The History of Clark School

Author:  Unknown
(I believe it was written by a member of the Porritt Family)

In the year of 1834, the pioneers of Orion township decided that they needed a school.  Among these were Elijah B. Clark, Asa Owen, Sr., Powell Carpenter, Sr., and representatives from the Decker, Bigler, and McVean families.  They held a bee and cut logs, puddled mortar with their oxen and drew stone to build their first school-house on what was known as Clark’s Corners, which was three quarters of a mile south of the present site of Clark School. 

In 1835, the first town meeting was held and G. W. Close, William Merchant, and Elijah B. Clark were appointed commissioners of common schools for Orion township. 
During the first two years the children came from all parts of the township as this was the first school to be held.  In 1836, the township was divided into four school districts and Clark School was called District No. Two (2).  This school district was bounded on the north by Square Lake road (in Orion township), on the east by the road running between sections twenty-three and twenty-four, on the south by the McVean road and on the west by the road running between sections fifteen and sixteen.  At that time the law required the school officers to go before a notary public and take an oath of allegiance to the United States and to swear to faithfully perform their duties as school officers.   

Among the first well-known teachers were Miss Jane Bagg and Miss Sarah Wooden. 
Each child was expected to furnish one-half cord of wood to help warm the school-house.  According to one old timer the wood was sometimes brought to the school in log lengths and the boys of the respective families had to cut the wood each morning before school. 

The teacher’s wages were paid by the parents or guardians in proportion to the number of days which their children attended school which usually averaged about two and one-half cents a day for each child.  If for any reason the parent or guardian refused to pay the tuition, the assessor had the right to seize the property or goods of that person up to the amount they owed the school district.  Often the education of the young men and young women of the neighborhood consisted of only a few months schooling obtained during the winter months. 
Later on the district decided that they needed a better school and so once more the fathers met and voted to build a new school-house.  This time they built a frame building on the property of Isaac Porritt on the west side of M24 opposite the present Romaine Clark home.  This school-house was used for a number of years but as it was not very warm and was out of the center of population they moved the old frame school-house to the Asa W. Owen (unknown) farm on the diagonally opposite corner of the present site of Clark School. 
During the years of 1854-1860 such men as Asa Owen, Sr., John Berridge, Sr., Elijah B. Clark, Alexander McVean, Sr., Isaac Haddrill, Romaine Clark, Sr., George Berridge, Isaac Casamer, Thomas Dalgleish, Sr.,  Joseph Porritt, and Robert W. Porritt, sen., held the offices of director, assessor and moderator.  During those years the teachers were
Abbie Dunlap, Newcom Clark, Jan Youdan, Lester McVean and Charlotte Earing. 
At the time of the Civil War, a recruiting officer visited our school asking for volunteers.  Seven of our young men arose and offered their services to their country.  Among these were Samuel, Silas, Fred and Theodore Casamer, William C. Clark, Elias Austin, and Philip Haddrill.  During the war we have no records to show that any school was held at Clark School, however they disclose that Syl(unknown) S. Clark served as director in 1864. 
In the year of 1865 the sum of seventy-five dollars was raised to repair the old school-house.  The school was re-organized with Joseph Porritt, William Berridge and Philo Van Wagner, officers.  Since that time we have records of each school year. 
In the year of 1871, Rolla Carpenter, who later became a noted professor at Cornell University, taught the school.  At the end of the school year in a report to his school officers, he complained bitterly of the condition of the school-house and of the multiplicity of the textbooks, having more kinds of textbooks than he had scholars.  He recommended that a new school-house be built and that uniform textbooks be adopted.  He even complained of the fact that some of the children had to have two recitations a day.

 At a meeting called September 16, 1871, after a considerable discussion, and long controversy it was decided to purchase a new site and build a new school house, the contract to be let to the lowest responsible bidder which was for three hundred dollars ($300.00) to Hiram Anderson.  The site on which the present Clark School stands was decided upon and was purchased for one hundred dollars from Romaine and Emily Youdan Clark.  Within a year the new schoolhouse was completed and Miss Ella Marsh was hired as first teacher followed by Clary Carpenter.  The old schoolhouse was sold to Amos Johnson for six dollars and twenty-five cents. 

From the years, 1870 to 1900, we note the following teachers Almeda Buckbee, Lewis Carpenter, Mary Carpenter May (unknown), Channing Gage, Jason and Asa Owen, Libby, Theodore and Emily Casamer, William Belles, A. O. VanWagoner, Emma  Porritt Thurston, Ernest Smith, Nancy Dalgleish, Della Crawford Williamson, Sarah Orsisco Jones, Harris Crawford, Frank Dutton, Carroll  and I.(J) Y. Clark, Jennie Clark Howarth, Nina Crawford, Ella Sims, Franklin Ivory and Fannie and Sarah Harding; the latter being the first woman teacher to teach the entire winter term. 

Since that time the offices of director, treasurer and moderator have been held successively by I.(J) Y. Clark, Romaine Clark, Jr., Ira Haddrill, Chas. Berridge and John Howarth. 

Clark School District No. Two has always been a peaceful, law-abiding community.  Among their numbers noted eight families have been continuous taxpayers and patrons since the first school was organized in 1834.  Among the students in our school at the present time we find great-great-grandchildren of these old pioneer families. 

Transcribed by:  Linda Shafer Zikewich, granddaughter of Clarence D. Shafer, Owner of Shafer Motor Sales (approx. 1938 to 1965), Lake Orion, Michigan

Submitted by Linda S. Zikewich (Mar 2007)

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