The Dale Maley Family Web Site

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Grade School History

 

Some more Fairbury school history........

According to Mrs. Alma Lewis James, in her book, Stuffed Clubs and Antimacassars, "Fairbury is indebted to the educated women of the community for the establishment of their first school for the purpose of combatting the roughness and rowdiness of some groups in the community."

Chauncey Standish came to Fairbury in 1835 from New York State. He was a schoolteacher and shortly after his arrival the people got busy and built a log house for school purposes. This was the first schoolhouse in the township. Standish was paid for his services by contributions which were sometimes quite meager.

The first elementary school in the village of Fairbury was taught by Alonzo Straight, in a little frame building on the south side of the T. P. and W. Railroad. The first public school building was erected in 1860 on the north side of the railroad and stood where the recently demolished Isaac Walton School stood. (Isaac Walton School was the site of the Fairbury High School as well.) The building, a two-story frame building costing $2,500 was surrounded by a picket fence and shaded by willow trees. The first teacher was Smith Olney. Mrs. James says, in her book, that many of the later women teachers were Civil War widows who depended upon their jobs to supplement their government pensions of $10 per month.

The first building on the south side, Edison School, a two-story frame building costing $3,500, erected in 1868, was destroyed by fire. Some said the fire was started by a group of boys who piled hay up near the building and set it on fire. School was held, nevertheless, the next year in McDowell's Hall while a new building was constructed. The attendance during the school year of 1876 averaged about 500 for the two buildings.

The History of Livingston County of 1878 states that the appearance of the buildings in Fairbury at that time was quite weatherbeaten and dingy, but they were comfortable inside and supported excellent schools. A fine brick building costing $13,000 with room for 400 pupils followed. It had outside toilet facilities, however, and was heated by stoves.

From Lucille Goodrich book.

 

 

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