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Old Schools and Cemeteries

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Old Schools and Cemeteries

I have undertaken a project that is filled with fun, very rewarding, and full of nostalgia . My project is to photograph all the old school houses and cemeteries located in the county where I grew up, Logan County, Illinois.

When I was a youngster, I traveled the roads of Logan County from east to west and north to south. My father and I spent almost every weekend during the fall and winter hunting season traveling these roads. In the spring and summer we traveled the same roads to our fishing spots. I don't believe there is a road in Logan County that I haven't traveled on! Our pursuit of the feathered, the furred, and the scaled creatures took us down many roads of the adjoining counties, as well as Logan, so I am familiar with parts of those counties as well. For now, though, I will limit my project strictly to photographing within Logan County.

I began the project a few years ago only to quit because I became frustrated by the lack of detailed information on the location of several cemeteries and old school houses. The location of many of these cultural features I knew from first-hand experience. I had walked by several of the small, rural cemeteries while hunting. Some of the old dilapidated schoolhouses became favorite hunting spots my dad and I frequently visited for Mr. Cottontail.

Tuttle School remnants make excellent habitat for wildlife.

I was aware that there were several cemeteries and old school houses that I had not seen in my youth. Unfortunately, maps from the Logan County Genealogical Society were, in part, inaccurate and not detailed enough to locate specific school sites accurately enough to find and photograph them. I realized that photographing just the schools and cemeteries I was familiar with was more realistic than photographing ALL of those that existed in Logan County.

As the years went past, I found that the maps and websites got better and provided more accurate information on the location of the sites I wanted to photograph. I decided that maybe it was the time to pursue my original goal of photographing all the cemeteries and old school houses in Logan County with a little more effort and determination than I had shown in the last few years.

Howser Cemetery's location was done through Flash Earth on the computer.

I now have in my possession lists and maps and coordinates of almost all those places that I wanted to photographically record. With Flash Earth I am able to pinpoint, to within a few feet, the locations of where some of the old schools used to be. Pinpointing the locations of some of these schools is important because most of the rural schools have been torn down, in which case I photograph the parcel of land the school once stood on.

Honey Hook School once stood across the road where there is now a cornfield.

Many of the old school sites now have a house built on the spot where the school once stood so I photograph the house.

The site where Prairie College School was located now has a house at the location.

I decided to photograph the site where the school once stood, whether the school was still there, whether it has been remodeled into a house, whether it has been torn down and a house built, or whether there is nothing there now but a farm field.

American Hill School was remodeled many years ago into a house.

Through the use of the computer, Logan County Highway maps, school and cemetery latitude and longitude coordinates, I have the locations of all the places where my "subjects" exist today or once existed. So now it is just a matter of time (and gas prices) before I reach my goal.

Logan County is comprised of 17 townships and occupies 619 square miles of Illinois land. It has had in its history 125 schools (most of which were the old one-room school house type) and 65 cemeteries, most open to the public, but a few private.

Bell Cemetery (private) has nine gravestones.

After my outing yesterday I have photographed a total, so far, of 18 different school sites and 27 different cemeteries. I have a ways to go before finishing this project, but each outing is filled with so many memories of my youth that get relived as I travel along the country roads of Logan County.

Interesting. Can't wait to see them.
Bill Pearch   Thursday, February 23, 2012
Cool project. I love driving county roads when I'm not in a hurry.
jef   Thursday, February 23, 2012
Sounds like a book in the making!
dannie   Friday, February 24, 2012
Steve, my Dad attended a one room school in Johnston County, North Carolina up until the seventh grade. After the seventh grade, he went to a High School in Selma, North Carolina. I have in my possesion his high school class ring and diploma. There is a group of Selma High Alumni that are wanting to have a showing of SHS artifacts, and I am going to let them borrow them.
BeanCounter37   Friday, February 24, 2012
Interesting. Did you also attend Selma High?
stheinz   Friday, February 24, 2012
That is a neat project!
girlcarew   Tuesday, February 28, 2012
I really like this project. Do you have any plans for what you're going to do with all the photographs, such organize them in a picture book?
SallyPants   Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Great idea, SP!
!   Tuesday, February 28, 2012
That's a possibility, SP.
stheinz   Wednesday, February 29, 2012
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