Country Schools of Whiteside County

West Hume Country School
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Courtesy of the Tampico Historical Society Photo Gallery

A History of Whiteside County Country Schools

Whiteside County, Illinois is located in northwest Illinois. Aurora, Rockford and the Quad Cities are all within one-hour’s driving distance from points in the county. Such major routes as Illinois Routes 2, 40, 78 and 84 take you to the county as well as U.S. Route 30 and Interstate 88. The Mississippi River borders the northwestern side of the county and the Meredosia Creek on the southwestern side. Counties bordering Whiteside are Bureau, Carroll, Henry, Lee and Ogle. The Rock River, which extends from north of Janesville, Wisc. to the Quad Cities, runs though the center of the county. Other streams include the Hennepin Feeder Canal, Elkhorn Creek, Rock Creek and the Green River. The Union Pacific Railroad (formerly Chicago & Northwestern) and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad (formerly Chicago, Burlingon & Quincy) serve Whiteside County.

Whiteside County is named after Samuel Whiteside, who was a general in the United States Army. He came to this area in 1832 at the height of the Black Hawk War. This county has the birthplace of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, who was born in Tampico in 1911; J. Mason Reeves, a Commander in Chief of the US Navy, also born around Tampico; and 1974 Nobel Prize Chemist Paul Flory, born in Sterling.

The following towns and hamlets are located in this county: Agnew, Albany, Coleta, Como, Deer Grove, Denrock, East Clinton, Emerson, Erie, Fulton, Galt, Garden Plain, Hahnaman, Jefferson Corners, Kingsbury, Leon, Malvern, Morrison, New Genesee, Penrose, Portland, Prophetstown, Rock Falls, Round Grove, Sanfordville, Spring Hill, Sterling, Tampico, Union Grove, Unionville, Ustick, and White Pigeon.

Going West to East and North to South, the following townships are located on the north side of the Rock River: Albany, Fulton, Garden Plain, Newton, Erie, Ustick, Union Grove, Fenton, Clyde, Mount Pleasant, Lyndon, Genesee, Hopkins, Jordan and Sterling. Going West to East and North to South, the following townships are located on the south side of the Rock River: Portland, Prophetstown, Hume, Tampico, Coloma, Montmorency and Hahnaman.


In 1787, the Northwest Territory was surveyed and the Northwest Ordinance was passed that year. It laid out the territory in sections and townships. There are 36 sections in each township. Section #16 was to be reserved for school use. This measure was not followed much in Whiteside County. Where there were not schools, the land was sold back to the township.

The first school commissioner was Mr. Daniel B. Young in 1840. Most of the few schools built at the time were subscription (tuition) based. W.M. Kilgore formed the Whiteside County Education Association in 1854, and Charles S. Deining was the first President. By 1840 there were at least 150 school districts and with consolidations, then by 1967 the number was reduced to 37. Today (2011) there are public school districts headquartered in Fulton, Morrison, Prophetstown, Sterling and Rock Falls, plus and three outlying school districts near Rock Falls: Montmorency, East Coloma and Riverdale.

In addition to public education, there are numerous private schools in the County, including two which offer high school education: Newman Central Catholic in Sterling, and Unity Christian in Fulton. There was also an Amish school called Fairfield located in Tampico Township for many years until moving just outside the county into northern Bureau County.

Country schools in Whiteside County were the places where a lot of the township duties took place. The buildings were large enough and free-roaming inside for such large-scale events to take place. Succinctly, they were the most important places in the township. Up to eight or ten schools once situated on one township. Township elections and church services were all held in the building when school was not in session. Sadly, all these buildings have been discontinued and have either been torn down, converted into a home or have been put to other uses.

Alphabetically, we are going to feature a brief history of the Country Schools located in the Whiteside County townships. The definition of a “Country School” is commonly a one-two room schoolhouse either made with a frame structure or a small brick structure.

