The Oakwood Creamery was officially started the 18th of July, 1910 block 3 of Hillman’s First Addition. According to some old timers, this is town east on North Main Street.
COMMERCIAL CLUB OF OAKWOOD
Below is the list of the Commercial Club members most of whom attended the first banquet in 1910, as copied from the records of Oral E. Longstreth.
C.C. Andrews, Banker, James Carpenter, Well Driller, James Elliott, School Principal, Frank Gill, Sawmill, Edward Hillman, Farmer, and his guest James Gutterridge, John Johnson, Bank Pres. & Farmer, John Johnson, Bank Pres. & Farmer, E.N. Longstreth, Liveryman & Ins., Oral Longstreth, age 14, Guest, S.B. Longstreth, Monuments & Railway Mail Clerk, Smith Mason, Lumber & Hardware, Mr. Moore, Mang. Oakwood Creamery, Delbert Meade, Rural Mailman, C.J. Oakwood, Mailman, Fred Oakwood, Farmer, H.J. Oakwood, Farmer, Thomas Oakwood, Farmer, William Oakwood, Farmer, C.H. Oakwood, Farmer,Brad Neal, Blacksmith , W.D. Rogers, Grocer, John Redman, Undertaker, Sam Sailor, Livestock Buyer & Building Contractor, Thomas Sailor, Farmer, Will Sailor, Farmer, Richard Seymour, Farmer, Dell Saylor, General Store, Frank Stanner, Rural Mailman & Carpenter, Charles Young, Merch. & Postmaster, First Secretary; Mrs. S. B. Longstreth, succeeded by Mont Fox in 1913. Mrs. Eva Oakwood served as caterer of first banquet assisted by Nelle Oakwood, Mrs. C.C. Andrews, Nettie Rogers, and Ida Meade. Girls waiting on tables were Bess Oakwood, Mae Sailor (McCammon), Dean Oakwood (Francis), Florence Knox, and Nellie Hall (Clapp).
Oakwood Township High School had an interesting beginning. Some residents of the village the township was named for worked to have a referendum passed to create a high school district in the eastern half of the township, with the school to be constructed in their village. Three hundred people voted on the proposition in May 1915, and it was defeated 198 to 102. In early June, another proposition was voted on to create a township-wide high school district. Four hundred seven people voted and it passed 215 to 192. George Goodrich, who served on an early high school board, informed his son Ralph there were a few “bloody noses” over the contested elections.
The slim positive margin allowed Dr. Oscar W. Michael, who led the effort to create a township-wide high school district, to oversee the construction of a fine school in the center of the township. The doctor served as the school district’s first president in 1915 and continued in that office for 38 years. His calm, steady leadership dissipated some of the bitterness that existed after the two elections. He was among the first to realize the day of the small school district was coming to an end.
Oakwood in 1910
In 1910, Oakwood was at the height or its involvement as a railroad town. There were two railroads and an Interurban serving the village. The Interurban prior to 1919 ran in the middle of South Main Steet. There were over 100 houses in the village. A few might have been built a year or two later than 1910.
Range Road is mentioned several times in this history. It runs north and south, one-half mile east of oakwood. Its name comes from the fact that it is the dividing line between Range 12 and Range 13. Oakwood is in Range 13. While land descriptions are confusing to us today, our ancestors, who were mostly farmers, understood them. Before Oakwood came along, Range Road was the main road from Newtown south to Danville – Urbana State Road. Range Road being 1000 East Road (north from Mission field Road) and Danville Urbana State Road being Rt 150.
OAKWOOD BUILDING AND LOAN
The Oakwood Building & Loan was organized in 1911 by Samuel B. Longstreth, J.H. Elliott, Thomas Oakwood, Walter D. Rogers and ,John N. Redman.
