Early Eastmanville School History
(Polkton Township - School District No. 1)
In Pioneer Days
(Coopersville Observer - 30 July 1897)
The first school district in Ottawa county outside of
Grand Haven, and the first school house built was at Eastmanville. The district
was organized 7 November 1842, and was known as district No. 1 of Tallmadge - as
No. 1 of Polkton since the organization of the latter town in 1845. Benjamin
Hopkins, Dr. Timothy Eastman and Henry Griffin wee the school inspectors, and by
order of said inspectors, Daniel Realy, a taxable inhabitant of said district,
was notified that the first meeting would be held at the house of Benjamin
Hopkins, 14 November 1842. At this meeting Dr. Eastman, Benjamin Hopkins and
Henry Griffin were elected school officers. They, with Mr. Realy appeared to be
the only taxable inhabitants of the district. They voted to build a log school
house 10 feet wide by 20 feet in length, which was used untail a frame one was
erected in 1849.
The records show that they voted at each meeting to have three months school the ensuing year. The names of the teachers are not given in the records until 1848. In this year there were twelve weeks of school taught by Miss Martha Maxfield, and her salary was $1 per week.
In 1849 the name of the teacher was Miss Matilda Angell and the amount of wages paid were eleven shillings per week, or $17.37 for the thirteen weeks term.
In the winter of 1851, they were to have a school taught by a "male teacher", providing they could procure a suitable one for the sum of $15 per month. The records show that they succeeded in hiring such a teacher and that his name was George W. Lowell. They paid him $12.50 of his wages out of the "primary school fund," and the balance was raised by "rate bill". These prices were considered pretty high in those days.
The records are silent as to the board, but as "boarding round" was then the custom, they probably had the above prices and their board in addition.
Some Early Eastmanville School History
Interesting Facts and Incidents About the Schools of Half a Century Ago.
EDITOR OBSERVED: - In your issue of last week appeared
the item, that Mrs. D. W. Scott was the first school teacher in Polkton
township, and it was stated that she taught in the school house at Peck's
corners fifty odd years ago.
By referring to an article written by me from the records of school district number one of Polkton, and published in the Observer about 1888, and republished 30 July, 1897, you will find that the first school district in Ottawa county, organized outside of Grand Haven, was number one of Tallmadge and known as number one of Polkton since the organization of the town in 1845 (now known as Eastmanville). The district was organized 7 November 1842. The school inspectors were Benjamin Hopkins, Dr. Timothy Eastman and Henry Griffin, and at the same meeting these same inspectors were elected school officers. They voted to build a log school house, sixteen feet wide and twenty feet long. It was used until the frame one was built in 1849. They voted to have three months school each year; but the records do not give the names of the teachers until 1848. In this year were twelve weeks school taught by Miss Martha Maxfield. Her salary was one dollar per week. Miss Maxfield was a daughter of Paschal Maxfield, an old settler of Polkton, and the first treasurer of the town. The next teacher was Miss Matilda Angell, now Mrs. Wm. Blakeny, of Lamont, who taught thirteen weeks in 1849. She received eleven shillings per week. This was the last school in the old log school house. William Angell, now of Grand Haven, informed me last summer that he taught school in the old log school house in the winter of 1846 and 1847, and in consequence of his educational abilities there displayed, he was nominated and elected register of deeds for Ottawa county in 1848, and held the office for six years. For all the political honors thrust upon him since that time, he dates back to the winter of 1846-1848, when he taught in the old log school house at Eastmanville, as the beginning of his political success. I think the records will show that the school house at Peck's corners was not built until 1850.
In the school house now at Eastmanville will be found the teacher's desk, the same that was built in the "new school house", as it was called, in 1849. There also will be found the oldest school or church bell in Ottawa county. The bell was originally used on the old steamer "Empire" that navigated Grand River from about 1846 to 1855. When steam whistles were substituted for bells on steamboats it was bought for the school house at Eastmanville. Eastmanville was not known by its present name until about 1856, when it was plotted as a village. The first post office at that place was known by the name of the township, Polkton, and was dropped from the list when the name Eastmanville was substituted, in fact, until the D. & M. R. R. was built, what few settlers there were as far back from the river as Coopersville received their mail at Eastmanville or Steele's Landing, now Lamont; the mail arrived once a week and in the summer was carried on the steamboat between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, and in the winter either by horseback or stage.
Information given by Edwin Thayer - Grand Rapids, Mich., January 16, 1899
Created: 30 December 2011