Schools in bold have
pictures on the Country Schools I page
Whiteside County, Illinois is located
in northwest Illinois. Such major routes as Illinois Routes 2, 40, 78 and 84 take you to the county as well as U.S. Route
30 and Interstate 88. This county has the birthplace of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan,
who was born in Tampico; J. Mason Reeves, a Commander in Chief of the US Navy, also born around Tampico; and 1974 Nobel Prize
Chemist Paul Flory, born in Sterling. The Mississippi River borders the northwestern side of the county and the Meredosia
Creek on the southwestern side. Counties bordering Whiteside are Bureau, Carroll, Henry, Lee and Ogle. The Rock River, which
extends from north of Janesville, Wisconsin to the Quad Cities, runs though the center of the county. Other streams include
the Hennepin Feeder Canal, Elkhorn Creek, Rock Creek and the Green River. The Union Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern-Santa
Fe Railroad serve Whiteside County. Whiteside County is named after Samuel Whiteside, who was a general in the United States
Army. He came to this area in 1832 at the height of the Black Hawk War.
The following towns and hamlets are located
in this county: Agnew, Albany, Coleta, Como, Deer Grove, Denrock, East Clinton, Emerson, Erie, Fulton, Galt, Garden Plain,
Hahnaman, Jefferson Corners, Kingsbury, Leon, Malvern, Morrison, New Genesee, Penrose, Portland, Prophetstown, Rock Falls,
Round Grove, Sanfordville, Spring Hill, Sterling, Tampico, Union Grove, Unionville and Ustick. Going West to East and North
to South, the following townships are located on the north side of the Rock River: Albany, Fulton, Garden Plain, Newton, Erie,
Ustick, Union Grove, Fenton, Clyde, Mount Pleasant, Lyndon, Genesee, Hopkins, Jordan and Sterling. Going West to East and
North to South, the following townships are located on the south side of the Rock River: Portland, Prophetstown, Hume, Tampico,
Montmorency and Hahnaman.
In 1787, the Northwest Territory was
surveyed and the Northwest Ordinance was passed that year. It laid out the territory in sections and townships. There are
36 sections in each township. Section #16 was to be reserved for school use. This measure wasn’t really followed that
much as in few townships in Whiteside County there were never schools in Section #16: they were customarily sold.
The first school commissioner was Mr.
Daniel B. Young in 1840. Most of the few schools built at the time were subscription (tuition) based. W.M. Kilgore formed
the Whiteside County Education Association in 1854, and Charles S. Deining was the first President. By 1840 there were at
least 150 school districts and with consolidations by 1967 the number was reduced to 37. Today there are six public high schools,
three private high schools, elementary districts located in Fulton, Morrison, Prophetstown, Sterling and Rock Falls and three
outlying schools near Rock Falls: Montmorency, East Coloma and Riverdale.
Country schools in Whiteside County were
the places where a lot of the township duties took place. It was large enough and free roaming inside for such large-scale
events to take place. Succinctly, they were the most important places in the township. Up to eight or ten schools once situated
on one township. Township elections and church services were all held in the building when school was not in session. Sadly,
all these buildings have been discontinued and have either been town down, converted into a home or have been put to other
Alphabetically, we are going to feature
a brief history of the Country Schools located in the Whiteside County townships. The definition of a “Country School”
is commonly a one-two room schoolhouse either made with a frame structure or a small brick structure. Note that the grade
and high schools located in Sterling, Rock Falls, Morrison, Tampico, Fulton, Prophetstown, Erie, Lyndon and Albany are not
featured here. The high schools of Tampico, Albany and Lyndon are featured here on this website.
The total area of Albany Township is
skinny. Located in the extreme western portion of the county, there wasn’t much room for a country school in Albany
Township. However, there was one country school in the township. It was called Dublin. It was coordinated along with the other
country schools in adjoining Newton Township. This school, which is also known as Phrogg Landing School, was located on Rice
Road in Section #13. It ceased operation in 1952 when a new grade school (now defunct) was built in the town of Albany, in
the extreme northern part of the township.
The first school built in Clyde Township
was in 1844 in the cabin of Lucy Exley. The first schoolhouse was built in 1846 on Section #28 possibly on present-day Lyndon
Road. Altogether, there were eight country schools in Clyde Township. All country school functions ceased in 1958 with the
founding of Clystic Consolidated School. The names of these schools were West Clyde, Greenwood, Center, Malvern, Aldritt,
Franklin, James and North Clyde. The Malvern school was located within it’s town boundaries and was torn down and replaced
with a home. As of 1967, West Clyde was used as a welding shop; Greenwood, Center and Franklin were converted into homes;
James was moved; and Aldritt and North Clyde were torn down.