THE LIGHTS WERE TURNED ON
Electricity officially came to Oakwood on November 30, 1912. That evening a gala celebration was held at the Methodist Church. The banquet room was decorated. A sumptuous feast was prepared and at precisely 6:30 PM Mayor B.W. Neal pushed a button and Oakwood was lighted for the first time in history. Every street was lighted. Charles Andrews, the cashier at the bank, was the toastmaster. Speeches were made by J.H. Elliott, J.W. Johnson, Mrs. Dr. Williams, Mr. Kimball, representative of the light company and C.C. Young, the postmaster. The audience was also entertained by music from a victrola. This event was covered by the Danville Press, Democrat. There was some electricity in the village prior to the above event. The Christian Church had its own power plant, probably installed in 1911, when they remodeled. Some of the stores may have had a power plant also,
ELECTION FOR A TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL
In 1915 there was a suit in court to enlarge high school districts. Each township at that time could decide on their own high schools. Oakwood already had a high school. Mayor Longstreth and the village board thought the township should be divided in two halves, an east and a west half, Oakwood had a new school built in 1914 and Mayor Longstreth felt it was adequate to house the new students for several years, thus saving tax dollars. Fithian agreed with this and was willing to build the other high school. Muncie, which was just inside the western half of the township, disagreed. They thought there should be just one high school and since they were closer to the center of the township, they should have the high school. All three villages set election dates. Oakwood set theirs first on Saturday, May 29, 1915. The polls would open at the school from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM. If this election passed, the other two would be moot. Fifteen minutes after the polls opened, a large group of Muncie area people (and probably some Fithian voters) arrived, all with proof that they lived in the township and “Steam Rolled” the election. They hung around all day, scaring off some Oakwood voters. The proposal was defeated. Needless to say, feelings “got all het up”. Muncie’s election was the following Saturday. Oakwood people raised a large contingent and went over there to defeat their election. Fithian voters apparently realized that none of the villages could pass a vote on their own and they voted for Muncie’s proposal. It passed and the school was built in 1916 on the present site. Villages in Vermilion County, Illinois with four year high schools in 1915 as listed by the Danville Press were; Georgetown, Ridgefarm, Westville, Ellis Township, Sidell, East Lynn, Oakwood, Armstrong, Alvin, Bismarck and Rankin. Georgetown had just built a $50,000 building. Most of the others had their high school combined with their grade school as Oakwood did. Oakwood started with a two year high school in 1892 and progressed to a four year high school in 1898.
POST OFFICE ROBBED
In May of 1915 the Post Office, which was housed in Smith Mason’s Store, at the northeast coroner Scott and North main, was robbed, The burglars apparently used nitro as the door of the office was completely blown off and the safe badly damaged. The strong box was found a couple days later at the Two Rivers Mine. The robber’s tracks were followed down to the river, but were lost. The day before the robbery a safe salesman was in town visiting the different businesses. He there. took special pains looking over the Post Office safe. He was suspected to be one of the robbers.
The Third Church
The Oakwood Holiness Mission dedicated their new house of Worship the first Sunday in June, 1915. Speakers were from Olivet and a Rev. Martin of Chicago. This building was later sold to the Nazarene. In February or 1917 a $300 mortgage was due and they could not meet it. The Reverend J.L. Pellum, Pastor of the United Brethren churches at nearby Lake Shore and Glossbrenner, was living in Oakwood. He got his two congregations to raise the $ p
300 and purchased the Church from the Nazarenes. A few years later the Lake Shore Church burned and that congregation joined with the Oakwood Church. The Oakwood United Brethren Church held services until the late 1960’s when that denomination joined with the Methodists. The building sat idle for over 20 years before it was sold to Mr. Will Hockett. He has since disassembled the church and put up a new apartment building.
In July of 1915 work began on J. Smith Mason’s new $7,000 dollar home, on the site of the old
school building. Pleasant Grove Baptists held a basket dinner and Lake Shore UB Church had an Ice Cream Social at Goodrich’s Grove and held Baptism at Jordan Ford. Peter Blue was the
contractor for the Woodard home in South Park Addition.
Amidst all this a traveling barber came to town by the name of Harry Rose. Mr. McDaniels needed help and Harry proved he could do the job. In fact he was quite good at barbering and proved to be a good story teller as well. He made several friends including a girl friend. He ran some bills up at local businesses. After about two weeks, Mr. McDaniels opened his shop one morning to find Harry had helped himself to the proceeds and skipped town. About two months later it was learned that Harry’s girlfriend was receiving letters from Farmer City, Ill. Officers Meade and McDaniel got a State warrant and went after Harry. He skipped again just before they got there. They suspected that he had been tipped off.
NEW HIGH SCHOOL
On September 1, 1915 the new Oakwood Township High School announced that their new school building would not be done until September of 1916 that the first two years of high school would be taught in Oakwood and Fithian with Muncie in Fithian’s half. The board would pay tuition for Juniors and Seniors to attend Danville or Champaign. (note- the Village of Oakwood started a two year high school in 1892 and went to a four year high school in 1898. It was combined with the grade school and was probably not large enough for the whole township). The teachers at Oakwood were; Ethel Vance, primary; Grace Meade, grades 2 & 3; Helen Wilson, grades 4,5 & 6; Professor Victor Gorman grades 7, 8, 9 & 10. There were 25 students in grades 7; 8 in grade 8 and 20 in high school.
HORSE SHOES & A ROCKY ROAD
Playing horseshoes was the local pastime in the summer. In 1915 the court was on the site where the Interurban Station had been. (It sat right, along the edge of South Main Street just west of Olmstead). They became quite boisterous. Ladies were afraid to walk by for fear of some throws of the “amateurs”. The Interurban official* kicked them off. The Big four officials had done the same thing to them in 1914. Mayor Longstreth, realizing that young men need to work off steam let them use village property on North Main Street.
