1850 -

Written By: Dr. Cassius (Cash) Sackett

In attempting to give a history of the Dow School, I shall not be able to give all the dates exact. We should have elected a historian 15 years ago when Aunt Ann McWhorter, Aunt Rachel Welch and Aunt Phebe Sackett were living.

I shall now depend on my memory of events as I have known and heard them. I took a short search in the register of deeds office the other day and found a few dates that might be of interest to us. John Dow, deed of 160 acres on east side of road in 1837. William Tunison, 1838. Peter C. VanHouten, 1839. Willis Barnum, about 1840. Cornelius Van Houten, 1848 and Jesse Wilcutt, 1853. Henry, Daniel and Lewis Barnum located their farms about the same time as their brother Willis. Carlos Spaulding with his father and brothers, Noah and Chauncy, located in the early 40's. John Dow bought his Sunfield 80, where Hattie Dow now lives, in 1848, of David Griffin. I think that he was the grandfather of Griffin Weipert of Sunfield village. James Young in 1844. He was the father of David Young of Vermontville.

I think that Aunt Ann McWhorter told us that the first school was kept in a log shanty built adjoining her father's house and one of the first teachers was one of the Boyer's living in the Moyer district, which was settled about the same time. Later a log schoolhouse was built in the northwest corner of her father's farm and diagonally across from where the church now stands.

William Tunison deeded this school site to the school district in 1850. This red school house, I remember it well, as I attended my first term of school there, that being the last that it was used.

Sarah Searles, my first teacher, taught the last term in the old red school house and the first in the new, the present building. I think this was the summer and winter of 1864-65. This and the next summer were war tears, our principle play was playing soldier and calling each other abolitionists or secessionists and some other pet expressions that we picked up from the older ones.

Of the patrons of the school that I remember best were living north of the Dow corners were Noble Sackett, William Sackett, James French, Carlos Spaulding, John (Dad) Dilley, Charles Jackson, east of Dow corners, John VanHouten, Noah Spaulding, Rolland Paine, Jasper Clark. West of Dow corners, Samuel Roof, George Pool, Betsy Barnum, Rachel Barnum, Samuel Smart, Cornelius VanHouten, South of Dow corners, John Dow, Samuel Grinell, Oscar McWhorter, William Tunison, George Raymor, Jesse Wilcutt, J.J. Bennett.

Of those attending school, that I remember were Robert Dilley, Howard and Allene Spalding; Mary, Adeline, Frank, and Marty French;Florence, Willie and Fred VanHouten; William, Ida and John Spaling; Lottie and William Baldwin; Ann Roof; Harriet, Polly and Marill Barnum; Hester and Hellen Barnum; Libbie, Mary, Clum and Wash Smart; Addie and Lyle VanHouten; Ellis Thomas; Susie and Louise McWhorter; William, Amanda, Ralph and John Wilcutt; John, Sarah and Amos Bennett; Margaret Young; John and Anna Young. Besides these, there were two or three Pool children, one or two Bennett's, two or three Tryon's and some others that I cannot recall.

John Dow, Uncle Sam Grinell, Jasper Clark and Nobel Sackett usually made a home for some one of these or others.

Immediately at the close of the war, came quite an influx of settlers. I think, about the same time, Grandpa and Grandma Jackson with sons, George and Elijah, the later a school boy. Also, Mann Jackson, wife and small children. Arthur Ruggles was quite a prominent figure in school. He lived with his Uncle Monroe Halliday.

In those days the teacher boarded around and if they could only be here and tell you their varied experiences, you would not need any other entertainment today.

Of those who went to war, was Jonas Dilley, Carlos Spalding, ? Baldwin, William Roberts, Henry Dow, Peter Dow, S.W. Grinell, Oscar McWhorter, Jesse Wilcutt; William, John and David Young; George Pool, I think; Harrison Barnum, Jesse Roof, Watson Barnum, Dwight Barnum, Jiles Spaulding and Augustus Larabee.


Written by: Max E. McWhorter

January 1992

The publication "First Land Owners of Michigan" states that my great-great-grandfather, William Tunison, applied for a land patent on 169.08 acres in Chester Township on October 23, 1838. (At a later date, a portion of Chester Township would  be struck off to become Roxand Township where William applied for this land patent). This property was located next to his brother-in-law, John Dow. John Dow and William Tunison had known each other back in Somerset County, New Jersey and had married the Beekman sisters; John having married Rachel and William having married Susan.

A 49.08 acre portion of this land was to become, years later, the Ted and Beulah Lawrence farm which we recognize today. This farm is located across the road and just to the south-east of the Dow Church at the intersection of Dow and McWhorter roads. Where and what happened to the remaining 120 of the original 169.08 acres patent, I do not know.

In a booklet dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Dow Church, 1879-1954, a passage states that prior to the building of the church, "...........meetings had been held in 'the old red school house', located opposite the church of today in a corner of the Lawrence farm" In the diary of Wilbur Spaulding (or Spalding), a neighborhood Civil War veteran, he states that he enlisted in the Army at the school house on the Tunison farm (the present-day Ted Lawrence farm).

In the genealogical history of the Tunison family, there is a statement, "Very soon after the Tunison family settled, they were concerned about schooling for their children. So they built a log shanty adjoining their log cabin to be used for the first school for the children of the area." It is not known who the first teacher was but materials left behind by Susan (Beekman) Tunison indicate that she may have been the first teacher.

To continue..........After a few years, the log school building was replaced by a frame building which was painted red. William Tunison deeded the site to the school district in 1850.It became the Dow District, Roxand and Sunfield Fractional. It was named after the first settler, John Dow.

In 1864-65, a new school building was erected diagonally across the road from the old red school house. This is the present site of the Dow School and is about one quarter mile to the north of the site of the old red school house. Eventually (in 1879), a Methodist Church was built next to it. (The church was built about one quarter of a mile to the south of the Dow School, same side of the road).


*The Dow School District was absorbed by the Lakewood School system in 1965. The majority of property holders chose to remain within the Lakewood system while others voted to have their property set over into the Grand Ledge school system.

*The Dow School closed on April 19, 1965, thus ending 100 years of existence at the same location plus another 25 years or more at another location as the "old red school house".

*The Dow School house still stands as of the day of this writing and is utilized as a private residence.