A

 

COMMUNITY HISTORY

 

OF

 

PHETTEPLACE SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

AND

 

MIDLAND COUNTY

 

Prepared by

 

The

 

Phetteplace Eighth Grade Class

 

1947-48

 

                        Frances Ann Coleman                                          James Oldham

 

                        Shirley Kauffman                                                Glenna Schreiber

 

Lois Ann Shaffner

 

Under the direction of Florence Vincent, Teacher

 


 

Acknowledgments

 

 

 

     Grateful thanks is due to the following people and

agencies, without whose help the writing of this history

would not have been possible.

     Residents of Phetteplace School District and parents

of children attending school, to Mr. Fred C. Squire for

loaning his thesis on the History of Midland County, to

the Midland City Library for helping us find material,

to Mrs. Oldham who has done our typing, and to Miss Arlene

Poscal of the office of the county superintendent for

cutting the stencils.

 

                                                                             Eighth Grade Class

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERESTING EXPERIENCES

         The very first thing we learned was that we could not get very far without a plan, so as soon as we had decided what we wanted to do we took time to plan what to do and how we wanted to do it.

        First we took several field trips, some to woods for nature study, others to reforestation projects.  We also brought loads of weeds to school to identify.  Then we questioned our parents and neighbors as to the number of acres of crops planted and the yield of those acres.

        We got much of our materials from old books owned by our teacher, parents and neighbors.  Some of them had pictures of our parents and grandparents.  From these, we had many a good laugh.

        Our class went to the city library one evening.  Most of us had never been there before, so it was a new experience for us.  We were surprised at the number of old and new books we found there.  The librarian was very helpful in finding the information we needed.  We made several visits before we had collected all the material we wanted.

        We had very interesting interviews with the Midland Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Mr. Russell of the Community Center, the city engineer and of course several of the old residents of our community.

        Mr. Leo McMillan sent an old school record of 1886 to school for us to study.  He found it in the walls of his old home when he was tearing it down to make way for a new house.  It was fun to read the financial report and compare it with now, also to read the school roll.  We found many of our relatives and old neighbors’ names there.

        We enjoyed our work very much and wish to thank all who helped us.

                                                                                                     The Eighth Grade

                                                                                                            Phetteplace 1948

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HISTORY OF OUR SCHOOL

        Early records show that our district was originally a part of the Bluff School District which was organized in 1856.  At first there were only eight or nine pupils but it soon grew to eighty pupils.  There were no regular text books, those found in the homes being used.  The teacher was paid $1.00 per week and “boarded round.”

        The first school in our district was of frame construction.  It was located on the N.E. corner of the farm now owned by Mrs. Fred Crampton, and faced the West.  Mrs. Chase, who still lives in our district, attended this school for several terms.  Some of the lumber from this old structure was used to build the present garage on the Chase residence.

        There being an overcrowded condition in this school, Mr. Wm. Phetteplace, who settled here in 1864, took the initiative in forming our present district, presumably in 1865 or shortly thereafter.

        The first teacher was Emma Blodgett and the director was Mr. Phetteplace.  It has always been known as the Phetteplace School.

        Leo McMillan has an old school board record of 1886 which was found in a partition of the old A. R. McMillan home when it was torn down.

        The report tells us that there were seats for eighty pupils in this upgraded schoolroom.  The teacher’s names were not given but Mr. A. R. McMillan was the director.  The female teacher was paid $96.00 for three months, while the man teacher was paid $240.00 for six months.  The total expenses, including the balance on hand of $130.00, was $636.14 for the school year.

        Some of the pupils whose names are familiar to all of us are:  Arthur Thayer, Otto Johnson, Andrew Phetteplace, Carrie Mann (Mrs. Chase), Mary Jasper (Mrs. Chas. Sasse), and Thomas Shaffner.

        The first school building was 24ʹ x 24ʹ, covered with wide pine boards running up and down and battened.  About 1898 this school was enlarged by adding twenty feet to the north end and was covered with brick.

        In 1913, the enrollment begin so large, more space was needed.  Another twenty foot addition was built and the partition set back ten feet, thus making two rooms twenty-four by thirty-feet in size.  The school officers at this time were Hugh McMillan, director, Herbert Vincent, treasurer, and Wm. Betts moderator.

        The ninth and tenth grades were added at this time and were taught until the year 1919-1920 when for one year there was only one room.  This was not satisfactory so two teachers were hired the following year.  The ninth grade was taught until 1945.

        In 1930 the school building burned.  The fire was caused by one of the boys putting kerosene on live coals in the stove.  It exploded and set the building on fire.  The fire was thought to be out but a few minutes later the belfry was found to be ablaze.  The fire had followed the rope.  The brick veneered pine building burned very fast.

