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Williams School

Alamo Township

Location: (District #4) – section 20, northeast of the junction of DE Avenue and 2nd Street.

Kalamazoo County 1890, Published by Wm. C. Sauer. Local History Room
Williams School, undated. Photo courtesy of Alamo Township Museum.


From the records available to us, it is not clear when the first Williams School was built, but the board began to raise funds for the second in September 1880. They purchased a site ten rods square from Garret VanArsdale and began building in late 1881. It must have been finished by fall of 1882 because the old school house and stove were sold in September. They added a well in 1898; a year later they fenced the east and north sides of the school. The second building was used until 1942 or ’43, after which it remained vacant until it was converted to a church in 1958. From a 1952 tuition bill, it appears that the district sent its few remaining pupils to district #2 Fr. in Otsego Township, Allegan County, although how long that arrangement lasted is not known.

Considerable effort was made to maintain a small circulating library.  As early as 1873 it contained 30 titles–a mixture of history, biography, and instructional items such as How to Make Money, and How to be a Man. A little fun was also included with copies of Robinson Crusoe, and Swiss Family Robinson. In September 1880, the board voted to exchange libraries with Hackley School–an inexpensive way to provide new books for residents of the districts. The resource was obviously welcome. A mixture of children and adults checked out 250 items over a period of four years. In 1905 and 1906, at least, small sums were approved to pay someone for the care of the library. By the middle 1920s there were 170 titles.

The board evidently made some effort to expose the students to something beyond the 3 R’s. For many years there are notes about the existence of an organ–probably a pump organ as was common in home parlors in that time.  In 1903, they voted to sell the old organ for $2.15 to T. Enright and to replace it for a “price not to exceed $40.” Apparently it was well-used. In 1923 teacher Marjorie Graham noted that the furniture, including the organ, was in poor condition. Sometime before 1937 it had been replaced by a piano.

Despite the somewhat shabby condition of some of the furnishings, the school was doing some things right. Mary Ensfield, who was the superintendent of Kalamazoo County schools, commented in her fall 1925 visit that “I find many evidences of interest in school and health on the part of teacher, pupils, and board, parents and community. The building is very neat and clean… the hot noon lunch equipment is one of the best in the county. …the teacher is giving splendid instruction and order is fine. Congratulations.”


1864 Carrie C. Eaton
1865 Rosette Henderson (spring term)
1866 Carrie Bogardus (spring and summer terms)
1866(? possibly 1868) Harriet E. Harris (spring term)
1866-67 Mary E. Welch (winter term)
1867 Fannie Coleman (summer term)
1867-68 Evalyn E. Keith (winter term)
1869 Lucy Russell (spring term)
1869 Jemima Van Arsdale (fall term)
1870 Maria Hemenover (spring term)
1870 Jemima Van Arsdale (fall term)
1870-71 Sarah Hilliard (winter term)
1871-72 Edward Hilliard (winter term)
1872 Augusta Pratt (spring and summer terms)
1872-73 Sarah Hilliard (winter term)
1873 Susan Woodhams (summer term)
1873-74 Hulda Tallman (winter term)
1874 Augusta Pratt (summer term)
1874-75 Jemima Van Arsdale (winter term)
1875 Augusta Pratt (spring term)
1875 Susan Woodhams (summer/fall term)
1875-76 Amanda Selkrig (winter term)
1876 Viola Kent (April through September)
1877 Russell Winchell (spring term)
1877 Estella M. Verity (fall term)
1877-78 Russell Winchell (winter term)
1878 Carrie Alchin (summer term)
1878-79 J. F. Fay (first part of winter term)
1878-79 Thomas Carr (last part of winter term)
1879 Frances A. Peters (summer term)
1879-80 Marvin Fosdick (winter term)
1880 Hattie Phelps (spring and fall terms)
1880-81 Jasper J. Campbell (winter term)
1881 Lizzie Rector (summer term)
1882 Cora Bigelow (summer term)
1882-83 Katy Ripton (winter and summer terms)
1883-84 William W. Holland (winter term)
1884 Belle Buckhout (spring and summer terms)
1884-85 Betsy A. McGarry (winter term)
1885 Lois L. Church (spring and summer terms)
1885-86 Betsey McGarry
1886 Jenny Watkins
1886-88 Elsie Reed
1888-89 Lizzie Bigelow
1889-90 Agnes Turnbull
1890-91 Lizzie Bigelow
1891 Rose Shields
1891 Ora Searle
1891 Flora Garrison (spring)
1892 Ora Searle (fall)
1893 Flora Garrison (spring)
1893 V.? Gaylord (fall)
1894-95 Maud Edwards (fall, winter & spring)
1895-96 George Hoover (winter)
1896 Lilly Buckhout (spring & fall)
1896-97 J. B. Bailey (winter)
1897-98 Lizzie Healey (spring & winter)
1898-99 Frank Kinnane (winter)
1900: Lola Parks
1900-01 Mary Clapp
1901-02 Alice Webster (fall through spring)
1903-04 Miss Strong
1904-06: Pearl Lillie
1906: W.T. Williams
1909: Olin Drake
1910: Nellie Cramer
1922-23 Marjorie Graham
1923-24 Eva Hoffman
1925-26: Etoile F. Hoffman
1927-28: Naomi Sergeant
1929-30: Rosaleen Haas
1930-31: Melvina E. Hayes
1931-34: Bernice Bissell
1934-36: Marian Knobloch
1936-43: Hazel E. Richards