Mount Carmel Orphanage was located on
Lyndon Road in Section #10 between Pilgrim and Covell roads. It was established in 1900. This place, which housed children
from birth to 18 years, does not exist anymore. A school was built in 1915 on the grounds south of the orphanage and the cement
structure was in use until 1940. Students were then sent to Franklin School. This building is now remodeled into a home.
Rock Falls and its subdivisions take
up almost all of Coloma Township. There were only two country schools in the township, and they are still established to this
very day, albeit in much larger capacities than what they were.
East Coloma School was founded in 1846.
It was located around the present-day East Coloma School on the corner of Dixon Avenue and McNeil Road. A frame structure
was built and was replaced in 1906 with a larger building. In 1952, a newer brick building was built and it stands today.
It is District #12 and serves the subdivisions to the east and southeast of Rock Falls.
Riverdale School was established in the
late 1800s. To accompany the subdivisions of Allen and the adjoining mobile park as well as Riverview Estates mobile park,
the building was expanded in the late 1940s-early 1950s and continues to serve as District #14.
There is evidence of schools in Erie
Township, but none could be found at this time.
Until the newer school in Fenton was
completed in 1955, as few as four country schools served Fenton Township. The first school was organized in 1848 on Section
#26. As far back as 1866 Coburn School was where the United Brethren organized their society. It was located in Section #21.
There were more but only three others could be researched. Pratt School was built in the mid-1800s and served the non-existing
community of Pratt, located between Erie and Denrock. Lynn Creek was another school as well as Sand Ridge, in which the local
Dunkards religion held service.
At least by 1960, country students from
Fulton attended one of three schools outside of the city limits. They were Smith, Cottage Grove and Tehan. It is believed
that Tehan School was a larger building with two rooms and employed two teachers at the same time. It is still standing as
a home as of 1967. The other two have been torn down.
Garden Plain Township
There were three schools as far as can
be researched in Garden Plain Township. One was the school located in the town of Garden Plain. It was established in 1850
and replaced in 1869 and 1906. It was still kept in use at the time when all of the country schools consolidated into the
newer building in the town in 1952.
The Cedar Creek School District had two
buildings. One was located near the mouth of the Cedar Creek, which is near the intersection of Garden Plain Road and Route
84. The other building was located not too far away.
At one time or another there were at
least ten schools in Genesee Township. Ivory Colcord taught the first school in the township. Kapp, LaFayette, Liberty,
Washington, Hickory Grove, Hazel Green, Steuben and Salem were converted into homes as of 1967. Elm and the original Coleta
School were razed. The Coleta School was located where the new consolidated school was built in 1957. Hazel Green was
around at least by 1854 and was located on the present-day corner of Genesee and Elson Roads.
This township was one of the last settled
in Whiteside County. Its earliest school was located on section #4 before having been moved to section #3 and back to section
#4. It was located on Bell Road east of Route 40. Four of the six schools have been torn down: Champion, Maple Grove, Deer
Grove and Advance. Island and Reeves were converted into homes. Reeves School was located on the plot of the relatives of
J. Mason Reeves on the corner of present-day Hahnaman Road and Hickory Hills Road. All ceased operation in 1956.
Hopkins Township can claim to have the
first and last country schools in Whiteside County.
The first was built in Emerson (then
called Empire) and it was called Oak Grove Academy. It burned down and was replaced by another building south of the main
road that passes through town. Renamed Empire School and again renamed Emerson School, it stayed in existence until
1965 when a new and larger Emerson School building was built. For one year, the building was used as a church for the Southern
Baptist Church of Rock Falls, but is currently a home.
The last country school in Whiteside
County was Woodside School. Located on Mathew Road between Matznick and Blue Goose Roads, Woodside School served students
from the southern portion of the township. Mostly, it served the houses that are in a grove called Round Grove. It is possible
that children from the town of Round Grove (located in Mount Pleasant Township) attended Woodside School before it shut down.
Students from the Round Grove area now attend Morrison or Sterling Schools. Woodside shut down in 1968.
In 1842, a school building was built
in Galt. It was previously in a town hall. The building was torn down in favor of a newer and larger Galt School. Hopewell
School was converted into a home and North Star School was torn down. Another school, Blair School, was located across from
a church on Hazel Road west of Habben Road.
Unlike other country schools in Whiteside
County, the ones in Hume Township were called East, West, North and South. It’s not sure where those schools were located
in relevance to the township. There is a structure on Gaulrapp Road just east of Tampico Road. Also, there is one on Prophetstown
Road near the intersection with Tampico Road.
