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History of Wash Oak School

Six miles due west of the Mill Race Historical Village in agricultural Salem Township, a school was begun circa 1840. It was originally housed in a trading post on the west side of the present Currie Road. At that time, blazes on trees showed youngsters the way to and from school through the dense forest.
In 1871, this original home of the Wash Oak School was destroyed by fire. It was known as the Wash Oak School as it drew pupils from Washtenaw and Oakland Counties. A new schoolhouse was built in 1873 on a site immediately north of the burned ruins.
Tours - School and Bus Tours, Wash Oak School, Mill Race Village - Northville Historical Society - Pic_MillRaceAboutSchoolOfficially, until 1949, the Wash Oak School District was known as Salem Township District No.1. Subsequently, it was known as District No.1 Fractional. Treasurer's records for the periods 1909-41 and 1949-62 have been located, and teachers’ records for the periods, 1886-88 and 1913-24, have been acquired.
In early years the school was known as the "Deake" School or "Nahlor" School for early pioneers. According to a history written in 1941 by school students and placed on file with the Washtenaw County Board of Education, the school opened with 35 students in grades 3-12.
During the winter term when "older boys" attended school, the record relates that a male teacher was needed to "take care of them.” Other times in the three-term year, they were out working on their parents’ farms.
At this early time, recitation seats or benches lined three sides of the room, while the teacher’s desk was at the front on a platform facing the box stove in the middle of the floor. The history further pictured wood for the stove stacked by the fence on the south side of the school. A church was located next door, and water was brought from a farm a half-mile away. The school was lighted with kerosene lamps.