Stueben Country School
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Genesee Township

Albany Township

The total area of Albany Township is skinny. Located in the extreme western portion of the county, there was not much room for a country school in Albany Township. However, there was one country school in the township. It was called Dublin. It was coordinated along with the other country schools in adjoining Newton Township to the east. This school, which is also known as Phrogg Landing School, was located on Fuller Road, just north of Stern Road, in Section #13. It ceased operation in 1952 when a new, larger grade school was built in the town of Albany, in the extreme northern part of the township.

Dublin is still standing, and has been converted into a home.

Clyde Township

The first school built in Clyde Township was in 1844 in the cabin of Lucy Exley. The first schoolhouse was built in 1846 on Section #28 possibly on present-day Lyndon Road. Altogether, there were eight country schools in Clyde Township. All country school functions ceased in 1958 with the founding of Clystic Consolidated School.

The names of these schools were West Clyde, Greenwood, Center, Malvern, Aldritt, Franklin, James and North Clyde. The Malvern school was located within it’s town boundaries and was torn down and replaced with a home. Today, there is only a few houses located in the town.

Franklin School was located at the southeast corner of Lyndon and Covell Roads. This area, known as Franklin Corners, was where the Mount Carmel Orphanage was located. The home was on the southwest corner and was run for a great number of years by the Zook Family, who owned the Mission Farm on the northeast corner. The Zooks built a school building south of the orphanage for its tenants, which was used until 1940, when students were sent to the Franklin School. The Franklin School building has now been converted into a home, while the Orphanage property has since been razed.

Greenwood (located on Spring Valley Road between Snyder and Lake roads) and Center (located on Felton Road south of the Appel Mill over Rock Creek) have been converted into homes. West Clyde on the corner of Rick and Snyder roads, was used as a welding shop after closing as a school, and then converted into a home.

North Clyde, located on Snyder and Covell roads, has been torn down. James was located on the sound end of Malvern Road, but the structure has since moved to the farm property across the road.

Aldritt, located on the southwest corner of Capp and Lake roads, was located on property owned by the Aldritt family. Not too long after closing as a school, Aldritt was torn down. However, the ruins are still visible (as of 2011) behind overgrown weeds.

Coloma Township

Rock Falls and its subdivisions take up almost all of Coloma Township. There were only two country schools in the township, and they are still established to this very day, albeit in much larger capacities than what they were.

East Coloma School was founded in 1846. It was located around on the corner of Dixon Avenue and McNeil Road. The building was replaced in 1906 with a larger one. In 1952, a newer and larger brick building was built and it stands today, serving the subdivisions to the east and southeast of Rock Falls as well as the Lee County community of Nelson.

Riverdale School was established in the late 1800s. To accompany the nearby Allen subdivision and the Crestview Estates and Riverview Estates mobile parks nearby, the building was expanded in the late 1940s-early 1950s. For years it was District #14. The school closed in 2012 as an independent graded school, and is now used by the Rock Falls Elementary school district as a pre-kindergarten school.

Erie Township

This oddly-shaped township is small enough that the town of Erie has provided most of the township’s school needs. There was one school during the 1900s that served students from the western area of the township. This school, called Wheelock School, was located south of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad tracks on Sand Road, and has since been converted into a home. The Wheelock School was founded in 1840 by Andrew Wheelock, who donated land for school purposes.

Another school was located along Cordova Road east of Sand Road in Township Section #2 called West Sand Ridge. It is believed the school joined together with East Sand Ridge in Fenton Township around the late 1900s or early 1910s.

Fenton Township

Until the newer school in Fenton was completed in 1955, five country schools served Fenton Township during the 1900s. The first school was organized in 1848 on Section #26. Fenton also had an early school before the newer complex was completed.

Pratt School was built in the mid-1800s and served the community of Pratt, which was located between Erie and Denrock along the CB&Q tracks. The community was a failure, and only the schoolhouse (which has converted into a home) is left standing.

Lynn Creek was another school as well as Sand Ridge, in which the local Dunkards religion held service. Both schools have since been razed. Lynn Creek was located on the north side of Thome Road just east of Clyde Road. As far back as 1866 Coburn School was where the United Brethren organized their society. It was located in Section #21, and was located along Black Road at the intersection with Smit Road. That school has since been razed.