The first school was built in 1857 on
the Cleaveland Farm near the intersection of Prophetstown Road and Blue Goose Road.
Eight country schools were located in
Jordan Township. The most known one of all was the building simply known as the Stone School. It is made out of limestone.
Located at the intersection of Freeport Road and Quinn Road, it’s origins date back to the days of the Coe School that
was located a little bit to the north and on the other side of Freeport Road. Coe School was discontinued in 1869 in favor
of the Stone School.
As of 1967 Talbott, Fairview, Stone and
Capp were converted into homes. Compton is gone and Jordan Center was torn down to make way for the new consolidated school,
which was first occupied in 1954.
As many as four country schools could
be researched as of this time; however, only the names are available. Greene, White and Langdon had been converted into homes
as of 1967. Hamilton Grove School was moved in 1956 to another location to make way for Interstate 88 (former IL 5) and was
later torn down.
Like aforementioned Hahnaman Township,
Montmorency was one of the last settled townships in Whiteside County. There were at least three country schools located in
this township. In 1957, these schools were consolidated into the Montmorency School that is still in operation on IL 40 south
of Rock Falls.
Excelsior School was located on Section
#9 of Montmorency Township at the intersection of IL 40 and Thome Road. For years it served children living just south of
Rock Falls. When the Sterling-Rock Falls Airport was built in 1955, many new homes popped up around it, which was a quarter
mile north of the school. The need for a new school was brought about. Excelsior School quietly stood empty for almost 50
years, torn down in the early 2000s.
McWhorter School was located around the
corner of County Line and Star Road on Section #25. Another school building, which has since been converted into a home, is
still standing and located on Star Road not too far east of IL 40.
Mount Pleasant Township
There is evidence of only two schools
to serve Mount Pleasant Township, although there could be more. One was located on the corner of Lyndon and Holly Roads. Another
was located in Round Grove. It is believed the first house mentioned is still standing. There is no school building still
standing in Round Grove.
The first school was started in the cabin
of Mr. Henry Rexroade in Section #23. The first schoolhouse was built in 1842 on present-day Albany Road. It was then known
as “Slocumb Street” and the school was known as that. It later turned into an Implement company.
Seven other schools were placed throughout
the county. West Newton, Anglese, Mineral Springs and Dewey have been turned into homes. Kingsbury School, built in 1854,
was expanded and retained for the new Newton Consolidated School. Byers was moved and Cottle was torn down.
The Newton Country Schools were unique
in one way for a strong unity. In 1918 “Township Homecomings” were started. The first one was started while welcoming
home soldiers from the Great War (World War I) and all country schools participated along with Dublin in Albany Township.
Baseball games were played with each school contributing a part of the winning purse that was divided amongst the players
of the winning team. This effort lasted for about 20 years.
As many as eight schools were in existence
in Portland Township in the late 1840s and there were ten by the 1880s.
The first school in the township was
located in a log cabin on the Seeley property along present-day Thunder Road along the Rock River. Most of the district schools
are still standing. Kempsterville, Portland, Sharon, Burke and Jefferson Corners are homes. Spring Hill School is now a town
hall of its namesake. Sandytown is now used as a garage. Arnett has been torn down.
Outside of Prophetstown, there were many
schools but only a couple could be researched. The first school taught was located at the Asa Crook home outside of Prophetstown.
That building is a historic landmark now. A unique octagon-shaped building was built in 1860 in Prophetstown called the Franklin
Institute. It had since been discontinued.
Centerville School was located near the
location of the current Centerville Consolidated School. It was torn down in favor of the newer school. A school was also
located in Leon Corners. Another one was called Prairieview.
Since most of the city of Sterling is
located within it’s borders, not many country schools were located there. There were three country schools located in
The first one was Science Ridge
Country School. It may have been split into an East-West arrangement at a later date. It is believed when Washington School
in Sterling was built in 1951 children were moved to that school, which was the northernmost school in the city at that time.
Another one was east of Sterling on Woodlawn
Road. Named Woodlawn School, it was a frame building that was built in the 1800s. A 1927 fire destroyed the building and a
brick structure replaced it. Subdivision growth towards the east with the Crestview additions and Gregden Shores additions
prompted school expansion. In the 1980s, it was bought by the Sterling School system and the main building was torn down.
The additions are still used in the Sterling Schools capacity.
In 1856, the first school was located
in the Aldrich property. By 1885 there were seven country schools located in the Township. A brick school that is located
on the corner of Hahnaman Road and Luther Road was used as a school for the Amish living in the area until perhaps the 1970s.