In October of 1915, Mike France was driving a Maxwell automobile with George France and his family as passengers. As they started down Rocky Ford Hill, Mike realized that he was going to fast and that his brakes were not going to hold. About halfway down he began to fear he would leave the grade at the foot of the hill where the road approached the bridge. He panicked, turning the car into the right bank. The car ran up the steep bank and flipped over backwards. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. (note-Rocky Ford is about two miles south of Oakwood on the Salt Fork River. The Maxwell car had mechanical brakes which were not the best).
THE CHEMICAL ENGINE
The last Sunday in May, 1915, Claire (Doc) Trimble married Miss Blanche Mosier in Central Park. “Doc” bought his bride to Oakwood where he was Chief Clerk of the new “Company Stom”, Hartshorn Bros. who owned several mines between Oakwood and Hillery had recently purchased Frank cassel’s General Store for a company store. W. D. Rogers announced plans to build a slaughter house on the river bank south of Oakwood. The Village Council purchased the Logansport Company’s larger type Chemical Wagon and housed it in Cramer’s Garage. (Cramer’s Garage was the old Livery stable on the west side of Scott Street). The chemical wagons first run was April 21, 1915 when Hayden’s house near the Methodist Church caught fire. Only Oral Longstreth, Charles Anderson and Jim Cawthon (Cramer’s son-in law) were near. They grabbed that big heavy engine and took off up Scott street as fast as they could. By the time they crossed all five sets of Railroad Tracks and reached the post office they were “tuckered”. (The post office was at Smith Mason’s hardware store at this time). Others came to help them. By the time they arrived, neighbors had put out the fire with buckets. The next fire was in July during a terrific electrical storm at the Albright Drug Store. (The Drug Store was just north of the present library. Albright had purchased the store in 1913 from John Young, who built it in Albright sold to Dr. Snider and his brother in 1916.) Lightning struck the rear of the drug
store causing the fire. The chemical wagon, only two doors north was brought over and
extinguished the fire. Without it the whole block might have gone up. Mayor Longstreth and the
Village Council were impressed and ordered six more Chemical loads.
BELLS FOR THE CROSSINGS
Mayor Longstreth and the Village Council demanded of both railroads and the Interurban that
they put bells at all intersections and the C&EI rnust aiso fix the holes at their crossings or the village would remove the tracks, The Big Four complied and the Interurban promised to. The C&EI which had not used their tracks for 20 months took a different stand. On August 15, 1915 they brought an Electric Engine pulling several flat cars and hauling a gang of men on the interurhan to the Missionfield spur. They took up all the C&EI rails from the west edge of town through the village and on out to the Missionfield spur. They took the ties too, in most places.
In December of 1915, the Illinois Traction System sought to secure a franchise from the village of Oakwood. The two had been working without a franchise for 12 years. The Interurban tracks came through town at this time in the middle of South Main Street. By 1915 there was auto traffic in town and there and been some collisions where Scott Street crossed South Main. The barbershop blocked people’s view of traffic coming from the west. The Interurban, being electric, ran so quietly it was upon an auto before it could be detected. The village was wanting bells of a flagman or the interurban to get out of the street.
The ITS agreed to move its tracks to the north side of its poles, which would put them just out of the street. They would agree to a flag stop at Oakwood Street They would reduce the fee to nickel for a ride from the high school to Oakwood. They would take the responsibility off the village’s shoulders in case damage suits were brought up from accidents, in return they wanted fifty year lease, the sole right of the street over all vehicles or other traffic and the right to place other switches, spurs or connections in said street as shall be necessary.
Mayor Longstreth and board members, Green, Downing, Miller and Hillman reported that the village citizens wanted a new brick depot (the old one was gone, possibly by that old bugaboo, fire), the removal of the tracks north to the C&EI abandoned right of way, the installation of a “team track”? Somewhere near the business district and the repair of the bells, some of which had never been hooked up.
This squabble had been going on nearly a year and would last for almost three more years. We did not learn exactly how it came out but we know that the ITS moved their tracks only to the other side of the poles and rented Allison’s Restaurant for a station. Different people had a store there. John Miller was there in the 1930’s and early 40’s. Abe Casteel also had a grocery there. They sold tickets for Interurban. This building was on the east side of Scott Street near South Main. Rogers and Barnes later purchased it and expanded into it. The ITS also rented a building on South Main for a freight house.
In late March Dick Seymour moved his house across the street so he could build it new one. It is now the home of Robert and Helen Solomon. The new one was a large two story brick home, modern in every way. It is presently the home of his great-grandson, Mike Cannon. It was completed in November of 1916.
Ed Fox, Local manager of B B Miner’s elevator, brought charges against a Mr. Pate. Mr. Pate borrowed $485 against 600 bushels of corn and a span of mules that he apparently didn’t own.
