 George McEWEN Dec. 11, 1848


Dec. 6, 1845 Mary Jane FERGUSON Apr. 24, 1849
Rebecca WELLS


May 2, 1846 Adelia MONROE May 15, 1849


Dec. 5, 1846 Mary Jane AMESBURY July 4, 1849


May 3, 1847 Elihu ELWOOD Nov. 3, 1849


May 25, 1847 Charles S. DAVIS Dec.15, 1849


Nov. 11, 1847 Betsy J. HOWARD April 13, 1850


No satisfactory account of the earlier schools in the township has been obtained, from the fact that those who were depended upon to furnish items were absent from the township when the writer was at work in it. It is probable, however, that but a short time elapsed after the township was settled before schools were organized, for the pioneers had considerable families of children. At Dansville a district was organized in the spring of 1846, and a log school-house was built. The boards used in making the floors and teacher's desk were drawn with oxen from Caleb CARR's saw-mill, in Wheatfield, by Lonson HILL, and four days from the time work was commenced on the building Mr. HILL's oldest daughter, Catherine E. HILL, then only thirteen years of age, began teaching in it, and was employed in that capacity for two years. The log school-house was used for four or five years, and then gave place to a frame building. About 1868-70 the present two-story brick Union school-building was erected, at a cost of $7,000.

From the report of the township school inspectors, for the year ending Sept. 1, 1879, are the following items:

Number of districts (whole, 5; fractional, 3).....8
Number of children of school age in township.....450
Number of children in attendance for year.....355
Number of school-houses (brick, 3; frame, 5).....8
Number of seatings in same.....540
Value of school property.....$11,440
Number of teachers employed (males, 5; females, 17).....22
Wages of same (males, $1360; females, $1541).....$2901.00
Total expenditures for the year.....$4072.54


The First School
May 1, 1847, Miss Eliza POWELL, now Mrs. John N. BUSH, commenced a school at the lower town in a board shanty, whose only window was an opening in the wall, having a door hung with leather straps at the top to close the room when not in use. She commenced with ten pupils, which number in three months increased to thirty. We can find no one who remembers whether she was employed by individuals or by district officers; probably the latter, as a school-house was built the same autumn where the First Ward school-house now stands. We are unable to learn anything definite as to the organization of the district, and the district records cannot be found. The winter school in 1847-48 was kept in the new house by Elihu ELWOOD.

In 1851 the house was moved away and a two-story brick house erected in its place. It had four school-rooms, and cost probably $5000. Among the early teachers were George and Mary LATHROP and Jane E. HOWE, now Mrs. H.D. BARTHOLOMEW. In 1850, 172 children were reported. Among the active early friends of the school were James TURNER (deceased), D.L. CASE, J.R. PRICE, and Smith TOOKER. There was no abatement of educational interest in the district until the consolidation of all districts in the city in 1861. This district was previously known as No. 2.

The Second Movement
About the 1st of August, 1847, Mrs. Laura E. BURR, recently married, came with her husband, Dr. H.S. BURR, from the State of New York. Mrs. BURR, still (1880) a resident of Lansing, was a lady of superior culture, and could not wait for a house before opening a school. She procured some rough seats, and on the 1st of September called the children together under the trees on the bank of the river on River Street. She commenced with nine pupils. Her school continued in the grove till cold weather, when their dwelling was so far completed that she could move the school into it, and by Christmas had eighty pupils. Through the winter she was assisted by Miss Delia L. WARD, now Mrs. Mortimer COWLES. Mrs. BURR had pupils in drawing, Latin and French. She tells how she one day walked to the lower town by the road on the east side of the river with her husband, and wishing to return on the west side, he carried her across in his arms below the dam, and picking their way up through the roads, around swamps, and across ravines, they became lost, and found their way out only with considerable difficulty.

The Second District
In March, 1849, a district was organized, embracing all of section 16 west of the river. This was known as No. 4. May 20th, lot 6, block 117, was agreed upon as a site for a school building. This was the corner lot of the present site of the Second Ward house. It was voted at the same time to build a brick house, which was not built, but a frame building was erected the next year, and in 1850 the school was taught by Ephraim LONGYEAR, assisted by Clarinda GRAGER and Sarah BURT. In September, 1850, the number of children of school-age in the district was 174; in 1851, 180; in 1852, 175; in 1853, 200; in 1854, 209; in 1855, 223. This shows that for several years the growth of Lansing was very slow. There was at first what, under the circumstances, might be considered quite a rush; but there was very little business; fever and ague held undisputed sway, and a fatal epidemic - sort of a brain fever - carried off a good many; among others, the husband and brother of Mrs. BURR. Some of the people saw their mistake and moved away; and the bad reports created a strong impression throughout the State that the capital would soon be removed, so that everything conspired to keep the people away from the town in the wilderness. In 1850 the population of Ingham County numbered only 8606.

