The Tonica Community Consolidated School District #79 is a K-8th grade district encompassing 59 square miles
The Grade School wing was built in 1954 with additions in 1960 and 1964.
HISTORY OF TONICA’S SCHOOLS
For a period of forty years, from 1868 to 1907, and before additions, the building and grounds presented the view [in this photo]. The main part of this school house [called the “white school” because of its exterior color] was built in 1868 and before that time two one-room structures [the second of which was called the “black school”] were used on this site for eleven years.
It might be recalled that on this lot and in this building thousands of boys and girls received their elementary and high school education – four generations of the same family in a few instances and numerous ones of three.
Until 1870, there was no high school although some high school studies were taken by a few pupils. Three teachers taught until that time. From that date on four instructors were employed and, while a so-called high school was maintained, it was not until 1886 that a class was graduated.
In those old school days, there was a dictionary in every room (usually), and an encyclopedia in the high school. A few other books composed the library. All the paraphernalia for the studies in high school was located in a small closet behind the teacher’s desk – about a wheelbarrow load.
During all that period when the schoolhouse looked like this picture, all the pupils and teachers drank out of a few sanitary ( ?) tin cups, fastened to the pump at the north end of the building. When the water out of that wood-covered well got smelly, the directors cleaned it. It was truly surprising some of the things they took out.
It was those days when teachers ruled with switches and straps and rulers – and kept a supply of them handy. It was also the day of pot-bellied stoves, where one side of a pupil was hot and the other side cold – if you sat close enough to the stove.
Baseball and shinney and base and blackman were the outstanding sports of those days, but the parents or public paid little attention – a striking contrast to the thousands spent for teaching how to play the games today and the crowds of admirers following the teams.
First aid was usually administered by some neighboring lady, who had experience raising a family. It is interesting to note, however, that so many of those children withstood the “hardships” incident to those school days and became men and women, some of them eighty years and over; more of them in their seventies – folks who made good citizens, neighbors and friends.
[source The First 100 Years by Ray Richardson]
Suggested Links for Further Research and Information
- American Discovery Trail Directory – Illinois
- Early History of LaSalle County
- Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor
- I&M Canal N.H.C. Suggestions for Places to Visit
- LaSalle County Genealogy Guild Illinois
- LaSalle County OnLine
- Matthiessen State Park
- Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park