New Michigan Academy was established in 1856 in Newtown Township, about five miles south of Streator,
which at the time was referred to as Hardscrabble. The exact location of the school & community in the township are unknown,
but considered near the present-day location of Streator Woodland Grade & High School.
The school hoped to increase enrollment with a proposed east-west railroad, but the discovery of coal in Hardscrabble
altered the rail plans. New Michigan Academy was opened in 1856 with E. B. Neville in charge of the school that year.
Neville left after the school year was over in 1857 and the school was closed for the next two years. O.F. Pearce reopened
the school in 1859 and kept it open thru 1862 when he received a job offer in Dwight to become its principal.
New Michigan did not reopen after Pearce's departure, and later was destroyed by fire as the community of New Michigan
moved away and abandoned what they had created years earlier. The school was formed at a time when the 1855 Free School
Law and School Code of Illinois had already been passed. This law helped organize public schools in Illinois, election
regulations for a board of education or trustees, boundary laws, and funding for the public schools only, which helped
to force private schools out of business.
FACTS ABOUT NEW MICHIGAN ACADEMY
Year first opened: 1856
First closed: 1857
Closed for good: 1862