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Fort Zumwalt School District

    The earliest settlers of the area were too far removed from any formal schools and had little interest in agriculture since hunting and trapping afforded the most profitable livelihood.  It was not until 1833 with the large immigration of German-born settlers that farming became the number one livelihood.  There were no public schools during this period, and the people were not as generally educated as they are today.  Most parents made an effort to teach their sons how to read, write, and have working knowledge of numbers, but could only do this if they themselves could read and write.  This was not always the case.  As more educated German farmers came into the area, there was more desire on their part for their children to be educated and as soon as they were able, they built crudely constructed schools from logs or hewn timber with roofs of clapboard shingles.

    By necessity, the school term was centered on the winter months as the young men and boys were required for the planting and harvesting of crops.  Wind often carried snow under the shingles and into the loft.  As it melted, students were hard-pressed to find a dry place in which to study.  There was only one room for all the students of all age levels.  Poor roads and much work to do provided for a relatively isolated life.   Community ties were strong and everyone knew their neighbors from miles around.  One of the earliest records of these small one-room schools was of the Mt. Hope School on the Salt River Road (Now Highway P), which opened sometime around 1837.  It could not be called a free public school at its beginning for there were no free public schools in Missouri until the Geyer Act of 1839.  It remained in its original size for over a hundred years and it closed in 1940 because of the public school's consolidation.

    The German-born immigrants brought with them their customs, their religion, and their language and many of these farmers sent their children to the Catholic schools at All Saints, St. Paul, and Old Monroe.  Some of the students spoke and used German in the schools and there was still some study done in German into the early 1900's.  The formation of Assumption Catholic Church in 1871 was as much for the purpose of building a school as it was for the place of worship.

    The earliest public school in O'Fallon was built in 1869 in the area known as Convent Park on the grounds of St. Mary's Institute.  Julius Reichenstein was employed as the first teacher by the townspeople.  In 1910 O'Fallon outgrew the one-room school and built a new school at the corner of West Pitman and School Streets.  By 1947, the town again outgrew the school and the one-room school was replaced with the brick building that still stands on the site.

    In 1947 a school district reorganization law was enacted which required each county in the state to elect a board of education that would be responsible for developing a county plan of reorganization.  The St. Charles County Board of Education proposed combining twelve small districts to form one large district.  Voters approved the formation of this district, the Central School District R-II, in 1949 but in 1966, the Board of Education changed its name to the Fort Zumwalt School District.  Joseph L. Mudd was the first superintendent of R-II.

    Prior to 1959, O'Fallon's public school students had to go to St. Charles for their high school education.  Fort Zumwalt High School held its first classes in the 1959-1960 school year in the building that now houses North Middle School.

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