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Jewett School – A One-Room School Becomes a Five-Room Rural School

“This is the Jewett school of Kochville township which was dedicated with appropriate ceremony Friday evening. It is not a new building throughout, but has recently been remodeled and all-modern equipment added and a short time ago was awarded the ‘standard plate’ of the state department of public instruction.”

-The Saginaw News Courier, March 20, 1926.


Jewett School, c. 1912-1913

For over a century, the southeast corner of Kochville and Mackinaw Roads was the home of Jewett School. While it closed in 1973, the final building to house the school still stands.


From 1877 Atlas. Location of Jewett School in yellow

Jewett School was organized in the late 1850s and named after Eleazer and Azubah Jewett. The Jewetts, pioneer settlers at Green Point and Saginaw City, moved to Kochville Township in 1854. Their farm was located across Kochville Road from the site of the school that carried their name.


Much of the school’s history – especially early history –  was intertwined with that of Kochville Methodist Church. They were the public centers in a closely connected farming community. In 1881, after the northern half of Kochville Township became part of Bay County, Jewett School was one of three public schools in Kochville – the other two were Crane and Liberty.


This link will take you to an article about how the northern part of Kochville Township became part of Bay County


Jewett School, 1926

Jewett School was both a place of education and a community gathering place. Originally a one-room school – tradition holds the first part was constructed about 1860—by the early part of the twentieth century, the wood frame building had been enlarged to form a two-room school. Although under county-wide supervision, the school was operated by an elected board of community residents.


In 1953, construction of a new building was approved. Designed by Saginaw architect Frederick E. Wigen, the building, which included two classrooms, an office and boiler room, was designed to supplement the original building. Later in the decade, the 1953 facility was expanded to include three more classrooms. At that time, the original building was demolished.


Original building on right with 1953 building on left

As a standalone district, Jewett’s students could continue their education at Arthur Hill High School. In 1958, Jewett District acquired a bus to facilitate the commute for high school students. By the late 1950s, the state was addressing the issues associated with a patchwork of individual districts shaped by 19th-century educational policies and required all school districts to offer a K-12 program. In 1966, Jewett School joined Liberty, Crane and Zilwaukee schools to become part of the   Saginaw School District.


If you wish to delve deeper into the history of rural school districts, these are two places to start: (As this week’s recipe is quickly prepared, we suggest an after-lunch study period.)


This link will take you an online exhibit about Michigan’s rural schools


Below you may download a 1933 Bulletin: Rural School Organization in Michigan


Rural School Org in MI
Download PDF • 510KB


The Secret Recipe for Jewett School’s Hot Lunch Sloppy Joes


By the mid-1960s, Jewett School consisted of five classrooms, an office, a teacher’s lounge and boiler room, and a wide corridor connecting these spaces. It did not include a cafeteria\lunchroom or gathering room. Students carried their lunches to school in now-collectable themed lunch pails. Lunches were eaten in the classroom. On some, now forgotten schedule, parents would prepare a ‘hot lunch.’  Room by room, students would line up in the wide hallway. The Sloppy Joes and the other staple, hot dogs, were served from electric roasters. The Sloppy Joes were always the more exciting choice. Although the schedule may have been forgotten, the Sloppy Joes - the signature dish - are fondly remembered.


Noon hour, 1946

It has been rumored that students were so fond of them that they would request their parents to contact the Hot Lunch Committee and obtain the perhaps not-so-secret recipe. The secret recipe—that mid-century classic, Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo Soup Sloppy Joes. It came directly from the back of the can of soup. (It is possible that the recipe varied over time; however, this was the c. 1964 version.)


And in the spirit of honesty and a quest for accuracy learned at Jewett School, we went back to the original – or updated version of the original source – the Campbell’s Soup website.



1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped, about ½ cup                                                                 

1 can, 10 ¾ ounces Cambell’s Condensed Chicken Gumbo Soup                 

1 tablespoon yellow mustard                                                                

6 hamburger buns, toasted (They were not toasted at Jewett School. They came directly from the bag – there really wasn’t a place to toast them)



Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat until beef is well browned. Stir often to separate meat. Pour off fat.


Stir the soup and mustard in the skillet and cook until the mixture is hot. Divide the beef mixture among the buns.




Although it may not be part of the original recipe, we often add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. And on occasion, we add a finely chopped sautéed green pepper.


And for those of you are familiar with Marcel Proust’s description of Madeleine’s in Remembrances of Things Past, Sloppy Joes made from this recipe are capable of being just as evocative as a Madeleine and cup of tea  – capable of connecting past and present. Although that may be an exaggeration, they are quite wonderful.

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