William Frederick Howat.

A standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) online

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the public scliool system of Lake County on a l)road and modern basis,
and, as has been stated, no early influence contributing to its develop-
ment has been stronger than that exerted through the work of the
teachers' institutes.

Cheshire ILvll

During his active career in Crown Point, Mv. Cheshire erected a
building, or hall, which was devoted to pulilic purposes for some years,
and received his name. Cheshire Hall is thus described by Mrs. Belle
Wheeler, wife of John J. AVheeler, and granddaughter of Solon Robin-
son, thirty years ago : ' ' When in the year 1873 the building was erected
which contained the large room fitted up with every convenience, as we
thought, for the holding of lectures, concerts, dramas and the like, the
town had reason to feel proud of having a town hall which, after proper
dedicatory exercises, received the name of its owner and builder, Mr. W.
W. Cheshire, who came here from the South during the AYar to take
charge of our public schools, and has since remained a citizen, being now
absent in Government service. The county was also greatly benefitted,
for here the institutes, the political speeches, and all forms of public
meetings were held. It has been the scene of many happy gatherings,
and its audiences have listened to some of the lecturers of these times,
the most notable of which were given under the auspices of the Lecture
Club, of which Mrs. J. W. Youche was secretary, and from whose books
we glean the following: There were given lectures by Professor Swing,
Rev. Dr. Thomas, Will Carleton, Phoebe Cousins, Fanny McCartney,
Rev. Air. Mercer, General Kilpatrick, Mrs. Livermore, Mrs. Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Brook Hereford, Benjamin F. Tay-
lor and Mrs. Dunn ; a series of five lectures by James K. Applebee ; read-
ing by Laura E. Dainty ; entertainments by the Hutchinson family and
others. After the walls of this hall have echoed the talented voices of
such a long list of lecturers of world-wide fame, it can never be utterly


buried in oblivion. From its platform we bave also often heard our own
home talent — Rev. Mr. Ball, Judge Field, and many others.

"We regret that our first pride, Cheshire Hall, is a thing of the past;
though we think it devoted to every good use, being the 'abode of jour-
nalism, ' we would have been glad could its doors have been kept open to
the Lake County public as long as time would let its portals stand, and
the name of its projector be kept green in the memories of the coming
generations. ' '

School Examiners of the County

After the adoption of the state constitution of 1861 and while the
chief educational official of the county was the examiner, the following
incumbents have served: David K. Pettibone, appointed June 6, 1861,
held office three years ; William W. Cheshire, June 7, 1864, nine months ;
Zerah F. Summers, May 11, 1865, nine months : William W. Cheshire,
December 6, 1865, two years and six months ; James H. Ball, June 4, 1868,
five years.

First Normal School

The first Normal school work in Lake County was an outgrowth of
the teachers' institutes. On August 19, 1872, after the close of the Crown
Point Institute, T. H. Ball opened a Normal school. The first class was
small and the session continued thirteen weeks. At the opening of the
course three objects were proposed to the young teachers: To increase
the amount of their knowledge ; to increase the amount of their culture ;
to give instruction in regard to methods and ways of teaching. In carry-
ing out this course, besides the special instruction in physiology and Eng-
lish analysis, the special notes on orthography and the writing of a thou-
sand carefully selected words, with some little text-book recitation, an
outline was given and written out of United States history, and thirty
short sentences were dictated, written and, to quite an extent, committed
to memory. These lectures included the different departments of geog-
raphy, physical geography, geology, botanj^, zoology, philosophy, lan-
guage, reading, chemistry, mythology-, meteorology and school govern-

As indicating still more the design of this first Normal school course
in Lake County, the following extracts are given from Mr. Ball's open-
ing address : "In doing this" — referring to the culture to be sought with
the increase of knowledge — "in some of the thirty lectures proposed in
this course, I may give you some ideas concerning the whole range of


the sciences, some knowledge of all the liberal arts, some divisions and
brief outlines of universal history, something concerning the rhetoric and
logic, as well as the grammar of language, some account of the Roman
and Grecian mythology, allusions to which are so common in some of
the fine arts, and general literature."

