Illinois Sixth Graders Publish History Book

Grants in Place project brings the past to life.

June 6, 2017 |

We love to hear from our Grants in Place recipients, so we were pleased as punch to receive this update from Dr. Patricia Cornell, superintendent for the St. Rose School District in St. Rose, Illinois. Beverly Kapp, Amy Diekemper and St. Rose sixth graders received a 2016-17 Grants in Place award of $1,000 for their Community Heritage Project. Students from the sixth grade English Language Arts class collaborated with other grade levels to research the history of the community, school, and local parish. A community group of local historians under the direction of Cathy Jansen also worked with the school. While the students worked primarily on the written history, the adults focused on the family tree of early settlers in St. Rose. Here was an earlier grant update: Check out this grant update!

Thanks to everyone involved in this project. Telling the story of community is appropriate and important. Below is Patty's letter and the student-written manuscript.

Dear Rural Schools Collaborative,

I've attached a draft copy of the St. Rose History that was developed with our sixth grade class. I'm proud of the way they put the information gathered together. It is interesting. We have pictures and interviews that will be added. We are in process of checking accuracy and then will send it off to Scholastic for publishing. They have a student work publishing program. The money from the grant will be used to pay for books for each student and then some for display at the sesquicentennial. It has been an interesting project made possible through this grant.

Thank you, Patty Cornell and the Sixth Grade Class at St. Rose

St. Rose History

This story began with the pilgrims settling at Plymouth Rock in 1620 on the East coast near what is now the state of Massachusetts. By the 1800’s, the thirteen colonies became crowded and people wanted to move to an area that had more land. They set out for the Wild West in their covered wagons pulled by horses or oxen. There was a wagon road laid out through a section of land that would become Illinois in the year 1808. The road was dirt and often had rocks creating a rough and bumpy ride. The road crossed through an area now known as Clinton County and crossed the Kaskaskia River at the General Dean Suspension bridge on Highway 50 in Carlyle. There is a marker by the bridge telling of this story. Imagine how difficult it would be to cross the river in a covered wagon before the bridge was built!

It is on this road that the first settlers came to the area in the northwest corner of Clinton County. The area was known for a beautiful elevation called Blue Mound. For this reason, the area was known as Blue Mount before becoming St. Rose. Joseph Taylor, a Methodist minister came and preached around the area, primarily at Shoal Creek near Jamestown until 1845. He built the first homestead on 3000 acres of farmland.

Here is a picture of a home built in 1843 by Christian Pfister. The pictures are from 1890. The home is called the Rock House and it is reported that it was built on a small meandering creek that kept the building cool. Rumors include that the refrigerated basement kept moonshine out of sight and much cooler during the warm summer months. This story is not confirmed.

Around 1849, many German Catholics moved into the area from Westphalia Germany. They joined the others who settled in areas such as Jamestown and Highland. These settlers attended the “Mother Church of Clinton County” which is St. Boniface in nearby Germantown. As time went on, their numbers grew and they became determined to start a church of their own. In spite of extreme poverty, they were filled with faith and determination. In 1867, about twenty farmers called a meeting and declared “if we must pay off debts, why not build our own church and have God here in our midst!” This began the construction of St. Rose Catholic Church.

On August 30, 1868, the cornerstone was laid. This was the same day as the Feast of St. Rose of Lima. The church was originally called the Roman Catholic Church of Blue Mound. Construction was complete in 1871 and it wasn’t until the official dedication that the first Priest, Father kamann, suggested changing the name to St. Rose. This was in 1873. Along with the fact that there already was a community called Blue Mound, the people liked the new name so much that they changed the name of the town to St. Rose also. The church located on the property is the same church that was built in 1871.

Immediately after the construction was complete, the land across the street was purchased for the cemetery. In 1893, the church was enlarged with the existing entrance and the beautiful 150 foot steeple. It is said that during construction, one of the workers fell to his death and became the first person buried in the cemetery.

Peter Schuette was born in Littstaedt Germany in 1838. He came to America at 18 years of age. He first settled in St. Libory and later moved to a farm at the southwest corner of St. Rose. In 1863, Peter opened a general store across the street and south of the church grounds. The original store was called the Peter Schuette Trading Post. The store offered a wide range of goods needed by the settlers. They sold dry goods, notions, shoes, stoves, tailor-made clothing, groceries, harnesses, sewing machines, other hardware, and barb wire fencing. The General Store also dealt with live animals such as horses and cows. The following year, a post office was opened in the store.

Peter’s two sons, Joseph and Frank, began working in the store in 1887 and the store continued to grow. The Methodist church was moved board by board from Jamestown in 1898 to serve as a much needed warehouse for the Post. In the 1930’s, Francis and Peter joined the business and soon there were additional stores in nearby towns. The first picture is a photo of the old store known as the Peter Schuette Trading Post. The second is of Little Rosie's as we know and love it today.