Union Grove Township
Not much is known about the schools in
Union Grove Township other than those located within the platted towns. Union Grove and Unionville each had schools. Unionville
had the first school in the township and a second was built in 1854-55. That building was converted into a town hall. After
school functions ceased, students went to the adjoining Morrison School District.
There was a country school located on
the NW corner of present-day Prairie Center and Hillside Roads. It was known as the Prairie Center Country School, built in
1879. Another school was moved alongside it in 1954 and served as part of the Union Grove Consolidated School.
In 1841 the first school in Ustick Township
was organized in the attic of the cabin of Mr. Amos Short. The first country school, Otter Bluff, was located on Section
#8 on the corner of present-day Spring Valley and Smaltz Roads in 1856. Eight more schools followed. Cottonwood was
one of the last to operate, closing in 1958. All of the district schools that could be researched were still standing as of
1967: Gridley, Robertson, Cobb, Spring Valley, Cottonwood and Goff. Crouch (or called Hollinshead), which stands on the corner
of Millard and Union Grove roads, was converted into a corncrib.
The Consolidated Schools
Throughout the 1950’s, Country
Schools began to disappear and new “consolidated schools” provided a centralized school within the township boundaries.
There were two meetings when voting to organize a consolidated school: one was to vote on the consolidation itself and the
second was to approve a new school building. These measures assured an increase of state aid and the broadening of the area
tax base. Unfortunately by the 1980s, these consolidated schools closed down and students were sent in town for education.
All of these buildings are still standing.
ALBANY Consolidated School (Dist. 139)
was located inside the town. It was formed with the consolidation of the Albany Grade School and Dublin Country School. In
2005, the school was closed and students were sent to Fulton (River Bend).
CENTERVILLE (Dist. 77) was built in 1954.
It eventually consolidated with the Prophetstown School system.
CLYSTIC (Dist. 149) was built in 1957-58
and included the area of western Clyde Township and eastern Ustick Township. It eventually consolidated with the Morrison
COLETA (Dist. 138) was located just south
of the town and was built on the former site of the older school in 1957. After it was annexed into the Sterling Schools system
in 1982, it was converted into a small factory.
COMO (Dist. 38) included the older building
with additions made in 1948 and 1958. It too was consolidated into the Sterling Schools system.
CRESTVIEW (Dist. 148) was located on
the former site of the old Crestview Country School and completed in 1954. Located just west of the intersection of Prophetstown
Road and Star Road on old IL 172, it was closed down and converted into a construction building. It eventually consolidated
with the Prophetstown School system.
FENTON (Dist. 135) was built in 1955
and served children of its town and northern Fenton Township and southern Union Grove Township. It eventually consolidated
with the Erie School system.
GARDEN PLAIN (Dist. 142) included ¾ of
its township and in 1952 was built around the older school located inside it’s town. It eventually consolidated with
the Fulton (River Bend) School system.
HAHNAMAN (Dist. 147) was built in 1956
and included all but the southern portions of its township. It eventually consolidated with Tampico.
GALT (Dist. 39), which was built in 1952
on the grounds of its old school, and EMERSON (Dist. 42), which was built in 1965 west of the village, consolidated in 1967
to form the HOPKINS School District. It included all of Hopkins Township. It eventually consolidated with the Sterling School
system in 1982. The Galt building is now in use as the Sterling Christian High School and it has been in that capacity since
1991 (Sterling Nazarene, listed as a high school on this site, was the predecessor of SCHS).
JORDAN (Dist. 143) opened in 1954 on
top of the grounds of the old Jordan Center Country School. It eventually consolidated with the Sterling School system in
1982 and has been used for storage purposes ever since.
NEWTON (Dist. 140) was built around the
old Kingsbury School in 1955. It served the northern part of its township. It eventually consolidated with the Erie School
PORTLAND (Dist. 146) served the eastern
part of Portland Township, built in 1954. It eventually consolidated with the Prophetstown School system.
UNION GROVE (Dist. 150) consisted of
two schools. The school in Union Grove was built in 1958. The Prairie Center School was consolidated into that district. Union
Grove educated younger children and Prairie Center educated older children. It eventually consolidated with the Morrison School
Whiteside County by Wayne Bastian
was published in 1969 and was the main source used for this feature. The schools had since changed from that time and this
should be an updated history of the school system.
ANY ADDITIONS AND
CHANGES ARE WELCOME! This by no means is a finished product. We are particularly looking for pictures and more information and
even more schools to add to the list of schools that have already been compiled here. If you have any more information about
a Whiteside County country school, please E-mail Cody Cutter (site manager) at firstname.lastname@example.org