For the second straight year Oakwood was in a building boom. Emma Hillman had the Creamery remodeled into a home. Joseph Brothers, Richard Seymour, A. J. Leveridge and Ed Fox all built new homes, the latter was Stucco.
By mid April, 1916, the roads cleared up enough for Frank Cassell to again start up his taxi service to the territory north.
Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Green traveled to Indianapolis and returned with a new Cole automobile.
Charles Richter of Lake Shre was attacked by two Fairmount men at his cabin. He was not seriously injured.
HIGHLY HONORED CITIZENS
John Redman wanted to purchase a new Hearse to replace his horse drawn one. He did not like the ones on the market so he traveled to Knighttown, Indiana and designed his own hearse to go on a Hupmobile chassis. The Buggy Company built the chassis, and Hapmobile liked the design so well that they paid John to let them hold the Hearse for month so they show it off at the Indiana State Convention of Undertakers on May 16 to May18, 1916.
Danville Press, May 24, 1916. “ Mayor Longstreth is the proud possessor of a letter from Theodore Roosevelt, signed by the Big Moose in those dollar a word penstrokes of his, congratulating him, upon his recent election to the mayor’s office of this place (Oakwood).
Local business donated 90 dollars and a bandstand was constructed. It was inaugurated the first Friday in June, 1916 with an open air concert. A roof and a very tall flag pole were later added and the Central Illinois Electric Company agreed to wire the stand and furnish electricity free. The bandstand was just south of the barber shop on Scott Street. Today it would be between the old barber shop and the Video Store.
In October of 1916 a cinder path was made from the high school to Muncie, so no one would again walk Illinois Traction System rails.
John N. Redman purchased a Waterloo Tractor (the first John Deere) and began demonstrating it on area farms, with a great success. He doubtless made some sales.
Dr. Snider and Bert Snider purchased the drug store. Patrons of the light company were complaining about interruptions in the service becoming all too frequent.
In November of 1916, area farmers became upset and formed an association and promised to prosecute the “nimrods” who were coming out from Danville to hunt. it seems they were carelessly tramping down the crops and shooting all the rabbits, prairie chickens and quail and even an occasional farm animal. We wonder when the last prairie chicken was seen in these parts?
The greater prairie chicken was almost extinct in the 1930s due to hunting pressure and habitat loss. In Illinois alone, in the 1800s the prairie chicken numbered in the millions. They were a popular game bird, and like many prairie birds, which have also suffered massive habitat loss, they are now on the verge of extinction, with the wild bird population at around 200 in Illinois in 2019. They now only live on small parcels of managed prairie land. It is thought that their current population is approximately 500,000 individuals. In May 2000, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listed the greater prairie chicken as extirpated in its Canadian range (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario). It was again confirmed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada in November 2009. Nonetheless, sightings and encounters continue to occur in the south-central regions of Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with southern Ontario where sightings are extremely rare.
Also in November, the ladies of the Methodist Church held an election dinner at F. M. Harris’ Shoe Store. Election returns were received at the More over the wire while they ate. It was a great success. Fithian Methodist ladies did the same thing at Jones Bros. Garage in Fithian.
YELLOWPOINT (The Civil War Veteran that became a Shoemaker)
Francis Marion Harris was Oakwood’s Shoemaker. He had a shop on South Main Street about where the present laundromat is. He reported in November, 1916 that he had ridden his bicycle 5,500 miles in the last 13 years. Mr. Harris was a Civil War Veteran. He enlisted August 29, 1861 at Yellowpoint Point* , on top of what is now called Glenburn Hill, at age 17. He spent 1 year and 3 months in the Thirty-Fifth Illinois Infantry. Then he enlisted in the Fourth US Calvary. He fought in about 20 battles, including Stone River, Mission Ridge, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and the second battle of Nashville. He was discharged December 4, 1865 at San Antonio, Texas. He was born in 1843 and died in 1922 and is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery.
*NOTE – A “Point” was a group of trees that jutted out away from the river into the prairie. They usually followed a small branch that flowed into the river. Prairie fires burned the prairie each year. Only trees near water survived. Early pioneers named these “points” and used them to navigate by°
By 1891 there were 121 students in the Oakwood School District. The one room Finley School was considered capable of handling 60 pupils. A newspaper article complained about the voters growling down the school bills. A school bill was finally passed in June of 1891 and work was started on a new school. It was built on the corner of Longstreth and Scott, just west, across the street from the Christian Church. According to an article written in 1930 this school was a two story, two room frame building It was ready for the start of 1892 school year and according to the same source it would now teach two years of high school also. It was probably too small when it was built, for the article said that a few years later two more rooms were added on, and now they would teach all 12 grades. A search of the Danville newspapers shows that the school was completed in 1898. A dog tax of one dollar was levied to help pay for the school.
