Wisconsin’s Old-Time Schoolhouses

Brushville District Nr 4, 1875    

Brushville is an unincorporated community in the Town of Bloomfield, Waushara County. Herman and Eliphalet Brush, mill operators, founded the community.

The community has a webpage, “Welcome to Brushville!” Darlene A. Ryan has said it is the second schoolhouse for Brushville. The first was a log cabin. She adds the town had a stagecoach inn, a general dry goods store, and a cheese factory. It also had a church, cemetery, blacksmith shop, and sawmill. Eliphalet Brush was the town’s second postmaster.

A Waushara County History as of 1878 highlights that the first settlement in the county was on Native American lands. The Native Americans told the settlers to leave, but the settlers somehow struck a deal. The county's first school was located in 1849 near the present town of Warren. The families paid tuition, and the teacher lived in a settler’s home, common back in the day. Most of the settlers were farmers. 

As of 1878, there were 89 schools in the county. Attendance was good, and the structures were “generally comfortable frame structures.”

Fine Art America shows the Brushville School among its presentations of “architecture art.” The Town of Bloomfield Comprehensive Plan 2025, published in June 2007, lists the Brushville school in the Architecture & History Inventory found on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Division of Preservation website.People have converted many into their homes, in which case they receive good attention. Oft times, communities have gathered together to preserve and restore the old school house. In other cases, they stand empty, leaving one to wonder what it must have been like to attend them.

Kris Scott reflected on 30 old schoolhouses across the nation. Some of her reflections strike a chord: a place to play with other kids; female teachers’ bodies were covered head to toe, they were single, they could not stay out past dark; an endangered species; memories of children’s pranks; pockets of “rural charm;” filled with classic vibes; school hours set around home needs for the children to do their chores; built in a day or two; lists setting the standard; boys on one side, girls on the other.