School Houses: Uphill Both Ways


Who hasn't heard Mom or Dad or Grandpa or Great-Grandma say "We didn't have school buses in my day - I walked to school in a blizzard - uphill both ways!" When mine did, I always envisioned "A Little House on the Prairie" School, with a porch and bell on top, in Walnut Grove with Miss Beadle waving to the students to come in.

And then I found the book of photos of early Hamilton County one-room schoolhouses. Our county had one hundred districts and five parochial schools! That's how much value and hope for the future these homesteaders placed on education.

MAP OF EARLY HAMILTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Click this map to enlarge and find the location of each school house in the county.

District numbers, precinct and section numbers are also shown on the photos of the school houses located further down this page.

In the book History of Hamilton and Clay Counties Nebraska, compiled by Dale P. Stough, published 1921, it says:

"All countries have been composed of homes; the state in some form of government, and in their better days nestled close to the church. But the distinctively American contribution to the welfare of the world, has been the Public School. This is a democratic cornerstone in every sense of the word. Out on the wild prairie where were clustered a few humble houses, a store or two, a school was opened and the sons and daughters of each family attended school together. This idea has been carried out faithfully in American life, and today in village, rural district, town, or great city the son of the rich sits beside the son or daughter of the poor in this world's wealth."

Hamilton County is a fine example of this earnest endeavor to blur the social and financial lines of society with equal education. It still is.

One hundred public school districts and five parochial schools are listed in the 1912-1913 Educational Directory for Hamilton County. Hamilton County photographer "That Man Gale" took a driving tour in 1930 to document these historic buildings, and of that driving tour there are photographs of all but about 15 of those early school houses. Enjoy!

DISTRICTS 1-20

Use side arrows below to scroll through slideshow;

mouse over bottom of photo to view descriptions;

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DISTRICTS 21-40

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DISTRICTS 41-60

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DISTRICTS 61-80

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DISTRICTS 81-100

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The Plainsman Museum 2020   ~  210 16th Street ~ Aurora NE ~ 402-694-6531 ~ plainsman@hamilton.net

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