8820 Scott School Road
Morris, Illinois
Phone: 815-942-0511
Fax: 815-942-9124

History of Nettle Creek


A History of Nettle Creek School

Nettle Creek School is nestled among the majestic oaks on land that was donated by the Burnham family over fifty years ago.

The first white settler to the Nettle Creek area, William Hoge, built a rough-hewn log school, also in the timber, near Pioneer Road in 1835. This school educated area children before it was mandated by state law to do so. The creek and surrounding timber drew more pioneers as it provided wood, water, and wildlife. The prairie gave way to rich, black soil for crops. The log school stood for nearly 100 years.

Eventually, seven one-room school houses dotted the Nettle Creek landscape, Hoge, Dix, Cassem, Brown, Morrey, Ness, and Grey. One teacher taught all grades and would live with a nearby neighbor. In the winter, a wood fire was built daily in a corner stove. Children retrieved water at a well pump outside or at a neighbors'. Children then drank water from a bucket using a shared ladle. Also during the winter, a rope leading from the school to the outhouse was a necessary guide.

The era of the one room school house came to an end when our present school building opened its doors in 1956, graduating its first class in May 1957. Until recently, Nettle Creek School has remained largely unchanged. The teachers taught two grades at a time in the four original classrooms, serving grades 1 through 8. For the first time, students were now bused to school. The school also had a band program. After school, children went home to do farm chores, do homework, have piano lessons, or be with friends. The parents formed the "Community Club" which brought the whole family together many evenings to meet the needs of the school, have fun activities, and eat "lunches" the farm wives prepared. Gatherings often extended to 11 p.m. as everyone enjoyed the socialization with other farm families. With the young people of this time, roller skating parties were very popular at "Skate Palace" located in Morris.

As today, these children played tag and baseball under those same oak trees that have watched so many generations of children play and learn near this prairie land we call Nettle Creek.

A special thanks to Mrs. Donna Burnham and Mrs. Rhoda Hoge for their resourceful contribution to this narrative.