The District 53 School was located on about an acre  of land on the east side of Meacham Road north of the creek and south of old East Schaumburg Road.  Because the school was on the Fasse farm, many of the meetings were held at the Fasse farmhouse [and the school was often referred to as the Fasse School.]

In 2010 the daughter of Rev. John Sternberg presented a record book for School District 53 to the library.  The information for District 53 begins with the minutes from a meeting in 1860.  The school was built and was used for 26 years prior to the [nearby] opening of St. Peter East District School [which was located on Schaumburg Road at Rohlwing Road.]

Because the 8th graders of St. Peter East School District had to attend public school to be granted their 8th grade diploma, the [local Lutheran] children went to Schaumburg Township School 53 to complete the requirements for their 8th grade diploma.  The students needed to prove their proficiency in the basic skills of reading, math, English and whatever the local public school teacher deemed necessary.  The Lutheran schools were not accredited by the Cook County Superintendent of Schools and were not allowed to grant 8th grade diplomas.

The District 53 school was of simple, white clapboard construction.  The school faced the road and it had three windows on the north side and three windows on the south side.  There was a window on either side of the door for the coat room which gave light to this area.  All of the windows had shutters that could be opened and closed.  The chimney for the wood/coal burning stove was on the east wall of the school.  There was a small stoop at the door, which by the 1900s, was made of concrete.  The school did not have a bell tower.  In the Cook County Biennial Report of the County Superintendent of School from July 1, 1894 to June 30, 1896, it was reported that two of the five one-room schools in Schaumburg Township were new.  Was the District 53 School one of the two?

Since the school building was set on a hill with fields surrounding it, lightning rods were installed on the roof.  Was this installation for lightning protection done by the District 53 directors?  The picture shows two lightning rods, but pictures of the four other Schaumburg Township schools do not show rods.  …it is hard to say if the school had these rods from the time it was built or if they were installed when the area farmers placed the rods on their barns.

While talking about attending the District 53 School from 1904 to 1912, Carrie Gathman Ohlmann recalled walking from the family farm at the northwest corner of Rohlwing and Nerge Roads.  Born April 7, 1898, Carrie was the eighth of the nine Gathman children to attend this school.  The children walked through the fields following the fence lines and hedges.  It was a two-mile walk if they went through the fields, but it was three miles when they followed the roads–Rohlwing south to Nerge, Nerge west to Meacham, Meacham north to the school.  When the weather was especially bad, the children were taken to school by horse and wagon–the milk wagon.

In the spring the Gathman children liked to walk home through the fields.  When they came to the creek, they crossed it by jumping from stone to stone.  Many times they got wet or fell into the water.  Some farmers had stiles over the pasture fences, but the children always knew where the bulls were kept.  They avoided crossing through a pasture where a bull was grazing as they knew that was flirting with danger.

Carrie Ohlmann remembered two of the teachers she had in her eight years at the school.  The teachers were Miss Amelia Blix and Miss Budlong.  She stated that the teachers boarded at the Pfingsten farm on Meacham Road.

Water for the school was carried in a pail from the nearby Fasse farm well or from the creek which was south of the school.  She also mentioned getting water from a nearby spring.  Since she didn’t elaborate on the spring, the exact location is unknown.  There were several springs on the farms in that area.

The pail of water from the well was for drinking but part of it was poured into a basin, which was used for washing hands.  This water in the washbasin was kept until the end of the school day.  At that time it was thrown out.

The outhouse for the school was located to the east of the school.  There was a side for the boys and a side for the girls.  One of the chores assigned to the children was to wash down the interior of the outhouses with water and a broom.  The water for this chore came from the spring or the creek.

Carrie stated that all of the classes at the District 53 school were taught in English.  The school had a pump organ that was instrumental in Carrie’s love of music.  The teachers gave lessons to students after school and Carrie was one of those who participated.  This teacher, at the turn of the century, gave Carrie a gift that lasted her entire life.

The interior of the District 53 school was simple.  …The plain wooden pine floor was swept clean.  There was wainscoting on the walls below the windows.  The desks were mounted on wooden strips so that the strips could be moved to one side for cleaning and activities.  There was a raised platform at the front of the classroom which became a stage for plays, poetry recitations and musical programs for parents and neighborhood families.  This platform was about six inches higher than the floor.  The ceiling was covered with textured tin.

…Because the majority of the farmers in the District 53 school attendance area were Lutheran, the greater number of the children attended St. Peter East District School after it was built.  The population of the District 53 school declined to the extent that the school was closed in 1925, and the children began attending District 54 School in Schaumburg Center.  When the school was closed, William Thies bought the schoolhouse at auction for $117.

The Thies brothers moved the school from the Fasse farm site to their farm south on Meacham Road… The school desks were put in the attic, the windows were replaced with a transparent film that would let in the beneficial rays of the sun, nests were added, and a roosting area was built.  The school was painted red to match the other farm buildings and it officially became the main chicken house for the Thies family until they sold the farm and moved in 1960.  The school remained on the farm until later in the 1960s when it was demolished by Centex to make way for Elk Grove houses.

The text for this blog posting is an excerpt from Schaumburg of My Ancestors by LaVonne Thies Presley, published in 2012.  The book is an in-depth look at Schaumburg Township around the turn of the nineteenth century.  

Her particular focus was the farm off of Meacham Road where her father grew up.  However, LaVonne also took the opportunity in the text to create a detailed examination of the formation of the public one-room schools of Schaumburg Township.  In the upcoming months a posting will be shared on each of those five schools.  But, first, an introduction to the formation of Schaumburg Township public schools

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library




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