After looking at last week’s old school photos I got to thinking about my elementary school, Willshire Public School, in Van Wert County, Ohio. I attended school there from first grade through eighth grade, although the school system expanded and changed its name during that time.
Construction on the Willshire school building was started in 1900 and completed in 1901 at a cost of $14,000. The first class graduated from the new building in 1902 with a three-year high school certificate.
In the 1920s one-room country schools were closing and the township schools in the Willshire area merged with the Willshire School system. Even the students from Blackcreek and Liberty Townships in Mercer County transferred to Willshire. Some of these students were from the Chatt School No. 3.
So, to accommodate of the increasing number of students in the system, an addition was built in 1930. The addition included a gymnasium-auditorium, an office, indoor restrooms, a cafeteria, science lab, a home economics department and a study hall.
Another addition was built in 1953 and included the two-story addition of eight classrooms and a combination cafeteria-library. 
Junior Class, Willshire High School, years 1938-39 (class of 1939-40) left to right:
Row 1, seated: (1) Mary Stetler, (2) LaVerne Bollenbacher, (3) Barbara Dull, (4) Bernice Pond, (5) Alice Handwerk, (6) Helen Miller, (7) Catherine Leininger, (8) Ruth Kuhn
Row 2: (9) LaVerne Stetler, (10) Margaret Painter, (11) Virginia Hamrick, (12) Lola Schumm, (13) Florence Dull, (14) Anita Stetler, (15) Genevive August, (16) Marjorie Pifer, (17) Orvie Putman, (18)Teacher
Row 3: (19) Bob Andrews, (20) Gene Duff, (21) Bob Myers, (22) Donnie Dellinger, (23) Marcus Hey, (24) Lincoln Cully, (25) Milton Schumm, (26) LaVerne Ripley
No. 6, Helen Miller was my aunt, one of my dad’s sisters.
Willshire and Rockford Public Schools consolidated in 1961 to form the Parkway Local School System. I remember that there was a contest to name the new school and all students were invited to enter. My entry was “Willrock”. My choice seemed pretty obvious to me, but it was not a winner.
After the consolidation of Willshire and Rockford schools, students in the elementary grades remained in the same school they had been attending and I continued to attend Willshire. Students from the former Willshire and Rockford schools were merged together for the seventh and eighth grades and were schooled at the Willshire building. Parkway High School was at the Rockford building.
Mendon Union joined the Parkway Local School system in 1992 and students were then bussed to all three schools. Then the Willshire building became the Parkway Middle School. A new Parkway Local School was erected at Rockford in 2005 and all the students in the district now attend the one building. The Willshire school building was demolished in 2006. The school buildings at Rockford and Mendon have also been torn down.
Some notable facts about the Willshire Public School: The Willshire School building was named in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The Willshire Bearcats basketball team was the state runner-up for the 1954-55 season. Both of my parents graduated from Willshire High School, my dad in 1943 and my mom in 1947. In fact, all of my aunts and uncles graduated from Willshire.
Unfortunately, I do not know the identities of the students in the above 2 photos. If anyone can identify them I would appreciate knowing.
 “Willshire Public School, 1900-1961”, 2006 Willshire High School Alumni Banquet program, reprinted in a 1994 Photo Star article; information originally compiled by Sondra Samples from Willshire Herald and Photo Star articles, Willshire Sesqui Booklet and from Phyllis Brockmyer, historical preservation consultant.
I lived in black creek township but went to grade school in Rockford. I lived about 2 miles east of chatt on Wabash Road.
I know exactly where you lived and grew up. It was about 2 miles from where I grew up. Joe and I took a bus trip to Ameriflora years ago and your parents were on that trip, too. There were mainly Lutherans and Methodists from Chatt on the bus.
