's Totem Pole Tales- Growth of Onaway
Totem Pole Tales- Growth of Onaway
Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook April 12, 2013

CAPTION #1: ONAWAY'S SECOND SCHOOL at the south end of Pine Street (now Veteran's Drive).  Take note of the
empty bell house on the third school, and also the Opera House on the right.
width="600" CAPTION #2: ONAWAY'S SECOND AND THIRD SCHOOL together. Note the fire escape ladders on the schools. Also the newly planted maple trees, some of which still stand today.
width="600" CAPTION #3: ONAWAY'S FOURTH SCHOOL between both additions. Note the cannon has been added.
width="600" As we grow with our manufacturing district and the American Wood Rim Company making Onaway a boom town almost overnight, I feel the need to show some of that growth.
One good example of Onaway's growth was our school system. We started out with a small log cabin at Shaw's Corner with six children of school-age in Allis Township. This log cabin filled our needs until 1898 when we began to grow, mostly due to the lumbering business.
By this time our town had been called Shaw's Corner, Shawville, Adalaska, and finally Onaway. (Another story.)
In 1898 we were holding school in the Mercantile Store, the Hose House no. 3, and the Friends' Church, as well as the log cabin school, and it was now time for a new school.
In 1899 bonds were let for a new two-story school at the south end of Pine Street. The property was donated by Thomas Shaw, who owned 400 acres of Allis Township.
So rapid was the growth of Onaway that in 1901, bonds for $5,000 were let to build yet another school. This school would be the same size and set to the east of the original one. In 1911, St. Paul Parochial School was established and reduced the numbers in the already crowded schools. Again classes were held in other buildings. The Colonial Hotel had rooms leased to the school.
On February 26, 1914 fire broke out in the Colonial Hotel and students were sent home. The need for a new school dominated the news in the Onaway Outlook.
Meetings were held and $30,000 to $35,000 was needed for the new school. Even with opposition the vote carried by 45 votes.
On July 2, 1914 the school contract had been let. The building proceeded fast and on June 10, 1915 the first class graduated, however it was not until September 16, 1915 that the dedication ceremonies were held. When this school was built the first wood school was moved to the west to make room for the new brick school.
In 1935 a new brick addition was added to the east side of the brick school. The Outlook, on August 12, 1937. showed the second addition on the west side of the school would be ready for the fall term. At this time the first wood school was torn down. The bell from the original school was moved to the southeast corner of the brick building. The rope for this bell was just inside the back door to the boiler room, at the top of the stairs to the gym. William Badgero Sr. was the head custodian at this time. During most of my 12 years at this school, no one challenged the fact that he was the only one who rang this bell. I tested this, one time, and was politely introduced to how the school was heated. Mr. Badgero showed me how to shovel the coal into the hopper that fed the boiler. I didn't need a second lesson.
There are not a lot of records or news articles from the Depression area that will help one with research.
In 1927 the St. Paul Parochial School was closed for lack of funds. In 1958 the County Normal classes were no longer offered, because of lack of interested students. Five hundred and twenty-six teachers had graduated from the County Normal School.
Newspaper headlines in March of 1961 stated that the fire marshall declared the Onaway school building to be unsafe.
Space does not allow me to print all of the work and meetings that leads up to Onaway's fifth and present school. The school is located on 90 acres that first belonged to Thomas Shaw.
Growth of Onaway can be visualized by the school census: six children of school age in 1882, 111 children in 1898, 605 in 1902 and 1379 children in 1962. Much credit is to be given to Thomas Shaw and Merritt Chandler for their visions and dreams.
-From The Onaway Outlook, April 12, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.

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