One other sentence quoted from this address : ' ' You are aware that in
a school room a thing may be done negligently or carefully, awkwardly
or gracefully, blunderingly or accurately, in a way which betrays ignor-
ance or in a manner which is called scholarlv."

Lake County Gymnasium and Normal School

Other terms followed this initial session, year by year, the school, for
a time, taking the name Lake County Gymnasium and Normal School,
in which, besides the special training of teachers, boys and young men
were fitted for business pursuits. This school closed in 1879. In the
seven years of its existence, none of the classes were large, but quite a
number who afterward became prosperous business men, and many who
held the equally responsible positions of efficient wives and mothers,
received in the Lake County Gymnasium (in the German sense) and
Normal School a portion of their training.

Normal Schools Conducted by County Superintendents

The next Normal schools were held by the county superintendents,
the first being conducted by James McAfEee in 1876. His term com-
menced July 17th, of that year, and continued six weeks. The number
enrolled was fifty-six ; average attendance, forty ; tuition, one dollar per

The Normal schools, like the teachers' institutes, have increased in
interest and attendance from year to year, and have done much to pro-
pose needful and advanced legislation looking toward the improvement
of the public system. They strongly recommended the uniformity of
text-books for many years previous to 1889, when the State Legislature
finally passed the law to that end.

Although since that year there have been improvements in a multi-
tude of details, that is the most radical reform and improvement in
the system of public education, as it directly affects the county, which has
been made for the past twenty-five years. It was followed by an all-
around progress in teaching methods, advancement of scholarly acquire-
ments and increase in enrollment.


School and Total Population

That the reader may follow the increase in the enrollment of scholars
in the Lake County schools, in comparison with the advance in popula-
tion, the following figures are presented, commencing with 1880, before
the uniformity of text-books had been enforced :

1880. 1890. 1900.

School population 5,360 6,753 11,115

Total population 15,091 23,886 38,902

In Ball's ''Northwestern Indiana" similar figures are given cover-
ing the several counties which the author includes in that territorial
division. His conclusions, which we quote, seem most to the point: "It
appears from the above figures that the school children in Lake County
have more than doubled in number in the last twenty years. The popu-
lation of Lake County has almost more than doubled. This increase has
been largely in North Township, where the population in 1880 was 2,540.
Hammond had then a population of 699, Whiting of 115 and East Chi-
cago was not. Novv^ (1900) the school children of Hammond number
3,621, of East Chicago 876, and of AA^hiting 640. Of Crown Point they
number 700.

"The proportion which the children of school age bear to the entire
population is quite different in the different counties. Let us take the
year 1880. Three times the number of school children in Lake, 16,080,
give nearly a thousand more than the population. In Porter that same
will give nearly two thousand less. The same in Laporte County, 33,324,
exceeds the population by two and a third thousand. In Starke the
same ratio exceeds the population by five hundred. In Pulaski the excess
is a thousand. In White, which is like Porter County in regard to
children, three times the school children, 12,342, will give fourteen hun-
dred less than the population. In Jasper an excess appears of seven
hundred more than the real population. In Newton County alone the
proportion of one to three nearly holds good. Three times 2,743, 8,229,
slightly exceeds the population, which is 8,167.

"But taking the year 1890 as a criterion of the real proportion
which the school children bear to the entire population, and the follow-
ing results appear : Excess of population in Lake County, above three
times the enumeration, 3,627. In Porter, excess only 331 ; and in 1880
the excess was 1,849. In Laporte, three times the enumeration in 1890
exceeds the population l)y 208, instead of, as in 1880, by 2.339. In Starke,
three times the enumeration exceeds the population by 824. In Pulaski,
the same exceeds the population by 1,370. In White, the same is less
than the poi)ulation by 125. In Jasper, the excess above the population


is 710, and in Newton the same is 436 less than the population. It
appears, then, that the population is sometimes much more and some-
times much less than three times the number of school children.

