Fillmore Illinois Public School

This information is taken from the History of Fillmore Public School and was written by

E.H. BAUMGARTNER in 1953. Most of his information was found in minutes of school boards from 1862 through 1953.


In the early days of the settlement the population was sparse. It was not until the 1880s that a railroad was built in the community and the village of Fillmore was established. Earliest records show that this community was in District No. 4 in Montgomery County. The first known site of a schoolhouse was located on the west side of the road approximately two miles north of the present boundary of the village of Fillmore.

It was for services rendered at this location that we have our oldest records of a teacher being paid- February 19, 1863. This was to Lyman C. ALLEN for services beginning October 27, 1862.

On August 18, 1871, a new schoolhouse thirty-six feet long, twenty-four feet wide, and twelve feet high was erected. Authentic information locates it at the present boundary of the village of Fillmore just east of the blacktop leading south from the village. Building was to have six windows, three on the east side and the door in the center of the building. The financial consideration was one thousand dollars. Building was to be finished November 1, 1871. To finance the new building the board borrowed nine hundred dollars at ten percent interest.

After the completion of the railroad through this area in 1881, the village began to develop, and the housing facilities became inadequate. A building owned by J.J. BOST on the west side of Main Street about a block north of the railroad was converted into a schoolhouse. It was referred to as schoolhouse number two and was used for lower grades.

As the needs of the community grew, the people recognized the need of a larger and better building; and accordingly, on Saturday, April 10, 1887, they authorized the erection of a new schoolhouse. After another election the present building site was selected. A deed was granted by Gideon RICHMOND and his wife Harriet on July 29, 1887, the site being the west half of Block No. 10 of Gideon RICHMOND’s first addition to the village of Fillmore. No record is available as to when the northeast one fourth of Block No. 10 was acquired, but it was later added to the school site.

Bonds for 2500 dollars were issued. Bids for construction were accepted. As bonds were insufficient, 1200 dollars more were issued, still insufficient.

On June 7, 1889, the board passed a resolution for the sale of the old schoolhouse, the one in the south part of the village, and to finish the unfinished school house. The sale was authorized by a vote on June 22, 1889, the building sold. Funds were still insufficient for the completion of the new building. The board ordered another election held July 13, 1889, for the purpose of authorizing the board to borrow money. The wishes of the board were approved. On August 10, 1889, a contract was awarded for 350 dollars. The completed new building had two large and one small rooms on the first floor and one large room, two medium rooms, and one small room on the second. Facilities were adequate for all school activities of the community. School house number two was discontinued. The new building provided facilities for an expanded program and in the fall of 1890 a two-year high school course was added to the curriculum.

In the summer of 1906 voters authorized 1000 dollars in bonds to install a new heating plant. A basement was excavated, and a modern steam heating plant was installed.

Another expansion program became necessary as a four-year high school was desired. In 1913 voters authorized the issuance of 4500 dollars in bonds for an addition to the schoolhouse. Two new rooms were added on the south and completed on September 9, 1913.

In 1922 one room of frame construction was added to the east side to provide for the employment of a fourth teacher in the grades which the enrollment justified. The elementary school reverted to three teachers in 1940. Later this room was rented to the Fillmore Community High School, organized in 1944, for the establishment of a commercial department.

The original part of the building having passed its sixtieth year was in need of substantial repairs. In 1949, the voters of the district, authorized by issuance of 15000 dollars in bonds to finance the needed repairs. At that time a room of block construction was added to the southeast corner and the elementary school made a four-teacher system.

During the early years of the twentieth century high school basketball developed as an extensive athletic program. As Fillmore had no gymnasium, basketball was played on open courts. During the early 1930s J.G. ZIEGLER let the team play in his garage building. By the mid-1930s a building suitable for a school gymnasium and other community activities was so much in demand that on June 23, 1934, with practically no opposition, the voters authorized the issuance of 5500 dollars in bonds to finance the construction of the building. The amount proved insufficient. On October 13, 1934, the voters authorized the issuance of another 4500 dollars in bonds to complete the structure. The main building was opened for basketball in December 1934. The remainder of the building was completed, and the furnace installed ready for service by the latter part of March 1935.


