- The earliest settlers of Janesville
pitched their camp and erected their first
- log cabin in October, 1835, opposite
the "big rock" near the southern end of the bridge
connecting Monterey with the Spring Brook portion of the city.
The first school was established in 1838 in the log school house
on the property of Mr. Abram C. BAILEY, on the south side of
the bend of the river. The first teacher was Hiram H. BROWN,
who later lived in Green County. This was probably the first
school opened in Rock County, if not in the entire Wisconsin
portion of the Rock River Valley. This primitive schoolhouse
was of the rudest construction. Its chinked walls were of rough
hewn logs and the seats were basswood slabs. Thus at the "big
ford" of the Rock River, within a few rods of the "Big
rock," from whose flat summit Mucketay Muckekawkaik (Black
Hawk) harangued his braves, was founded in 1838 the first educational
institution in Rock County and the upper Rock River Valley. This
log schoolhouse was used until 1843, when another log house was
occupied by the school until the erection of the red frame schoolhouse
of the joint districts of Rock and La Prairie in 1844, a full
half-mile east of the first log house. Daniel NURSE taught the
school in the winter of 1841-42, and Mr. BENEDICT in 1842-43.
Orrin GUERNSEY was the first teacher to wield the birch rod in
the new frame building during the winter of 1843-44. Mr. GUERNSEY
in 1856 wrote the first history of Rock County, a work of 350
pages, published under the auspices of the Rock County Agricultural
Society and Mechanics' Institute.
- While school matters were well under
way in the Spring Brook region, the
- settlement near the JANES tavern
and ferry also established a school. This school was opened in
a log house in the woods near North Main Street three rods north
of East Milwaukee Street. Miss Cornelia SHELDON (later Mrs. Isaac
WOODLE) taught the first term of school in the summer of 1840.
She was succeeded the following winter by Rev. C. W. LAWRENCE,
who established the first debating society in 1841. Other instructors
in the village school were Messrs. LITTLE, BENNETT, ARNOLD, WOOD,
and WHITE. The names of the women who taught the summer terms
of the school are Miss WINGATE, Miss TRUE, Miss BENNETT, and
- In 1845 a brick building was erected
on Division Street which was regarded
- as a model of comfort and convenience
in the early '40s and '50s.
- THE JANESVILLE ACADEMY
- Before the days of the free high
school, private academies were established
- throughout the Middle West. In 1843
a charter was granted to S. Hyatt SMITH, E. V. WHITON, J. B.
DOE, Charles STEVENS, and W. H. BAILEY for the establishment
of the Janesville Academy. A stone building was erected on High
Street near Milwaukee Street on the site of the present Lincoln
School, and in 1844 the academy was opened with Rev. Thomas J.
RUGER, and Episcopal clergyman, as principal. Many of the business
men of that generation received their education at this old stone
academy on High Street. Mr. RUGER was succeeded by Mr. ALDEN,
and he by Messrs. WOODARD, WEBB, SPICER, and GORTON. In the early
'50s the school was known as the Janesville Collegiate Institution.
It was purchased by the city in 1855 and became known as the
Janesville Free Academy. It was used for public school purposes
until 1876, when it was superseded by the present Lincoln School.
- THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
- For nearly ten years under the village
charter Janesville maintained her
- district schools, but these were
crude in methods and, as the population increased, a higher grade
of culture was demanded. A few enterprising citizens with wise
forethought determined upon thorough organization, and enthusiastic
promoters of this achievement were Hon. J. J. R. PEASE, Dr. Lyman
J. BARROWS, Hon. W. A. LAWRENCE, Hon. James SUTHERLAND, Judge
M. S. PRITCHARD, and Hon. B. B. ELDREDGE. In April 1835, the
present system of schools was adopted, although it was not in
practical operation until the schools were thoroughly graded
- At this time a record of education
and literary institutions of the city
- embraced a central high school,
eight schools of lower grade, three select schools, the state
institution for the blind, and the Janesville Lyceum and Mechanics'
Institute, the latter society assembling for improvement in arts
- SCHOOL BUILDING
- In 1856 commodious buildings were
erected in the Second and Fifth wards,
- and the schools were graded into
high school, grammar, intermediate, and primary departments,
the old academy becoming the central or high school of the system.
- A demand for more room secured the
erection of a high school building in
- 1858 at a cost of $40,000, and in
1859 the high school department, with Levi CASS as principal,
was transferred to its new location.
- An increase of population soon rendered
- necessary, and in 1866 and 1873
buildings were erected in the First and Fourth wards. In 1875
requisite appropriation was made for the Lincoln School building,
which was erected on the site of the old academy, now the Jefferson
- Since then the Second ward school
house has been rebuilt, new buildings
- have been erected in the fifth,
fourth, first, and third wards, and in 1895 the second new high
school building; thus, year by year the school property has increased
until its valuation in 1912 was approximately estimated at $1,300,000,
with accommodations for nearly 4,000 pupils.
- THE HIGH SCHOOL
- The High School proper was organized
in 1856. The first class of three was
- graduated in 1858. Since the first
commencement in the old academy building, which occurred without
public exercise, the school has graduated 2,151 students. Of
this number 787 are boys and 1,364 are girls. It is interesting
to note that about thirty per cent. of the 977 graduates since
1912 have continued their learning in schools of higher education.
Of the Freshman who entered in 1919, about eighty per cent. graduated.
The average has been about fifty per cent.
- In February of 1923 the school was
moved to the present site on South Main
- Street. This new structure was erected
at a cost of $800,000. It is one of the very few completely equipped
high schools in this section of the country. It includes forty
nine class rooms, four study halls, a music room, a lecture room,
a library, five complete laboratories for experimental work in
science, two large gymnasiums and swimming pools, commodious
room for the manual training and for the domestic science department,
a fine locker system, a splendid cafeteria equipped to serve
450, and a spacious auditorium which accommodates 1,500. At present
there are sixty-three members of the faculty and 1,255 students.
- Courtesy of Lori