East Sand Ridge was located along Star Road at the intersection with Short road. West Sand Ridge was located in Erie Township.

Fulton Township

Like the aforementioned Erie Township, Fulton Township is also small enough to have its main town of Fulton handle the township’s school needs. However, there were three schools outside of the city limits. They were Smith, Cottage Grove and Tehan.

It is believed that Tehan School was a larger building with two rooms and employed two teachers at the same time. Cottage Grove was located on Penrose Road, just east of Route 84. Smith School was located on Frog Pond Road, south of the intersection of Routes 30 and 136. Unfortunately all of the one-room school houses in the Township have been torn down. Tehan and Smith schools were on property owned by their namesakes.

Garden Plain Township

There were three schools as far as can be researched in Garden Plain Township. One was the school located in the town of Garden Plain. It was established in 1850 and replaced in 1869 and 1906. The 1906 building was still kept in use at the time when all of the country schools consolidated into the newer school building in the town in 1952. The older school still has the namestone at the top, and has been converted into a home.

The only other small community in Garden Plain Township is called East Clinton, which is located south of Route 30 and west of Route 84 near Fulton. Plans to plat the area never materialized, and all it is comprised of is a group of houses along Ward Road. There was a school at one time along this row, which has been converted into a home.

The Cedar Creek School District had two buildings. One was located near the mouth of the Cedar Creek, which is near the intersection of Garden Plain Road and Route 84. The other building was located not too far away. One of the two buildings is located at the southwest corner of Garden Plain Road and Diamond Road.

Lockhart School is still standing, and was located on Holly Road, just east of Sand Road. Stone Street School, located between Kennedy and Elston roads, has been torn down. Mount Hope, located on Bunker Hill Road east of Sand Road, has also been demolished.

Spring Creek School was located on Benson Road between Kennedy and Diamond roads, and has since been razed. Linda Tucker Port shared the following memory regarding the Spring Creek School:

“My brother and I were the 3rd generation of our family to attend Spring Creek School, and own surrounding properties. I watched the day that the school building was taken down. The neighbors came in with tractors and pushed it in and then they burned it. The old piano that I used to play with at recess was speared by a tractor loader and dumped on to the pile as well. It nearly broke my heart to see it all go.”

Sping Creek Country School, 1897
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Courtesy of Linda Tucker Port

*From Linda Tucker Port:

“The photo above is of the Spring Creek School taken in the late 1800’s when my grandma, Elizabeth Slaymaker, was a student there. My grandma is in the black dress in the center front of the picture. Her brother Alvin Slaymaker is second from the left in the back row behind the fence, and the tall girl in the middle of that row was her cousin Mary Curry.”

So sad to have these buildings lost forever, we are glad we can share Linda’s memory here.

Genesee Township

At one time or another there were at least ten schools in Genesee Township. Township pioneer Ivory Colcord taught the first school in the township. Over time, most of the school’s structures have survived – the greatest rate of survival out of all of the other rural townships in the county.

Bastian’s 1967 history of Whiteside County lists the Coleta School as a one-room schoolhouse. The school was two rooms, and was briefly the site of Coleta High School (listed on this website). This school was torn down in favor of the newer consolidated building in the late 1950s.

Elm School is the only other school to have been razed over the years. It was located on Yorktown Road, south of Dean Road. Other than Coleta and Elm, seven other country schools are still standing, and all have been converted into homes:

Hazel Green was around at least by 1854 and was located next to Hazel Green Cemetery, which is on the present-day curve of Genesee and Elson Roads.

Hickory Grove was located off of Fulfs Road between Manton and Blue Goose roads, and situated within the small plat of New Genesee.

LaFayette was located on Luther Road, just north of Quinn Road. It’s history has been preserved well in clippings and other reminisces, which is available at the Sterling Public Library.

Liberty sat at the northwest corner of Manton and Hobson Roads. Salem sat on Luther Road, just south of the curve of Route 40. Steuben was on the corner of Route 40 and Genesee Road. Washington still has the school-type framework intact, and is located on Coleta Road south of the village.

