To the editor: Were you ever in Fern Dell? Or, are you like many others, ignorant of the existence of such a place? If you are, the County Superintendent of Schools is not, for it is said he visited our school when Miss Edgerton was teaching it.
For the benefit of those readers who may never visit this locality, a little description will not be out of place. Fern Dell is two miles south of Newark.
The surface of the country is greatly undulating. A branch of Big Slough divides it into two large parts, and at times, threatens to deluge the schoolhouse. This causes the school ma’am to wonder, "who is to be the Noah of this generation." No fears of inundation are entertained at present however. The soil is fertile. The chief product is corn; cattle, hogs and sheep are raised in plentiful abundance.
Many of the inhabitants are early settlers and thrifty farmers. There are a few representatives of the Scandinavian Peninsula. In the way of improvements, Mrs. Abram Brown has erected a fine house, in the place of his former habitation. Guilford Edgerton has a new shed for cattle, eighteen feet by sixty feet and as high as it is wide. Mr. Thomas Phillips who lives just over in LaSalle County, but is regarded as one of the Fern-Dellites has a new well. The well is 104 feet deep, with fifty-eight feet of water in it.
Now a little background or history of our school. A year ago the house was repaired. The newly papered wall, curtained windows, new stove, floor and nice patent desks, unite in forming quite a contrast with the former appearance of the room. Miss Livia Woodruff, of Lisbon, is the happy teacher. She is in her third term here.
The school numbers twenty-five, of various ages from
six to twenty years. Our teacher believes in trying to interest her pupils
in such a manner that they will feel it a delight instead of a dread to
attend school. Accordingly she gave the New Year’s day, to put up a stage,
decorate the room, and get ready for the evening’s entertainment. At half
past six the curtains were drawn, thus revealing to a house full of spectators,
a tree, brilliantly lighted, and laden with a variety of numerous and beautiful
presents, before the distribution of which, the school sang a "Greeting
Glee," then prayer was offered by Mr. G. Edgerton. Then came the "Opening
Address" by M. S. Brown, followed by more music and several single pieces
and dialogues. At the conclusion of these exercises the gifts were distributed.
Among other presents, C. E. Phillips presented to Miss Woodruff "in behalf
of the school" a stereoscope and a number of fine views. Also a beautiful
card-basket with vase for flowers combined. The most laughable occurrence
of the evening was a couple of miniature cows, in a shed with a boy near
them. This was presented to Mr. George Windess, an old gentleman of nearly
three score and ten. The jolly old man received them, laughing heartily
as any. But he now says, "if I had only known what Guilford was up to,
I’d have matched him." Although the night was somewhat stormy none present
regretted attending. All passed off nicely, reflecting credit on both teacher,
and scholars, and gratifying the hearts of parents and friends. Signed:
X, Y. Z. January 11, 1875.
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