Manitowoc County Normal School

By Principal A. R. Thiede

Source: 1848 – 1948 CENTENNIAL HISTORY
of the Manitowoc County School Districts and Public School System
Edited By Jos. J. Rappel, County Superintendent Of Schools 1948

In 1894 County Superintendent of Manitowoc County, C. E. Patzer, attempted to induce the County Board of Supervisors to establish a training school for rural teachers. He argued that the State Normal Schools had virtually refused to offer courses leading to the teaching of rural schools. Since the County Board of Supervisors did not possess the implied powers to establish a teacher training school, efforts were made to secure such authorization from the State Legislature. An act of the Legislature of 1899 made this possible with the result that the first training school for rural teachers was established at Wausau. The second one was set up in Menominee, Wisconsin.

Fred Christiansen who was county superintendent at that time saw the need of special training for rural teachers since the Wisconsin University and the State Teachers’ Colleges (then State Normals) were placing most of their emphasis upon city grade and high school teacher training. Supt. Christiansen carried the burden of a campaign to establish a rural teachers’ training school in Manitowoc County. In 1900 a resolution was presented to the County Board of Supervisors for the establishment of such a school. The resolution was prepared and signed by A. P. Schenian of Manitowoc, John F. Koeck of Eaton, and Supt. Fred Christiansen. The resolution petitioned the County Board to appropriate $1,500 for establishing and maintaining a rural teachers’ training school. The Board adopted this resolution by a large majority on November 22, 1900. A provision in the resolution required that the state provide a like amount. On November 27, 1900 the County Board appointed A. C. Maertz of Reedsville, John Schroeder of Two Rivers and Supt. F. C. Christiansen to act as the Training School Board.

Probably the first formal meeting of this Board occurred December 8, 1900 in the office of the county superintendent of schools. Records show that claims for expenses for the December 8th meeting were allowed by the County Board on May 15, 1901.

During the May 1901 meeting, Resolution 2, pertaining to the establishment of a training school for rural teachers, was introduced. It provided for an additional appropriation of $500.00. The resolution was referred to the district attorney on May 23, 1901. Evidently there was some question of the legality of the resolutions introduced the preceding November and at the May meetings. The district attorney must have brought in an adverse opinion for the County Board of Supervisors on Friday, May 24, 1901 repealed the resolutions previously adopted and related to the establishment of a county training school for rural teachers.

In 1901 the State Legislature enacted Chapter 373, Laws of 1901, making it possible for four more counties to establish Teachers’ Training Schools. The first one mentioned in the new act was Manitowoc County. Since the county now had the right to establish a training school, Resolution 3, which provided for the establishment of a County Teachers’ Training School for Manitowoc County, was adopted by the County Board on May 24, 1901.

Resolution 4, introduced at the same meeting of the Supervisors, asked for an appropriation of $2,000 from the general fund for organizing, equipping, and maintaining a County Teachers’ Training School. It was introduced and signed by County Board Members P. J. Conway of Meeme, Christ Muth of Manitowoc township, Ed. Mohr of Kossuth, W. J. Guetzlow of Kiel, Henry Lehrmann of Two Creeks, and Thomas Gretz of Newton. This resolution was passed and was then signed by Chairman of the County Board, A. C. Maertz and County Clerk A. H. Zander. The Supervisors elected John J. Schroeder and W. J. Guetzloe to serve for three years as the first real Training School Board. Supt. F. C. Christiansen was an ex officio voting member of this Board.

Resolution 5, pertaining to the location of the new school, was adopted by the narrow margin of 15 to 14. It provided for the establishment of the school in the city of Manitowoc. Two Rivers and Reedsville wanted the school established in their community. Reedsville offered the use of the village hall rent free for one year, including fuel and light.

Resolution 6 was also adopted requiring a $500 bond of each Training School Board Member. It further required an annual report from the Training School Board. A third item in the resolution fixed the per diem for the above Board members, at $3.00 and six cents per mile traveling expenses.

The first official meeting of the Training School Board was held at 11:30 A. M. on May 28, 1901 in the county superintendent’s office. W. J. Guetzloe was elected president, John Schroeder treasurer, and F. C. Christiansen ex officio secretary.

At a Training School Board meeting July 31, 1901, H. S. Hyer of Chicago, Illinois, was chosen principal of the school and on August 6 Miss Rosa M. Cheney of River Falls, Wisconsin, was chosen as an assistant. It was decided to locate the school in the Fifth Ward (Garfield) School building. The city agreed to pay the first year’s rent of $400.

The first Training School class of nine men and twenty-three women was graduated July 2, 1902 and on September 2nd of the same year all but three had accepted teaching positions. The members of the first class were Louis Ahlswede, John Arends, Maude E. Bierman, Emma Danforth, Oscar A. Drews, Henry Duckart, Edward Elmer, Julia Evenson, Eleanor Gielow, Mary Greene, Mamie Gunderson, Anna Halberg, Clara Knutson, Roland Kolb, Mamie Linnane, Emma Miller, George P. Mittnacht, Anna B. Morrisey, Joseph Murdock, Anna M. Pritchard, Emily Rauch, Fred Sachse, Lillian Savage, Elizabeth Schneider, Caroline Schumacher, Cornelia Stephenson, Julie Sullivan, Martha Tegen Healy, Ella M. Terkelson, Leona Weilep, Ella Weinfurther and Leonora Zechel.

On September 23, 1904 the Training School was moved to the second floor of the present Public Library in Manitowoc [now the old library]. During the school year of 1922-23 the school was moved to its present permanent quarters.

At a meeting of the County Board on May 22, 1920 the committee on education was instructed to enter into an agreement to purchase the present site from the Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Sault Sainte Marie Railroad for $7,200. On May 4, 1921 the County Board committee composed of John Lorfeld of Centerville, John Ewen of Kossuth, and Joseph Kohlbeck of Cato was named on the building committee for the new school. On June 29, 1921 the County Supervisors authorized the erection of the building costing $53,000 on plans submitted by Smith, Brandt and Reynolds.

The name “County Training School” for teachers remained in effect until 1923 when the State Legislature by an act changed the name to County Rural Normal School.

The personnel of the Normal School Board has changed very little over the period of forty-five years of the school’s existence. The following persons, in addition to the county superintendents who are ex officio members of the Board, have served on the Board: John Schroeder of Two Rivers, W. J. Guetzloe of Kiel, H. C. Wilke of Two Rivers, John Bertsche of Meeme, Peter Schroeder of Two Rivers, Fred Baugniet of Francis Creek, Mrs. L. L. C. Schmidt of Mishicot; and Edwin Koutnik of Two Rivers.

Only three principals have served the school during its entire existence: H. S. Hyer, later President of the Stevens Point State Teachers’ College, served from 1901 to 1904; Fred C. Christiansen served from 1904 to 1934; A. R. Thiede from 1934 up to the present time.

The minimum entrance requirement in 1901 was for the applicant to hold an eighth grade diploma. High school graduation was not necessary at that time. About 1904 the requirements for graduation from the Training School were raised to two years of schooling beyond the eighth grade. In 1925 diplomas were granted only to those having five years of work above the eighth grade, including the one year of the Training School course. Up to 1936 all graduates received credit for only one year of college level work. At that time the Manitowoc County Rural Normal went on the two years of college level basis and graduates receive credit for two years of work in elementary education at the state teachers’ colleges.

The total number of graduates to date is over 1100. All of them have done exceedingly well as rural teachers while in the profession. Many of them have gained county, state, and national recognition in the fields of agriculture, politics, industry and the professions.

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