        The up-to-date building was soon constructed and occupied.  It has two rooms and a library with full basement.  It has indoor flush toilets and sanitary drinking fountains.  The water is supplied by an electric pump from a deep well.  There is an auditorium with stage in the basement which seats about two hundred.  The building is steam heated, and a constant temperature maintained by the use of a stoker.

        There are fifty-three pupils in our school at the present time, twenty-four in the grammar room, and twenty-nine in the primary room.  Our district has seventeen pupils attending high school in Midland, nine attending colleges and two who are training to be nurses.

 

HOMES

        There are about forty-three homes in our school district.  Most of them one frame houses, but of course there are a few brick ones.  They are, on an average, about thirty years old and have about seven rooms each.

        Most of the older houses have been remodeled.  Nearly all of them have bathrooms and basements.  All but five homes have electricity, so modern appliances are in extensive use.  Most every house has running water.

        They are nearly all two story homes.  Some of the people have put insulation in the walls and some have put siding on the outside of the houses.  Nearly every house has had some kind of an improvement made on it.

 

POPULATION

        There are about two hundred and sixty-seven people who live here permanently.

        In the summer time we have about one-hundred Mexicans who come here to work in the beets.

 

AGRICULTURE

        Nearly all the residents of our community are farmers, although some work at the Dow.  One is a storekeeper, and one has an apiary.

        The soil is mostly clay loam with a few sand ridges running through it.  The main crop is beans.  We estimated that 684 acres of beans were grown in our school district last year.

        Estimates we made of other crops grown were:  305 acres of wheat, 1,000 acres of corn, 235 acres of beets, 80 acres of barley, 156 acres of oats, 280 acres of hay and 28 acres of buckwheat.  The estimated value of our cash crops for 1947 was:  Beans, $73,872.00 – Beets, $30,000.00 – Wheat, $21,700.00.

        Most of the farmers have from ten to twenty head of cattle, a few pigs, about one hundred hens and no horses.  Nearly all the farmers have at least two tractors with all the modern equipment that goes with them.  We have in our community one beet harvester, several beet loaders and a new tile laying machine.  The average acreage farmed is two hundred acres.

 

FARM PESTS

Fruit Tree Pests

        The coddling moth on the apple tree is a very harmful pest.  The worms infest the apples.  They can be controlled by spraying with arsenate of lead at blossoming time.

        Another pest of the fruit tree is San Jose Scale which is also controlled by a spray.  Lately, the ladybug beetle, which is very helpful in controlling the insect causing this scale, has been brought over from China.

 

WHEAT PESTS

        The Hessian Fly is very destructive some years.  It is especially harmful to winter wheat.  The flies are small and suck the juice from the stem of the wheat.  There is no cure for a badly infested field.  To be sure that the flies do not attack the wheat, it can be planted after the danger from flies is over.  The county agricultural agent should be consulted for the date of planting.

 

ENEMIES OF BEANS

        A pest of the beans is the bean weevil.  It eats holes in the bean pods and lays its eggs in them.  The eggs hatch when the beans are in the bins.  The only cure for weevils is fumigation, or heating them to high enough temperature to kill them.

        The bean beetle eats the leaves of the growing plants.

 

CORN PESTS

        The corn pests are the corn borer and the ear worm.  The corn borer gets inside the stalks and eats them.  The best way to get rid of them is to dispose of all stalks.  The ear worm gets into the ear of the corn and eats it.  The only way to get rid of them is to spray with D.D.T. or cut off the silks and apply a drop of mineral oil.

 

VEGETABLE ENEMIES

        Potato bugs are controlled by an arsenate of lead spray.

        Squash and cucumber beetles bother our gardens.  They are sucking insects and are controlled by a thorough dusting.

        Tomato worms are easily controlled with an arsenate spray.

 

WEEDS

        Farm weeds of our community we learned to identify are:

Milkweed                                              Sow thistle                                                 Bull thistle

Canada thistle                                        Purslane                                                     Pigweed

Ragweed                                               Tumbleweed                                              Goldenrod

Mullein                                                  Sticktight                                                    Burdock

Sour dock                                              Wild carrot                                                 Wild chicory

Wild mustard                                         Morning-glory                                            Catnip

June grass                                              Foxtail                                                       Squaw grass

Smartweed                                            Dandelion                                                  Redroot

 

 

FORESTS

        It is estimated that there are about five hundred and eighty-three acres of uncleared land in our community.  Of this about one-hundred and sixty-three acres is suitable for lumbering.