The last school taught in the house above mentioned was in 1855, by Rollin C. DART, assisted by Miss Mary RICE. The house was moved to the corner of Capitol Avenue and Kalamazoo Street, and sold to the United Brethren for a church. On the disbandment of that church it was converted into a dwelling-house - practically rebuilt. Two more lots were added to the site, and the present Second Ward house - the main part - was erected and furnished at a cost of about $9000.

In 1859 the district reorganized, under the new law for graded schools, with six trustees. The trustees elected were S.R. GREENE, C.W. BUTLER, Franklin LaRUE, Theo. HUNTER, George W. SWIFT, and L.K. HEWITT. The first two are still residents of Lansing, and all are living except Mr. HEWITT.

In the autumn of 1860 a portion of the roof was blown off by a storm, and repaired a an expense of nearly $1000. The last teachers previous to 1861 were F.G. RUSSELL, -now of Detroit, - principal, with Misses Harriet A. FARRAND, - now an editor of the Chicago Advance, - Eliza A. FOOTE, and Emily NASH, now Mrs. E.H. PORTER; the latter two still residents of Lansing.

Among the active friends of the school in this district in the earlier years, and still residents of Lansing, were Henry GIBBS, S.R. GREENE, William H. CHAPMAN, Charles W. BUTLER, Whitney JONES, S.W. WRIGHT, R.C. DART, Ephraim LONGYEAR, H.B. SHANK, Ezra JONES, A.R. BURR, and S.S. CORYELL. Several of these have at different times been members of the board of education under the city charter.

District No. 3
(To be continued)

Schools Under the City Charter

The village of Lansing was made a city in 1859, but there was no change made in the school districts by the charter. The districts were, largely from local feeling, unable to unite, and in 1861 the city was made a single district by the Legislature, with a board of education consisting of twelve members. In the election of this board the citizens agreed that the schools should be "kept out of politics." To this end it was arranged that the members should be nominated in union caucus, one-half to be Republicans and one-half Democrats. That plan has been since pursued, but it cannot be claimed that anything has been gained thereby. Whoever gets the nomination - perhaps in a packed caucus, as has sometimes been the case, - has no legitimate competitor, and the people have practically no choice, but must take the man selected by perhaps less than ten per cent of the voters. If each party made a nomination the voters would have a choice between at least two candidates, and it would also be a check upon the action of any caucus that might be disposed to nominate an unfit man.

The First Board of Education
Under the City Charter

Smith TOOKER George W. PECK

No important changes were made in the schools, except perhaps in the employment of a higher grade of teachers. No new buildings were erected until 1867, when the brick house south of cedar River, containing two rooms, and a similar one in the Fourth Ward, were built. They cost about $3500 each.

The Schools Graded

Michigan Female College
In connection with the public schools of Lansing it is but just to the truth of history to mention the Female College, established by Misses ROGERS in 1855, and sustained by their indomitable energy for fourteen years. These ladies had $8500, their private means. This, with about $10,000 from the citizens of Lansing and vicinity, - part of which was in nature of scholarships, and was thus refunded, - and nearly $2000 from Hon. Zachariah CHANDLER and Eber WARD, enabled them to erect a large four-story building in the northwestern part of the city, twenty acres of land for that purpose being donated by H.H. SMITH and J.W. COLLINS. The institution was opened in this building in 1858, the school till then having been kept in a rented building. It was conducted with marked success until 1869, when, upon the decease of the eldest of the ROGERS sisters, it was suspended. The property was afterwards sold to the Odd-Fellows, who expended $30,000 on a addition to the building for an educational and benevolent institution in connection with the order. But that project was not carried out, and the premises are now rented by the Odd-Fellows to the State for a school for the blind.

During the existence of the college about 1000 young ladies received instruction and fifty were graduated after a full college course.

* Prepared by C.B. Stebbins.

Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ira Mayhew - 1858


The first school building in the township was located on section 19 on the township-line very soon after the advent of the earliest settlers. It was taught by Mrs. Ephraim MEECH, more familiarly known as Nancy MEECH, wife of the earliest settler. Children came a distance of three miles, many of whom had no shoes, and rags sewed about their feet as a protection against the cold were the only substitute. They brought a dinner of johnny-cake with them, which would often freeze in the school-room, so cold was it.

The second teacher was a young man named HAZARD, from Dexter, who was not successful in his discipline, and abandoned the field, which was resumed by Mrs. MEECH, who finished the term.

Jane HAZARD taught next, and was followed by Loantha SPAULDING, now Mrs. SWEET.

As the population increased, the patrons of this school were confined to the immediate neighborhood, and other school-houses were built for the convenience of the settlers.

The school territory of the township is now divided into six whole and three fractional districts, over whom the following board of directors are appointed: A.F. HORTON, J. KIRKLAND, Alexander DARROW, Garrison STARKWEATHER, William TOBIAS, George M. SMITH, C.W. CHAPMAN, C.F. SMITH, James DUNN.

The school property of Leroy is valued at $4075, which includes one log and eight frame school-houses. During the past year 128 scholars received instruction. They were under the immediate care of 4 male and 14 female teachers, who received an aggregate amount of $1455.80 in salaries. The total resources of the township for educational purposes are $2935,14, of which $237.07 is derived from the primary school fund.


The first school-house in the township was built at what is now Leslie village, in the fall of 1837, and is now used as a dwelling by S.O. RUSSELL. It is a frame building. The name of the first teacher is not now recollected. The second, in the summer of 1837, was Mrs. F. BUTLER, sister to Mrs. E.K. GROUT, who had come to the township that year with her husband, Flavel J. BUTLER, at the same time with Dr. Valorous MEEKER. Miss MESSINGER taught, probably, next after Mrs. BUTLER. In 1843, Elizabeth BUGBEE taught in District No. 1, and Elizabeth S. GODFREY in No. 4, the latter district having been formed in 1842, in the southwest part of the township. Other early teachers in the township were:

1843 Loryette SMITH, John SMITH, Stephen WEEKS
1845 Hannah MILLER, Lucy DEWEY, Ezra SHEARMAN, Betsy HURD
1846 Mercy ATWOOD, Joshua WHITNEY, George PHELPS
1847 Bradley F. FREEMAN, Sarah MILLER, Sarah LAMB, Laura A. RICE, Richard H. DAVIS, Elizabeth A. MILLER, Sarah J. BRAKEMAN.
1848 Harriet E. SANDERS, Ansel COVERT, Martha A. ROLFE, Mrs. Mary J. HOUSEL, Miranda SPAULDING, Daniel H. BLAKE, Elisha SMITH, J.B. FREEMAN, Louisa A. SPRAGUE, Susan MILLER
1849 Sally EDWARDS, Sarah L. SEARL, Margamine DUBOIS, Amos HALL, George F. RICE, Louisa BERT.* Dr. J.B. HULL, now of the city of Lansing, was also an early teacher in Leslie.

In 1843 the books in use in District No. 1 were Webster's Speller, Testament, Hale's History, Smith's and Adams' Arithmetic, Olney's Geography, Kirkham's Grammar; in No. 2, the English Reader, Spelling, Geography, and Arithmetic. A school-house was built that year in No. 3, partly by subscription, partly by tax on property.

The first building in District No. 1 was used for a time, and gave place to the brick structure which is now used as a chapel by the First Congregational Church. Sept. 9, 1871, this district was organized as a "Union" district, and it was voted to raise $1500 by tax to apply on a new school building. The contract for building the house, which is a fine structure of brick, was awarded to WOODHOUSE & RICE for something over $10,000, and it was erected in 1867-68. About five years later a wing was added, on the south side, at an expense of about $3000. The entire cost of the building, including furniture, etc., was $15,000. The old brick edifice had been in use fifteen or twenty years before the new one was built. The school has six departments, in which the teachers for the school year are:

Henry C. RANKIN - Principal

Miss Della HUTCHINGS Grammar Department
Miss D. GODFREY First Intermediate
Miss Maggie ANGEVINE Second Intermediate
Mrs. Elsie HALL First Primary
Miss May RICE Second Primary

The school census of the district in the first week of September, 1880, was 376, and the fall term opened with an attendance of about 300. Mr. RANKIN, the Principal of the school, is a teacher of much experience. He was engaged four years at Cassopolis, and comes this year to Leslie for the first time. His predecessor, C.A. COOK, held the reigns of government in this school for eight years, and is now at Dexter, Washtenaw Co.


