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Cummings to present ‘Early School Days’ program

May 21, 2012
The Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN - "Early School Days in Dickinson County, Michigan"will be the Power Point program presented by Bill Cummings at the Dickinson County Genealogical Society's meeting on Thursday, May 24, at 1 p.m. in the main reading room of the Dickinson County Library.

The presentation contains early photographs of schools from throughout Dickinson County, and interesting historical data regarding city and rural schools.

"The number of rural schools in every township throughout the county is amazing," Cummings said. "Students had to walk to school in the early days, so there were many one-room school houses in the rural areas, sometimes named after someone's farm. The Eischen School, for example, opened in 1908 in Breitung Township on the southeast corner of the Joseph Eischen farm near the current intersection of Westwood Avenue and Avery Street in Kingsford Heights."

In the early years, rural students desiring a high school education had to attend school in Iron Mountain or Norway, where high school courses were available, and sometimes had to board in the community, returning home for the weekend. Channing, Felch, Foster City and Vulcan all eventually had high schools.

Most of these schools no longer exist, but there are a few remaining, such as the Pershing School in Hardwood, which opened in about 1916 and now serves as the Hardwood Community Recreation Center; the Ralph School, which opened in 1922, and is now the West Branch Township Hall; and the Metropolitan School, located in Felch, and is now the Metropolitan Hall.

None of the earlier Breitung Township Schools remain. The Breitung Township School District saw its enrollment increase from 221 students in 1920 to 3,041 students by 1927 with the advent of the Ford Motor Company's plant in Kingsford.

There was a flurry of school construction over four years which included the Breitung School and Woodward Avenue School in 1923; the Kingsford (Junior) High School, Quinnesec (Junior) High School, Pine Grove School and Twin Falls School in 1925; and the Garden Village School, Kingsford Heights (Westwood) School, Roosevelt School and the Ferndale (Lincoln) School in 1926. Other smaller temporary structures were also used during the huge influx of students.

Iron Mountain High School, celebrating its centennial this fall, is the oldest remaining school in the Iron Mountain School District. When it was constructed in 1911-12, Iron Mountain's original high school, the Central School, erected in 1884, was moved from where the new high school was being constructed to the site now occupied by the current Central School.

The new high school replaced the N.P. Hulst High School which was constructed in 1891-1892 on Madison Avenue, where Hulst Manor is now located. Other early Iron Mountain schools include the Brown Street School (1881), Chapin School (1889), Ludington School (1891), Lincoln School (1896), Farragut School (1899), Washington School (1900), Fulton School (1903), Lowell School (1904) and the Amidon School (1924-1925), now an apartment building.

Like the other school districts, Norway's early schools have also disappeared, but included an early school (1879), the Curry School (1882), Norway High School (later the Central School, 1892), Lake School (1899), Nelson School, McKinley School (1902), Norway High School (1908; burned in 1912); Norway High School (1912), East Grade School and West Grade School.

The Dickinson County Genealogy Society Quarterlies for May and August will be distributed at the meeting.

Members are asked to bring their grocery slips. This is the last meeting until September. Guests are always welcome.



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