Dow City Schools
The Old Dow City School
A historical account of the early history about schools in and around Dow City, Iowa
The first school in the township was taught in the summer of 1858 in a log house in Section 9. The teacher was Elizabeth Kenedy, daughter of Charles Kenedy. In June there was a flood and the only bridge in the vicinity was swept away. The teacher and one scholar were on one side of the river and the other eight pupils were on the other bank. The father of one of the pupils built a boat and rowed them across the Boyer night and morning until a new bridge could be erected.
The first residents of Dowville were given school privileges from 1867-1871 in a rural school built by Samuel Young. This was on land owned by S.E. Dow and was situated on the hill where the cemetery is now located. It was abandoned in 1871 for the new school in Dowville. Later the "Cemetery School" was destroyed by a tornado.
Among the first teachers in the "Cemetery School" were Fanny Culliver and Margaret Wilson-Talcott, and Mr. George Rae. A gentleman from Chicago, Mr. Wilson, taught at the school during the last years of its existence.
Schooling for Dowville youngsters became important enough in 1871 that the townspeople erected a new schoolhouse, 24 by 36 feet in size. It should be noted that this first school served its people well. It was later remodeled and served as the Reorganized Church of the Latter-Day Saints until the congregation built a new one. It was purchased by Louie Ahart and moved to the east side of town and remodeled for a home.
A much larger school building was erected during 1877-78 with an entire block used for grounds. The building was later enlarged in 1897-98 by a two-story addition. This provided for 12 grades for the independent school district. It was still substantial and in good repair when it was torn down to make way for the construction of the present schoolhouse in 1916. The large, two-story, wooden building saw the first graduating class in 1886 with three members: John Heath, Agnes Bell, and Margaret Rae.
A consolidated school was proposed in 1915, the first in the county. On November 29, 1915, an election was called and the bond issue passed on February 18, 1916, for $75,000.00 for the purpose of building and furnishing a schoolhouse and to procure land for an addition to the present site. School did not commence in the new building until September 24, 1917, because of various postponements. The new building was dedicated on March 5, 19l8. Various improvements have been made through the years.
The class of 1918 was the first class to graduate from the new school. The class size wasn't affected much by the consolidation, as the students from the country had already been attending prior to this. The ones from far away lived in town during the week.
Photo of students around 1918.
It was an interesting year, as there were so many new experiences. The classes were normal except for science and domestic science. New equipment arrived all during the year for the chemistry laboratory class and what a thrill when the students could occupy the new domestic science rooms.
During the first semester, sewing only was taught, as the room on the first floor was the last to be finished. But what a thrill when they eventually cooked a meal for the school board. The gymnasium was finished in time for basketball, and for the first time, there was a place to play indoors. On the first of May, a big May Day observance was held with a Maypole dance.
The first superintendent of the consolidated district was Jacob Johnson. Mr. Johnson has been succeeded by the following: Superintendents McVicter, Long, Core, Martin, Evens, Glasgow, Smith, Iverson, Frank, Butterworth, Walker, Fennema, Isenberger, Reinhardt, Mullins, Teigland, and the present superintendent, Paul Tedesco.
As a tribute to the teachers who have, unstintingly and without reservation, offered their services for the education and moral uplift of the pupils who have passed through the courses of the Dow City Schools, we record these teachers who have taught for 50 years in this school: Miss Agnes Goddard, who taught kindergarten; Miss Mildred Wiggins, who taught third grade; and Miss Hilda Turnlund, who taught sixth grade.
Photo of Miss Agnes Goddard's Class in 1924
Source: 125 Years of Dow City-Arion History 1869-1994
We thank Cindi Simon for submitting this material.