At the first meeting of the board of common-school inspectors of the town of Phelpstown, held on the 25th of April, 1839, Cornelius COLE was chosen chairman of the board, after which its members proceeded to divide town 4 north, of range 2 east, into districts as follows: Sections 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 comprised the first school district. Sections 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, and 36 comprised the second school district. Sections 19, 20, 21, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33 comprised the third school district. Sections 16, 17, 18, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, and 4 comprised the fourth school district.

The first public school money of which any record is found was distributed in Locke in 1844 in the following manner, the total amoutn having been $25.20: School District No. 1, 25 scholars, $9.85; School District No. 2, 15 scholars, $5.90; School District No. 3, 13 scholars, $5.12; School District No. 4, 11 scholars, $4.33.

The earliest school was taught in a shanty adjoining the residence of Benjamin PETTENGILL, but almost immediately after a school-house was erected on the northeast corner of the northwest quarter of section 14, which was familiarly known as the "Brown Eagle." It was a one-story structure built of logs, having been covered with bark laid on poles. The floor was made of split logs, as were also the seats, the desks having been of rough boards.

The chimney was constructed of sticks plastered with clay, which were occasionally found in a blaze from the nature of its combustible material. The boys would then assault it vigorously with snow balls until the fire was extinguished. The teacher who presided in this primitive domain was David BUSH, who remained for two terms, and received nine dollars per month. Messrs. Stephen AVERY, Leonard COLE, Cornelius COLE, Joshua MARSH, and benjamin PETTENGILL, were the earliest patrons of the school, and the teacher gave such general satisfaction that his wages for the second term were advanced to eleven dollars per month. The boys were generally clothed in the cast-off clothing of their fathers, or in a course fabric called "hard times," which also formed the rustic garb of the teacher. The girls' apparel was usually made of sheeting, which had been dyed with soft maple-bark and thus rendered brilliant and picturesque.

The teacher, Mr. BUSH, occasionally recalls for the amusement of his friends the following incident:
"On one occasion while boarding with the director, who shall be nameless, I had retired for the night (the sleeping room, kitchen, and parlor having been identical). The lord of the manor had returned late from a raising at a neighbor's, and being somewhat exhilirated with frequent draughts was in a hilarious mood. His wife endeavored to quiet him, but finding her efforts unavailing suggested that the teacher was in the house and had retired. The director, out of patience at being thus reproved, exclaimed, 'Who is the teacher?Nobody but David BUSH. I know him and his father and his mother.' "

Mr. BUSH was followed in his duties by Miss Rebecca MACOMBER, who was the second instructor in the township.

The school territory of the township is at present divided into six whole and two fractional districts, over whom preside, as a board of directors, the following gentlemen: O.F. PERRY, S.P. SUTHARD, Nicholas CRAHAN, George MACOMBER, O.G. DUNCKEL, Gardner RICE, R.G.C. KNIGHT, J.C. STOUGHTON.

Three hundred and seventy-two pupils, of whom twenty-four were non-residents, received instruction during the last year. They were under the direction of three male and fifteen female teachers, who received an aggregate annual amount of $1032.81 in salaries.

The value of school property, including one brick and seven frame buildings, is $4100. The total resources of the township for educational purposes are $1618.53, of which $189.29 is derived from the primary school fund.


The first school-house in Mason was built in the spring of 1837, and Miss Lucy taught the first school that summer, for which she received one dollar per week,  her pupils numbering eight. Mrs. george W. SHAFER recollects that when she and her brother, Wright HORTON, came here in the fall of 1838, a frame school-house was standing, painted white, and the school was taught the following winter by Mary Ann ROLFE, afterwards the wife of Zaccheus BARNES. This house stood originally opposite the house now occupied by Mrs. A.E. STEELE, but has been removed and is now used as a dwelling by Mr. VANDERCOOK.

