Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 19, 2005, pg. 3
There has been an increased interest in recent months concerning the histories of the rural country schoolhouses which were in operation in our county until they were closed by the mid-1960s. Here in the Albion area, the following country schools were annexed into the Albion Public Schools: Anthony, Babcock, Bath Mills, Billinghurst, Gay, Holmes, Howell, Snyder, Tamarack, Warner, and Wright. Wright School along M-99 and Comdon Road by the way, is being offered by Parma Township for anyone who wants to move it--or else this historical schoolhouse will be demolished. Apparently July is the deadline. Yours truly was a part of the State of Michigan historical marker dedication in front of this schoolhouse when it was dedicated.
This past week, the former Houston Schoolhouse in Fredonia Township was moved to the Calhoun County Fairgrounds. It has been placed in the southwest corner of the fairgrounds where it will be turned into a country school museum to typify the rural school experience in our county in the 1940s and 1950s. It is hoped that the structure will be ready by fair time August 14-20. The Fair is now accepting donations of country school memorabilia, whether it be books, furniture, photographs, bells, report cards, or other items. For more information, call the coordinator of the project, Ann Case, at (269) 781-3442, or e-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the Calhoun County Fair office at: (269) 781-8161.
One item that recently surfaced at a garage sale here in Albion and was donated to the Fair was a desk that was used at the Babcock School southwest of town up until the time the school was closed in June, 1965. The chairs were constructed attached to the desk by a center piece of metal on the floor. There is an indentation on the top of the desk to place pencils, and of course the desk lid opens up to place books and other materials.
The Babcock School (Albion No. 5) was named after Amos A. Babcock (1803-1893), a farmer and carpenter who built the first home in the area. The settlement of Babcock southwest of Albion bears his name today. A school existed here beginning in 1838. Eventually a brick schoolhouse was built, and an addition was built in 1949. Classes were taught through the eight grade through the end of the 1940s, at which time it was changed through the sixth grade.
The Babcock School was one of the first rural districts to annex into the Albion Public Schools. The merger was approved by voters there in March, 1965, and the school closed in June, 1965. The desks at Babcock were transferred to Dalrymple Elementary School in Albion where they were used for several more years. Some of these were sold to the public after Dalrymple closed, including the desk that was recently donated to the Fair.
The rural schoolhouses, including Babcock, were more than just places to send children to school. They were community centers which provided a sense of identity and belonging. There were community meetings, church services, potluck dinners, singing classes, reunions, 4-H Club meetings, women’s club meetings, and other events held at the rural schoolhouses.
1955 Babcock 4-H Float at the Calhoun County Fair
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic