The Superior Express -

Jewell County's first high school commencement held in 1887


This issue of the Jewell County Record is generally full of the news of graduations, alumni events and Memorial Day ceremonies. This year it is not the case. In honor of graduates, commencements, alumni and Jewell’s Sesquicentennial here is an edition of “Jewell- We’ve Got a Story to Tell”!

A report was given in the June 10, 1887, edition of the Jewell County Republican of the “First Annual Commencement of the Jewell City Public Schools.” This, according to the “2011 Directory of Jewell County Alumni” by Karen Ross, was the first graduating class in Jewell County. Five young women were in that first class.

Etta Bowman was the daughter of the Rev. Hezekiah and Mrs. Emma Bowman. He was the pastor of the Evangelical Church in Jewell. Etta Mae Bowman was born in Iowa, graduated from high school in Jewell then married Oscar Sorick. Sorick was the son of early Jewell settlers Henry and Adaline Hutsonpiller Sorick. They moved to California and stayed there the rest of their lives.

Della Karstetter, born in Pennsylvania, “carried away the honors of the class.” She continued her education in the Normal Institute held in Jewell during the summer of 1887. Later, she attended Oberlin College. Karstetter taught in Humphrey District 140 in Calvin Township and in Jewell District 1. In 1900, she was living with her aunt ,Ursela Matter, in Brodhead, Wis., and teaching school.

While in Brodhead, she met and married William F. Schemp. They reared their two children and lived the rest of their lives in Wisconsin. They are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery at Brodhead.

Lorena Matter, born in Illinois, was the daughter of early Jewell settlers, David and Christena Ellsessor Matter. After graduation, Matter also became a teacher. She taught in Jewell, Sweet Home District 75, Foster District 17 and Western Home District 56. She married J.S. Haines in 1898 in Jewell. They moved to Michigan, reared their sons there and are buried in the Adamsville Cemetery in Cass County, Michigan.

William and Sarah Dereibelbil Musser were the parents of graduate, Maud Musser. Musser was also born in Illinois. After graduation, she continued her education at Kansas Wesleyan in Salina. On Nov. 25, 1891, she married Samuel F. Swantees of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was a doctor. The couple and their two children lived in several different places but visited often in Jewell.

Prior to 1915, they were divorced. Maud remained living in the east, running a cafeteria for 10 years in Buffalo, New York. She lived the last years of her life in Alfred, New York near her daughter, Ethel. She died in 1951 and is buried in Cold Brook Cemetery in Cold Brook, New York.

The final graduate was Alice Schulenberg. She was born in Pennsylvania. Her parents were Henry and Sarah Weider Schulenburg. Like Matter and Karstetter, she was a teacher. During the fall of 1892, Schulenburg taught in Room 6 of Concordia High School and had a “good reputation as a teacher.”

On Dec. 28,1892, she married W. R. Strickler from Eldora, Iowa. After their marriage, they moved to Eldora where they lived and reared their children. Both are buried in the Eldora Cemetery.

All five of the first graduates left Jewell County. It would seem the problem of young people leaving the county is almost as old as the county.


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