In 1864-65 the matter of choosing a site and building a new school-house was discussed in the district (No. 1 of Vevay), and the sum of $600 was voted to purchase a site for the new building. This money was afterwards, October, 1865, voted to be used in building an addition to the old school-house, and was thus expended. The building then in use was a frame structure, which is now standing northeast of the jail. Through the energy of C.D. HUNTINGTON and two others, a project for building a new and larger school-house was finally put to a vote and passed in the affirmative, the Union school being organized at about the same time. Sept. 21, 1868, it was voted to raise $15,000 for the purpose of building, the proposition being carried by a vote of fifty-three to seventeen. The site chosen included the north half of lots 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, in block 23, with the alley adjoining said lots, and one rod in width off the south end of lots 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, and the west half of lot 1 in the same block (23), also lot "A" and that part of "A" Street south of the south line of Oak Street, and all of lot "E" except the south four rods. The contract for building was let to John E. SPENCER and D.D. HOAG, and the house was erected in 1869-70. It is three stories high, constructed of brick, and is an imposing edifice. The old school-house was sold to Dr. McROBERT for $300. The several departments in the school are: First and Second Primary; First and Second Intermediate, Grammar and High School. The present school board consists of the following persons: J.C. CANNON, Moderator; Milton RYAN, Director; George W. BRISTOL, Assessor; Theron VanOSTRAND, H.L. HENDERSON, N.A. DUNNING.

From the school inspector's report for the year ending Sept. 1, 1879,
are taken the following items:

Number of school children in district 535
"  attending during the year 427
"  days school taught 196
"  seatings in school-house 400
Value of school property $20,000
Number teachers employed
(one male, seven females)
Wages paid same (male, $100, Females, $2410) $3410.00
Expenditures for year 4902.75
Amount on hand Sept. 1, 1879 $155.83


The school records in possession of the town clerk go back no farther than 1849. The earliest formed district in the township was the Pine Lake District, which may very possibly have been formed when the township comprised a part of Alaiedon, previous to 1842. The first school in the township was taught in the house of Robert R. SOWLE, on section 15, in 1841-42, by Mrs. George HUCKINS, then a widow, now Mrs. R. MORTON. There were no districts then organized, and the school was taught a part of the time summer and winter. The second school in the township was taught in a log shanty adjoining the dwelling of George MATTHEWS, on section 15, by Amy NUTT, in 1842. Her father kept a log tavern in Livingston Co., Mich., between Howell and Fowlerville.

The first school near Okemos village was kept in a cabin used for a cooper-shop by Daniel YOUNG about 1844.

The first regular school building in the township was erected about 1844, by George MATTHEWS, on the east half of the southwest quarter of section 11. The frame, about eighteen by twenty-two feet, was made of oak and tamarack and sided up with whitewood. This was in District No. 1. Among the early teachers here was Levi AVERY.

The first school-house in District No. 2, which included Okemos, or Hamilton, as it was first called, was built on the ground occupied by the present school building, about 1846. On this ground the Indians of Okemos' band were accustomed to bury their corn. The first building was a small frame, which was added to from time to time, and did service until the present building was erected.

The present fine frame school building was erected in 1873, at a cost, complete, with furniture, of $3400. It is about thirty by fifty feet in dimensions, two stories in height, and surmounted by a belfry. The building is divided into two school-rooms, with about 120 scholars. There are two departments, primary and intermediate, with two teachers employed, - a male teacher in the upper department, and a female in the lower.

Among the early teachers here were:

Charles HOLLISTER, Levi SOWLE, Wesley EMERY and wife, and Prof. INGERSOLL, of the State Agricultural College. Anson HARDY, the present principal, has served three consecutive years.

District No. 2 was formed, according to the record, April 21, 1849, and included sections 20, 21, 22, 23, and 26, the east half of 19, the northeast quarter of 30, and the north half of 27, 28, and 29.

District No. 5 was formed Feb. 25, 1851, in the southeast part of the township, and included sections 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 and 36.

There seems to be no records of the erection of Districts No. 1, 3, and 4.