From records of teacher payments, we find that on April 7, 1863, Lyman C. ALLEN was paid 33.40 for services beginning October 27, 1862 and ending February 18, 1863. The contract was for a period of four months. It is revealed that instead of being paid monthly he was not paid until the end of the term. Lyman C. ALLEN was again employed and opened school November 16. It was not until 1878 that school opened early in September. These short winter terms were followed by two- or three-month spring terms which began in April. This policy was to provide six months school during the year. It was not until the 1880s that a term of seven months was offered. On May 1, 1897, the board employed teachers for eight months. During the 1880s the policy of paying teachers each month was adopted.

Then, as now, the directors were required to make annual levies upon taxpayers to raise money to support schools. On August 4, 1863, the directors met and estimated the amount necessary to levy 300 dollars. In 1886 the levy was 400 dollars which amount was doubled in 1887. The combined levies of the two boards in Fillmore for grades one through twelve in 1952-53 was in excess of 35000 dollars.

Other than the records of teacher employment there are practically no records of instruction prior to 1898. As to subjects taught, we may be certain that the three R's were given a major part of the time. The attendance record for 1862-1863 shows twenty-seven boys and twenty-one girls. For the term beginning November 18, 1887, the average attendance was forty-three.

The oldest student records available are for the year 1898-1899. At that time a two-year high school was in operation. In 1900 the eleventh year was added. Curricular changes were made as time went on. In 1914 the fourth year was added to high school. By 1915 the program had stabilized with an academic college preparatory program consisting of four years of English, three to four years of social science, two years of Latin, two to three years of mathematics, and usually three years of science.

The greatest curricular advancement was made during the 1940s when, for high school work, a fairly complete commercial program was established. This was the only step away from a purely academic program.

The need for a broader nonacademic program had long been felt, but due to the lack of building facilities the establishment of such courses was not possible. During the last three years enrollment in high school had steadily declined until in 1953 only thirty-three students were enrolled. Ramsey Community Unit on the east and Vandalia Unit on the south had absorbed large portion of Fillmore District.

Finding both enrollment and financial support dwindling, the people of the community supported by an overwhelming majority (129 to 13) on May 9, 1953, to become a part of the Nokomis Unit where a bigger and better program was available. High school students were transported to Nokomis beginning in September 1953. The elementary school at Fillmore became larger with a more modern program.

This concludes Mr. BAUMGARTNERs report. A paragraph in Early Fillmore brings Fillmore Elementary School up to date.

School News Published in the Nokomis Free Press 5-22-1975

Mr. Elisha BAUMGARTNER, our well-known local educator, again visited Mrs. PROBSTs 7th grade Social Studies classes and talked about the early history of the area.

His interest in the subject was sparked when he found that his wife’s ancestors had a hand in the areas early history.

Elijah HILL, who settled south-east of Fillmore in 1831, had five sons. His wife wanted some deer meat so her son, who was Mrs. Lish BAUMGARTNERs ancestor killed the deer and was given a powder horn for killing it. Years later his children, when playing with the powder horn, had the end drop from it and inside it was a record of early explorations in Illinois.

These records revealed that Isaac HILL, father of Elijah, had been commissioned by President JEFFERSON to go to Illinois. HILL came in 1809 and returned to Kentucky in 1812. It isn’t known if he traveled to his home between this time but he was in Illinois in November 1811, at the time of the great earthquake which he mentions, the second moon of Nov. 1811, when the waters roared.

A fort was set up southwest of Greenville known as Hill’s station, John’s Fort, and also White Fort. Remains of the fort are said to still be in evidence.

The area to be explored was between the rivers of the Illinois, the Sangamon, and the Okaw (Kaskaskia). Notes said there was no rock here, but it could be found on the Illinois River. There was good timber and there were no Indian towns on the Okaw but were on the Illinois and the Sangamon Rivers.

Other things to look for were salt, saltpeter, plumbago(graphite), gold, silver, coal, furs, brimstone, water navigation, rainfall, days without frost, and he was to establish the Third Principal Meridian which was to be used as a measuring line when the land would be surveyed. HILL’s Meridian line was placed three miles east of the Bald Knob Hill which is south of Nokomis, but we know the line was later established farther east nearer to Ramsey.

Provided by: Fillmore Historical Society

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