Article submitted by the Waterloo Area Historical Society from archived information
From 1844 to 1963—over the course of 119 years—Dewey School operated as a one-room country school in District #15 in Waterloo Township, Jackson County. The first school, constructed when farmers drove to market with horse-drawn wagons, was built of logs, heated with a woodstove and had no running water. To call pupils together, the teacher rang a hand-bell. The Deweys, Owens, Hawleys, Cromans, Kleins, Willmores, Mayers, and probably many others helped start the school.
As the number of settlers grew, the building became over-crowded with pupils. One evening in 1884, while a group of adults was holding a meeting in the school, a portion of the building collapsed. The structure was later condemned for school purposes, and a new brick building was erected at the present location. In 1885, the building we know today as “Dewey School” was completed.
No one knows for sure why the school was named Dewey. But one of the most likely explanations is that Mr. Solomon Dewey, a local carpenter with five sons to help, did much of the work. In early days, a carpenter or cabinetmaker made all the furnishings for the school. Black boards, wide boards planed very smooth and painted black, were where the teacher put the lessons. Because paper was scarce, most pupils had a slate that they used for arithmetic, penmanship, spelling and grammar.
The Waterloo Area Historical Society acquired Dewey School in 1963. The interior, furnished with a woodstove, desks, books, blackboards, and lunch pails, re-creates the look and feel of a turn-of-the-century school.
Students from several counties spend a half day during May or September immersed in the one-room country school experience. During this time many volunteers are needed to facilitate the educational program. For additional information please call 517-851-8745 or check the website: www.waterloofarmmuseum.org. Dewey School, 11501 Territorial Road, Stockbridge, 49285 is near the corner of Territoral and Mayer Rd. off M-106.