Among the early teachers examined and granted certificates were the following:

Fanny M. STILLMAN, April 14, 1849; M. PROCTOR, Nov. 6, 1849; Susan Emily JEFFRIES, April 13, 1850; Miss M.A. BELKNAP, May 18, 1850; Miss Lovina P. ALVERSON, Miss Harriet E. ALVERSON, Miss Mary J. DOYLE, April 12, 1851; Miss Lucy COOPER, Miss Maria SPENCER, Miss Sarah M. RICHARDSON, Dec. 4, 1851; Miss Sarah E. CHATTERTON, Miss Deborah KELLY, April 10, 1852; Dr. MARVIN, Nov. 19, 1852; Miss Caroline A. SICKLES, Dec. 3, 1852; Miss E. RICHARDSON, Miss Mary J. SPAULDING, Dec. 24, 1852; Miss Caroline C. KILBOURNE, April 9, 1853; Miss Susan ORMSBY, May 2, 1853; Miss Catherine DOYLE, May 7, 1853; Miss Jerusha DOYLE, June 11, 1853; Sidenia BALLARD, Christopher AVERY, Nov. 5, 1853; Angeline H. STILLMAN, April 29, 1854; Wm. W. GIBSON, Louisa A. GIBSON, Mary A. GIBSON, Nov. 4, 1855; Lewis J. GIBSON, April 14, 1855; Lucretia LEECH, Sept. 5, 1855.

Among the early inspectors of the schools were W.T. RIGBY, A.W. BENNETT, Thomas HUMPHREY, Merit HARMON, Elijah RICHARDSON, William N. LEWIS,, M.W. BARNES, John H. MULLETT, Seely BLOOMER, M.D. MATTHEWS, William W. GIBSON, Cyrus ALSDORF, F.A. JEFFERS, and M.D. CHATTERTON.

There seems to have been the nucleus of a township school library in 1849, for on the 14th day of April in that year the inspectors "labeled and unlabled library books" and agreed to have a table and book-case made for the township library, "not to exceed five dollars in cost."

W. T. RIGBY was chosen to visit the schools in that year, "two visits each term."

The present number of districts in the township is seven, each furnished with a frame school building. The number of children between the ages of five and twenty years is 393. The value of school property is $5850. Total expenditures for 1879-80, $2470.13. There are also three fractional districts reported in Lansing and Alaiedon.


Aug. 12, 1837, the township of Onondaga, then a part of Aurelius,  was divided into two school districts, that portion east of the Grand River being organized as No. 3, and that portion west of the river as No. 4, of Aurelius. A log school-house was built on the brook, near Jeduthan Frye's former residence, on section 29, probably in 1837, and a short summer term was taught by a lady whose name is now forgotten.

The report of the township school inspectors, for the year ending Sept. 1, 1879, contains the following items:
Number of Districts in township (whole 6, fractional, 2).....8
Number of children in township of school age.....382
Number of children in attendance for year.....297
Number of school-houses, all frame.....8
Number of seatings in same.....475
Value of school property.....$3600
Number of teachers employed (males, 4, females, 12).....16
Wages paid same (males, $593; females, $856.50).....$1449.50
Total expenditures for year.....2160.72


The early school records of Stockbridge afford no information regarding its educational interests other than the division of the township into sight whole and fractional school districts. The time and energies of the board of school inspectors seemed chiefly employed in enlarging or diminishing the borders of the various districts, as other business, with the exception of an occasional apportionment of school moneys, is not a matter of record.

The "memory of the oldest inhabitant" affords even less light as to the early schools of Stockbridge. The first school building was probably erected in what was known as the LOWE neighborhood as early as 1837. It was built of logs, and did good service until a more pretentious frame structure was substituted in response to the demand of an increasing population. Peter LOWE, now of Mason, was an early teacher, but disclaims any association with this particular school.

The present school territory of Stockbridge is divided into one fractional and six whole districts, over which preside the following board of directors:


The school property of the township, which is valued at $4050, embraces three brick and four frame buildings, 255 scholars received instruction during the past year, of whom twelve were non-resident. They were under the supervision of five male and thirteen female teachers, who received an aggregate amount of $989.10 in salaries. The total resources of the township for educational purposes are $1739.90, of which $143.25 is derived from the primary school fund.


A small log school-house was built at the ROLFE settlement about 1840, and a few pupils attended the school which was taught in it. The first teacher was very probably Miss Lucy ROLFE, daughter of Jonathan ROLFE, she being a popular teacher in the neighborhood. Her father did not come here, and she remained for only a comparatively short time.

In what is now District No. 5, in the east part of town, Helen LOWELL taught a summer school in 1845, and Mrs. HORTON in the winter following. A log school-house had been built, and school had been kept in it for two or three years previously.

