Lower Martin Street School, Champion District 3

The Lower Martin Street school derived its name from the fact that its district was the farther downriver of the two Martin Street districts between West Carthage and Great Bend.  The schoolhouse was built on a hill rising 80 feet above the Black River and 40 feet above the surrounding lands.  Martin Street passes over the hill and by the schoolhouse, a connecting road leads directly to the shore of the Black River and joins Johnnycake Road which parallels the river's western bank. 

The earliest records of Champion District No. 3 begin on June 23, 1821, when a document which leased the school lot to the district for as long as "they shall use and occupy the same for a public school" was drafted, signed and recorded at the Jefferson County's clerk's office on January 29, 1829, in Book of Deeds B2, page 1829.  In the 1860s there were references to the "Mix School", undoubtedly because of the proximity of the farm owned by Joel Mix, one of Champion's pioneer settlers.  It is known that a new schoolhouse (the last one) was build in the 1890s and that an acre of land was bought from LeRoy Wood and added to the lot.  The new school was not built on the original 40-foot square lot.

The district voted in 1936 to spend not more than $200 to fix the school grounds.  The first vote to close the Lower Martin Street school occurred in 1938, and was defeated.  Motions to hire a music teacher and a nurse were also defeated.  A motion to have a public health nurse visit the school was again defeated in 1941, it was decided, however to drill a well on the school grounds.  District 3 was awarded $75 as compensation for damage to its property when the new cement highway was laid on Martin Street. The 1946 school meeting directed that electric lights be installed in the schoolhouse and in 1951-52 a new roof and siding were provided for in the budget.  At the May 5, 1953 meeting,  oil heat was to be installed if no janitor could be hired, but District No. 3 quietly passed out of existence with the organization of the Carthage Central school system in the fall of 1953.  At a special meeting on April 6, 1954, 13 voters decided to close the school, 10-3.

The roll of teachers before 1919 is very scant.  Among those who taught before 1900 2343 Letta Douglas, Lula Loomis and Mable Ash.  In the period between 1900 and 1919 teachers included Adell Bossuot, Laura Barr, Mill Delmore, Miss Eugenia Burhanse, Miss Bertha Gates, Mary Gates, Mildred Rice, Ruth Reynolds and Elda Vrooman.  A complete record of teachers from 1919 follows:  1919-20, Ruth M. Wood; 1920-22, Fleda Shorey; 1922-25, Mabel Bacon; 1925-26, Korleen C. Nichols; 1926-27, Hilda L. Wood; 1927-28, Ruth Williams; 1928-30, Mary Hoover; 1930-31, Desta Bolger; 1934-35, Vernita M Yerdon; 1935-6, Vernita M Yerdon Shampine; 1936-37, Susan A. Smith; 1937-44, Marion Hubbard; 1944-48, Margaret Phillips; 1943-51, Mary Christman; 1951-54, Marion Redmond.

At a special meeting Oct. 8, 1956, voters of former District 3 carried a motion to sell the school at public auction.  At the auction Jan. 26, 1957, the building was sold to Vere L. and Margaret M. Humes of Great Bend.

CRT, April 16, 1959

This is currently the home of Diane and Chuck Knight.  The bathrooms were located where the large picture window is now; Diane said they found the tanks when they excavated for a new foundation.  The old door to the school was right where she has her stove; looking at the picture above solved a question concerning a wall seam that she had frequently wondered about.  When they bought the home, there were old school desks and books upstairs.  Their son's bedroom had original wainscoting until recently.  The original building has been extensively added to in both directions.