Click the first image and follow the right arrows to read the captions. [nggallery id=64] From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Apr. 13, 1868: “Appointed Jacob Smith treasurer of Dist. 18.”
June 23, 1868: “Passed thence to 18. Miss Stuart, teacher, sick, so no school that day. District about to build a new and spacious stone house.”
Oct. 26, 1868: “Appointed J.H. Sparks, clerk of School District No. 18, vice James Anglin removal from the district.”
Nov. 4, 1868: “Petitions & remonstrances from citizens of Dist. No. 18 in regard to sale of School Lands & hearing arguments pro & con.”
Jan 25, 1869: “Visited School in dist. 18. School House new and of stone, furnished with seats of latest style & convenience. Thirty six pupils. Mr. Lamb teacher of large experience and teaching an excellent school.”
Nov. 4, 1869: “School commenced Nov. 15th. C.Q. Bullock, Teacher. District visited Nov. 4th to adjust quarrel between school officers. House first best but used and abused for every purpose. Visited Dec. 29. School well managed. Methods excellent.”
From “the hitching post…” column in the Ottawa Herald, a series of articles about early Franklin County schools researched by Bruce Fleming and written by Herald Editor and Publisher Jim Hitch. This article appeared 14 February, 1991.
Chestnut Grove School, District 18, was located approximately three miles south and a mile east of Rantoul, on the southwest corner of the intersection. It is believed that the district was organized in the 1860s and that classes were initially held in a house. Sometime later a rock schoolhouse was constructed and used until 1936, when a new frame building was erected.
At that time the rock school was torn down and the rock crushed and used on county roads according to Evelyn Johnston, Rantoul RFD 1, a former school board member.
Eugene McDowell, 938 S. Locust, a former pupil there, recalls that during most of the 1930s Carter Foltz, who ran the Orchard Hills
Farm, coached the school basketball team.
The team played Christian Ridge, Rantoul, Princeton and other schools. Foltz also coached the men’s neighborhood baseball team that competed all around the county.
Margaret Hahn, 311 E. 9th, a former teacher, remembers that “Warren Wakeman had the Orchard Hill Farm in the late Thirties and always kept a sack of apples at school for us.” Wakeman’s widow, Iris, lives at 521 E. 15th.
McDowell said the school got its name from the chestnut trees that grew in that area. The American chestnut later was virtually wiped out in the United States by a blight, although hardwood enthusiasts are trying to develop new strains now that will resist the blight.
Chestnut Grove School was closed in 1960.
Other school board members included William Hettler and Olive Mathews and some former teachers were Marjory Stewart, Edna Farren, Mabel Chandler and Odena Detwiler.
Some other former school pupils still living in Franklin County include Edith (Carter) Rader, Clifford Hettler, Reynold Roseberry, Maxine (Roseberry) Baker, James Hal Needham, Barbara Phillips, Fern Curtis, Howard Curtis, Dean Kirkland, Clifford Hettler and Warren Roseberry.
In the fall of 1880, there 6,011 school-age children in Franklin County, of which 4,255 were enrolled, Average daily attendance was 2,652 and there were 118 teachers.
Average salary for men teachers was $36 a month and $26 for women. School was taught 28.8 weeks and the average cost per pupil per year was $14.07.