Streator New Michigan Academy

  The History of New Michigan Academy

The history of Livingston County dates back to its founding in February 1837 when it was formed from parts of McLean, Iroquois, and La Salle Counties. It grew quickly and communities such as Cornell, Pontiac, Odell, Fairbury, and Flanagan were formed over time.

In the northwestern portion of the county, settlers from the state of Michigan as well from other areas came to form a village that would be called Newtown. This community would be thriving in the early 1850’s and anticipated one day that rail service would pass thru there. And like other towns, they started a school which was called New Michigan Academy, although some would also call Livingston Academy.

New Michigan Academy was established in 1856 in Newtown Township, about five miles south of Streator, which at the time was referred to as Hardscrabble. The exact location of the school & community in the township are unknown, but considered near the present-day location of Streator Woodland Grade & High School.

The school hoped to increase enrollment with a proposed east-west railroad, but the discovery of coal in Hardscrabble altered the rail plans. New Michigan Academy was opened in 1856 with E. B. Neville in charge of the school that year. Neville left after the school year was over in 1857 and the school was closed for the next two years. O.F. Pearce reopened the school in 1859 and kept it open thru 1862 when he received a job offer in Dwight to become its principal.

New Michigan did not reopen after Pearce’s departure, and later was destroyed by fire as the community of New Michigan moved away and abandoned what they had created years earlier. The school was formed at a time when the 1855 Free School Law and School Code of Illinois had already been passed. This law helped organize public schools in Illinois, election regulations for a board of education or trustees, boundary laws, and funding for the public schools only, which helped to force private schools out of business.


Year first opened:   1856

First closed:          1857

Reopened:             1859

Closed for good:     1862


by all means, please contact us about New Michigan Academy. Given the time span that it was opened as well when it operated may be impossible, but there could be records that could have been passed down from generation to generation.

You can contact us at or write us at:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 N. Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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