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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"


History of Willow Grove School Area and Early History of Koll School House

By Wm. W. Bartlett

(Note:  Andrew Bradt and Byron Canfield, and perhaps some of those others named here, built the school house known as the Koll School, and at present is called the Willow Grove School.)

April 29, 1926

TO the writer this particular neighborhood has some personal and fairly early associations. In the spring of 1867, just fifty-nine years ago, my parents arrived here from the state of Maine.  That first summer was spent on a farm belonging to a logger uncle of mine by the name of Michael Harris and located just across the road from the Rork farm.  Although myself only six years of age at the time, I still have some very clear recollections of that first summer in Wisconsins.  I attended day school in the district just across the creek, in Dunn County, and Sunday school at the Koll school house, about a mile this side of the creek.  I might add here that only last year I was called upon to remodel the Koll school house and was surprised to find that it was the original building in which I attended Sunday School so many years ago.  Mrs. Koll unearthed for me the earliest record book of the district.  From it I learned that the district was set off and the school house built in 1861.  I wonder if there remains another school building equally as old and still in use in the country?

Of the really early families living in that neighborhood, in addition to the Rore family, I recall the following names:  Jack, Byron and Stone Canfield; Mr. Lowe; two Weissenfels brothers; and Andrew Bradt.  Mr. and Mrs. Bradt were charter members of the First Congregational church in Eau Claire, organized in 1857.

Some extracts from the original record book of District No. 5, Town of Oak Grove (now Union).

(Note -- The Town of Oak Grove, a part of which is now within the city limits of Eau Claire, lay north of an east and west line nearly coinciding with what is now Grand Ave. WEst and extending from the Chippewa river west to the Dunn County line.  South of the Town of Oak Grove lay the Town of West Eau Claire.  When in 1872 the city of Eau Claire was incorporated a part of each of these two towns became a part of the city.  By vote of the county board the remaining portions of the two towns were made into one town, to be called the Town of Randall.  Petitions of protest were received by the County board, which refused to rescind its action in joining these two parts of towns but did change the name from the Town of Randall to the Town of Union.  District No. 5 was set off and the school house erected in 1861.  Some eight pages of the original record book are missing but records are complete from the fall of 1864, some excerpts from which follow:)

Oak Grove, Sept. 25, 1864 -- ANNUAL MEETING

Met according to notice.  Meeting was called to order.  H. T. Jones chosen chairman and proceeded to business.

(Note -- H. T. Jones was an uncle of H. W. Jones still living in this city.  During the (18)60s H. T. Jones lived on a farm near the present Nick Koll farm in Union, but later lived in the city, being assessor for some years.)

Motion made and carried that Andrew Bradt be our clerk for the term of three years and declared elected.  Motion made and voted to raise $150.00 for teacher's wages.  Motion made and voted to raise $50.00 for incidental expenses.  It is voted to get the wood by the scholars.

Motion the meeting adjourned.

$30 a month for teaching

It is hereby agreed between District No. 5 of the Town of Oak Grove and Sidney J. Sternburg, a qualified teacher of the Town of Oak Grove that the said school of said District for the sum of thirty dollars per month for the term of four months commmending on the fifth day of December 1864 and for such services properly rendered the said District is to pay to the said Sidney J. Sternburg the amount that may be due according to this contract on or before the 5th day of March 1865.  Dated this 30th day of November 1864.  Andrew Bradt, Clerk.  Sidney J. Sternburg, Teacher.  Jos. Lawler, Director.

(Note -- As nothing is noted to the contrary, doubtless this Sidney J. Sternburg paid his own board, but from the following we learn that in some cases the District paid the board of the teacher.  Certainly the wages were not over high.)

It is hereby agreed between District No. 5, Town of Oak Grove and Marietta Clay, a qualified teacher of Eau Claire that the said Marietta Clay is to teach the common school of said District for the term of three months for the sum of Fourteen dollars per month and board, commencing on the 22nd day of May 1865 and for such services properly rendered the said district is to pay to said Marietta Clay the amount that may be due according to this contract on or before the 22nd day of August 1865.  Dated this 15th day of May 1865.  Andrew Bradt, Clerk.  Marietta Clay, Teacher.  Joseph Lawler, Director.

(Note -- The next teacher was Jennie Barland, a sister of John Barland and Mrs. F. A. Towne.  Her pay was considerably higher than that of her predecessor, she received for the winter term, thirty dollars and board, and for the following summer term, thirty-three dollars and pay her own board.  From Mr. Towne we learn that this Jennie Barland died soon after teaching in this school.

Although the school house had been erected and in use for some years it was not until in 1867 that the land was formally transferred to the District.  We learn that for the sum of $88.42 the owner gave a warranty deed for the lot, 8 by 10 rods, including a fence around same.

A list of a few of the early teachers in District number 5 were:

 Mary Dunham
 Lydia Lawler - later Mrs. Tom Frawley
 Maud Kepler - later Mrs. Dr. J. V. R. Lyman
 Ella Newman
 Mary A. Bradt - later Mrs. Nick Koll
 Mary E. Burns - Town of Union

This brings the list up to 1885.

At a school meeting in 1899 the question came up as to whether the school room should be whitewashed or kalsomined.  After a lengthy discussion a vote was taken which resulted in a tie.  It was then agreed that Edith Koll should cast the deciding vote, which she did in favor of kalsomine.

The school was remodeled in 1925.

Each generation of Andrew Bradt has gone to school in this same school house, at the present time his great great grandson is just finishing the 8th grade.

The first school was held in a small building donated by a bachelor living acorss from Weipperts.  The teacher was a Miss Kidder.

Later, after more pupils came into the district they decided to build a school house.  Lumber was hauled out with horses from the Shaw Lumber mills.  Grandpa Brandt was a carpenter and took over the job of bossing the project.  He got some of the other men in the district and they erected our school house.


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