Hahnaman Township

This township was one of the last settled in Whiteside County. Its earliest school was located on section #4 before having been moved to section #3 and back to section #4. It was located on Bell Road east of Route 40. All country schools in the township ceased operation in late 1950s. Four of the township’s six schools have been torn down.

Deer Grove (pop. 50) had a school located within its boundaries, but was razed at a later date. Advance School, located on a former post office station on the corner of Route 40 and Bell Road, was also torn down. Maple Grove, located southeast of the village on Polo Road near the CB&Q tracks, is gone. Champion, located on Hickory Hills Road between Mill and Bell roads, sat empty for a number of years before being torn down.

The two schools left standing are Island and Reeves, and both have been converted into homes. Island is located on the southwest corner of Hahnaman and Polo roads, just west of the small plat of Hahnaman. Reeves School was located on the plot of the relatives of J. Mason Reeves on the corner of present-day Hahnaman Road and Hickory Hills Road.

Hopkins Township

Hopkins Township can claim to have the first and last one-two-room schools in Whiteside County.

The first was established in Como (south of Route 30 a few miles from Sterling & Rock Falls) in 1842, four years after being established as a settlement. For nearly 140 years, the school in Como served the school-aged students until closing and becoming a part of the Sterling School District. The buildings had been updated over time. The current brick structure, and additions, has since been converted into a home.

The graded school in the county was built in Emerson (then called Empire) and it was called Oak Grove Academy. It burned down and was replaced by another building south of the main road that passes through town. Renamed Empire School and again renamed Emerson School, it stayed in existence until 1965 when a new and larger Emerson School building was built. For one year, the building was used as a church for the Southern Baptist Church of Rock Falls, but is currently a home.

Just a couple miles south of Emerson is the town of Galt. Before a school building was built, it was previously in a town hall. The building was torn down later in favor of a newer and larger Galt School.

Outside of the smaller hamlets, but out in the countyside of Hopkins Township were three schoolhouses. Two have since been razed. Hopewell school was located on Hazel Road just west of the Coleta Blacktop and across from the Our Savior Lutheran Church (the school may have once been called the Blair School at one time). North Star School sat along Holly Road northwest of Emerson.

The last country school in Whiteside County was Woodside School. Located on Mathew Road between Matznick and Blue Goose Roads, Woodside School served students from the southern portion of the township. Mostly, it served the houses that are in a grove called Round Grove. It is possible that children from the town of Round Grove (located in Mount Pleasant Township to the west) attended Woodside School before it shut down. Students from the Round Grove area now attend Morrison or Sterling Schools. Woodside finally shut down in 1968, and has been converted into a home.

Hume Township

Unlike other country schools in Whiteside County, the ones in Hume Township were called Center, East, West, North and South.

Only Center, North and East Hume schools still stand. North Hume has been converted into a home, and was located at the intersection of Prophetstown and Tampico roads. Hume Center, located east of the grounds of the Gaulrapp-Coe Turkey Farm, was on Gaulrapp Road just east of Tampico Road. East Hume, located at the intersection of Ridge and Knief roads, is also a home.

West Hume was the located of the first school in the township, built in 1857 on the Cleaveland Farm near the intersection of Prophetstown Road and Blue Goose Road.

South Hume was located at the southwest corner of Star and Tampico Roads (currently where Route 172 curves into Tampico).

Kempsterville Country School
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Portland Township

Jordan Township

Eight country schools were located in Jordan Township. The most known one of all was the building simply known as the Stone School. It is made out of limestone. Located at the intersection of Freeport Road and Quinn Road, it’s origins date back to the days of the Coe School that was located a little bit to the north and on the other side of Freeport Road. Coe School was discontinued in 1869 in favor of the Stone School.

Jordan Center was located on a small “corners” settlement on Hoover and Penrose roads. It was torn down to make way for the new consolidated school, which was first occupied in 1954.

Kapp is actually a misspelling of the name “Capp” which is the name of one of the roads this school is on. The school was located on the intersection of Route 40 and Capp roads, near the Maple Grove subdivision.

