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Marshalltown's pioneer schools

January 20, 2014 - Mike Donahey

In researching the history of Franklin Elementary in Marshalltown, I learned much about the town's pioneer schools, courtesy of Gilbert F. Demry, a former Marshalltown Community School District principal.

Demry authored “Marshalltown Public Schools, 1853-1995,” a work I consulted frequently while compiling the Franklin story for Marshalltimes and found in Sunday’s Times-Republican.

His work is well-researched and easy to read.

For example, he wrote that early settlers did not delay in building the first school.

“Marshalltown was founded in 1851, and two years later, a cabin was built for the first school on the west side of the courthouse square. The teacher was Neri Hoxie,” wrote Demry.

Over time other schools were built.

“A frame schoolhouse was built on the southwest corner of State Street and Second Street — just north of the office building which is home for the State Public Defender and Child Recovery Office, 202-204 W. State St.

As the town grew, the school became overcrowded; so in 1860-1861, a two-story brick school was erected on the southwest corner of North Center Street and State Street, currently the site of the city’s administration building. This school served as “juvenile,” (elementary) “grammar” and high school. J.M. Parker served as principal; Mary Battin was was the grammar school teacher, and Miss Smith taught the juvenile students.”

In 1864, the Marshalltown school separated from the county schools and the Marshalltown Independent School district was formed despite opposition. Seven men were elected. Notable among them was George Glick, treasurer. Glick was a civic-minded businessman, and is revered, along with Henry Anson and other founders, as vital to the town’s early development.

Look for more on Marshalltown and Marshall County school history in Past Times and this blog.



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