Early schools in the East Peoria area were supported by subscription from parents of enrolled students. Ordinarily, costs were approximately five dollars per pupil for a school term of six months. Ten Mile School appears to be the first schoolhouse in the area – existing in 1835. Ten Mile was followed by Gerber (1851), Harrison (1852), Central (1855), and Pleasant Hill (1856). Pleasant Hill appears to have had someone teaching school as early as 1834 but did not have a schoolhouse until 1856. The Centennial History of East Peoria states: “The first school building in East Peoria was a one-room log cabin with oiled paper windows, located on the northwest corner of Main and Washington Streets”. This compiler can find no evidence to support this but the 1850 Federal Census lists a G. W. Campbell, 25, from Maryland as a teacher and residing close to what is now the East Peoria High School. The first recorded evidence of school property is the donation of ground by Adam and Jacob Fun and Davis Schertz in 1855 where Central Junior High School now sits. These early schools had no plumbing or electricity and were heated with fireplaces or potbellied stoves. The plight of a schoolteacher in early schools was not an easy one. Not only were they expected to teach as many as eight grades at a time, they had to do this in those drafty, usually one-room schoolhouses with no indoor plumbing or running water, and heated by a stove they had to stoke themselves. If a teacher was a woman, she had to be single and, if fortunate, make as much as five dollars per week.
Townships were the first governmental bodies engaged in school finance. In most townships section 16 was designated as “public school land” and the income from the sale of that property was intended for the support of local schools. Groveland Township’s first Township School Trustees were appointed on January 3, 1846 and in May of that year distributed funds from the sale of public school lands. In 1847, the school trustees of Groveland Township divided their township into six school districts and in 1855 levied a real estate tax for the benefit of schools. The tax was twenty five cents on every one hundred dollars evaluation. No information is available on how Fondulac Township financed or organized its schools because their records were destroyed by a flood. We do know Fondulac Township, being a partial township, does not contain a section 16 and as early as 1865 schools were designated with a township number. The first record of a referendum for school construction in the area occurred in 1870 for the construction of a new Central School in East Peoria.
State legislation was passed in May 10, 1901 effective July 1, 1901 that directed the County Superintendent of Schools of each county to number all schools in their respective counties and those schools henceforth would carry that designation followed by the name of the county. Tazewell County designated schools according to townships – Fondulac Township schools were numbered in the 80’s, Groveland Township schools were numbered in the 70’s and Washington Township schools were numbered in the 50’s and Pekin Township schools 100’s.
A gentleman by the name of David Ogle merits discussion for his financial contribution to early area schools. David was one of the initial board members of Pleasant Hill School and in 1882 set up the Ogle Trust amounting to $12,500 with these instructions: “The fund is to be held in trust for the benefit of the common schools …. the principal is to be kept intact and the invested interest to be distributed annually to Groveland Township schools on a basis of actual attendance”. By today’s standards that does not seem to be much but when schools operated on several hundred dollars a year that was a lot of money. The trust still exists today but is insignificant to modern school finance.
There have been 29 public and 4 parochial or private grade schools located within the service area of East Peoria High School District #309. Today this area is served by three grade school districts with ten active schools: District #76 (Creve Coeur) has two schools, District #85 (Robein) has one school and District #86 East Peoria) has seven. Following, in alphabetical order, is a brief history of those schools past and present:
Ogle Trust – Trust in the amount of $12,500 was set up by David Ogle in 1882. In 1974 it was deposited in First Federal Savings of Pekin and distributed $943.50 to District #76, $1226.55 to District #86, $221.85 to District #108 and $474.30 to District #102.
Armstrong – Pt. E1/2 NE1/4 Sec 23 T26N R4W
East Peoria Heights – District #76 – NW1/4 Sec 5 T25N R4W Lots 120-129 Brown’s Addn 2
Glendale – Groveland Township #8 – District #75 – NE1/4 sec 23 T25N R4W
Harrison –Fondulac #3, District #85 SE1/4 sec 26 T26N R4W
Highway Village – District #85 NW1/4 SW1/4 Sec 35 T26N R4W –Lots 88-90 Highway Village
Koch – Fondulac Township #2 – District #84 -SW corner sec 24, NW corner sec 23 T26N R4W
Northeast – District #86
Oak Grove – Groveland Township #7 – District #78 – NE1/4 Sec 15 T25N R4W
Pleasant Hill – Groveland Township #1 – District #79 – SW corner sec 12 T25N R4W
Lots 5,6,7, & 8 Gardena Sub. T25N R4W
Richland – District #86
Robein – District #85 Lot #135 Robein Sub. #2 NE1/4 Sec 25 T26N R4W
Ten Mile – District #1, District #83 SE corner Sec 2 T26N R4W
Tripp – District 2 – District #76
Union – Washington Township #9 – District #55 – SW1/4 Sec 31 T25N R4W – R. Roberts
Vicic –District #76 -E1/2 sec 8 T25N R4W – Peter Fisher
Washington – District #86
Legislation requiring the numbering of Illinois Schools was enacted May 10, 1901 and went into force July 1, 1901.
Groveland Township School Trustees – 1877 – B. F. Harris, Joseph Strickfaden, William R. Espy
1930 – George F. McClellan, Harry Mooberry, John J. Eller
1939 – Homer Hurst, Harry Mooberry, J.J. Eller
Fondulac Township School Trustees – 1865 – Joseph Schertz, Leonard Williams, Frederick M. Wiles
Compiled by East Peoria Historical Society