Talbott, located on the corner of Polo and Covell roads, has been converted into a home; as was Fairview, located at the corner of Polo and Penrose roads.

Compton, located on the corner of Buell and Covell roads, was torn down; as was Gould, located at the corner of Ridge and Genesee roads in the far western part of the township.

Lyndon Township

Like Erie and Fulton townships, Lyndon Township is an odd-shaped one that has a central community that was in the center of it. But unlike the others, Lyndon Township had a few more country schools that served the needs of the area’s children.

Only one survives. The Bend School, located north of the Rock River (on a bend in the river) along former Route 2 (Moline Road), has been converted into a home. There were four others, and all have been razed over the years.

Hamilton Grove was the school that served the small “corners” settlement of Hamilton Corners, which is located where Route 78 heads north from the former Route 2. When the highways were re-routed, the school was moved to another nearby location and later torn down.

Greene School was also located along the former Route 2 just east of Lyndon. Langdon School was located a couple of miles north of Interstate 88 along Route 78. Richman School was on the corner of Wayne and Sawyer roads. All three have been torn down.

The Bend School may have also been named Fergeson at one point.

Montmorency Township

Like aforementioned Hahnaman Township, Montmorency was one of the last settled townships in Whiteside County. There were at least seven country schools located in this township. In 1957, these schools were consolidated into the Montmorency School that is still in operation on IL 40 south of Rock Falls.

Excelsior School was located on Section #9 of Montmorency Township at the intersection of IL 40 and Thome Road. For years it served children living just south of Rock Falls. When the Sterling-Rock Falls Airport was built in 1955, many new homes popped up around it, which was a quarter mile north of the school. The need for a new school was brought about. Excelsior School quietly stood empty for almost 50 years, torn down in the early 2000s.

East on Thome Road from Excelsior was Sturtz School, which was located not too far from the Lee County line. It is still standing, and was converted into a home. Two more former schools are still standing: Allpress School, located on the southeast corner of Buell and Gualrapp roads, is now a home; as well as Bane School, located off of Star Road near the intersection of Routes 40 and 172.

McWhorter School was located along the county line on County Line Road. Now gone, the school was where the first religious services of the Township were held (in 1860). The two remaining country schools in the township have not only both been torn down, but are also no longer accessible by road. These schools were Elmendorf (on property north of Route 172), and Swan Lake (south of where Freeport Road “T’s” with Plautz Road. It is believed these schools ceased functions earlier than the other Township country schools.

Mount Pleasant Township

Mount Pleasant Township is home to Morrison, which is Whiteside County’s seat and home to many government offices. Morrison is located on the western end of the Township, and there were as many as seven country schools scattered elsewhere throughout.

Bunker Hill Road, which is a long stretch of road on the south end of the Township, boasted three of the schools. Only the Humphrey School at the intersection with Yager Road is believed still standing. The two others – Upton School at the intersection with Sawyer Road, and McAllister School at the intersection with Lyndon Road – have been torn down.

Three of the other four schools are believed to still be standing. Those schools are: Hiddleson School at the corner of Lyndon and Holly roads, McElrath School at the corner of Round Grove and Holly roads, and Mt. Pleasant Center School on Route 30 just east of Lyndon Road.

Knox School on Yager Road between Route 30 and Hazel Road has been torn down.

Newton Township

The first school was started in the cabin of Mr. Henry Rexroade in Section #23. The first schoolhouse was built in 1842 on present-day Albany Road. It was then known as “Slocumb Street” and the school was known as that. It later turned into an Implement company.

The Newton Country Schools were unique in one way for a strong unity. In 1918 “Township Homecomings” were started. The first one was started while welcoming home soldiers from the Great War (World War I) and all country schools participated along with Dublin in Albany Township. Baseball games were played with each school contributing a part of the winning purse that was divided amongst the players of the winning team. This effort lasted for about 20 years.

The township had two small settlements, Kingsbury and Mineral Springs, and both have dwindled to almost nothing. Kingsbury School, built in 1854, was expanded and retained for the new Newton Consolidated School – formed to bunch the one-room schoolhouses in the township together. Mineral Springs was located on a site where there were natural minerals thought to be relieving to the human body. A school was set up around the site, and today the Mineral Spring school is now a home.