In 1914 Oakwood built another new school on the site of the present school. It was brick, two stories high with two large rooms on each floor with a full basement and with several smaller rooms. Some of the teachers who taught here for the first few years were : James Joiner, Miss Grace Meade, Miss Ethel Vance, Miss Lillie Patterson and Miss Francis Fanson. V. W. Gorman was Principal of the High School for three years, through 1916, when township high was voted in. This school was added onto several times over the years and might be remembered by some as it was torn down a little less than 30 years ago.
OAKWOOD TOWNSHIP HAS BEST IN WORLD
September 24, 1916
Township High School Building Equipment Make It A Young College Should Be Proud.
Oakwood township is just completing what is said by educators and others of trustworthy judgment, to be the finest township high school building in the world. This takes into consideration the wonderful beauty of the grounds and the possibilities they offer, the splendid thoroughness which characterizes the building and its equipment; and the board and taxpayers who are backing the building and operations of this miniature college. The finest in the world-that’s taking in a lot of territory, but it is up to any contenders for honors to bring on its equal. Standing upon an eminence upon the east bank of Stony Creek, surrounded by twenty acres so ideally adapted for athletics on one hand and landscape works on the other, nature herself seems to have chosen this place above all others for the location of this institution. Western Oakwood Township’s first pioneer located his cabin on the very site, the old well which he dug being located almost in the center of the gymnasium.
Two representatives of the Press visited Muncie one day recently, pulled Dr. 0. W. Michael (president of the township high school board,) away from his dinner and took him out to the new school building. Enthusiasm is a weak word to describe the way that, well known country doctor went about showing the newspaper men over “the greatest.” He has put his time, his very soul into making this school what it is, and he and his fellow board members have every right in the world to show pride in their achievement. And not only are they proud but there is not a man, woman or child in the entire sixty-six square miles of Oakwood Township who does not feel the same way. It may, upon first thought, cause some of a burning sensation in the region of the pocketbook, but the cost is so small and scattered out over so many years that even the tightest tightwad is carried off his feet by contemplation of what he has been helping to do.
The twenty acres which make up the high school grounds lay ideally. The grounds are bounded on the north by the highway, which will be paved next year and on the west by Stony Creek. The main building is located on the highest point in the grounds, and with the exception of several of the knobs on California Ridge upon the highest point in the county. From the roadway to the north a gentle slope rises to the level five acre table upon the edge of which the school building stands. Back of the building proper is the ground which will be devoted to the tennis courts, the outdoor basket ball field, the gridiron and the diamond.
All of these are to be found upon the eastern third of the grounds. To the west the northern portion of the grounds slope gently away to the creek valley, being covered with the trees which nature planted there, the ground carpeted with wonderful bluegrass. The southwest portion of the grounds, upon which is located the caretakers residence and the long barn and garage are abruptly terminated upon the west by the twenty-five foot bluffs overlooking the creek. From a point immediately west of the barn, looking either north or south can be obtained one of the most beautiful “wildness of nature” landscapes that Illinois can produce.
At the northeast corner of the grounds will he located a driveway and entrance. This driveway of crushed stone or.gravel, will describe a great arc, passing within fifty feet of the main entrance to the building and will leave the grounds some little distance to the west at the western entrance. Besides this entrance, next year it is planned to erect a beautiful little interurban section.
Driveways leave this main road at each side of the buildings, and pass within a few feet of the east and west entrances, having as their objective the barn, located several hundred feet to the south and west. These driveways not only add to the beauty of the grounds but will enable persons driving to school or bringing students to stop almost at the doorway before driving on.
From the front entrance a concrete walk extends to the main driveway, a distance of about fifty feet. This is the only concrete-walk which will be found on the grounds as the landscape men advised against its use at least until the grounds had been permanently laid out. From the west entrance a cinder path will lead directly westward down the hill, through the grove of trees. At the sharper descent when the creek bank is reached this path will follow an old•trail, possibly used by the first settlers to the level of the creek bottom. It will then skirt the hill to the roadway at the edge of the grounds where it will meet the path leading to the village.
A drinking fountain will be located on this path a hundred yards west of the school building. This, with two fountains in the main hall and one each in the boys’ and girls’ dressing rooms will make up the drinking water supply of the building. The caretaker’s cottage is modern and the barn is equipped with water. This supply comes from a deep, never-failing well and is on tap under high pressure at all times. The pressure tanks with a 3,000 gallon capacity are used for this purpose.
To Rebuild Dam
Opposite the old trail mentioned in an above paragraph was located the old Dalbey Mill, more than half a century ago. One of its sills can still be seen, peeping from the creek bank. It is planned in the future to build a dam upon the exact site of the old mill dam which was used for power. This dam will not only create a lake at this point but will be used in power experiments by the various classes which will be developed in the science branches. One must remember that there is a great future in store for this institution and that its limits are almost boundless.