"In an ordinary agricultural connnunity three and a half times the
number of children will usually exceed the population.

"From aU the foregoing it is quite evident that in several particulars
Lake County, in the coming century, will take the lead of all these north-
western counties ; and it becomes its inhabitants, as well as those of the
other counties, to see that between the manufacturing interests of the
lake shore towns and the agricultural interests of the central and south-
ern parts of these shall come no clashing and arise no strife. From the
fertile lands of the Kankakee Valley and from the rich farms north of the
'shore line' and south of the large valley, much of the true wealth of
this region is to be produced ; and well will it be if all the thousands in
the towns and on the farms will work together for the common good. ' '

Especially within the past twenty years, the county superintendent
of schools has devoted his time, energy and talents to the upbuilding
of the country schools and those of the smaller communities; and it is
just as important a work, in the advancement of the general cause of
education, as that which is being accomplished through the more power-
ful agencies and the more abundant means of the metropolitan superin-
tendents and boards of education connected with such corporations as
Hammond, Gary, East Chicago and Whiting.

Present-Day Field of County Education

It would be useless to attempt to give a clearer idea of up-to-date
efforts, present-day thought and actual improvements, in the field of
county education, than to present the following extracts from the last
printed report of Superintendent Frank F. Heighway :

"The interest at stake in school improvement is the growth of the
school idea — the realization of the part the school plays in our civiliza-
tion and in the training of our youth for life. As the style of living
improves the school must keep pace with the onward march or cease to be
one of the agencies in the world's progress. What was good enough for
the father is not good enough for the children. The equipment and sur-
roundings of the school plant must be in harmony with our other insti-
tutions in the community. In many instances the schools have not re-
ceived the attention they merit and it is incumbent on all good citizens
everywhere to help forward the rural school improvement and make the
country school a still greater force in the enrichment of the child and
thus help to solve the problem of country life.


''The modern trend in educational advancement is that the school
should reflect some of the principal elements of the civilization in which
it is placed. Therefore the country school should teach some of the prin-
cipal elements of agriculture and domestic science. The General Assem-
bly of Indiana has just passed the industrial education act which sets
an advanced step for Indiana, yet we feel that Lake County teachers
will not be found wanting in making the necessary preparation. Trained
teachers will come whenever farmers make the demand and pay the sal-

Frank F. Heighway, County Superintendent of Schools

ary that skilled service demands, but we must first have better buildings,
with modern equipment. This will all help toward securing better trained
teachers, who will prove an inspiration to children and a great force in
the social life of the community.

''This report shows some of the lines of improvement for which we
are striving, and your attention is especially called to the following:

' ' 1. Outdoor improvement for the country school.

' ' 2. Indoor improvement of the country school.

"3. Agriculture, domestic science and school gardens.

' ' 4. Consolidation of rural schools.

' ' 5. Improvement of libraries and supplementary reading.

' ' 6. Play and playgrounds.

"7. Improvement of teaching force through closer supervision."


Outdoor Improvement of Country Schools

In the body of his report Mr, Heighway discusses these "lines of im-
provement" in detail, and we shall again draw upon his expositions.
"One of the chief aims of modern education," he says, "is to make the
child familiar with his surroundings and master them. As Dr. Stanley
Hall has said : ' To know nature and man is the sum of all earthly knowl-

"Nature stud}' has among its chief aims the inculcation in the mind
of the pupil of an appreciation and love of the beautiful; to train the
child in acuteness of observation ; to develop his reasoning powers by the
application of these observations ; and the improvement of his powers
.of expression.

"The school gTOunds should be as attractive as those of the best
country home in the district. The time is past when the school where the
young are initiated into those virtues which make life beautiful be
divorced from taste or devoid of comfort. Why then should the build-
ings not be erected in fine airy situations overshadowed with trees and
embellished with flowers and shrubbery?

