HOME » online historical archives » Beatrice Anderson's Scrapbooks » Beatrice Anderson's History »

Editor's Notes:

History of Millburn

by Beatrice Anderson (around 1975)

Schools in the Millburn Area

The education of the children was not forgotten for there is evidence of schools by 1840. Many of those pioneers who came from Massachusetts were very well educated, and some assumed the responsibility of teaching the children. It is supposed classes were held in the homes for there were no schools. One such home is reported to have been across from the site of the old Millburn School (Hwy 45) near a spring in the field (Uncle "Jake's pasture, near Mrs. Yule's house), and another in the field east of Millburn.

In 1840 a log building was erected near Robert Strang's house (across the road, north of the present church) which was used as a house of worship and a school.

Quoting from an account written by Mrs. Matilda Hearns Stafford, one of the early settlers, we read: "There was a log building erected in Millburn near Robert Strang's house in the year 1840, that was used for both church and school house. My mother taught the first term of school in 1841. She had eight scholars; John, Christiana, and Ann Pollock, Alexander, Helen and Johanna Trotter; and Sally and Mary Ann Chope. There was no money in those days and mother was paid in eggs, butter, potatoes, and salt pork.

Quoting from a paper written by Mrs. Annie Stewart Hughes, one of the earliest settlers of Millburn (Stewart family came from Scotland, 1841) she says, "I have a faint recollection of going to school in an old house which stood near the spring in Uncle "Jake's" field (across from old Millburn School) near Mrs. Yule's' house (McDonalds).

Of a later school she writes " I see an old house in the field (east of Millburn) occupied by a Captain Shatswell, his wife, and daughter, Margaret, who was the teacher. The school was a large upper room. The most important piece of furniture in the school was a bed in one corner, and on occasion of a thunderstorm, the teacher and the more frightened children climbed on the bed, 'till it was covered. Those of us who could not get a perch on it, stood by and shivered with fright. Feathers were considered a non-conductor of lightning. I remember little about the lessons".

Teachers were paid a sum agreed upon according to the number of children sent.

About 1848 or 1850, school districts were organized. Three districts were formed in the area around Millburn, each to have a school located approximately in the center of the district. They were: Grub School about 1 1/2 miles west and north of Millburn, Dodge School a little over one mile south, and Hockaday School about one mile east, (a short distance east of the present school on the south side of the road).

A school was built in the Grub district about 1848. Though it is not certain whether it was a log or frame building, it is supposed it was of frame construction. The teacher was Miss Helen Sage from Antioch. School was in session during the summer months, that year. The next year it was changed to a winter term with Mr. James Dodge as teacher. The second building was built in 1867. In winter evenings "spelling bees" and "singing schools" were held.

In 1850, before the Dodge School was built children attended school in a downstairs room of a house west of what is now Dodge's corner. Miss Johana (or Joan) Trotter was the teacher. There is evidence that she was the teacher there until at least 1855. It is said the Dodge School (SE corner U.S 45 and Sand Lake Road) was built and plastered by volunteer labor. It is not certain what year it was built, but it was the only school building on that spot. When it was being built someone had to keep the fire going all night to prevent freezing of the new plaster. It is thought Mr. James Dodge was the first teacher. Students claim he was a great advocate of good, clear penmanship and many times pupils had to stay after school to rewrite their lessons. Cord wood for heating purposes, and material for the fence around the lot were donated by residents.

At this time there seems to be no record available on the building of the Hockaday School.

These early school buildings were little one room white school houses. The seats were of rough boards, or planks, and placed around the walls of the room. In time they were replaced by double desks, and later by single desks in sizes to suit the pupils.

Wood burning stoves were used to heat the room. Later coal burning stoves were put into use.

The schools served the districts well for about seventy years.

About 1919 or 1920 gradually all the little one room white school houses were replaced by substantial one, or two, room brick buildings with a basement. Central heating and running water were installed.

Most of the little old school buildings were moved away and all are in use as a dwelling, a barn or a shop.

About 1919 the Dodge and Hockaday districts and a part of the Grub district combined to be called the Millburn Consolidated District No. 24. A new larger one room brick school building with a basement was built on a new site just south of Millburn in 1920. It was ready for occupancy about February 1, 1921, with an enrollment of thirty scholars.

About 1935 the Grub School was abandoned and the remaining portion of the district was annexed to the Millburn district. Mrs. Ruth (Schuyler) Denman was the teacher at the Dodge School when it closed. Miss Ida Runyard (now Mrs. Roy Kufalk) was the last teacher at the Hockaday School, and Miss Ruth Minto at the Grub School.

In 1936 and 1937 the Farm Security Administration of the United States Department of Agriculture located a part of the Lake County subsistence Homestead Project within the Millburn district. These "homesteads" consisted of a home and approximately ten acres of land. Ten families with young children, seeking the advantages of rural life, became a part of the community and the school.

A few years later, when the enrollment at Millburn School increased, the basement room was converted to a class room, and two teachers were employed.

Mrs. Virginia Matson, one of the teachers 1957-1959, was confronted by a distraught mother of a brain damaged child pleading for help. Could any thing be done for her child? Mrs. Matson felt she could help and the child was enrolled in school. Mrs. Matson was encouraged by the progress the child made. Another brain damaged child in the district was admitted and soon the children were competing with each other to do better.

The end of the school year brought a time for new decisions for Mrs. Matson. After a survey of the county it was found there were several children who needed a program for the handicapped.

After surmounting many difficulties, Mrs. Matson was instrumental in starting a school for handicapped children. It was the beginning of Grove School now located in Lake Forest, IL.

Mrs. Matson is still on the staff there.

The time came when the building erected in 1920 was inadequate as enrollment had increased.

Browe School

Adjoining Millburn School district to the east was the Browe School. The first school was a log building located in a wooded area west of Mill Creek Road, built in the late 1840's on land donated by William Browe, hence the name of the school The log building gave way to a brick building. For many years Miss Mary Browe, a graduate in 1881, was the teacher.

Waterbury School.

Sometime in the 1930's the Waterbury School (Kelly Road east of Crawford Road) was closed, and the district joined the Browe district. For fifty years an annual reunion was held in the month of August for former pupils and teachers. The last one was held in 1949.

The last teacher at Browe School was Mrs. Margaret (Mrs. James) Lahey.

In 1960 Browe district was annexed to the Millburn district to be then known as Millburn Community Consolidated District No 24. (July 1, 1960).

Millburn School

Plans were then made for a new and larger building, and ground was broken in May 1961 on a new site, east of Millburn at the corner of Millburn and Crawford Roads. The new school, containing six class rooms and an all purpose room was dedicated April 1, 1962. The children moved in December 4, 1961.

Increased enrollment made it necessary for an addition to be built, consisting of four class rooms, a library, and a basement recreation room. Ground was broken for this addition March 11, 1968. The building was completed that summer and ready for use when school opened in the fall.

There have been several teachers at Millburn School, among them are two who taught for several years. Mrs. Margaret Lahey retired after fourteen years at Millburn School, June 1974.

Mrs. Alice Anderson retired June 1975 having taught at Millburn School for thirty years.

The Parent Teacher Association was organized in 1925 or 1926. Mrs. Clarence Bonner was the first president. This association has been very active for these many years.