Allamakee County Historical Preservation Commission project planned for rural schools

The Allamakee County Historical Preservation Commission has decided to go ahead with a long-term local project involving the recording and identifying of each rural country school that existed within the boundaries of Allamakee County from the 1800s through the 1960s.  This will be a multi-phase project as the Commission would like it to be as thorough as possible.

It is thought there were 80 to 90 country schools in Allamakee County at one time, some with a longer lifespan than others. At this time, it is strictly a paper project with the idea to create a portfolio or file of history for each school. In 1912 Allamakee County had 18 townships with nine divided into 63 independent school districts.  The other nine were organized as school townships with 60 sub-districts. As one can imagine, this resulted in a great number of rural country schools.

What the Commission is interested in at this time is identifying the exact location of each school, the years of existence, the physical characteristics of the building, such as whether they were constructed of wood or brick, one or two stories, etc. There are presently two or three rural schools being preserved in the county with possibly more that could be, the most notable being the former Red School, located at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds, and the newest preservation being the Oil Springs School recently moved into Harpers Ferry near Tillinghast Park from the Wexford area.

With the passage of time, former rural school teachers have passed away and with them a wealth of vital and interesting history that only they experienced, but much is written and also experienced by many of their yet living students. This is the information the Commission would like to gather as the project moves along.

Presently, the school project commission would like to divide the county into strictly townships as this project is quite large for only a few people and this approach could also then involve those at the grassroots level. Many may have lived and grown up with a country school next door and perhaps even attended one. It could be a fun project with much reflection on the past, families and relatives.

It was mandated that country schools be of walkable distance for their pupils and thus most schools were located within two miles of each other. For instance, in Ludlow Township there were 10 rural country schools. If the Commission could find one or two more interested individuals in each township who would like to help on this project over a period of time, that would make for an ideal network.

Anyone interested in taking part in this project may contact any of the following Preservation Commission members for additional information. Gloria Sander Payne can be reached at 563-586-2045, Jim Magner can be reached at 563-568-7857 and Daryl Hansmeier can be reached at 563-568-4954.

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