By 1853, enough people lived in West Branch to build and support a public school. Hard work was a core value of the Quaker townsfolk, but so too was education—for both boys and girls. Herbert Hoover's own mother, Hulda had been a teacher in neighboring Muscatine County before she married. Because the Society of Friends raised much of the money for the construction of this one-room schoolhouse, it was also used as the town's first Quaker meetinghouse.
The Growing School
In 1869, after the town built a larger schoolhouse, this building was used as a classroom for the primary department, or youngest grades. Herbert Hoover entered public school in 1880 at age 5 and spent three years in the primary department. It is unknown if Hoover's class met in this building.
Reading, Writing, And Arithmetic
Miss Lizzie Chandler taught "Bertie" Hoover for first and second grade. Each day, Miss Chandler filled her blackboard with lessons of arithmetic and spelling. Students shared reading books, and practiced penmanship on slate chalkboards. Herbert also came to admire presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose portraits hang on the schoolhouse walls, as men of exceptional character.
The only source of heat in this schoolhouse came from a pot-bellied wood stove located at the back of the room. The eight large windows let in lots of natural light, but on cloudy days, it was the kerosene lamps that helped to brighten the room.
Pursuit Of Higher Education
The value the Hoovers' placed on education paid off in 1891. 17-year old Bert Hoover enrolled at Stanford University, determined to become a mining engineer.
Last updated: June 19, 2015