In what is now District No. 6, Elizabeth MARSHALL taught in the winter of 1846-47, the first school in the district. A frame school-house was used, which now answers for a shop on the farm of Adelbert A. HAWLEY.


The early school records convey little information of value to the historian, and are chiefly records of the various alterations in the boundaries of school districts from 1839 until the present time. The board of school inspectors of the newly-organized township of White Oak met on the 30th day of April, 1839, at the office of the township clerk, and having chosen John CLEMENTS chairman and William A. DRYER clerk, proceeded to a division of the township into districts.

The earliest school was opened in 1836 in the fractional district then embracing a portion of Stockbridge. The school-house was located in the above township near the division-line, but had among its patrons the early settlers in White Oak. Elizabeth LOWE was the first instructor, and presided for three successive terms. Probably the Clements district enjoyed the earliest educational privileges afforded within the township limits. The township is now divided into five whole and three fractional districts, over whom preside the following board of directors: W.H. SMITH, C. ZOCUM, S. GAINS, William T. GODLY, Charles ODELL, Thomas WESTERN, W.H.J. ACKERSON, and J.W. HENDRICK. The total number of children receiving instruction is 273, of whom fifteen are non-residents. They are under the superintendence of five male and twelve female teachers, who receive in salaries an aggregate amount of $974.50 annually. The school property includes eight frame school buildings. The total resources of the township for educational purposes are $2188.81, of which $214.63 is derived from the primary school fund.


The first school in the township was kept in a log building, on the west half  of the northeast quarter of section 34, by Susan COCHRAN, about 1840. Another early teacher was Saphronia WORDEN, a niece of Mrs. David GORSLINE, in 1841-42. The school-house in the Whitcomb neighborhood was built in 1841 or 1842. It was a shed-roofed log building, and the second in the township. The third was probably built in what is now District No. 3, about 1846. Mahala BLANCHARD taught in that district first, or among the first. Among early teachers, but later than those already mentioned, were the following, who were examined by the board of school inspectors and received certificates, as follows:

Lodema TOBIAS and Betsy A. CUMMINGS, April, 1850; Martha H. BARBER, December, 1850; Lorama CAMP, April 1, 1851; Henry N. PALMER, November, 1851; Louisa R. SHERMAN, April, 1852; Sarah Ann FLETCHER, May, 1852; Catherine DUBOIS, April, 1853; Almira PITTS, November, 1853; Mary L. GILLIT, May, 1854.

As early as 1850 the township possessed a considerable library, and about 1860 the number of volumes had increased to nearly 500. Since that time it seems to have declined, and there is now no regular library in existence, so far as known. As late as 1860 the town records showed a long catalogue of well-selected books, but the matter seems to have been greatly neglected for many years.

The present number of school districts in the township is eight (five whole and three fractional), with two brick and six frame buildings. One of the brick buildings is the fine one recently erected in Williamston village, which is within the limits of Wheatfield. The district, the bulk of which is in Williamstown township, is reported in Wheatfield and adds largely to its school statistics. The other brick building is in District No. 2, on section 36, and cost $2200.

The number of children between the ages of five and twenty, including Williamston village, is 678. Value of school property, $19,425; total expenditures for 1879-80, $5594.40.

Was called Phelpstown Township until Feb. 17, 1857.

The first action concerning public schools appears of record in 1840, when it was voted to raise a fund of $150 for their support.

The first items entered in the regular school record were in 1844, February 10th, when the first school district was formed as follows: District 1 to consist of sections 34, 35 and 36, the west half of the southeast quarter of 25, the east half of the southeast quarter of 26, the southeast quarter of 27, the southwest quarter of 24, and the southeast quarter of 23, to be called District No. 1, of the township of Phelpstown.

At that time Jesse P. HALL, O.B. WILLIAMS, and L.H. LOUNSBURY were inspectors of schools.

On the 26th of April following District No. 2 was formed, to be composed as follows: Sections 36, and the south half of 25, in the town of Bath, Clinton Co., and sections 4,5,8,and 9, in Phelpstown, to be known as District No. 2, of Phelpstown, and District No. 3, of Bath.

On the 3rd of May, 1845, District No. 3 was formed as follows: Sections No. 21,22,23,15,14,13,12, and the east half and southwest quarter of section 11. H.B. WILLIAMS, H.C. GRATTAN, and Aaron DURAND were the school inspectors.

