Sunday, March 5, 2017

Going back to Searl Ridge

My last post was about Searl Ridge cemetery. Today I'll give you some back story on the country school and former church that sits on the same property.

  In 1876 land was purchased to build a Methodist Episcopal church which became known as Ridge Chapel. Several years later it became a Congregational church with Parker Hurless as its pastor. In this capacity it served the spiritual needs of the Ridge and surrounding area for nearly fifty years and in 1914 the ladies of the ridge took over the maintenance of the building turning it into a community center in 1921.  It stayed that way until the early 1960's when a group was formed calling itself the Hilltopper's that renovated the chapel, rededicating the building in 1968. Unfortunately I couldn't find any information on when it closed, perhaps one of my followers might share that with us?

The adjacent country school also has a long history. Classes started before Illinois even became a state, the first class meeting in 1837 in a log cabin that stood North of the present building. By 1860 a larger, better building was constructed and rebuilt even larger in 1875.  Jeff Daves was the first teacher there but during it's lifetime there were many more. Dora Larson, Anna Hallberg, Alice Lomax,  Bernice Clark, and so many more. The last teacher was Grace Stuber who presided over the schools closing in 1947 when it consolidated with the school in Bureau Junction.

Today both the school and the chapel are boarded up with No Trespassing signs posted but you can still visit the cemetery and see the buildings as they now stand in silent testimony to an earlier age when Education wasn't seen as a chore but as a Privilege. And as you stand there, eyes closed, you can almost hear the peal of children's laughter and the ringing of the bell as the students are called into class.

1 comment:

  1. I visited the Searl Ridge probably 3 years ago and actually walked around inside the old school.It still had the old blackboards up and gave you the feeling of an old country school.The floor was badly deteriorating though and there were other major issues.Still the school looks great from the exterior and hopefully someone in the future will get the "itch" and save this beauty! The old church,not so much-it is pretty much a wreck.Great info John!


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