zion06-14District No. 51, Township 17, Range 10

Board of School Directors
Roy Winner, President     Chas. Rahn, Clerk     Edw. White

During the summer of 1913 this school house was moved to its present location, which is directly north of the old Zion Church, one mile east of Little Indian Station and one mile west of the old town, or settlement known as Princeton. The change of sites was made only after years of strife and needless litigation, and after a representative of the Department of Public Instruction had strongly advocated the change.

Eugene Sinclair, C. A. White, Eva Ater, Alma Widmayer, Mary Ogle, Helon Martin, Maguerite Irvine, Floy Crawford and Lucile Gordon have been the teachers in recent years.

The following has been contributed by William Epler of Lake Charles, La., who more than any one else, is probably better acquainted with the school:

“In May 1845 a cyclone swept away the old Walnut Grove School House. It was located near Little Indian Creek, near the SE corner of the SW quarter of Sec. 25, T. 17, R. 10 W on land long since owned by the heirs of A. J. Gilpin. The Walnut Grove school house was built in the early 30’s and possibly in the 20’s, and up to the time of its destruction, many good schools were taught in it, all, of course, subscription schools, and I may add, numerously attended, not only by small children, but by young men and women.

“During the summer of 1846, possibly 1845, a brick house was erected – church and school house combined; large folding doors cut the school from the church. This building stood south of the present church, on the site where the school house stood up to 1913.

“The school terms in those days were summer schools and winter schools – the summer school extending from the middle of July to October; the winter school from Dec. 1st to March 1st. Sometimes a spring term was added for the benefit of the small children.

“About the first school taught at Zion was in charge of Rev. Chester, a Presbyterian clergyman. The second school was taught by David Blair. The summer and winter school of 1847 was taught by H. S. VanEaton. A Mr. Kenyon taught during 1847 and 1848. There was no school during the winter of 1848-1849, as the school that winter was at the Bergan Academy in old Princeton, taught by D. W. Fairbank, late of Jacksonville, Ills. Possibly Mr. Kenyon taught here later than 1847-1848. About this time Mr. Dickerman and Mr. Fay each conducted a fall term.

“I well remember that Allen J. Hill was teaching in August 1853 as I was one of his pupils and left school to enter Illinois College. After this date, I have no recollection or knowledge of the Zion school until 1869, when I again took up my residence in the neighborhood. I had been out of the state from 1856 to 1869. I do not remember that a lady ever taught the school up to 1853. The late R. W. Mills taught during 1868 and was followed by Rev. Griffith. The late James B. Black taught here immediately after the war. Keeling Berry, Mrs. E. M. Dale, Miss Addie Hitchcock, now Mrs. Morrison of Riverside, Cal., Mr. J. F. Downing, Miss Mathis, now Mrs. Geo. Kelly of Igden, Utah, Miss Kate Downing, now Mrs. C. W. Crews, of Pueblo, Col., and others whose names I cannot recall taught here.

“Rev. Chester was a Presbyterian clergyman from Springfield, Ills., a highly educated gentleman, and a good teacher, but I always thought out of place among a lot of strenuous rustics as we must have been.

“David Blair was a tall, fine looking man, an excellent scholar and a good teacher, but the boy who thought he could indulge in a little sly fun and escape his vigilant eye found in the end that he was grievously mistaken. David Blair was a Scotchman and a good man.

“H. S. VanEaton belonged to the neighborhood (his father lived where Angus Taylor now lives). He was a member of the junior class of Illinois College. A fine young man and a fine teacher. After graduation he went to the state of Mississippi; there taught school, distinguished himself as a lawyer, judge and officer in the Confederate Army and member of Congress – always kindly remembered old Zion School.

“Next, I may say, was Allen J. Hill, of whom I need say nothing – perhaps the best scholar that ever taught in Cass County. Entirely self-taught; in mathematics could have filled any chair and had few equals as a linguist. Allow me to add, those old teachers, prior to 1853, were all good, and as scholars, excellent.”

Zion School, 1950s

Zion School (upper right) and Cemetery, 1950s