The History of Pleasant Prairie Academy (German Valley)
Gerrnan Valley (population 490) is located in far north central Illinois in the southeastern portion
of Stephenson County. The town is located about seven miles southeast of Freeport. German Valley is situated
on the county road named South Rock City Road about four miles south of U.S. Route 20.
The history of the town of German Valley and Pleasant Praire Academy was sent to us in the form of
an article titled "The History of Stephenson County 1970" by a fan of the Glory Days website, Roberta
McKiski. The article also is the source of the photograph provided at the top of this page. In summary, the
article states the following:
The area in which German Valley is located was first settled in 1848 by a man named Henry
Arends. A school was established shortly after as more and more families soon moved into the area. In 1851 a
very important event, the establishment of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Silver Creek, brought several followers
to the town of German Valley. This church was established as a German speaking, Dutch Reformed church which was run under
the direction of the "East Frisian" sect.
The town drew a largely German immigrant migration. The East Frisians realized the need for training
their future ministers and to prepare students for college. There forward-thinking attitude led to the creation of the
Pleasant Prairie Academy.
Construction on the Academy facilities, a joint effort between the community and the church, began
in 1893. Classes began in the fall of 1894. The main building sported three floors with classrooms on the
first floor and lodging for students on the second and third floors.
A gymnasium was added to the school facility in 1923 which included a stage and seating for 500
people. The church supported the school through 1951. It was decided by the church that the public schools
in the area and the use of the english language increased to the point that the school would no longer be supported by the
church. The local Silver Creek parish continued to support the school facility until it was finally closed for good
Two well-known leaders of the Academy included the Reverend A.F. Boyer, who served as school
principal for 28 years. He was succeeded by Dr. George Schnucker.
There is a Historical Museam in German Valley that is said to have artifacts from the days when Pleasant
Prairie Academy was an essential part of the community. According to the map of German Valley found on MapQuest,
to this day there is an Academy Street and a Prairie Street on the west edge of town. A little further wst there is even
a College Street.
Roberta VanBriesen adds this bit of information on German Valley and Pleasant Prairie
"The name of German Valley was changed to Meekin during WW I due to anti-german sentiment. It was later
changed back to German Valley. The original Pleasnat Prairie Academy was located on College Street.
It is now known as Ben Miller Park.
Pleasant Prairie Academy, or PPA, was often referred to as "Pappa's Precious Angels" by the locals. The
school was established by the German Reformed Church. The school did compete in basketball and had a seperate building
for a gymnasium which has been razed."
Pleasant Prairie Academy Quick Facts
German Valley students attend: Forreston High School
Pleasant Prairie team nickname: ?
Pleasant Prairie team colors: Red & White
School Fight Song: