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School Report, 1851Prairie State, Jerseyville, Illinois, Friday, April 4, 1851.
For the Prairie State.
Mr. Editor. — There is always an ambition to excel manifested in every human being, from the highest to the lowest; and without intellectual improvement, we cannot even hope for excellence in any thing; nor can we hope for self-protection. How often do we see it the case, that the unimproved portion of mankind gradually dwindle into nothing, to give room for the more enlightened. Is it our duty to seek to improve the condition of humanity, or not? If so, let us not waste the passing time which is all that we dare claim. To do all that we promised frequently puts us to a strain, and even a staul, sometimes; but in the gloom of discouragement, there is mostly some hope of attainment. But to our schools.
In township 8, range 11, there were last winter eight schools in operation at one time; kept by Messrs. Cyrus, Corbett, Andrews, Terry, Palmer, and Manners; Miss Farley and Miss Corbett. Number of scholars on schedules 347, average 212. The teachers are better qualified, as a whole than heretofore. Their manner of teaching is better. The only improvement in houses, is a building put up, two story frame, in which Miss Corbett keeps a select school in the upper part, and Miss Farley a common school, in the lower part. This building, we suppose, is not a public one, but answers a good purpose for the passing time; and we hope for the future, thought we die in despair. Miss Corbett receives no other than females. She had about forty minds to manage when I was in. I will not say any thing to discourage — if I could; but why a female institution should be kept up, and no male school of the kind in hearing is rather given over perhaps. But all is right, as there is a talk of women becoming qualified voters, all right! There are some forebodings in my mind, but should the ladies excel, we must not blame them. Miss Corbett is a good tutor.
We have great hopes of an institution in Jerseyville ere long; the fact is, an article of subscription is already on foot, and several hundred of dollars signed. Now let us go ahead like other people, and we will. We do not think it prudent to build very expensive common school houses, but we think all will agree that an institution for the higher branches is needed in our county; that there is a need of school houses in Jerseyville, everybody knows. $25 dollars was the highest price per month given to teachers.
Town 9, range 10 was doing a poor business in school operations, only one school found; that was in Delaware, kept by Mr. Wales. He had 36 scholars; average 27. He got $22 per month. He seemed to understand his business. Why such a settlement as Hawkins Prairie should remain school less for months is strange; certainly the good people have lost sight of the importance. [?]
Town 8, range 10, had three schools severally taught by M. Pease, in Franklin, Miss Robbins, in Hopewell, and Miss Chapman, in Fidelity, which is a new house well fitted up, in a fine country. The three schools had 94 scholars. This township is quite new in improvement, and has commenced well as to houses.
Township 7, range 10, is not doing so well; perhaps schools near its borders is the cause. Mr. McNeil taught in Washington house; he had 24 scholars; he is a young man of persevering habits and of sufficient qualifications. Mr. Tryon, in Delhi, had 60 scholars on his schedule; average 35. In the year past he had 25 averaged. I think a new school house is going up in the Van Horn settlement, near Delhi.
Township 7, range 11 is doing only tolerably. Four schools when there should be 6 or 7. Mr. Smith, Mr. Parker, Miss Bartlett, and Miss Shellman were teaching. Mr. Smith is certainly one of our best teachers, he got the best price, near thirty dollars per month, and he earned it and merits it all. Mr. Parker is well calculated for a youth. Miss Bartlett we know nothing about; we suppose her limited in scholarship. Miss Shellman has some rules in her school superior, we apprehend, to what we often find. She keeps good order. No stirring, whispering, or coming to her, but she goes to them to hear their wants.
Township 7, range 12 had a good school at the Stone school house, which school was divided into two classes; the smaller taught by Miss S. Hamilton, and the larger by Mr. Chandler. They are well known as good efficient teachers of sucker raising. The school was well conducted. The fact is, nothing but the best class of teachers can, nor should find employment in this commodious house built by individual donations. There was another school in this township that I did not get to see.
Township 6, range 12 had two schools, taught by Mr. McCorckle and Miss Swan. They had 130 scholars on their schedules; average 65. Mr. McCorckle is a new teacher in our county; he knows his business, and is one of our best teachers. Miss Swann does well for her qualifications.
Township 6, range 11, I was not in. Mr. Terry teaches a school, I think. All in the township.
Township 7, range 13, I did not visit. Mr. Wedding taught a school in the only house in the township.
Township 8, range 13 had one school commenced in Fieldon, but was broken up by some misunderstanding, and they remain school less. One or two taught in the Illinois Bottom, by Mssrs. Briggs and Bradford, I was not in to see. The teachers were of limited qualifications. I think there is another school house going up near Mr. Guntermans, which is very much needed, and we wish them success.
Township 8, range 12. Three schools taught by Messrs, Moses, Seymour, and Newman. Mr. Moses is limited in qualifications, teaches in Washington house, a very good one just finished. Mr. Newman is a new teacher of good qualifications, teaches in an excellent new house just finished, called you need not blame me, for I didnt name it; if you are ready Ill tell you the name Shakerag. It is no shake house, but a firm, good one. Mr. Seymour is well known as a good teacher at Buena Vista. Had on their schedules about 160 scholars.
Now that I have run over the county, I will say that teachers have go a better price, and they were better qualified as a whole, than ever was in the county at one time; and we have found two excellent new houses and two buildings. There were several teachers getting $25 per month, which heretofore was uncommon, and one getting near thirty; that is males. Females get $12 per month. Price and qualification stick together like playmates.
Now that the Legislature has tore up the laws again, and took away our mite of pay, and given us more to do, we are just thinking what to do, but well stand if you will. Now no one can have a legal certificate from any body only the commissioner, and it countersigned, and having the seven branches. I must and will do my utmost, pay or no pay, and hope the law will be observed in every township, if not the school funds must be withheld until all is right. The State fund we have not got as we cannot get the warrant from the Auditor, as he is waiting on the census returns, The State Superintendent gave Jersey County 34 log school houses when it should be frame, 7 log. I have taken pains to notice new teachers and houses. Old ones have noticed themselves before this.
I remain your Faithful and friendly ovserver, H. BRIDGES, S. C. J. C.
From Marty Crull.