The Cottage And Barn
Let us take a glance at the caretaker’s cottage and the barn before dropping into the school building. The barn, a combined hitching shed and garage, is about a hundred feet in length. It will accommodate a number of horses or machines. It was built for the benefit of those students who desire to drive from a distance to attend school. It will save them livery charges and will likewise be a great time-saver for them. The drainage facilities are excellent here and the barn is equipped with running water. It was erected at a cost of about $1,200.
To the northward, almost even with and slightly lower than the rear of the high school building is the caretaker’s cottage. It is constructed in accordance with the latest ideas in cottage architecture. Four rooms and bath, with half a dozen closets and pantries and with a roomy basement, modern throughout and heated from the high school plant, the cottage is easily the most modern in this part of the country. The outlook from any of its windows or porch is ideal.
Thirty-six feet wide.
Sixty-six feet long.
Fourteen feet deep.
That’s the size of the gymnasium in the high school building. Hardwood floor, glazed brick walls, lighted by great windows, high up on the south wall where they can be easily screened if necessary, flanked to the north by a set of bleachers capable of seating 300 people at a pinch-can you image anything more ideal? The bleacher space is not included in the 36 x 66 figures above. Of course there is no equipment in the gymnasium at present but you can rest assured that it will be there and up to date.
The assembly room is located at the south center of the building, directly above the gym with the same amount or floor space. It. will seat 140 students without crowding for desk room. It entire south wall is a mass of windows and improved shades will graduate this tight when necessary. The rostrum occupies the west center of the long room. To the east of the assembly entered by a door eighteen feet in width is the library and reading room, 20 x 20 feet. It is also well lighted.
The main entrance is located in the exact center of the north, or front of the building. From the entrance an iron stairway will lead to the first floor hallway. This hallway, not of great width, run: east and west through the exact center of the building from the east to the west entrance. it •; reached at either end by well built stairways leading from spacious landings. The only south’ entrance to the building is the rear door to the gymnasium, for the use of field and athletic team in leaving the building.
The basement is a masterpiece of architectural work, not a square inch of space being wasted, it is, after all, only half basement, for the greater part of it is well above the ground and for all practical uses one would never realize that he was below the surface. Besides the gymnasium and bleachers the basement includes: Two large toilet rooms. The boy’s room is equipped with two showers; the girl’s room with one. A large lunch room, equipped with running water and drinking fountain. A manual training room, equipped with a tool room and lumber storage room annexed. It is in the storage room that the automatic heat control mechanism is located. It keeps the building at an even temperature. A domestic science room. This room is equipped with gas, water and electricity. It is to contain a double row of cooking tables and it is intended that the cooking be practical. In fact students may cook their own food or may buy dinners at cost from the school kitchen.
While looking through the domestic science department the newspaper man and the doctor enthusiast happened upon a room in which were stored a bunch of the new individual desks which are to be used. These represent a genuine departure from all Vermilion County ideas of study. The side-arm chairs which are to be used in the class rooms are no novelty, but individual, unattached desks with chairs are an innovation.
These desks, solidly constructed with just the exact slope, are reproductions of the ideal library desk. The desks open, displaying a roomy space for keeping books and study material. Each desk leg sits upon a steel bearing which will enable it to be moved easily and noiselessly. The desk and chair idea will do away with the usual uncomfortable position which the average desk enforces and will enable the student to adjust both chair and desk to his greatest convenience.
The First Floor
South of the hail on the first floor mentioned above, will be found, beside the assembly and library, the boy’s cloak room, at the east end of the hail, and the girl’s cloak room and rest room at the west end of the hall. This rest room will be fully equipped.
To the north of the hallway, besides the main entrance stairway and the space it must occupy there are a number of rooms. The group near the middle of the hallway includes the teachers’ private room in which every comfort is provided for the members of the faculty, and principal’s private office and outer waiting room.
At the east end of the hallway may be found the Commercial room. This room is divided by a glass partition. One part will be devoted to bookkeeping and the routine of the commercial course, the other part to the typewriter department. The partition, soundproof, will enable students in both classes to proceed with their work under the supervision of one instructor. The click of the machines will not, however, disturb the workers in the other rooms.
At the west end of the hallway is located a class room. all classrooms and the building throughout is equipped with blackboards and all are well lighted.
On the second floor is to be found a long hallway, duplicating the one on the first floor. It has just two rooms to the south, however, one at each end forming wings enclosing the open space above the assembly roof. The west wing room is to be used as an agricultural laboratory and it’s equipment will be the most complete in the county. The east wing room is to be devoted to general class work.
