In the beginning: Jefferson Elementary School
by Linda Kennedy
Jul 01, 2014 | 1862 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cecil Westerman stands in front of Pleasant Grove School, which many people may not recognize as a school building.   Westerman purchased the school at an auction on Aug. 30, 1958 and made the old school into his home, where he still resides.
— Linda Kennedy |Metropolis Planet
Cecil Westerman stands in front of Pleasant Grove School, which many people may not recognize as a school building. Westerman purchased the school at an auction on Aug. 30, 1958 and made the old school into his home, where he still resides. — Linda Kennedy |Metropolis Planet
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth of a six-week series highlighting county and city schools before the school consolidations in the 1950s. Next week, the series will conclude with Maple Grove Elementary School.

Jefferson School was built in 1955, with the District 5 schools, positioned in the northwest corner of Massac County, agreeing to consolidate in May 1952. The school is located at 4915 Jefferson School Rd.

The former schools included:


Massac County Illinois History 1843 to 1987 stated that Bethlehem School District was located in the northwest corner of Massac County, near the Pope County line, and was primarily in a farming community. The school was located approximately 4 miles from Jefferson School.

Some of the names of the families who made up the community were: Russell, Rottmann, Deasel, Lampe, Fink, Ditterline, Harper, Middagh, Stratmeyer, Markus, Brenningmeyer, Rieneking, Horman, Korte, Bremer, Logeman and Kraper.

Bethlehem closed its doors in the spring of 1953, when the era of the one-room school was coming to an end.

Pleasant Union School

The school was located northwest of Round Knob. In Massac County Illinois History 1843 to 1987, a brief article described the school year as Aug. 20, 1934 to May 3, 1935.

The teacher was Edna Bremer, who was paid $360 for the year, or $45 per month. The school library had 133 books, and the school hours were 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m. The following subjects were taught: reading, physiology, arithmetic, numbers, language, grammar, spelling, history, penmanship and geography.

During that school term, there were 10 boys and eight girls from grades first through eighth.

Round Knob School

The school was built in 1907, where segregated classes were taught on opposite sides of the hall. Later, the school closed and became a grocery store, operated by Milledge Woodard.

Upper Anderson School

The school was located east of Jefferson School and was used for many years after its closing for 4-H and a community service building.

St. John Lutheran Church

The church, which is located at 5187 Old Marion Rd. near Jefferson School, was founded in 1861. In the early-1900s, a private school was also housed at the church for seventh- and eighth -grade students where German was taught. The school was used for the transmission of the German language and learning of the Lutheran doctrine.

Big Bay School

Big Bay School was located north of Metropolis. Following the closing of the school, the building was used for the storage of grain, hay and other farm items.


Enterprise School was located between Mermet and Round Knob. It is believed that the school was built in the late-1800s and early-1900s


Benton School was located 2 miles west of what is now St. John Lutheran Church, formerly known by many as the Houseman School. The school dates back from 1860 through 1910.

New Columbia

According to Kay Rottmann of Metropolis, New Columbia District 44-A was the first consolidated district, occurring on May 7, 1949. “Five grade schools were consolidated, including New Hope, New Columbia, Black Hill and Samoth.

“I attended first through fifth grade at the New Columbia School, which was located behind the former New Columbia Store,” stated Rottmann. “The New Columbia High School was closed in 1949; however, I attended sixth through eighth grade in the former high school and later graduated in 1956 from Metropolis Community High School.

“I remember the high school at New Columbia had a large full-size gymnasium and three classrooms,” Rottmann added.

Even though it is no longer standing, the high school was located on the west edge of New Columbia.

Shady Grove

No information could be found about the Shady Grove School that was located in the Jefferson District. However, Rottmann thought that it was located near Mermet and was possibly a school for black students.

Pleasant Grove

Pleasant Grove School was located on Orchard Road in Massac County, built in 1887. Its doors were closed in 1953, with students moving to Unity Elementary School. However, where the school is located today would be in Jefferson School district.

The school housed first through eighth grade students, and one of it pupils was Cecil Westerman, 87, of Metropolis. A 1944 graduate of Metropolis Community High School, Westerman attended Pleasant Grove from 1932 to 1940.

“I remember all my teachers: Alma Kruger Mittendorf, Thelma Lampe Shephard, Myrtle Copley Wiseman, Gilbert Lampe and Blanche Kennedy,” said Westerman. “I guess Miss Kennedy was my favorite. She was my eighth grade teacher.”

The original school burned in 1935, caused by a wood furnace that heated the school. While the second school was being built, classes were held for six months in the small Voting House, located down the road.

“I remember when I was young, that the school didn’t have a well on the property, so one of the chores of the older boys was to walk across the road and carry a bucket of water each morning from the cistern. The water was placed in the back of the school with one cup for us to share,” explained Westerman.

Pleasant Grove School still stands because Westerman purchased the school at an auction on Aug. 30, 1958 and, with the help of Eldred Kennedy, made the old school into his home, where he still resides today.

— — — — —

At the June 23 Unit One School, the board members deactivated seventh and grade grads classes at Jefferson School. Beginning this fall, Jefferson students will range in age from kindergarten through sixth grade,

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