The Freeman School serves as a reminder of the role the schoolhouse played in the history of the prairie frontier. Officially known as school District Number 21, the school was a center of education for prairie children from 1872 until 1967. During its long history, the school was also a meeting place for the First Trinity Lutheran Church, the polling place for Blakely Township, and a gathering place for many debates, socials and clubs. It is not known if it was named after Thomas Freeman , a local bricklayer, or Daniel Freeman, a local homesteader. Both men served on the school board at one time. Daniel garnered national attention with his protest against bible-based lessons at the school. See the Bible Case page for more information.
Books and supplies were precious in one-room schools. Many students had to supply their own texts, often the family Bible. However, in 1881, the Freeman School provided textbooks for its students, ten years before it was required by the legislature. Some furnishings were hand-made, but the Freeman School had desks shipped from Indiana. Teachers were young, sometimes younger than their oldest students. Salaries were meager, and many teachers were housed and fed by the student's families.
The school stands quiet now. The sounds of the teacher's bell, children at recess, and Sunday Hymns have faded. Today, the Freeman school provides us with a window to the past, a small glimpse of life on the prairie frontier. The National Park Service has restored the school to look much as it did in the 1870's.
Last updated: April 10, 2015