|A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY by Roy Matson
|these. During 1952 the water and waste disposal lines were laid. During the next decade
residential building outstripped every small town in this part of Wisconsin.
Unity has had four schools within its 6 mile square. Riverview, sometimes called
Langerfield school or #1, the village district known as Joint #2, Brick Riverview district
#3, and Johnson Valley, district #4 formed in 1870. Prior to the Unity separation from
Sumner these districts had been numbered 5, 6, 7, and 8 by that township.
Formation and early history of these schools would be an interesting story but safekeeping
of records had not been a priority in the early years of the districts. The records yet
available should have a central depository. Of the above mentioned schools only Johnson
Valley has a complete fiscal record. Brick Riverview has a good part of it history while
the village district can produce only a treasurer’s book covering the earliest 35 years.
Riverview #1 has nothing except for a few notes of the year 1875 now in the Murphy
Library files in La Crosse. As rural schools had comparable problems with buildings,
taxes, teachers, etc., Johnson Valley’s story, while told in more detail than the others, had
incidents that were probably common to all the districts.
Unity township records show the first tax payments were made to these districts in 1879.
$100 was paid to District #1, $100 was paid to J. H. Ballerud of District #2. The same
amount was paid to Alphonse Dickey of District #3 (also called the Howery School), and
$25 was paid to Ole Thomasgaard to District #4. All of these schools had been organized
in 1870 or earlier but Sumner records are not available at this time. Without these books
we can only assume early happenings based on a minimum of first hand sources.
Riverview District #1. The Sumner assessment roll of 1865 shows a school tax was
assessed against personal property in all of sections 10, 11, 14 and 15. The 1877 Tucker
map shows that the school originally stood on the Langerfield property in the southeast
quarter of section 11. The building was rebuilt and moved in 1882 to the P. B. Williams
property north of Highway 10 in the northeast corner of section 15. It was west of an old
road leading down the hill to the red bridge.
Village District #2. An old treasurers book with entries beginning in 1881 is the first
record of a school that later included the village of Strum. A couple of $40.00 payments to
John Ballerud who owned the Northwest quarter of section 18 were made before Unity
was formed may be a clue that classes were taught on his property. The 1870 Sumner
assessment shows $10 levied on sections 18 and 19 of present Unity but that sum would
furnish little education even in those days. Unless first hand evidence is found we must
merely assume that children attended classes. No one knows where.
John Ballerud received $271.40 in district taxes in 1880 and a building must have been
planned because a deed was recorded, stone for a footing was hauled by Ed Lyons and a
$17.25 painting cost is entered. The whole amount of monies received by June 5th, 1882
was $285.13. Pastor C. J. Helsum had been elected treasurer. The teacher’s wage in 1881
was $18.25 per month, but rose to $56.00 per month in 1882. The inevitable broom cost
$10 was spent for books in 1884. The teacher’s wages were $120 for two terms and we
learn that Pete Frodahl built a wood shed for $20. About 1887 there was evidently a fire.
$300 was received from an insurance company and the usual repair work was expended.
Pastor Helsem had been replaced as treasurer and record keeping is rather confusing.
About 1895 the district had a treasurer who did not use the letter “H”. About this time the
district also purchased a school lot from Pastor Helsem at the present locations of the
unused brick school. In 1897 the one room school was remodeled. L. Hogue furnished
stone for $81.00, John Nelson was paid $24.95 for plastering, Severt Rekstad received