Exploring the history of schools in Roscoe Township


A free presentation on Roscoe Township's early schools will be led by local historians Margaret Downing and Laura McAffee Zwart. The event will be held by the Roscoe Township Historical Society on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Roscoe United Methodist Church. The public is invited. The presentation will show where all the schools were located and what it was like to attend them.

In 1886 there were seven schools in Roscoe Township: Roscoe, Shaw, Burr Oak, Windy Peak, Hayward, Nichols, and White School. Some of them continued to function as late as the 1950’s, before the one-room community schools were consolidated into larger ones.

Education in Roscoe Township began when the first settlers arrived in the 1830s and 1840s, but Zwart says that until school buildings were constructed, these first classes had to fit into other buildings, such as a blacksmith's shop. According to Images of America: Roscoe, written by local historians Dorothy Hunter and Doris Hunter Tropp, a two-story red brick schoolhouse with four rooms was built on Main Street Roscoe in 1855. Before Hononegah High School opened in 1923, high school classes were held on the second story. Windy Peak School was located near the present-day intersection of Rockton Road and Highway 251. White School gave its name to White School Road. Burr Oak School, at Burr Oak and Crockett roads, is now a private residence. It opened in the 1850s and closed in 1948.

Laura McAffee Zwart, President of the Roscoe Township Historical Society, has lived in the Roscoe area her whole life, attending Roscoe schools and Hononegah High School. As a member of the North Boone School Board of Education, she chaired the business committee and community involvement committee. Laura is a charter member of the Roscoe Historical Society Board, a descendant of Robert J. Cross, Roscoe Township’s first settler, and of the Ransom/Worden/Schoonover family.

Margaret Downing is a reporter for Rock Valley Publishing and a volunteer historian. Over several years, Downing transcribed a hundred Civil War letters and two diaries belonging to Union cavalry trooper John Timmermann of Cincinnati. She also transcribed letters and journals dating back to the late 1800s written by Allie Dodge McCurry of Roscoe (1875-1962), the author and set designer of many of the pageants for which the early Roscoe Fall Festivals were famous. 

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