Photo of Williams School, 1981
Williams School class 1907-08
Tuition bills, 1950-52
Transportation statement, 1951-52
State aid statement, 1954

Learn more about the village of Williams.



List of one-room schools still standing in Kalamazoo County in 1982.

Hultmark, Sarah
Local History Collection, Kalamazoo Public Library

School District Records, for District No. Four, Township of Alamo, 1865-1905

Records of District No. 4, Williams School, 1922-26

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist.  No. 4, Williams School, 1937-38

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist. No. 4, Williams School, 1938-39

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist. No. 4, Williams School, 1939-40

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist. No. 4, Williams School, 1940-41

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist. No. 4, Williams School, 1941-42

Teacher’s Attendance and Scholarship Records and Reports for Dist. No. 4, Williams School, 1942-43


Alamo Township, most northwest corner of Kalamazoo County, Michigan: past and present

Snow, Florence
Published by the Author, 1958
H 977.417 S67, page 46

Manual of the Public Schools of Kalamazoo County, Michigan for 1898-1899

J. W. Hazard, Commissioner of Schools
Kalamazoo: Ihling Bros. & Everard, Printers, 1898
History Room Orange Dot File: Education (Kalamazoo County)



Kalamazoo Gazette, March 25, 1900, page 6


Kalamazoo Gazette, November 18, 1903, page 9

“Teachers for Public Schools”

Kalamazoo Gazette, September 3, 1905, page 9

“Schools Start in Rural Districts”

Kalamazoo Gazette, September 9, 1906, page 6

“Several Changes in County Schools”

Kalamazoo Gazette, January 5, 1910, page 7

“Williams School had a big 1937-38 class”

Kalamazoo Gazette, April 4, 1999, page C2, column 2

Maps and atlases

Map of Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Geil & Harley, Philadelphia. 1861
History Room atlas case, left shelf #2

Atlas of Kalamazoo County, Michigan from Recent and Actual Surveys and Records

F. W. Beers & Co., New York. 1873
Library of Congress

Illustrated atlas of Kalamazoo County [Michigan] with early and present history of Kalamazoo County

Sauer, William C.
Wm. C. Sauer, Detroit. 1890
History Room atlas case, left shelf #1

Standard atlas of Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Geo. A. Ogle & Co., 1910
History Room atlas case, left shelf #1

USGS topographic map for Kalamazoo County, 1918 (Kalamazoo Quadrangle)

History Room topographic map case, drawer 7A, folder 21A


History Room Subject File: Williams School

Teachers’ and school officers’ directory, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, 1925-43 (title varies)

Shelved in a pamphlet box with H 379.774 K149 (History Room Storage)

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