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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Six Mile and Harmony Schools, Normal Township

Six Mile School was six miles from the business district of Normal, Illinois and that was how it got its name. In 1938 the teacher was Louise Behrend. Here Pearl White waits to talk with Miss Behrend while Nathan Cheek receives individual instruction.

William Brigham's book on the Schools of McLean County indicated that Six Mile school was built in 1868. Over the years, improvements had been made to the original building. The furnace in the corner had replaced a large chimney and fireplace. An addition to the school had added toilets and a kitchen to the older building. The many large windows would have made electricity unnecessary -- unless the school was the venue for local gatherings. A program for the Six Mile and Harmony School Parent Teacher Association was about to begin when the photo below was taken. The children are from both schools.

The Parent Teacher Association was most likely even more important in 1938 than it is today. A single teacher labored alone in a small building, supervising every moment of the children's day. No teacher's lounge, no cafeteria staff and no library! Parents would maintain the building, enforced school rules and discipline at home and provide school materials that were not provided by the school district. These mothers look rather middle aged for this school of very young students! The women were: Mrs. J.V. Wiekert, Mrs. H.G. Feasley, Mrs. Louis Reddel, Mrs. Emil Ruch, and Mrs. R.F. Webster.

The Harmony School in Section 10 of the Normal Township was featured along with the Six Mile School in this photo feature. Marie Reddell was the teacher of Harmony School. Myrtle Campbell, of Bloomington, was the music teacher for 13 different country schools. Here she is playing the piano for the music class, and the children are playing rhythm instruments.

The PTAs of the Six Mile and Harmony Schools were combined into one Association. Three PTA members and Miss Reddell hold a meeting at the Harmony School: Mrs. Frank Bertram, Mrs. Tom Bates, Mrs. Ed Giese, and Marie Reddell.

The first school at this location was built in 1860 and named School #8. The school was moved in 1868, painted white, and given the only slightly more imaginative name of "White School." In 1879 the site of the school was purchased by the school district and the school was named Harmony School, no reason given. The school had become dilapidated by 1927, and $2000 was raised to build a new school building.

At the end of the one room schoolhouse era, Six Mile and Harmony Schools were absorbed into the Normal School Unit in 1948.

All photos are from the Pantagraph Negative Collection and are used with the permission of the McLean County Museum of History. The book The Story of McLean County and Its Schools is digitized and available on the Hathitrust.

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