Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns

Postcard from the Pines: School’s Out

Grandon School early 1950’s

Clare County Historical friend, Andy, is very much interested in the history of any and all small “country school” districts in our county. I’m happy to answer his questions whenever I can and equally happy to share information. Luckily, the schools in this corner of the county are a familiar subject to me. It took a few years, but I filled in some of the blanks in local school history. I’ll share a refresher on the relatively short educational history of Winterfield.
Winterfield Township once boasted five schools. They were Austa, Corder and Kirby located in sections across the north half of the township. The Austa School served the neighborhood of the same name, situated at the corner of Keehn and Strawberry Roads. Among students during its use were children from the Keehn, Dykstra, Nederhood, Dykstra, Gibson and McCrimmon families. The one-room Austa School closed in the 1940’s and students went to the Winterfield or Davis School.
The Corder School had a short life. It was located in the far wooded reaches of the northeast sections of the township and disappeared with the vanishing trees. Corder was named for a family there at the time and served children whose families were involved in a large mill site operating there. Among families with children attending were Corder, Pifer, Coleman, Tyler.
The Kirby School was also named for the family of the same name, and was located on Kirby Avenue. Children from the VanArsdale, McComb, and Storey families attended there. This building was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists and moved to Marion for their use. Today it is a home.
The Winterfield or Davis School was centrally located at Winterfield. This little community at one time also boasted a post office, church and general store. The store was once owned and operated by Joseph Hixon, the brother of Marion’s co-founder, Marion Clark.
The school operated for a long time and was used until its loss to fire in January of 1950. Cook, VanderWoude, Laughlin, Hopkins, Blackledge, Pifer, Nevins, Ewing, Deits and Foster are among its families.
The largest of the schools was the cobblestone Grandon School. This school was named for its community and served students and education the longest. The community of Grandon was quite a growing concern one hundred years ago. Among its businesses were a lumber yard and lath mill, cheese factory, a creamery which produced award winning butter, several stores and a photographer.
The school was established at the community of Grandon in 1899 and built on ground once belonging to one of the townships earliest settlers, John Flemming. The cobblestone building, still standing today, was built in 1912 after the original building burned. A second room was added in 1950 after the Davis School fire and the township created one school district, centered there. Students attended the Grandon School until its consolidation with the Marion district in the fall of 1964.
There is a long list of Grandon students spanning more than 70 years, among them; Flemming, Hamer, Goodrich, Mosher, Blackledge, Britton, Pifer, Brocht, Hopkins, Prielipp, Miller, Wyman, Brown, Cook, Dunn and Sneary. Marion’s Wava Brooks Boonstra was a long time teacher in the lower grades at Grandon. The late Robert Dunn, a Winterfield native and very popular teacher during his long career at Manton High School, began his teaching career at Grandon in 1963.
There are quite a few folks out there today who received an education in the Winterfield Township Schools. When we moved from Marion to the Pines in the early 1960’s, I attended the Grandon School, 6th through 8th grades. In the fall of 1964, the Winterfield District, among other small, surrounding township districts, merged with Marion, creating much of the district we know today.
Although I am an Osceola County and Marion native, I have long considered myself a native of Winterfield as well. I received a good piece of my education here, and made friends and memories to last a lifetime. And I learned the true sense of belonging to the Winterfield community and the greater Marion community. Attending a “country school” was a gift beyond measure.

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