History of Porter & Center District 7

(Stevens School)


©1922 Bertha Harnack (writer)


Courtesy of Magnolia Sue

When the first settlers came here it was covered with woods and there were lots of
animals such as bears, deer, foxes and wolves that lived in the forest.
Most of the first settlers came from the eastern part the United States. They were
Irish, English and Scotch. Their names were John STEVENS, Thomas STEVENS, O'NEIL, FESSENDENs, John TAYLOR, COLTERs, GIBBS, PRATTs and REEMBILL. PRATTs lived where Robert FORD lives now. GIBBS lived north of Robert FORD. John STEVENS lived where Fred PEACH lives now. Thomas STEVENS lived where Will HANDTKE lives now. REEMBILL lived where Ernest PEACH lives now. O'NEIL lived where Otto MANTHEI lives now. FESSENDENs lived where [illegible] MANTHEI lives now. John TAYLOR lived where David WHEELER lives now. COLTERs lived where James MURPHY lives now.
Mr. Joe WHEELER bought land from Mr. WILSON who bought it from the
government. He had forty acres of land at first and then he got more and has on hundred thirty acres now. All the land was woods except north of the school house there was a prairie. Mr. Joe WHEELER is the oldest settler now living in the district.
Most of the first houses were of logs. Sometimes the pioneer left his wife and children
at the Old Ball Tavern, which used to stand on the Madison road, until he could put up his log cabin here. One family lived in the caravan wagons until the crops were harvested, then lived in the straw pile all winter. They took a stove pipe and made a hole so it would stick out at the top so the smoke would go out.
There is still a log cabin in this district. It is about one mile and a quarter from the
school house. The man who lives in it is Mr. Tim FORD.
The first school house was of logs. Mr. PRATT and Mr. WHEELER gave the land
for the Cemetery. It is about one mile from the school house. Many of the old pioneers are buried there.
The first farms were small, not more than forty acres. All the work had to be done by
hand. When the land was cleared they had good crops. There was plenty of game in the forest. They had rails for fences. They had rail fences around their fields. The old settlers say they split rails all winter, every rainy day and any spare time, but never had enough rails.
Even the wagons were homemade. They sawed the biggest end off of the logs to
make their wheels for the wagons. They hollowed then out and nailed pieces across for spokes. They drove oxens for horses. The neighbors met for barn raisings. When a new barn was finished they had a dance in it. The women held quilting bees.
There is a club here and it is called the "Help a Bit Club" They sew quilts and then
draw names and the one that gets the lucky number gets the quilt for nothing and then they serve lunches such as coffee, cake and potato salad or fruit salad: just three things to serve for the club. Mrs. STEVENS is treasurer, secretary and president.
The Indians had a trail on Mr. WHEELER's farm and it went right in front of the
door of his house. It was the way to their burying grounds at Lake Koshkonong. One day Mr. WHEELER's father was building a rail fence and he laid some rails across their path and the Indians changed their trail and made it farther north of his place. Mrs. WHEELER would give them a lunch. One big Indian learned to say "bread and meat" and Mrs. WHEELER would give it to him then. He would ask for it every time he went by there. They had another burying place at Indian Ford and that is why we call it Indian Ford.
The Indians taught Mr. Joe WHEELER to count in Indian and it sounds like, een,
teen, tedder, fedder, vimys, vodalada, voe, ated, adick, eendick, teendick, tedderdick, fedderdick, abump, eenbump, teen bump, tedderbump, fedderbump, adicket, dickeen, dickateen, dickatedder, dickafedder, and declaim.
The first schoolhouse was a log cabin built about 1823. It only stood two years then
it was torn down. The second year a frame schoolhouse was built in 1825. The present schoolhouse was built in 1885. It cost $600. The first teacher was Kate E. LAYTON of Evansville. The term began in the new schoolhouse the sixteenth day of November 1885. The schoolhouse was built in August 1885. The oldest scholar now living is Mrs. M. J. O'NEIL who lives at Great Falls Montana. She is seventy-five years old.
My first teacher was Miss Bessie CUNNINGHAM who taught one year in 1914.
Miss Stella M. ATTLESEY taught three years beginning in 1915. Miss Helen WATERS one year beginning in 1918. Miss Stella M. ATTLESEY two years beginning in 1920. Miss Beulah [?] HADLEY in 1921. Miss Stella ATTLESEY started warm lunches.
We have a School Society at our school. The officers are Chester MANTHEI,
president, Bertha HARNACK, vice president, Esther HARNACK, secretary. Hazel MANTHEI & Bertha HARNACK Health Committee, Chester MANTHEI and Frank HARNACK Reading Circle Committee, Philip ANDERSON and George KURGER Improvement Committee. We have received books from the traveling library.
Chester MANTHEI has a pig. It is a red Duroc and its name is Royal Princess II.
He is going the pig club.
We had a box social and got $22.10 cents. We bought a clock and a pencil
There were several soldiers from our district. Pete PETERSON was six months in
France. He was at the front several times but never wounded. He was a truck driver.
Herman RADLOFF was at the front and he did a little horse shoeing. He was gased
and has had treatments but has quit farming. He is going to have an operation.
Clarence WARNER has just moved into our district and I do not know very much
about him.
Paul HANTKE was a cook in France a little while in the artillery and fighting in front
of army.
We are indebted to Mr. Joe WHEELER for all the information about the first
settlers and to Mr. Chas O'NEIL for the information about the schoolhouse.

