Charles Shuman>UIS Collection S>UIS Collection S, Segment 13


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In 1853 pupils learned at home. Farmers donated small plot of land for a school that community built. His grandfather taught in their first school. Grandfather educated in Pennsylvania, one of few men in area who went beyond 3rd grade. Worked for his father on farm in the summer. Soon outgrew the building, so someone donated a bigger property for new school. It had 35 pupils named Purvis, all related. Later he attended the one room schoolhouse, walking a mile across the fields. Teacher boarded with families, did janitor work or hired older student to do it. Classes were consolidated if too few in one grade. Could skip a grade or be held back when this happened. Final exams from County Superintendent of Schools. Township had referendum for new high school on north edge of Sullivan.
In 1929, he served on board of directors for local one-room school. Another director was old-timer who could not read or write. Got him to retire. Attendance went down in the 1930s; number of farms declined, farm size increased, and used tractors (so there were fewer families around). Farm Bureau helped board form a consolidated district by getting legislation passed. Local voters approved referendum. Hot issue when school closings involved. Promised not to close all. Used three for several years. During World War II, could not buy busses so bought an enlarged car to haul students. This district was one of first in Illinois. One of these old schools is used for 4-H center. Teachers were not well trained at first. Many students attended only in winter because of harvest work. Eighth graders could be quite old and cause discipline problems. Teacher had to conduct many classes and handle discipline. After they graduated, some eighth graders wanted to continue, so teacher might offer more classes.