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4 local schools named after real people (and 1 named for a fictional character)

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by Tom Giffey

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Above: Just one more thing named after a local lumber baron.

1. UW-STOUT

The name of the college in Menomonie isn’t a reference to Wisconsinites’ waistlines. UW-Stout bears the name of lumber baron and philanthropist James Huff Stout, who in 1891 founded the Stout Manual Training School, which over time evolved into a state university.

2. SAM DAVEY ELEMENTARY

Several new elementary schools were nearing completion in August 1949 when Eau Claire Superintendent Sam Davey – who had previously been high school principal and vocational school director – died unexpectedly at age 52. One of them, the new Twelfth Ward School on Starr Avenue, was named as a memorial for him.

Talk about a spunky pioneer kid!
Talk about a spunky pioneer kid!

3. CADDIE WOODLAWN EARLY LEARNING CENTER

Caddie Woodlawn is a fictional character, but that didn’t stop the people of Durand from naming a school in her honor. (Take that, Laura Ingalls!) The children’s book heroine was based on author Carol Ryrie Brink’s real-life grandmother, Caddie Woodhouse Watkins, who grew up between Durand and Menomonie in the mid-1800s.

4. ROBBINS ELEMENTARY

The first Robbins School was built in 1855 in the town of Washington under the leadership of farmer Ephraim Wheeler Robbins. A house owned by his son, Hubbard, was torn down to build the school. (Now that’s commitment to education!) In 1863, the school was moved to the site of the present-day building on what is now Eau Claire’s south side.

5. JIM FALLS ELEMENTARY

This small school, part of the Chippewa Falls school district, is named after the unincorporated Chippewa County community in which it is located, which was named after the nearby falls on the Chippewa River, which in turn were named after a guy named Jim: James Ermatinger, to be precise, a fur trader who set up shop at the falls in the 1840s.

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