I. General Statistics
1. Number of farms - 25
2. Number of people owning - 17
3. Number of people renting - 8
4. Acres - 2,290
A. Corn - 541
B. Alfalfa - 0
C. Potatoes - 14 1/4
D. Tobacco - 131 1/2
E. Grain - 476
5. Number of silos - 16
6. Number of horses - 106
7. Number of cattle - 291
A. Registered - 9
B. Grades - 282
8. Number tested for T.B. - 1
9. Number of Breeds
A. Holstein
B. Shorthorn
C. Durhams
10. Number of hogs - 26 [?- paper torn off]
11. Number of sheep [?- paper torn off]
12. Number of chickens - 16 [?- paper torn off]
13. Number of turkeys [?- paper torn off]
14. Number of ducks and geese - 56
II. Farm Conveniences
1. Gasoline engines - 10
2. Windmills - 20
3. Manure spreaders - 17
4. Manure Carriers - 3
5. Corn planters - 23
6. Corn binders - 17
7. Hay loaders - 11
8. Milking machines - 0
9. Cream separators - 19
10. Milk houses - 17
11. Automobiles - 17
12. Road drags - 0
13. Incubators - 7
14. Spraying outfits - 2
15. Tractors - 0
16. Running water in barn - 0
III. House Conveniences
1. Running water in house - 0
2. Bathrooms - 0
3. Basement Laundry - 0
4. Power washers - 4
5. Cisterns - 17
6. Icebox - 0
7. Laundry chutes - 0
8. Screened porches - 2
9. Sleeping porches - 0
10. Electric lights - 0
11. Telephones - 20
12. Sewing machines - 23
13. Gas or oil stoves - 15
14. Other lighting systems - 10
IV. Rest And Recreation
1. Croquet sets - 3
2. Swings - 3
3. Hammocks - 7
4. Tennis - 0
5. Basket balls - 0
6. Boats - 5
7. Reading Material
A. Farm Journal - 13
B. Current magazines - 7
C. Adults - 18
D. Childrens [?- paper torn off]
7. Newspapers - 2_ [?- paper torn off]
8. Piano or organs - 6
9. Victrolas [?- paper torn off]
Note: This was written by my grandmother, Bertha (HARNACK) DAHSE (wife of Charles DAHSE, Jr., of Magnolia Township). She was the eldest of Charles and Cora (BIENASCH) HARNACK. All of the HARNACK children (Bertha, Esther, Frank and Mabel) graduated from Stevens one-room school. (Louis died from a blow from a bat during a ballgame in 1920; he was 8 years old.)

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