- The First Seventy-five Years in the Sanborn Community (1878-1953) -
School Started as a Township School
The early growth of Sanborn was very rapid; there were a few settlers in this part of the county by 1878 when the town was started but it was necessary to haul supplies from Cherokee the terminal of the Illinois Central railroad at that time. After the advent of the railroad here, settlers came in large numbers. This necessitated frequent changes in the schools to keep pace with the growth in population.
For facts about the early schools, we have depended primarily on files of the Pioneer which was moved here in 1879 from Primghar, and has been Sanborn’s newspaper continuously ever since.
The first record of schools was in January 1879 when an item states that “Mr. Boyd is teaching the school at Daniels; about a dozen pupils in attendance” and another item,” the new school erected east of Wm. Gavin’s residence is occupied by Mr. T. Donahue” as teacher. These were rural schools.
In the spring a school was started in town as a township school including Franklin township. Its first term opened on Monday, April 28, 1879 in the home of Mr. Crossen, Mrs. Crossen being the teacher.
A contract was given at about that time to Mr. Powell to erect a school building 26 by 40 feet and 12 feet high which was completed sometime in the summer.
This building was located on the corner lots where the homes of H.C. Grafton and Mrs. Helen Fakehany now stand. At the time it was erected it was at a distance from the main part of town, being practically out in the country. To reach school, the children in town crossed a bridge over a slough about where the Vic Powers and Lawrence Sullivan homes now are.
Classes in the building began November 10, 1879 with Mr. D. Algyer, of Grant township “chosen to learn the young idea how to shoot”. There were 21 scholars.
Early directors elected were M.D. Comes, Thomas Burns and Isaac Daniels, probably being the first from Sanborn; the election was held in November 1879.
In a very short time the school was crowded. In May 1880, a tax of $500 was voted for school house purposes and from a Pioneer of November 1880 we quote:
“The public school building in this town, erected last season, falls far short of being suitable quarters for the number of pupils enrolled. A new school house will necessarily have to be erected next spring.”
Fifty pupils were enrolled in the Sanborn school in May, 1880 and the next November there were seventy pupils. Mrs. W.E. Baldwin was the teacher. In the summer term which began in May 1881, ninety-five scholars were enrolled. C.E. Foote began teaching in Sanborn at this time. (C.E. Foote was the father of A.K. and G.V. Foote and Mrs. Helen Ott, present residents of Sanborn.)
The Sanborn Pioneer January 28, 1897 when the brick building was dedicated included an historical sketch a part of which we quote: “The Independent district was organized in 1881 by a vote of the people. The territory embraced being five miles square or 25 section - 12 in Franklin township, 8 in Summit, 3 in Lincoln, and two in Center. Since that time sections have been restored to the several townships from which taken until only about 15 or 16 remain.
“L.W. Daggett, M.D. Comes and A.S. Fitzgerald were the first directors elected. M.D. Comes was elected president, J.W. Kelly, secretary, and J.A. Stocum, treasurer. At their first meeting, one of the first bills allowed was for corn for fuel.”
A contract was awarded to George E. Barry in July 1881 to erect a new building “to cost between four and five thousand dollars.” A new site was selected and a plot of land purchased. The site first chosen was at the north end of Main street and would “bring it square in the middle of Main street; virtually blocking the main thoroughfare of the town at both ends, the depot on the south and the school house on the north.”
This brought objections and started an argument which delayed construction for several months, but was finally settled and a frame building was erected to the west of Main street (where the new building now stands).
Some of the people thought this location much too far out of town. It was completed and ready for occupancy in January, 1882 with three departments: Prof. C.E. Foote, principal, Miss Jennie Mayne (sister of the late E.A. Mayne), intermediate, and Miss Gertie Davis, primary.
By December 1883, enrollment in the school numbered 285. The Pioneer has to say ‘When the present school building was erected two years ago it was deemed all that would be needed for five years anyhow.’
In 1885 settlers northwest of town including the Wm. Bonner and Steve Stokes families lacked a school for their children so Mr. Bonner and Mr. Stokes put up a building for a school a half mile south of the Bonner farm (now the Donald Norton home). The school board of Sanborn hired a teacher for this school for several years.
Soon after this a school building was completed in the fall of 1886 and was called “South Side School”; and for many years children south of the tracks attended this school. School for the first three grades was held there most of the terms until about the year 1900 when it was discontinued.
In 1887 Daniel Moody was given a contract to build an addition to the school house which was completed in September. This cost $1,267 and added two large rooms, one on the main floor and one on the second floor.
By December of 1895 the school board was again “wrestling with the school house problem.” The building was greatly overcrowded, some children attending forenoons and some afternoons, two and three in a seat and sometimes there were seventy pupils for one teacher to look after.
An election was held December 20, 1895 and bonds were voted to erect a new building, one that would be “permanent.” Messrs. Moody and Austin were awarded the contract and they did their work well for that building stood for 43 years, standing solid until it was leveled by wreckers when the present building was built. It was completed the next year, 1896.
The newest part of the old frame building was moved to the corner lot across the street west of the Presbyterian church by Mr. C.E. Foote and remodeled for a residence. The other part was moved to the lot on Main street where Harry Bosma’s garage now stands. This was known as Telkamp’s Hall and was used as an implement store on the first floor and a large hall on the second floor, where dances, entertainments and basketball games were held. It was later destroyed by fire.
Eighteen years later it was deemed necessary to have more room so an addition was built to the north of the older edifice in 1914. In this wing was a gymnasium in the basement, a kindergarten room and class rooms on the first floor and a high school assembly room and class rooms on the second floor.
At the time this was constructed a stucco coating was put on the outside of the old red brick building to match the finish on the new part. This part was not so well built and was eventually condemned as unsafe which circumstance convinced the people of Sanborn that a new building was needed here.
At an election held September 23, 1938 the proposition to erect a new building, the cost not to exceed $100,000 financed by bonds given by the school district to the amount of $55,000 and securing a PWA grant of $45,000 carried by a large majority.
Construction was begun in the spring of 1939 on the new building at the same location but south of and just in front of the old building, which was torn down that summer. Where it stood the ground was leveled and is used for the playground.
The new building was completed in the fall and dedicated November 10, 1939. E.W. Swanson was superintendent of the school at the time and R.H. Leonard, J.W. Cravens, Fred Petrich, Kenneth Tiffit and Leslie Getting were the school board members. A.J. Jerpbak was secretary and C.F. Watters, treasurer.
To the school have been added a building on lots south of the main building. It is used for vocational and industrial arts classes and a part of it houses the three buses which carry rural pupils to and from school.
Also a fine athletic field has been made on land at the north end of Main street which was given to the town for that purpose by the widow of A.V. Brady. Mr. Brady was the son of Ezra M. Brady, first hardware store owner in Sanborn and also first mayor . The field was named Brady field and was dedicated September 26, 1952. Gov. Wm. S. Beardsley gave the address.
Kenneth Erwin is the present superintendent of schools and the school board. Leslie Getting, Clark Scoles, O.B. Snyder, Willis Vander Woude, Mrs. Garret Spykerman; Miss Harriet Raymond is secretary, C.F. Watters, treasurer.
Return to Table of Contents