University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States
(1880)

Searing, Edward
Educational history,   pp. [140]-151 PDF (5.5 MB)


Page [140]


                EDUCATIONAL HISTORY.
    BY PROF. EDWARD SEARING, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.
    From the time of the earliest advent of the families of French traders
into the region now
known as Wisconsin, to the year 1818, when that region became part of Michigan
territory,
education was mostly confined to private instruction, or was sought by the
children of the
wealthier in the distant cities of Quebec, Montreal, and Detroit. The early
Jesuit missionaries,
and--ssubsequently to 1816, when it came under the military control of the
United States-
representatives of various other religious denominations, sought to teach
the Indian tribes-of
this section. In 1823, Rev. Eleazar Williams, well known fot his subsequent
claim to be the
Dauphin of France, and who was in the employ of the Episcopal Missionary
Society, started a
school of white and half-breed children on the west side of Fox river, opposite
" Shanty-Town."
A Catholic mission school for Indians was organized by an Italian priest
near Green Bay, in
1830. A clause of the treaty with the Winnebago Indians, in 1832, bound the
United States to
maintain a school for their children near Prairie du Chien for a period of
twenty-seven years.
                                THE ORIGINAL SCHOOL CODE.
     From 1818 to 1836, Wisconsin formed part of Michigan territory. In the
year 1837, Michi-
gan was admitted into the Union as a state, and Wisconsin, embracing what
is now Minnesota,
Iowa, and a considerable region still further westward, was, by act of congress
approved April
20th of the year previous, established as a separate territory. The act provided
that the existing
laws of the territory of Michigan should be extended over the new territory
so far as compatible
with the provisions of the act, subject to alteration or repeal by the new
government created.
Thus with the other statutes, the school code of Michigan became the original
code of Wiscon-
sin, and it was soon formally adopted, with almost no change, by the first
territorial legislature,
which met at Belmont. Although modified in some of its provisions almost
every year, this
imperfect code continued in force until the adoption of the state constitution
in 1848. The
first material changes in the code were made by the territorial legislature
at its second session,
in 1837, by the passage of a bill " to regulate the sale of school lands,
and to provide for organ-
izing, regulating, and perfecting common schools." It was provided in
this act that as soon as
twenty electors should reside in a surveyed township, they should elect a
board of three com-
missioners, holding office three years, to lay off districts, to apply the
proceeds of the leases of
school lands to the payment of teachers' wages, and to call school meetings.
It was also pro-
vided that each district should elect a board of three directors, holding
office one year, to locate
school-houses, hire teachers for at least three months in the year, and levy
taxes for the support
of schools. It was further provided that a third board of five inspectors
should be elected
annually in each, town to examine and license teachers and inspect the schools.
Two years
subsequently (1839) the law was revised and the family, instead of the electors,
was made the
basis of the town organization. Every town with not less than ten families
was made a school
district and required to provide a competent teacher. More populous towns
were divided into
two or more districts. The office of town commissioner was abolished, its
duties with certain
others being transferred to the inspectors. The rate-bill system of taxation,
previously, in
,existence, was repealed, and a tax on the whole county for building school-houses
and support-


Go up to Top of Page