In the spring of 1845 the inspectors purchased 185 volumes of books, established a library, and appointed H.B. WILLIAMS librarian.

Early Teachers
On the 8th day of April, 1845, the inspectors certify that they have examined Miss Mary FARRAND "in respect to her moral character, learning, and ability to teach a primary school, and consider her well qualified for the discharge of that duty." A certificate was issued her to teach in District No. 1, then comprising the nucleus of the present village of Williamston.

Among others who were examined and licensed to teach from 1845 to 1850, we find the names of the following:

Gilman WARREN, Oct. 15, 1843; Miss Elizabeth L. ALVERSON, May 1, 1847; Miss M. DEMARRY, June 19, 1847; Miss Mary H. STILLMAN, July 14, 1847; Harry GLEASON, Nov. 19, 1847; Miss Jane WATSON, Nov. 19, 1847; Miss Armena PITTS, May 1, 1848; Miss Lovina P. ALVERSON, June 7, 1848; Miss Sarah Jane MACOMBER, Sep. 23, 1848; Jesse P. HALL, Dec. 30, 1848; Catherine C. CORNWELL, May 22, 1849; Edward W. ALVERSON, Nov. 7, 1849; Alfred B. KINNE, Jan. 28, 1850; Emeline EPLEY, May 27, 1850; Sarah Ann FLETCHER, June 29, 1850; Lodema TOBIAS, Sept. 16, 1850; Henry LANE, Nov. 2, 1850; Clorinda J. GEORGE, Dec 27, 1850.

At a meeting in District No. 2, Oct. 6, 1845, it was voted to have nine months' school, that it should be kept by "a woman-teacher;" the school to commence on the first Monday in November....

Village Schools
The first school in what is now the village was taught in a building situated on the land of J.M. WILLIAMS, and erected by private subscription in 1844. The earliest teachers were the Misses MUNN and FARREN, but which was first is not now recollected. The first district school building was also on the north side of the river, and erected about 1846. This was subsequently sold, and a building, which had formerly been an addition to the LOMBARD House, purchased and used for several years. It was afterwards moved to Middle Street, and occupied for various purposes, - as a dwelling, wagon-shop, place for holding baptist meetings, etc. It is now in use as a livery-stable.

The fine new school building now in use by the village district was erected in 1875, at a cost of $15,000. The lot on which it stands, which is in the township of Wheatfield, was presented to the district by Col. R.W. OWENS. The father of Col. OWENS was formerly a member of Congress from the State of Georgia, and owned an extensive plantation in Habersham County. He was one of a company which purchased lands in Michigan at an early date, and when a division was subsequently made became owner of the tract at Williamston. The colonel fell heir to this property and visited it occasionally, but his ownership was no advantage to the village, for the land remained vacant, and stood as a barrier in the way of improvements. During the war of the Rebellion he was an outspoken rebel, and served with some distinction in the Confederate army. This fact was very nearly the cause of confiscation of all his property in the North. The matter was carried before the United States Court at Detroit, but after considerable delay was finally dismissed. The colonel visits Williamston occasionally, and during one of these visits made a present of the land to the district. It is finely situated, and the building erected upon it is at once an honor to the village and a commentary upon the condition of schools in the State where the colonel resides. But the apparently generous act of the wealthy Southerner was not without sufficient cause. Parties on the north side of the river had offered to give a site and $200 in money if the building were erected on that side, and the prospect of rapid improvement in that direction, and the loss of corresponding growth on the south side, touched a sympathetic chord in the colonel's bosom, and the result was the gift in question.

The building is of brick, three stories and basement in height, and contains four school-rooms, two recitation-rooms, and a public hall on the third floor. The school is divided into four departments, -primary, intermediate, grammar, and high, - making it a graded school. It is under the control of a male principal and three female teachers, whose salaries are $650 per annum for the principal and $320 for the female teachers, making a total of $1610 paid the four...

The board of trustees for the year 1880 is composed of the following gentlemen: M. COAD, M.D., President; D.L. CROSSMAN, Director; M.V. JESSOP, Assessor; J.M. WILLIAMS, J.F. KRUMBECK, William L. BROWN.

Return to Ingham County

'School days, school days,
Dear old Golden Rule days,
Readin' and Ritin' and Rithmetick,
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick -

You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful barefoot beau,
And you wrote on my slate,
I love you, Joe,
When we were a couple of kids.

Author Unknown