Lone Tree School
19292 250 North Avenue
South of Tiskilwa, IL, in rural Bureau County, is Lone Tree. It's named after a large burr oak tree that once stood alone on the open prairie and served as a landmark for pioneer travelers. Lone Tree was a small town but today, nothing remains of Lone Tree except a farmstead and the historic one-room Lone Tree School. Built in 1876, the school served the community and surrounding Wheatland Township. Located at 19292 250 North Avenue, Lone Tree School is a reminder of the many country schools that once sprinkled the Illinois landscape. It was one of three schools in the township and served School District 3, established in 1848. and served the area until 1942. The school outlasted the community it served as Lone Tree was otherwise abandoned by the 1920s. Though Bureau County once had 236 one-room schoolhouses, Lone Tree is one of the few which is well-preserved and still at its original location. The school was added to
the National Register of Historic Places on May 12, 2004.
Memories by Wesley Anderson (student, Lone Tree School)
We moved up to Lone Tree March 1, 1912. At that time the school house looked about as it does today, and the old school had been moved south to the Downey land. At that time teachers got from $40.00 to $60.00 a month and boarded with someone in the neighborhood. In the winter the teacher would hire one of the older boys to come early and build a fire in the coal stove and paid them 15 to 20 cents a week. In earlier years Lone Tree was quite a settlement. At one time there was a grocery store across the road to the north. I believe it was also a post office. There were two or three other houses, and a mile west was a cheese factory which burned down about 1913. My Dad came from Sweden in 1889, landed in Princeton with 40¢ in his pocket, and couldn’t speak English. He went to work for Henry Bachman, who lived three miles north of Lone Tree, for $16.00 a month, later raised to $18.00 and soon he started farming for himself.
Lone Tree Community
by Cecelia Wheeler
South of Chenoweth prairie, on high ground, some distance from other timber, once stood a lone tree, which became a landmarking the early settlement of the country. This tree was a white oak with a broad spreading top, and could be seen from miles away, a guide for travelers in the absence of a road. After having withstood the tempest, probably for centuries, this great tree yielded to its power. During a violent gale in June, 1866, it fell to the ground, and is no more, but it's memory will live long among the people of that locality. In 1841 a settlement was commenced here, and for many years was known as the Lone Tree settlement. John and T. Kirkpatrick were first to settle in this locality, and the next year (1842) they built a sawmill on Crow Creek. In the spring of 1842 J. Larkins and Nelson Ballman made farms near the lone tree. The next year J. Merritt, and others made farms north of it. Some of the other early settlers were Henry and Raleigh (Hawley) Rich, who came from Monongalia County, Virginia; in 1844, S. M. Clark, and J. and S. Miller, Enoch and Robert Hunter came from Windom County, Vermont; in 1846, Andrew Anderson came from Monongalia County,Virginia; J. H. Jennett from Ireland; Henry H. Allen from New Hampshire. Mr. Jennett was a farmer and a school-teacher, perhaps the first to come to this area.
SOURCE: Reminiscence of Bureau County by N. Matson. NOTE: The J. H. Jennett mentioned above was an uncle of Elizabeth Jennett-Carroll, and she remembers that he told of fully adult men who went back to school during the winter because they had had to drop out when they were younger to help with farm work.
Schools by Cecelia Wheeler
There were three one-room schools in Wheatland Township. According to the School Commissioner Records Office of the Bureau County Superintendent of Schools. Records of the Wheatland Schools began in 1840. District 3 was organized in May 1848 and District 2 was altered accordingly. Lone Tree School was District 3. It was a large and complicated district.
1895 A Teacher’s Report to a Successor
“The pupils in the fifth grade have been in the habit or choosing the part in the arithmetic they least understand and work it through as fast as the time runs. Some are so irregular in attendance it is almost impossible to classify. Do the best you can, as I have done. When the larger winter scholars come, put them in the class with the fifth grade, the grade given in this fall report. Some pupils you will find quite backward due to irregularity in attendance for good work. This fall, for the last month especially, so many have stayed out to husk corn that our daily attendance has been very small only seven or eight.”
NOTE: The above report concerned a group of 24 registered pupils, nine of whom were listed in the fifth grade. They ranged in age from 10 to 15 years. Other children in the school range in age from 5 to 16 years.
There must have been an epidemic of some illness in early 1897, for attendance was very bad, with whole families being absent for weeks at a time. For instance, the four Finnegan children, Hugh, Joe, Emmet, and May, were absent from January 1 through February 5, and again in late March, and May and June of 1897. Willie Dwyer was absent from April 28 to June 4, while James Dwyer was absent from April 28 to June 26. Practically no one came to school in June of 1897, the Dawson Family seeming to be hardest hit, because, though school was in session 33 days from May 12 to June 25, Curtis was absent 29 days and Ida Dawson 21 days. The Rinehart family was also hard hit. Fourteen of the twenty pupils enrolled were absent the entire week of June 21 to 25.
Thank you David Gugerty, Curator, Bureau County Historical Society