To the north of the hallway will be found four rooms of about equal size. From west to east they will be devoted to a biology laboratory, a physics laboratory, a chemistry laboratory and music room. Like everything else in this institution where nothing has been forgotten these rooms will be perfectly equipped.
From the north windows of these three rooms one gains the widest, most delightful panoramic view to be found in the county.
The building is not yet finished. It is being pushed to competition and its full equipment will as the contractor turns it over to the board. At that time, or at the time of the formal dedication something more may be said of the equipment and general appearance of the new building.
There it stands, stately, pillared like an ancient temple to the power of education, commanding the eye and winning commendation from all who view it. It is the wish of those who have directly fathered this wonderful structure that it become the center of learning for all Western Vermilion County. With their wishes carried out, at a relatively small cost to the taxpayers, Oakwood Township’s new high school may become a great community center, a miniature college, and the most wonderful power for the uplifting and of those who built it and those who will study within its walls that has ever been produced. – J. R. Compton
CHAMPAIGN.URBANA NEWSPAPER. SEPTEMBER 8, 1916
THREE TEACHERS KILLED BY LT.S. CAR
Three teachers at the new Oakwood Township High School were struck and killed shortly after noon today by the Illinois Traction System car 270, westbound, while walking the track to Muncie.
Miss Annirene Kirkland, daughter of Rev. & Mrs. R. Sam Kirkland, 302 West Illinois Street, Urbana and Miss Edith Elmendorf of Morrison, Illinois were killed outright and Harold Gentzen of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin died within seconds after witnesses reached him.
The tragedy almost wiped out the faculty of the Oakwood school. E.C. Smith, the principal being the only instructor left.
The three teachers had been at the school, this being registration day, preliminary to opening the session next monday morning.
They were on their way to the home of Professor Smith and his wife in Muncie, walking along the I.T.S. right of way. A freight train on the Big Four Railroad, the tracks of which parallel the Interurban, was making so much noise that they failed to hear the approaching trolley car, which was coming up a steep grade beyond a curve. It was upon them as it rounded the curve, striking all three before they could make an effort to escape.
The bodies were hurled to the side of the track. All were killed by head injuries. The bodies were put on the car and taken to Muncie. The Interurban car left Danville at 12:01 and the accident occurred 12:21. In charge of the car was Motorman Carter and Conductor Norton, both of Springfield.
September 10, 1916
NO ONE BLAMED FOR DEATH OF THREE TEACHERS
A coroner’s jury at Muncie last Saturday afternoon returned an open verdict in the case relative to the death of the three teachers who were killed by the Interurban car while walking the I.T.S. racks near Muncie. Saturday afternoon, the large diamond ring worn by Miss Kirkland that was torn from its setting when the car struck her, was found on the tracks at the scene of the accident by her brother,
note- In 1916 the roads of Oakwood Township were still dirt and probably the reason these three teachers, all in their early to mid twenties were walking the I.T.S. tracks.
HISTORY OF OAKWOOD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL
DISTRICT NO. 227, VERMILION COUNTY, ILLINOIS
Oakwood Township High School was organized at an election held in Muncie, Illinois, on June 5, 1915. Those who favored the establishment of one school in Oakwood Township succeeded after strenuous efforts. The proposition to organize the East end of the Township into a high school district was defeated at an election held on the Saturday next preceding the election at which this district was organized. The District as organized included the greater portion of Oakwood Township, and a small part of Catlin Township and comprises sixty-six sections of land. Within its boundaries are the villages of Fithian, Muncie and Oakwood, and the towns of Bronson, Newtown and Brother’s Station. The population of the district, according to the last census, is approximately 2772. An election held on June 19, 1915, for the purpose of electing a Board of Education of said District to consist of one President and six members, resulted in the election of O.W. Michael, as President, and C. E. Littell, Eli H. Fox, J.S. Purnell, George P. Vinson, Thomas Oakwood and P. H. Fithian as members. The President and two of the Members of the Board reside in the center of the district, two members reside in the West end of the district. The personnel of the Board remains unchanged.
The first meeting of the Board of Education was held at the residence of Dr. 0. W. Michael in
Muncie, Illinois, on June 21, 1915, at the hour of 6:30 o’clock P. M. The Board proceeded to organize by selecting G. E. Littell, as Secretary, and J. W. Johnston, Treasurer of Township No. Nineteen North, Range thirteen West of the Second Principal Meridian, as the Treasurer to receive the taxes of said School District. The President was authorized to appoint the necessary committees. It was determined at this first meeting that monthly meetings should be held at the office of 0. W. Michael, in Muncie, Illinois, on the first Monday of each month, at 6:30 o’clock P.M. The place of holding meetings was later changed to the new school building.