Of the five other county schools in the township, three are still at their original locations – all having been converted into homes: Anglese (at the corner of Stropes and Pryor roads), Dewey (at the northern curve of Wilder Road just west of the Erie-Albany blacktop) and West Newton (on Rice Road west of Diamond Road).

Cottle School was located on the corner of Frog Pond and Rock roads before being torn down in the late 1950s, and Byers was later moved from its original location on Elston Road between Albany and Benson roads.

Portland Township

As many as eight schools were in existence in Portland Township in the late 1840s and there were ten by the 1880s. The number went back down to eight by the early 1900s. The first school in the township was located in a log cabin on the Seeley property along present-day Thunder Road along the Rock River.

Portland was the predecessor to Prophetstown. After the CB&Q railroad bypassed Portland, most of its settlers moved into Prophetstown. All that remains of Portland are a few houses. It’s school was located on the bottom of Thunderbolt Hill – said to be named after an Indian chief from the area. That school was converted into a home after the consolidation of all the township’s country schools.

Spring Hill is the largest settlement in the Township, despite having less than 50 people. It’s school was converted into the town hall. Jefferson Corners didn’t become the platting it planned to be, but a school was erected there; it has since become a home.

Kempsterville School is located in the far southwest corner of the county, in an area known as Dutch Bottoms. The school building retains its original brick appearance and was converted into a home for many years before abandoned. Kempsterville is located on the highway leading southeast from Hillsdale (in Rock Island County) between Hurd Road and the Henry County line.

Sandytown was, oddly enough, nowhere near any “town”. It was located along Spring Hill Road between Portland and Spring Hill. The building was used as a bus garage for the consolidated school when that opened, and later used as storage when that school closed. The bell tower remains intact, but the bell was removed.

Burke School on Lyman Road just west of the Erie Road has also been converted into a home. Arnett, located on Osage Road between Lynch and Smit roads, has been torn down.

Sharon School is still in need of research. It is believed to be in the vicinity of the Sharon Church and Cemetery on Spring Hill Road, west of the namesake settlement.

Prophetstown Township

Outside of Prophetstown, located in the far north part of the Township, there were six other country schools. The first school taught was located at the Asa Crook home outside of Prophetstown. That building is a historic landmark now. A unique octagon-shaped building was built in 1860 in Prophetstown called the Franklin Institute. It was discontinued at an early date.

Two schools had the word “Street” in their names, because they were located on roads that led to, and led out of, Prophetstown. Benton Street School was located on present-day Kiner Road and Cooper Road, and was the last one-room school in the county before closing in 1961 (Woodside School in Hopkins Township was the last two-room country school to close). It’s school bell was later moved to Prophetstown, and is displayed near the Prophetstown State Park.

Jackson Street School was located on the corner of present-day Star Road and Felton Road. Both schools have been converted into homes. (It is also important to note that the names of the Prophetstown streets changed at some point in its early history. Benton Street is now Washington Street, and Jackson Street is now 3rd Street – and not to be confused with the current Jackson Street on the south end of town).

Four of five other country schools have since been removed. Leon, located outside of the settlement of Leon Corners, was on Yager Road between Hurd and Lomax roads. Prairie (or Prairieview) was located on Perkins Road just north of Mill Road. Centerville was on Lyndon Road south of Lomax Road before being torn down in favor of the new consolidated school that would later serve the township. Crestview was at the junction of Prophetstown and Star roads before being torn down in favor of the new consolidated school.

Woodward Bluff was located on the corner of Lomax and Lake roads near the bluff. It is now a home.

Another former school building, that is now a home, was located on Anderson Road between Lyndon and Felton roads. The name of this school is unknown to this writer at this time.

Sterling Township

Since the city of Sterling is located within most of Sterling Township’s borders, not many country schools were located there. There were four country schools located in the township.

