A History of the Oakdale/Mizo School - Joint District No. 2

 

Fulton & Milton Twps., Rock Co., WI

 

by Clark Kidder

 

Courtesy of Clark Kidder

My father, grandfather, and great grandfather KIDDER all attended the Oakdale
School through eighth grade, spanning the years 1864-1935. The school was located about a half mile from their Fulton township farm homes. The school was (and still is) situated in the northwest corner of the intersection of County Hwy. M and Newville road (known formerly as Town Line road), on the line between Fulton and Milton Townships. Today, it serves as a private residence.
The first school meeting was held at the home of Joel WOOD on October 14, 1845.
The WOOD farm was later owned by Governor D., and Paul WIXOM. The WOOD home, in 1845, was located "a few rods south of the old John ARNOLD Homestead," which was later owned by Harry ARNOLD. The home faced what was then known as Town Line road (now Newville road). An abandoned well marked the spot even as late as 1956. Joel WOOD was chosen to act as chairman of the first meeting, Bermit BEARDSLEY as clerk, with Alexander CLINTON, Joel WOOD, and Warren SWEET as trustees. Nathan L. GRAVES was named collector.
It was resolved unanimously that a tax of $100.00 be raised to build a log school-
house, the dimensions to be 18 x 20 feet. They further resolved that two thirds of the public money be used for a winter school, and the other one third for a summer school. They resolved that the trustees be authorized to receive one third of the tax money of each person taxed, in labor, in the erection of the schoolhouse, if performed when called upon by the trustees. The meeting was adjourned until the first Monday in November, when they would then meet at the home of Alexander CLINTON, at three o'clock in the afternoon. No record survives of that meeting.
The next meeting of which there is a record was held at the home of Bernut
BEARDSLEY who settled the farms later owned by August FIEDLER, Sr., and Charlie ARNOLD. The minutes of this meeting were recorded on the same sheet of paper with the first one so it is supposed that they did not hold the one planned at the Clinton home. The minutes show that the voters were called together by order of the trustees on Saturday, December 20, 1845. Joel WOOD was again chairman of the meeting, and they resolved to rescind the vote at the former meeting to build a log school house, and instead resolved to build a frame building with the following requirements: "dimensions to be 20 ft. wide, 24 ft. long, and 9 and a half ft. high in the clear; six windows with 12 panes of glass 9x12; benches with writing tables to be on three sides with benches with backs to them in front."
The land for the school was to be leased, and consisted of a quarter acre of land in
the "South East corner of Sec. 24, Town 7, Range 12. The land was purchased from Joel WOOD for one dollar, and was to be held by the District as long as it was used for school purposes, when it would then revert to the heirs of Mr. WOOD with "all improvements and appurtenances thereon." The lease was signed by Joel WOOD, John L. KIMBALL, and Charles S. QOALAN (spelling?) for Rock County Wisconsin Territory. The Notary Public Seal was by John L. KIMBALL. This original lease was in the possession of Mrs. David A. ARNOLD of Milton, as of 1925.
No further meeting minutes were found until 1910, when Mr. O. G. STRIEGL, then
of Milton Junction, took up the office of clerk. The records from then until 1925 were complete. Mrs. David A. ARNOLD, who wrote a history of the school in 1925, commented: "Judging from the antique appearance of the little box used for years to keep the school Dist. Papers in it is perhaps the one used by these early pioneers of 1845 and has perhaps become too crowded so that the intervening records have been destroyed."
The first treasurer's bond was given by Nathan GRAVES for $100.00, with Kish
MELVIN as his surety, and was given in the presence of Joseph KIDDER and Hannah GRAVES. It was approved by Joseph B. KIDDER and Alexander CLINTON. A bond dated April 30, 1858 was given by Warren SWEET as treasurer, with Joseph B. KIDDER as his surety, and was signed by Warren SWEET, Sarah KIDDER, and Joseph KIDDER.