JUST LETTING YOU KNOW THAT I HAVE A ORIGINAL 1913 WILLSHIRE HIGH SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES INVITATION .IN VERY GOOD CONDITION. HAS A MOTHER OF PEARL LIKE ON FRONT OF THE CARD WITH THE DATE OF 1913 ON IT. ALSO HAS A STRING ON THE CARD WITH A BLUE FUZZIE TYPE OF CLOTH . INSIDE HAS THE SENIOR CLASE OF THE WILLSHIRE HIGH SCHOOL REQUEST YOUR PRESENCE AT THE COMMENCEMENT EXERCISES THURSDAY EVENING, APRIL TWENTY – FOURTH AT EIGHT O’CLOCK AT THE OPER HOUSE. I WILL BE PLACEING IT ON EBAY FOR AUCTION SOON AS THIS IS MY HOBBIE COLLECTING OLD ITEMS FOR RESELL .MY EBAY ID IS RALVPT68 .I WILL HAVE PICTURE OF IT ON THERE. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND. GYSGT. USMC RET. DON
That sounds interesting. I’ll be watching for it. I enjoy collecting those old local items. Thanks!
I went to elementary K-4 and 6-8 in this building. My class of 1975 was the 1st class to consolidate as a 5th grade class and we were all bused to Rockford for that 1 year. I really always loved the Willshire building because we had a historic building along with the new wing in the back. Our gymnasium was also the auditorium and actually had backs on the seats like a theater. They were noisy but comfortable. I would guess that the final addition to the building was were the hallway had a ramp just inside the side “bus” entrance where we were dropped off. It was between the Home Ec. room and the cafeteria. I always remembered that the janitors would wait near that ramp and would say hello to us in the morning and good bye at the end of the day. Also, the cafeteria always had better food than the Rockford building and I never packed my lunch. To all that attended here: remember the original split stairway that went to the upper floor for the 3rd and 4th grades? The 3rd graders went up on the east side and the 4th grades used the west stairs. The front 2 class rooms on that floor were never used when I was there. We went in there a couple times to watch movies and they were cold. Probably the steam radiators didn’t work or they just didn’t need them because of the new wing.
I wonder when they began kindergarten classes at the Willshire building. I started school in 1958 and they had no kindergarten then. I missed out on kindergarten but attended Willshire through eighth grade. I do remember the split stairways and the creaky old wooden stairs. I always liked the building and the new bell tower will be a nice reminder of it. Thanks for the memories!
Karen, I was told that the 1st Kindergarten would have been the graduating class of 1974 when my cousin Max Hamrick attended. His class would have started in 1962. I had Opal Clouse for my teacher. I am not sure if she taught the year before but I think that she had. Strange that I can remember this but I think she said that she used to teach 3rd grade in the Willshire building.
Opal Clouse was my first grade teacher. She was as very good teacher, especially for the early grades.
Regarding the above photo of the 1938-39 class. My mother was in that class and her name is not listed, nor is she pictured. I have a copy of her senior class composite photo. Understanding that she could have been absent when the above photo was taken, I compared the names of the above picture and the one I have of the 1939 class composite. None of the names are the same. Can you help me with any additional information? Thank you. Judy Fooks
I see what I did. That was the Junior Class during the year 1938-39, so it would have been the graduating class of 1939-40. I have corrected it. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
Thank you so much for solving another geneo mystery. Judy
You are welcome! Thanks for reading.
If I can figure out how to do it, would like copy of the 1939 Sr. Class? Also, do you have any others of that vintage that you may have posted elsewhere? Were there yearbooks during the late 30’s?
Where can I locate possible photos of Van Wert County/Willshire Schools? We will be in Van Wert County this summer and would like to locate whatever is possible.
I would look at the Van Wert Library. They have a nice genealogy department on the second floor, old newspapers on microfilm, and file cabinets with a lot of genealogical and historical information.
I graduated in 1952. Went to all 12 grades at Willshire. We lived at farthest northeast corner of school district.
“Suburbs” of Glenmore, OH. Dale Jones, of Jones and Byer Ford Garage was one of the earliest bus drivers
Love that “suburbs” of Glenmore! I always say I was from the suburbs of Chatt. Some great memories. Thanks for writing.