' ' The first step in this socializing movement is to have a definite, well-
formed plan as to what should be planted and where. Some idea of the
shrubs and how to mass them on the grounds.

' ' Let us utilize home material first ; we can secure for efit'ective mass-
ing such common shrubs as the lilac, snowball, syringa, hardy hydrangea
and the common sumac. This beautiful shrub is not to be despised be-
cause it is common, for during the autumn one of the most beautiful
siglits is a country road bordered with sumac dressed in their wonder-
ful crimsons and browns.

' ' If we cannot plant what we want to, let us want to plant w^hat we can.

"Shrubs should be selected not alone from the standpoint of size,
color and profusion of their bloom, but the time of leafing should be
noted. The color of the leaf during summer as well as autumn is also
important. Some shrubs retain their foliage well on into winter; the
hardy hydrangea is a fall-blooming plant, its beauty being enhanced by
the frost. Some of the barberries retain their foliage and their bright
berries all winter.

"Barren ugliness, scars of abuse, and unsightl}' outbuildings have been
universal until recently. Now with our new consolidated schools it is
our province to make the desert blossom and with that blossoming to
bring opportunity for developing character by contact with green, grow-
ing things; the actual beautifying of property and the fostering of a
wholesome respect for the same. The crusade for righteousness has


furnished also a delightful setting for childhood activities, and direct
lessons in the science of agriculture and horticulture.

"In planting let us not forget our native vines — bitter sweet, wild
grape vine and the Virginia creeper, which possesses all the advantages
of the English ivy, save that it is not an evergreen. But its autumnal
attraction of scarlet and crimson makes up for that defect. It needs the
broad eye of day, and prospei-s well as a drapery for out-buildings and
fences. Now, while we are waiting for our perennials, let us plant some
annuals for quick results; the morning glory and the moon flower are
desirable. The perennial vines may be set out along fences, and by
the use of cedar posts and woven wire stretched from post to post, one
may have a fine screen for outbuildings. ' '

Other details which are even more practical than the foregoing are
given. Lists of annuals and perennials, vines and shrubs, suitable for
school grounds, are given, M^th minute instructions of how to plant them
and care for them. Along these lines, also, the children are taught, thus
acquiring a practical knowledge of botany and the successful cultivation
of plant life, as well as imbibing such a love of nature as must deeply
affect the present and the future of their lives.

Indoor Improvement

The indoor improvement of country schools includes more attention
to pictures, better color schemes for interior furnishings, as well as attrac-
tive furnishings. The effect of pleasant and restful surroundings upon
the mind, bringing strength and contentment to it, is recognized in
modern schools as in all other institutions conducted by thoughtful and
sympathetic i)eople. In the country schools, the means of which are
more limited than those available by the large city institutions, con-
siderable money is being raised for int(n'ior iinin-ovements through va-
rious entertainments and "socials."

A good idea of the work in this field may be obtained from a simple
statement of what was aceomplisbed (money raised) in the school year
1912 by the various schools of the townships under the supervision of the
county superintendent.

Calumet Township : Wallace School — .$200 for piano and lighting

Cedar Creek Township : Robinson Prairie School — $40 for organ and
library; Shelby School — .$81 for piano.

Eagle Creek Township : Center School — $56.10 for book case, pic-
tures, books.

Hanover Township : Cedar Lake School — $67 for piano ; Seehausen


School — $71.90 for pictures, clock, lamps, encyclopedia, etc. ; Klassville
School — $12.40 for pictures, clock ; Brand School — $32 will be spent for

North Township : Saxony School — $12.15 for playground apparatus.

Ross Township : Merrillville School — $43.39 for pictures, books, etc. ;
Deep River School — $8.75 for base ball, bat and books ; Witherell School
— $17.20 for pictures, clock, etc.; Brown's Point School — $23.50 for bas-
ketball outfit, pictures and chairs.

West Creek Township : Pine Grove School — $91 for library books,
organ, clock ; Buncome School — $45.40 for library books, pictures, etc.