The first one was Science Ridge Country School. That school soon split into an East-West arrangement. The original building, West Science Ridge, was located along Science Ridge Road just east of Route 40. In 1877, there were 125 students enrolled. The East Science Ridge School was on Holly Road just east of Freeport Road. When Washington School in Sterling was built in 1951 children were moved to that school, which was the northernmost school in the city at that time. Both schools later became homes.

Another one was east of Sterling on Woodlawn Road. Named Woodlawn School (and originally named Mount Parnassus), it was a frame building that was built in the 1800s. A 1927 fire destroyed the building and a brick structure replaced it. Subdivision growth towards the west with the Mineral Springs additions and the east with the Gregden Shores and Crestview additions prompted school expansion into a larger structure. The school later became a part of Sterling’s school district before being closed in the 1980s. The main building has since been torn down, but the annex survives and is now home to the Woodlawn Arts Academy.

Union School was located on the corner of Fulfs and Hickory Hills roads. It has been converted into a home.

Tampico Township

In 1856, the first school was located in the Aldrich property. By 1885 there were seven country schools located in the Township. The number narrowed to six in the 1900s.

Only two of the six country schools in the Township are still standing.

Maple Hill was a brick school that was located on the corner of Hahnaman Road and Luther Road. After closing, it was used as the Fairfield Amish Mennonite School for those Amish living in the area until perhaps the 1970s. Sunnyside School, located on the corner of Blue Goose and Hurd Roads, was later put into use by the nearby Sunnyside Farm.

Of the four schools that are now gone, Highland sat on the corner of Blue Goose and Mill roads, Cloverdale sat on the corner of Yorktown and Hurd roads, Pleasant Hill sat on Coleta Road just north of Hurd Road, and Olson was also on Coleta Road between Fargo and Mill roads. Cloverdale may have also been named Ross at one point.

Union Grove Township

Not much is known about the schools in Union Grove Township other than those located within the platted towns. Union Grove and Unionville each had schools. Unionville had the first school in the township and a second was built in 1854-55. That building was converted into a town hall. After school functions ceased, students went to the adjoining Morrison School District.

There was a country school located on the NW corner of present-day Prairie Center and Hillside Roads. It was known as the Prairie Center Country School, built in 1879. Another school, the original Union Grove School, was moved alongside it in 1954 and served as part of the Union Grove Consolidated School. Its school bell has been restored and is on display at the Morrison Heritage Museum.

Lincoln School, located on the northeast corner of Court and Millard roads, has been converted into a home. Bunker Hill School is located on Bunker Hill road near the top of the bluffs and west of a peat farm. Independent is along the bluffs on Fenton Road just north of Garden Plain Road. The latter two have been converted into homes.

Green Valley School, located on Bunker Hill Road north of the intersection with Smit Road, has been torn down. Delhi (or Diehl) School, also located on Bunker Hill Road at the intersection with Henry Road, has also been torn down.

Ustick Township

In 1841 the first school in Ustick Township was organized in the attic of the cabin of Mr. Amos Short. The first country school, Otter Bluff, was located on Section #8 on the corner of present-day Spring Valley and Smaltz Roads in 1856. Eight more schools followed, eventually going down to seven by the 1900s.

Cottonwood was one of the last to operate, closing in 1958. It was located on the grounds of the Franklin Methodist Church and Cemetery off of Route 30 and Millard Road. It was originally called Franklin. After closing, the building became a produce stand and then into a home. The building was made out of cottonwood logs, hence the name.

Hollinshead School, which stands on the northern corner Spring Valley and Smaltz roads along the west end of the bluff, was converted into a corncrib.

Gridley School, on Malvern Road between Creamery and Henry roads, has been converted into a home. Cobb School, on the corner of Covell Road and Route 78, was also converted into a home. Spring Valley School, located near the church on Spring Valley and Hillside roads, was also converted into a home. Robertson School, on Loron Road just west of the settlement of Ustick, also became a home.

Crouch School, on the corner of Union Grove and Millard Roads, has been torn down. Goff School was moved from the former lot along the bluffs on the corner of Hillside and Krueger roads.

Hollinshead Country School
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Ustick Township
Fenton Consolidated School
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Fenton, Ill.