At a meeting held on June 28, 1915, the Board adopted the name “Oakwood Township High
School District No. 227, in the county of Vermilion, in the State of Illinois” as the corporate name of said School district, and all business of such district since such time has been transacted under that name. The Board having determined that it was advisable to hold school in the east and west ends of the district during the first year leased a room at the school building in Oakwood, Illinois, and the building and grounds occupied by the First Church of Christ, in Fithian, Illinois. Professor Gorman was retained to teach the school in the east end of the district, while Professor Minor was employed to teach the school in the west end of the district. In accordance with the prayer of a petition filed in the office of the secretary, an election was held on July 31, 1915, at which the voters of the district authorized the board to purchase a school house site, to build a building and to issue bonds of the district in the sum of $20,000; the Wise site, located along the Interurban line about three quarters of a mile east of Muncie, was chosen as the site for the new school building. The site chosen contains about twenty acres of land, most of which is situated east of and adjacent to Stony Creek. A small portion thereof, comprising three acres, lies to the west of Stony Creek. The land is rolling, the soil is virgin, and a portion of the grounds is covered by native forest trees. The highest point on the grounds was chosen as the site upon which to construct the school building. On November 2, 1915, the contract covering erection and completion of the school building, with the exception of heating, lighting, decorating and ventilating, was let to Wm. C. F. Kuhne, of Rantoul, Illinois. Carson-Payson Co., of Danville, Illinois, was later awarded the contract for heating and plumbing, and the contract for wiring the building was let to Marrs-Tanner Co., of Danville, Illinois.
The work on the building was commenced immediately after the letting of the contract, and on
Sunday, April 16, 1916, a great number of people assembled on the grounds to witness the laying of the corner stone. The front portion of the grounds was almost completely covered with the automobiles and carriages of the visitors. There were present three bands viz; the Ogden Band, the Fithian Band and the Oakwood Band, all of which rendered excellent music both previous to and after the speaking. The President of the Board delivered a very. appropriate address of welcome which was followed by a report of the Secretary, covering in detail the organization of the District, the election of members of the board of Education and the acts and proceedings of the board. This was followed by addresses by O.P. Haworth, County Superintendent of Schools, Everett L. Dalbey, Attorney, and James A Meeks, Attorney.
The speaking was followed by the laying of the corner stone by Everett L Dalbey. In the corner stone is a copper box, which contains many things which should be interesting to succeeding generations. The crowd was dismissed by the singing of America, led by W. S. Lucas.
It was later ascertained that the district had insufficient funds to complete the construction of the school building, and the Board called an election on May 20, 1916 for the purpose of voting for or against the proposition to issue bonds of said School District in the sum of $30,000. At such election the board was given authority to issue such bonds, which was done and the same was sold at a very good price.
Previous to the completion of the school building, contacts were let to Wm. F. Kuhne for the construction of the care takers cottage and a shelter shed for carriages and automobiles.
The school building was then furnished with the very best furniture and fixtures, purchased through C. L. Sandusky, of Danville, Illinois and furnished by the Newton-Hoit Company of Chicago Illinois.
At a meeting held on May 1. 1916 thirty three applications for the position of principal of the school were placed before the board for consideration and Glen C. Smith of Urbana, Illinois the present principal was chosen. LAter Miss Annirene Kirkland of Urbana, Illinois, Miss Edith Elmendorf, of Morrison, Illinois, and Harold J Gentzen, of Beaver Dam Wisconsin were retained as instructors for the ensuing year.
September 11, 1916, was set as the date for the opening of school in the new building. However, on Friday September 8, 1916, following a period of registration of students, three of the instructors, namely; Miss Kirkland, Miss Elmendorf and Mr. Gentzen were struck and killed by an interurban car at a point on the right of way about one-quarter of a mile west of the school building. The Board met on September 11, 1916, adopted resolutions of respect, copies of which were sent to the bereaved parents, and ordered that the auditorium of the school building be draped in mourning for a period of six months. The opening of the school was postponed until September 25, 1916.
The Board later retained Wm. E. Roth, Margaret Torrence and Lora Grace Kays as instructors to take the place of those previously employed.
On September 25, 1916 at nine o’ clock A.M., the Board of Education attended the formal opening of the school. The school was then addressed by O. W. Michael and J. S. Purnell, after which the opening of the classes and teachers were duly assigned, and the board retired for business. The school opened with an enrollment of eighty-eight students. At the beginning of the second semester this number was increased to ninety four. At the first commencement of the Oakwood Township High School, in June, 1917, a class of seven students will be graduated.
The school building was dedicated on Friday, April 27, 1917, at which time there were exercises and speaking. The school has been fully accredited by the proper authorities of the State of Illinois. Favored as it is by abundant resources, a beautiful and well constructed building, a location accessible to all, and a spirit of genuine friendship among members of the Board, parents, teachers, and students, the school promises to be one of the leading education institutions in the state.