Winfield Township : Deer Creek School — $17.20 for sectional book
case, books; Palmer School — $20.10 for library books; LeRoy School — $46
to be expended upon school grounds; Winfield School — $21.35 for books
and supplies.

East Gary School : $10.20 for payment on piano.

Griffith School : $15 for piano fund.

Munster School : $37.50 for supplementary readers, pictures, and ex-
pense connected with entertainment.

Teaching Children How to Play

Those who have thoroughly investigated the subject have come to the
conclusion that ' ' Country children do not play enough. Their repertoire
of games is surprisingly small and inadequate, except where special
efforts have been made to teach them. Moreover, their few games are
strongly individualistic, training them for isolated effort rather than
cooperation." In the olden days, to teach children how to play would
have been considered by educators as far outside the sensible and prac-
tical field. It is now considered very important, as a means of mental
training and stimulation, to teach the children of the country schools how
to "play together."

To thus encourage them. Superintendent Heighway makes the follow-
ing suggestions : " As a minimum equipment for the average playground
we would suggest one swing ten or twelve feet high, one about fourteen
or sixteen feet high, one teeter, one slide and one giant stride. Some
other things that may be of service on the playground are baskets for
basketball, a tennis court, a vaulting pole and cross bar, etc. The ap-
paratus which should be on any particular school ground depends largely
upon local conditions as to room for playground, number, size and sex
of pupils, and money at the command of the teacher for this purpose.
However, the money is usually forthcoming to the teacher who is alive
to the possibilities of the playground for good or evil.


"When siu'h apparatus is installed on a playground, there should be
c-aptains selected whose duty it is to see that each pupil has his turn and
fair play. These captains can often be the ones who themselves are in-
clined to be the most troublesome on the playground. This position often
brings them to a realization of their responsibility and they make good
captains and better people of themselves.

•'The installing of playground apparatus brings added responsibility
to the teachei'. It now becomes almost imperative that he be on the
playground at recesses and noons. He cannot, at least he should not,
delegate all the responsilulity to the captains of the playground ; the .
teaeher must l)e in all and over all. His influence must pervade all the
play, that it may be fair.

"in the past it was thought that if the cliildren had one-cpiarter of
an acre for playgroujid. and that too in tlie poorest and lowest part of
a section, that the trustee had fulfilled his part in his educational duties.
We find many such lots scattered over Lake County today, but our
trustees are now beginning to awaken to their educational opportunity
and' our new sites for our consolidated schools contain at least two acres
of ground, and for a consolidated school of four or more rooms the site
.should be at least three acres."

Agricultural P]ducation

Lake County lias luul the enterprise and foresight to enthusiastically
promote the education of the pupils in the townsliij) schools with a view
of showing tlu^m the breadth of rural occupations and activities when
considered by well-informed minds. It is a preparatory step toward a
realization of the deep interest and the unqualified advantage attached
to scientific farming, as demonstrated by the work and the graduates
of the various agricultural colleges. On this point is the following from
the county superintendent 's report : ' ' Taking into account that the
dominant interest of the greater part of Lake County is agriculture, and
realizing that the gi'eatest mission of the schools is to prepare the pupils
for life ; that there is an erroneous idea among some farmers that farm-
ers do not need much education to farm, we have introduced agriculture
into our two-room and township high schools.

''We have moved slowly and the work for the most part has been
correlating the work in agriculture with the other school subjects. School
English is made more interesting by having pupils read and write and
speak on those themes which are close to their environment. Language
comes forth spontaneously when the pupils have something real to tell
or to write about.


"lluch of the arithmetic work of the school is founded on agriculture
or enriched by it.

"Local geography is emphasized, and much attention is given to the
different soils of the county. Trips are taken by classes to near-by places
where examples of erosion are shown. All this is done not solely for the
sake of agriculture, but for the sake of more interest in other subjects
when the agricultural matter is introduced.

' ' The instruction in the class room is supplemented by simple experi-

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 22 of 44)