Herman Township Schools
by Jane Glenz
The Hohn School got its name from the Hohn family which lived next to the school. It was known as District 2, Town of Herman.
When the district was started in the late 1800’s there was some disagreement as to the site of the school. Originally the site selected was on top of what is known as Hafferman’s Hill because this was the center of the district. This not being an ideal place for a school, two other sites were considered. The people at the southern part of the district wanted it to be built across from the present Elias Lutheran Church. It was finally agreed to build it a mile north of this church on its present location. The land was leased for 99 years from August Butt who homesteaded the property.
The first building was a frame structure 26 by 50′ built in 1874 for $200. This building was sold and used as a garage and shed.
The present school was built in 1915. The school room proper was 32′ by 36′. In 1919 a front entrance was added to protect the door from snow and ice.
The enrollment varied through the years. In the early 1900’s there were 85 pupils enrolled. This was because the children from the Range Line and Lyndhurst districts attended the Hohn School. Later these districts built their own schools. When the school integrated with District 8 there were 16 pupils. In 1961 the enrollment dropped to 12. The school was then closed and the children transported to the Gresham schools.
One of the citizens recalls going to school at the age of four. He was not able to speak the English language which made it very difficult for the teacher. In many cases the German language was spoken at home so the children entering school had little knowledge of the English language.
Shortly after the close of the Civil War, in 1864, many people, mostly German extraction, immigrated from abroad and temporarily settled in southern Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area. Because of lack of employment, they journeyed northward and either claimed homesteads, then available, or bought tax defaulted lands to establish their new homes which, for many, became permanent homes.
Water, food, roads, school and church were the pressing needs of the early settlers. In 1870 the Town of Herman was organized, named after the Sons of Herman, a fraternal organization. The same year, School District No. l, now Hermansfort was also organized and legally established. This was an answer to many prayers.
The location of the first school appears to have been quite a struggle between families living north and south. The south had an influential man on the board and early in the spring, he and his supporters began to clear a parcel of land for a schoolhouse site one-half mile south of the present location. However, at the July meeting, the south lost to the north and Mr. Berdoll deeded the acre of land to the School District #1 and before October l, 1870, a small 16′ by 24′ log building had been completed and school could begin.
Dr. W. H. Cantwell, Sr. had passed the teacher’s examination and accepted a contract to teach school for a five-month period at $24 per month. At that time, it was a common practice to have two terms of school, five months during the winter and two months during the summer.
The hardest work for the teacher was teaching the English language as the settlers were of German extraction and could not speak or understand English.
By 1884, the old log building was too small to hold all of the children. So, a new frame building 18′ by 36′ was built. The old log building was sold and moved piece by piece and built up again on Highway 29 for a residence.
The new frame building served as a schoolhouse until 1907, when a brick veneer building was erected. The frame building was sold and moved to the south side of the grounds and served as the Town of Herman town hall. It served as town hall until 1924 when a tornado destroyed the building.
Not until 1892 were the two terms united and a nine-month term adopted. The school was closed in 1968 and served as a town hall. Recently it, too, was torn down.