The History of East Pawpaw Classical Seminary & Teacher's Institute
Paw Paw (population 852) is located in north-central Illinois. The town is nestled in the southeast
corner of Lee County. County Highways 9 and 10 intersect in Paw Paw. Interstate Highway 39 passes by town
about one mile to the west.
The area where Paw Paw is located was first noticed in the early 1800s. The first permanent settler
to the area established a home in 1834. Settlers soon came to the area due to the abundance of water, food, and logs for building
shelter. Initially the area was split into three parts; East Paw Paw, West Paw Paw, and South Paw Paw. This
effort eventually came to recognize the town as simply Paw Paw. The town derives its unique name from a grove of Pawpaw
trees near the area ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawpaw ). The town of Paw Paw was incorporated in 1882.
A postal service was established in 1837. By 1847 the population had reached a total of 50 residents.
The year 1850 is cited as the beginning of active growth in the area. Two grocery stores, a blacksmith, wagon
maker, a shoemaker, and a harness maker set up businesses in Paw Paw.
The first school was established in 1836. In 1855 an organization known as the Paw Paw Stock
Company was formed. The leaders of the town and the area recognized the need for an institution of higher learning,
offering more than an eighth grade education. This concept was realized with the creation of the East Pawpaw
Classical Seminary and Teacher's Institute. A structure was built and the school placed in service.
The East Pawpaw Classical Seminary and Teacher's Institute was known throughout the area. It offered
courses of higher learing which today would be considered high school and even college level courses. It is said
that teachers, lawyers, physicians, and ministers were trained and received their education from this institution.
The city of Paw Paw had established a high school by the late 1800s. It is noted on the web page of
http://genealogytrails.com/ill/lee/leecitypawhistory.html that the school's frame building burned to the ground in 1897. The Classical Seminary and Teacher's Institute may
have lived a short life. It is likely the school closed in the early 1870s, along with a school in South
Paw Paw known as Union Academy. Both school buildings would be utilized as public schools
for the village of Paw Paw for several years.
It is stated that schools and progressive thinking, like that which created the Classical Seminary and Teacher's
Institute as well as Union Academy, were vital to the earl growth of America.
East Pawpaw Classical Seminary & Teacher's Institute
Consolidated to: Paw Paw High
School team nickname: unknown if sports offered