East Pawpaw Classical Seminary & Teacher’s Institute

The History of East Pawpaw Classical Seminary & Teacher’s Institute

Paw Paw (population 852) is located in north-central Illinois.  The town is nestled in the southeast corner of Lee County.  County Highways 9 and 10 intersect in Paw Paw.  Interstate Highway 39 passes by town about one mile to the west.

A nice history of the town of Paw Paw can be found at two web addresses.  The information can be found at http://www.leecountyhistory.com/lee_county/pawpaw.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paw_Paw,_Illinois .  A brief summary of these two websites is as follows:

The area where Paw Paw is located was first noticed in the early 1800s.  The first permanent settler to the area established a home in 1834. Settlers soon came to the area due to the abundance of water, food, and logs for building shelter.  Initially the area was split into three parts; East Paw Paw, West Paw Paw, and South Paw Paw. This effort eventually came to recognize the town as simply Paw Paw.  The town derives its unique name from a grove of Pawpaw trees near the area ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawpaw ). The town of Paw Paw was incorporated in 1882.

A postal service was established in 1837.  By 1847 the population had reached a total of 50 residents.  The year 1850 is cited as the beginning of active growth in the area.  Two grocery stores, a blacksmith, wagon maker, a shoemaker, and a harness maker set up businesses in Paw Paw.

The first school was established in 1836. In 1855 an organization known as the Paw Paw Stock Company was formed.  The leaders of the town and the area recognized the need for an institution of higher learning, offering more than an eighth grade education.  This concept was realized with the creation of the East Pawpaw Classical Seminary and Teacher’s Institute.  A structure was built and the school placed in service.

The East Pawpaw Classical Seminary and Teacher’s Institute was known throughout the area.  It offered courses of higher learing which today would be considered high school and even college level courses.  It is said that teachers, lawyers, physicians, and ministers were trained and received their education from this institution.

The city of Paw Paw had established a high school by the late 1800s.  It is noted on the web page of http://genealogytrails.com/ill/lee/leecitypawhistory.html that the school’s frame building burned to the ground in 1897. The Classical Seminary and Teacher’s Institute may have lived a short life.  It is likely the school closed in the early 1870s, along with a school in South Paw Paw known as Union Academy.  Both school buildings would be utilized as public schools for the village of Paw Paw for several years.

It is stated that schools and progressive thinking, like that which created the Classical Seminary and Teacher’s Institute as well as Union Academy, were vital to the earl growth of America.

East Pawpaw Classical Seminary & Teacher’s Institute

Year opened:                  1855

Year closed:                   1870

Consolidated to:              Paw Paw High Schools

School team nickname:   unknown if sports offered



The following obituary and comments are from Carol Strobe. While conducting research on her family history she discovered this obituary (below) regarding East Paw Paw Seminary graduate Robert Franklin Hamilton.

“I just recently came across your Illinois High School Glory days website asking for additional information about East Paw Paw Classical Seminary.  I’ve attached an obit for Robert Franklin Hampton.  He attended the Seminary and spent several winters teaching in the area’s rural schools.  According to the Illinois Death Index, he passed away on 2/2/1938.  This obit is available on the Joiner History Room website.

I am a Hyde family genealogist and do a lot of research in the Dekalb and LaSalle Co. areas where our early family came from.”

East Paw Paw Seminary Obit of Robert F. Hampton
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Submitted by Carol Strobe
Seeking Further Information

As always, we are seeking further information on East Paw Paw Classical Seminary & Teacher’s Institute as well as information on South Paw Paw Union Academy.  There are likely photos and more indepth information available to share on this page.  If you have this information, please contact us at the following addresses:

E-Mail:          ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net

USPS:          IHSGD Webste

                    6439 N. Neva Ave.

                    Chicago, Il.  60631  


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