Warren SWEET resigned the office of treasurer in 1861, and the Superintendent of
Schools for Fulton appointed Henry KIDDER to fill the vacancy until the next annual meeting. Mr. KIDDER gave his bond, which was signed by William JANES, in the presence of A. C. DODGE.
The District boundaries changed over the years. In 1858, 57 acres of land to the
west, belonging to Mary KIDDER, which was at that time a part of District No. 5 in Fulton, was added to District No. 2. According to a paper dated 1862, "the south half of Sec. 13 and the South East ¼ of Sec. No. 14 of town 4 north of Range 12 east," was taken from the District and added to a new district being formed at that time which was to be known as Joint Dist. No. 6 - Milton and Fulton. This district is the one that was located to the north on which the Merrifield school was erected. The property consisted of what would later be the Otter VIEN, John McCULLOCH, and Ulysses Grant MILLER farms. The papers outlining the alterations to the district were signed by J. D. SLOCUM, Superintendent of Schools in the town of Fulton, and by L. B. HUDSON, Superintendent of Schools for Milton. Later, the LACKNER property was also detached from the district, and became a part of newly created District No. 9, to be called the Rex KIDDER District.
My father, Warren KIDDER (born in 1922), would talk of the days when he and his
brothers and sisters would cut cross-country from their farm on KIDDER road on their way to and from Oakdale. They had to be careful not to catch their clothes on the barbed wire fences that framed the various fields of neighboring farms along the way. This was often not a problem in the winter, as the snow drifts created a natural bridge across the fences. The problem then was to keep warm.
Grandfather Earl KIDDER (born in 1893) spoke of how he hated to wear knee
socks to school. His first teacher was Anna Jean PLUMB, and he had fond memories of her. He earned the dubious nickname of "Skunk KIDDER," due to the fact that he insisted on running his trap line on the way to school each morning. Skunks, especially pure black ones, devoid of their white stripes, were fetching a whopping eight dollars apiece, which was a sizable sum in those days. Earl also noted: "I went eight years there. I hated Geography, but I loved Arithmetic and Spelling."
One of the first teachers, R. W. McHENRY, was hired in 1857 at the rate of $26
per month for three months, and was responsible for his own board. Later teachers included Anna Jean PLUMB (Earl Dane KIDDER's teacher, circa about-1906), Ethel and Jessie STRIEGL, Mrs. DAHONEY (spelling? - a resident of Milton), Mrs. MONOGUE, Mrs. ARNOLD, Mrs. SCHAFER, Mildred KIDDER (1933-1936), Ethel BECKER (Richard Clark KIDDER's teacher, about 1940-1948), Katherine GODFREY (1954-about 1964). Mildred KIDDER had her siblings, Warren and Marian, as pupils.
The WPA funded a basement for the school in the 1930s, and Earl KIDDER helped
with construction of it. Arthur ALBRECHT served on the school board for many years. He resided on the old MIZO farm, located immediately across the road and to the south of Oakdale. His home burned in about 1935, and he and his wife, Mary, resided in the new basement of the Oakdale School until their house could be rebuilt. Oakdale was known as the Mizo School perhaps even prior to being called Oakdale.
Oakdale closed its doors in 1961 after 115 years of service to the community. It
joining the majority of one-room schools deemed obsolete by a thing called "progress." Some of these schools, such as Oakdale, took on new lives as homes for people. Some were moved to nearby farms where they were used as granaries. Others were destroyed, or fell into decay. The men and women that attended these one-room schools all look back with fond memories of their days spent at the old one-room country schools.
 
Bibliography:
1. Oakdale Rural School Marks 110 Years of Educating Citizens by Gladys Waterman, Milton and
Milton Junction Courier, August 2, 1956.
2. History of Jt. Dist. #2 Milton and Fulton - Oakdale. Unpublished manuscript by Mrs. David A.
Arnold of Milton, Wisconsin consisting of six typed pages, 1925.

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