The Consolidated Schools

Throughout the 1950’s, Country Schools began to disappear and new “consolidated schools” provided a centralized school within the township boundaries. There were two meetings when voting to organize a consolidated school: one was to vote on the consolidation itself and the second was to approve a new school building. These measures assured an increase of state aid and the broadening of the area tax base. Unfortunately by the 1980s, these consolidated schools closed down and students were sent in town for education. All of these buildings are still standing.

ALBANY Consolidated School (Dist. 139) was located inside the town. It was formed with the consolidation of the Albany Grade School and Dublin Country School. In 2005, the school was closed and students were sent to Fulton (River Bend District).

CENTERVILLE (Dist. 77) was built in 1954. It eventually consolidated with the Prophetstown School system, and is now a home.

CLYSTIC (Dist. 149) was built in 1957-58 and included the area of western Clyde Township and eastern Ustick Township. It eventually consolidated with the Morrison School system, and is now a factory.

COLETA (Dist. 138) was located just south of the town and was built on the former site of the older school in 1957. After it was annexed into the Sterling Schools system in 1982, it was converted into a small factory.

CRESTVIEW (Dist. 148) was located on the former site of the old Crestview Country School and completed in 1954. Located just west of the intersection of Prophetstown Road and Star Road on old IL 172, it was closed down and converted into a construction building. It eventually consolidated with the Prophetstown School system.

FENTON (Dist. 135) was built in 1955 and served children of its town and northern Fenton Township and southern Union Grove Township. It eventually consolidated with the Erie School system, and was a residence for years. The building is now empty, and its land currently (2011) awaiting auction.

GARDEN PLAIN (Dist. 142) included ¾ of its township and in 1952 was built across the town from the older school. It eventually consolidated with the Fulton (River Bend) School system. The building is still used for Township purposes.

HAHNAMAN (Dist. 147) was built in 1956 and included all but the southern portions of its township. It eventually consolidated with Tampico. The building is still used for Township purposes.

GALT (Dist. 39), which was built in 1952 on the grounds of its old school, and EMERSON (Dist. 42), which was built in 1965 west of the village, consolidated in 1967 to form the HOPKINS School District. It included all of Hopkins Township. The Emerson building held lower grades, with the Galt building taking the higher-graded students. Hopkins eventually consolidated with the Sterling School system in 1982. The Galt building is now in use as the Sterling Christian High School and it has been in that capacity since 1991. The Emerson building was used for storage by the Sterling district before being converted into a factory. It now (2011) sits empty.

JORDAN (Dist. 143) opened in 1954 on top of the grounds of the old Jordan Center Country School. It eventually consolidated with the Sterling School system in 1982 and has been used for storage purposes ever since.

NEWTON (Dist. 140) was built around the old Kingsbury School in 1955. It served the northern part of its township. It eventually consolidated with the Erie School system.

PORTLAND (Dist. 146) served the eastern part of Portland Township, built in 1954. It eventually consolidated with the Prophetstown School system, and is used for storage purposes.

UNION GROVE (Dist. 150) consisted of two schools. The new school building in Union Grove was built in 1958. The Prairie Center School was consolidated into that district. Union Grove educated younger children and Prairie Center educated older children. The two sites eventually merged, and ultimately the district consolidated with the Morrison School system. The Prairie Center complex was converted into a home, while the Union Grove complex is used as a church.

Sources Used

Whiteside County by Wayne Bastian was published in 1969 and was the main source used for this feature. The schools had since changed from that time and this should be an updated history of the school system.

There were two earlier histories of Whiteside County that were also used: Bent-Wilson’s 1877 publication, and W.W. Davis’s 1908 publication.

Township plat maps were also a main source, and are viewable through the Historic Map Works website (

ANY ADDITIONS AND CHANGES ARE WELCOME! This by no means is a finished product. We are particularly looking for pictures and more information and even more schools to add to the list of schools that have already been compiled here. If you have any more information about a Whiteside County country school, please E-mail Cody Cutter at  .

Portland Consolidated School
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near Spring Hill, Ill.