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 in 1958.
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 High School:
“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.”
We do know that the kids of German Valley today attend school as part of Forreston High School and the Forrest Valley School District. A nice article to read regarding Pleasant Prairie Academy can be found at http://genealogytrails.com/ill/stephenson/schoolpleasant.html .
Pleasant Prairie Academy Quick Facts
Year opened: 1894
Year closed: 1958
German Valley students attend: Forreston High School
Pleasant Prairie team nickname: ?
Pleasant Prairie team colors: Red & White
School Fight Song: ?