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Curtiss-Wedge, F.; Jones, Geo. O. (ed.) / History of Dunn County, Wisconsin
(1925)

Chapter XIII: the county school system,   pp. 78-90


Page 83

HISTORY OF DUNN COUNTY
pioneer predecessor knew little or nothing. In short, it has made him go to school
to learn his trade.
In 1903 an agricultural paper. "The Farmer's Voice," said: "Twenty years ago,
well, anybody could farm. Today the successful farmer is the trained farmer, and
ten years from now the farmer who is not trained will find it hard sledding to get on
at all." About the same time a prominent Dunn County farmer remarked, "The
time is rapidly coming when a farmer should know pretty nearly everything."
Each statement was a prophesy and the prophesies have been practically ful-
filled. Even when they were uttered the time had come for an advance. For many
years there had been state schools, or colleges, where instruction was given in
agriculture and the mechanic arts, but only a small per cent of the sons and daugh-
ters of farmers had been able to avail themselves of the state colleges, partly be-
cause of insufficient preparation for entrance, and partly because of the distance to
the school and consequent expense in attending. It was necessary to bring such
schools nearer to the people, and to specially adapt them to the purpose in view.
The Dunn County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy was the first
of its kind to be established in America. This school and the similar one of \ lara-
thon County were authorized by legislative act in 1901, and Dunn County was the
first to organize under this act. Plans for the establishment of schools of this nature
were outlined in a report of the state superintendent acting as a special commis-
sioner. The principles laid down in that report, and in the law, were followed in the
establishment of this school, which was primarily intended for boys and girls from
the country who had finished the work of the countr.y schools. No schools had pre-
viously been created to meet the special needs of those who, without a full high
school training, wanted to pursue the special subjects of agriculture, manual train-
ing and domestic economy.
It was in November, 1901, that the Dunn County Board of Supervisors took
action. The Normal School had already been established, pursuant to a legislative
act of 1899, and was occupying temporary quarters. It was decided to house the
two schools in the same building, and a building committee was appointed, consist-
ing of Supervisors Clark and Cronk, with J. H. Stout, J. E. Florin and N. 0. Var-
num, Mr. Florin being an attorney and Mr. Varnum then county superintendent.
The board appropriated 820,000 for the cost of the building; the actual cost, however
was only 816,353.13. Its ground plan dimensions are 42 x 96 feet; it is built of
brick and is three stories high. The four lots on which it stands, valued then at
S5,000, were bought with money donated, Mr. Stout contributing 82,500, the city
of Menomonie S1,500. and the balance of S1,000 being raised through the personal
subscriptions of citizens, who were called on for that purpose by Henry M. Miller.
The building was formally accepted by the board of supervisors on Saturday,
Nov.8, 1902, and was opened to the school on Monday, November 10, with K. i.
Davis, Ph. D., principal, and in direct charge of the agricultural department;
Grace J. Stokes in charge of the department of domestic economy, and L. M. Cole
in charge of the department of manual training. The board of control consisted
of J. H. Stout, president; N. 0. Varnum, secretary, and J. E. Plorin, treasurer.
In beginning the work of the school the instructors and-county school board
(board (f control) asked for the loyal support and patropage of the people of Dunn
County and the surrounding region, issuing a general statement in which, after
referring to the origin of the school, they said: "Here the rural boys and girls
will find splendid opportunities for securing more intimate knowledge of the things
with which they are likely to be concerned in after life. They have a right to this
knowledge and to the kind of training necessarily required in securing it. To
compel the boys and girls to enter into thecompetition of life without the special
training afforded by such schools as this ig to deny them those things which are
essential to success, as measured from a financial standpoint and from the stand-
point of individual development."
In a printed bulletin, published quarterly by the school authorities, the courses
of study were outlined and the students given useful and interesting information
in regard to the institution. The second number, published in December, 1902,
83


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