        The trees which grow here and are suitable for lumbering are hard maple, soft maple, oak, ash, elm, beech, pine and walnut.  The trees that are not suitable for lumber are cottonwood, willow, birch and poplar. 

        The trees that are suitable for lumber grow on damp, rich soil.  The trees that are not suitable for lumber usually grow on sandy, light soil.  Pine trees grow on sandy soil also.

        There hasn’t been much reforesting done in this community, although a couple of farmers have set out evergreen trees on their sand hills.

        If every farmer who has light soil on his farm would plant trees on it, the trees would hold the soil and increase the value of the land.

 

CHURCHES

        The First Methodist Episcopal Church was the first religious organization in Midland.  It was organized in September, 1857, by S. Clemens, then presiding elder of the Flint District.  The first class book was dated February 5, 1858.

        A board of trustees was appointed in June, 1863, and a donation of lots for a church site was received from John Moore of Saginaw.

        In May, 1864, the site was located and in 1866 a building committee appointed and the erection of the present church edifice commenced –a frame forty feet by seventy feet.  The building was completed in 1869 and dedicated on October 4, 1869, by Rev. J. M. Reid of Chicago, John Hamilton being pastor.

        In the fall and winter of 1885 and 1886, during the pastorate of C. M. Thompson, the church edifice was moved to the corner of Fitzhugh and Main Streets.  A brick basement was placed under it at a cost of fourteen hundred dollars.  The first pastor in the new location was Rev. Rufus H. Crane whose salary was one hundred and fourteen dollars and two cents.

 

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

        The First Presbyterian Church was organized on September 4, 1867, by Rev. M. Gelsten, T. L. Waldo and William Ure.  A church building was erected on the corner of Larkin and Townsend Streets, but soon afterward it was entirely consumed by fire.  From that time on to 1880 the church had neither house nor pastor.

        In October, 1890 Rev. P. S. Davies took charge of the scattered flock and set out to build a church.  In 1882 the new church was completed.  It was dedicated September 25, 1882, by Rev. Chapman, assisted by Davies.

 

BAPTIST SOCIETY

        A meeting was held in the Presbyterian Church June 2, 1869, for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Society.  It was organized under the name of First Baptist Church of Midland City.

        On August 7, 1869, a meeting was held for the purpose of deciding upon some means by which they could obtain aid in building a house of worship.

        On January 15, 1870, they held their meeting in the new church.

 

EPISCOPAL CHURCH

        The first Episcopal Church services held in the village of Midland were conducted by Rev. John Leach, in October 1867.

 

CATHOLIC CHURCH

        William B. Kelly and his family came to this country from Canada in 1866.  He found no Catholic Church in Midland so he and John Haley, Edward Haley, D. Chism and others met at his house for worship.

        In October 1870, Father Scutchin of Bay City said the first mass in the county at Mr. Kelly’s home.

        They wished to build a church and went to Mr. Larkin for a piece of his farm on which to build.  He told them “Go, and select any part of my land that you wish and take it for free of any charges.”  The offer was accepted.  Mr. Larkin afterwards donated one hundred dollars besides lumber and other materials.  The church building was started in 1870 and was completed in one year at a cost of eighteen hundred dollars.

        The first pastor was Father Burns and then Father McNamara.

 

COMMUNITY CENTER

        The Community Center was started in 1917 and finished in 1919.  The money was contributed by citizens.  After it was finished it was used for meetings, gym classes, social affairs, dances, Boy and Girl Scout meetings, bowling, banquets and other things.

        Over five hundred boys and men attended meetings and recreational doings.  At first not many girls and women used its facilities but later it became more popular with them.  At the present time it is being used by sewing, model airplane and camera clubs.  They have basketball, volley ball and other games.  There are classes in square dancing, tap and ballet dancing.  More than six hundred children take part in the latter classes.

        There is a fine youth program.  The game room, in which shuffleboard, ping pong, checkers and many other games is open at all times.  Women’s gym classes are held there regularly.

        The Community Center is supported in the following way:  50% of the cost comes from the Community Fund, 49% from private donation and the Dow Company, and 1% from small fees.

 

CITY LIBRARY

        Some citizens of Midland became interested in preserving books, magazines and newspaper clippings that in later years would be interesting and educational.  Enough interest was created that in 1889 the people voted to establish a city library.  It was located at the corner of Ellsworth and Ashman Streets.  About 1920 the present Carnegie Library was established.

        The first librarian was Miss Mary Dow, who held the position until 1900.

        The number of books has grown from two hundred in 1889 to twenty-five thousand at the present time.

 

©  2012 of transcription by Barbara Thornton

©  2012 by Donna Hoff-Grambau
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