The History of Burfield School Submitted by Marj Dickerson, 2006 Burfield School District, located in the southwest corner of Section 18 of Towanda Township, was organized in 1865. By this time, Free Schools were financed with money from taxes. A.W. Waldon, Joseph Chorn and Smith Sawyer were the first elected directors. A typical one-room schoolhouse was built with a pump in front and the outhouses in back. It was designated District #7 but the community chose the name Burfield Academy because it was surrounded by fields of cockleburs. The first teacher was Miss Margaret Griffen (Mrs. Lawrence W. McDonald). She passed a written test to be certified to teach. Lucy Sutter (daughter of John Sutter) taught at Burfield for two years, from 1886 to 1888. She was certified by attending Normal University. She married Luis Kraft in 1888. Their six children (Frank, Leo, Pauline, Walter, Raymond and Edith) all attended Burfield. Both Lucy and Luis also attended this school. In 1904, Miss Bernadine Ohara taught at Burfield. There were 22 students in grades one through eight. Later, Josephine Sweeney (sister of Bridget Kraft) taught four years from 1923 to 1927. She received a diploma after attending Normal University for two years--no examination was required. She married Raymond Kraft. Anne, David and Rosemary, three of their children transferred to Burfield when Grove School closed. One of her students was Eleanor Kraft (daughter of Frank and Bridget Sweeney Kraft). Sixty-one years later, in 1927, a modern red brick veneer building replaced the old one at a cost of $6,020. It was equipped with an electric water pump, a fan system for ventilation, a furnace, a storm room with concrete reinforcement, a large all-purpose room and a coal room all in the basement. The classroom was one room with a raised platform for the teacher's desk and also for school programs. Recitation benches were in front of the teacher's desk. There were two large cloakrooms. The front one was used not only for coats and lunches, but also for a piano and victrola. The back one was used for a library. The first teacher in the new school, Miss Catherine Flinspach, taught for one year. Miss Josephine Killian (Casey Jones) then taught from 1928 to 1948 when the school closed. Her duties were many including taking care of the furnace, cleaning the school, warming lunches on the gas stove in the storeroom. She was also the school nurse plus all the duties that go with teaching in a one-room school with all eight grades. Mrs. Ruth Henderson, from Towanda, was the music teacher. Students were taught basic music instruction, how to read music and music appreciation. Each year, under her supervision, students performed an operetta at Towanda High School. At the dedication of the new building on Sunday, October 9, 1927, William Brigham, Superintendent of McLean County Schools, gave the principal address. Board members Frank Kraft, his cousin Henry Sutter and Conrad Schaeffer, gave short talks. Mrs. Luis
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Kraft, a former teacher (Miss Lucy Sutter), read a history of the school. Her grandchildren, Eleanor, Marjorie, Barbara and Louis Kraft, also attended Burfield School. Burfield School closed in 1948 when it became part of the newly formed McLean County Unit No. 5 School District that was organized that year. It was turned over to Unit 5 and then sold to Raymond Kraft for $3,810.00. He remodeled it, rented it and then sold it to four different but related families; Paul and Suzanne McNamee, Gerald and Rosemary Kerber, Edward and Chris Kraft and Mark and Julie Kraft. It was then sold to the Apostolic Christian Church in 1993 and was changed back to the way it was originally-- one room. All of the children of these families attended Burfield School: Henry Thomas, Basil Weber, John King, Paul Weber, John Sweeney, Conrad Schaeffer, Henry Sutter and Frank Kraft. Submitted by Marj Dickerson
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Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal, IL, 61790 - for the Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
Towanda Area Historical Society/Towanda District Library
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