By now there were twenty-two homes and 120 People in the St. Rose Community. The families began to develop businesses such as wagon makers, carpenters, blacksmithing, taverns with lodging for travelers. Most of the families were farmers, but as people came through on their way west, they needed the other businesses and the town began to prosper.

Early stories tell that the families were interested in education for their children. There were several one-room schools built around the area such as the Old Brick School or Turner School located about two miles south of town; the Taylor School which was two miles east; Fricker School about three miles north west; and the Sutton School which was a mile and half southwest. The Beckmann School was located to the north. A similar small school was built on church property because the farmers wanted their children to be taught by a Catholic School Teacher with instruction in German.

With the growth in St. Rose and much of their debt paid off, in 1881, a two story brick building was erected where the oldest part of the school is. The first story contained classrooms and the second story served as living quarters. The Sister Adorers of the Most Precious Blood from Ruma IL provided the Nuns to serve the School. We still remember Sister Justina who is a member of the Adorers of the Most Precious Blood and taught at our school for many years and after retiring helped in the cafeteria. She moved to the Mother House in Ruma, IL in 2015.

There are many Grandparents who remember the school. Their favorite subject were reading and math. They didn’t have technology and they loved to play outside. There was a fence on the playground at that time. The fence kept the girls and boys from playing with each other as the boys were described as unseemingly rough. The boys used a hot poker to put peek-holes into the fence and were caught watching the girls as they jumped rope. It soon became evident that the girls were also using the peek-holes to watch the boys. A favorite game back then and now is dodgeball. After school, many of the students went home to work on the family farm or business. Today, students are involved in family farms or business and also in a wide range of sports or extracurricular activities.

Other stories from Grandparents include bringing lunch from home and walking to or from school. The school started to serve lunch around 1959 and providing bus service in 1949. A favorite meal was sloppy joes because it was a “hot meal.”

The majority of families in the St. Rose area were Catholic and appreciated the religious training through the school. The enrollment in the public schools decreased to the extent that District 14 and 15 were consolidated and with the approval of Father Quack and the parishioners, the parish school became leased to the newly combined Districts. The newest of the public school buildings was purchased by the Parish and moved onto the school grounds to add room for the new students. Since 1921, St. Rose School has been in the public school system but honors their Catholic heritage through the Parish School Religion classes each morning.

In 1924, the current two story building where you are in class was built replacing the old school building. Frank Ludewig was the Architect and it cost $34,700. Many people helped and this kept the cost down. In 1929, a three year high school curriculum was added. Due to low numbers, a second year was offered but the program discontinued. After that, those who went on to high school went to Aviston. In 1935 there was an addition to the school for heating system. The addition included toilets and automatic watering system. It cost $6,558. This fact makes me wonder if there were bathrooms in the two story building or was there an outhouse located somewhere outside. A kitchen and dining hall were added in 1959. In 1965 and 1967, mobile units were purchased to house the growing number of students and increased the ability to provide music, chorus, and band.

There was a small white building on the east side of the campus. This was the Sutton School moved in 1909. It was used as a part time school room. It was also used as a gathering hall for the school children and community members. In 1970 the gym was built to replace it. The gym had a kitchen, cafeteria, and bathrooms too. Students had to walk outside to get to the cafeteria and gym. The gym and cafeteria area are designated as an emergency shelter with the Red Cross. If there were a tornado or earthquake where people had to leave their homes, the school would be open to help. Finally, five classrooms were added in 2000 through the State Construction Grant. That cost a lot more money that the other additions combined. It had bathrooms inside and connected the school with the cafeteria and gym. Students no longer had to go outside.

St. Rose incorporated as a Village in 2016. A new village government was elected in April, 2017. Prior to that, it was run by a Township Committee consisting of three people. The St. Rose Development Corporation was founded in 1957. This group met every second Monday of the month to discuss township business and make plans for community growth. This group still meets today and is known as the St. Rose Development Club. They built the park and provide for the town's water, sewer, and street lights. They still help us today and are supported by Fundraisers such as: Glow in the Park, Reverse Drawing, Meat Shoot, St. Rose Picnic, Mid-Summer Classic and many others.

St. Rose Volunteer Fire Department is an important part of our community. It takes care of us in many more ways than just putting out fires. They are the first responders when there is an accident. They come to the school for Fire Prevention Week. Many of our parents volunteer their time with the Fire Department.

St. Rose is still a farming community with some businesses. Their population is around 900 with 170 students in the school. The school is one of the top schools in the state and people come back to visit their beloved home of the Wildcats.

School Song:

We are the Wildcats. The St. Rose Wildcats.

The pride of every student here.

Come on you old grads, join with the young lads.

The St. Rose Wildcats now we cheer. Rah! Rah!

Now is the time boys, to make a big noise

And show our loyalty too our school.

For there is none to fear, the gangs all here.

So hail the St. Rose Wildcats Now!

Say Rah!

Go Wildcats!

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