Totem Pole Tales-Onaway Area School System
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook March 23, 2012

  In 1882, Allis Township was but four sections, and there were six children of school age in Allis Township.
By 1964 Tower, Millersburg, Ocqueoc, and Onaway had 1,379 children of school age in the 420 square mile school district.
Grab your lard pail (lunch pail) and take a walk through some school history.
Some 20 years ago, my wife and I teamed up with Jim Hall and Sally Beatty to build a book of the Onaway Area School System. This book would include all of the Tower, Millersburg, Ocqueoc, and Onaway Schools, which led up to the present Onaway School system.
Many records can be found, and many that have been done by teachers for ongoing education. To name some that have helped us locate some 75 schools is only proper. Mary Lyons covered the Tower area, Beth Johnson wrote about the Waverly system, Cynthia Schaedig covered the Ocqueoc system and Clara Mills put the Millersburg system in proper order.
Karen Pregitzer tuned up the whole Onaway Band system, Don Holmes and Blanche Shaloy both did a college thesis on the Onaway system. Carol Dunston has also contributed information from her research.
Our task was to locate the schools and get pictures of all we could. This turned into a fun and rewarding project for us.
I have interviews with some old timers and teachers, exchanged letters and made tape recordings.
Being a good friend of Bill Breed was my best asset. Some people did not trust their pictures to go through the mail system to get copies. Bill had his own photo lab and made copies as I found pictures. I could then return pictures immediately to the owners.
As a result we have more than two hundred photos of the Onaway schools. Some are copies, some are original and some are from old newspapers.
Although the book is on hold, at this time, we are still collecting photos and information.
Our Onaway School librarian, Ms. Kimme, and retired school teacher, Janet Anderson, have begun a task of recording information that has been collected from a joint effort of many.
My goal is to bring to light the many schools that we have gained information about but have no pictures of. Maybe a small bit of information will jog some old timer's memory.
Some of my information comes from someone's story or memory, not from print, so I am ready to stand corrected. When I get all the gone by the wayside schools covered, I will pick a school that we have pictures of and share information we have found and collected in the 20 years of a fun ride.
One of my goals was to zero in on when we became the Onaway Cardinals. I have read many papers and yearbooks and in the 1936 news it was mentioned that the boys looked good in their new red basketball uniforms.
From here, we go to the 1938 band picture. The bass drum has Onaway Cardinals on it.
From this, we are within one year of when we became the Cardinals. Does anyone have a clue? Because of the war, the depression and a major shortage of paper the last Onaweea yearbook was 1924. In 1943, the yearbook appeared again.
Another mission is to find when the old cannon came to Onaway. In my research I have come up with many stories about the cannon. I will cover some of this later. I have a 1908 picture that show there wasn't a cannon in front of the school. I also have a picture of Florence Shaloy standing beside the cannon in 1924. This picture comes from the 1924 County Normal Amitie Yearbook.
The cannon is at Moran Iron Works getting a face lift. We hope to have it back on display this summer.
Waverly Township
The first log cabin school in Waverly Township was on Hutchinson Road (the year would be 1887). It sat in the northeast corner of the Lietaert property.
One of our short-lived schools was the Kentuckyville School. This school was in section 22 of Waverly Township.
This school was in a lumber camp made up of mostly men from Kentucky. They had nine children of school age in this camp, so Waverly Township sent Irene Cole there to teach.
We do not have student's names, but we have records of Cole being a teacher there for two years.
In a dry year, one can take the two-track west out of Waveland and go to this site. The best way is to go east from LeGrand, off M-33, and find the horse camp on the Blue Dot Trail.
At this school location you will find old apple trees that are at the school site. Jasper Smith guided me to this site.
One can still see the earthen banks that outline the school.
No. 4 school was originally was at the northwest corner of Brady and Waveland roads. This was a log cabin and set in Don St. Germaine's "Garden of Eaton".
It became outdated and a new Waverly No. 4 school was built on the south side of Brady Road where the Ethington Road intersects with Brady Road.
We have been unable to find any pictures of either school. I can remember going past this school many times to deliver mail to the Brady and Tibbit families.
Maple Grove Township
The Clute School in south Forest Township was closed when the state expanded the Pigeon River Country and relocated the homesteaders. We will share teachers and students names, but no pictures.
Teachers: Virgil Faircloth 1934-36 Ester Dumpsh 1937. Students: Jack Tucker, Draper children, Sanger children, and the Bailey children.
The children from here used Maple Grove Township Hall for school while the new school was being built on Black River Road.
This school was called both the Maple Grove School and the Perisol School. It later became a hunting lodge called "The Falling Leaf Lodge".
Jerry Gillette family has a home there now. I will share a picture of the school with students and teachers in a later bit of history.
Bearinger Township
The Merchant School was built on the north side of the Bluffs Road and west of the two-track going to the old dump. Herb Dowker's house is close to the school site.
This school was built at this location to accommodate the kids at the east end of Black Lake and the kids from the Chapman Homestead. Before this school was built the kids either walked to the four-mile corner or to the Bearinger School on Balch Road. We have a year ending report from the school. It has Vaughts, Merchants, Roberts and Chapmans. This school burnt and was not rebuilt. The 1902 plat book shows an Advent School on the north side of Town Hall road between Balch Road and Orchard Creek. We have the exact location marked but have never found any records of this school. Old timers tell of school being held at the Speakout Place on Lake Sixteen. Again we came up empty-handed.
Allis Township
Camp 18, east off Little Rainy Road and on the Dinky Line had a school going for a while.
We have pictures of men with their teams there, but no kids of school age.
Again, the 1902 plat book shows a school at Chandler Camp, west of Rainy River. We have been to the camp location when the well was still there.
The Adventist School on the Burgess Farm south of Onaway and across from Don Baker was the first Adventist School in our area. This school is marked clearly in our 1902 plat book.
Case Township
We have a nice picture of a Case Township siding, with buildings and the train, but we have no way of picking out the school that is shown on the Case map.
Records show a log school on the Ingils farm southeast of Millersburg.
This school is said to be the first school in Case Township. We are still looking for more information about it.
From The Onaway Outlook, March 23, 2012, p. 3 Retyped by J. Anderson

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