The Historic Hamilton Primary School
Endowment Fund

This Designated Fund was started in June of 2016 by Mr. Roy L. Maguire.  The purpose of the fund is to provide annual funding for the restoration and maintenance of the historic Hamilton Primary School in Otterville, IL.

Mr. Roy Maguire, of Edelstein, IL, has a number of personal connections to the Hamilton Primary School (HPS).  These personal connections have motivated him to establish an endowed fund to provide ongoing funding for the restoration and maintenance of the school.  Mr. Maguire's hope is that this annual funding will help preserve the history of the HPS for generations to come.  Following are some of the reasons for Roy's personal interest in preserving the story behind the historic Hamilton Primary School:

  • Roy's great-grandfather, Sigel Francis Busch was listed as a trustee for the HPS in a book published in 1919, called The History of Jersey County.
  • The Hamilton Primary School has records indicating Roy Maguire's grandfather, William Lloyd Maguire, was a School Board Member.
  • Roy's father and three sisters attended HPS, and there are school records of their attendance and grades.
  • Roy Maguire's mother, Mildred, moved to Otterville in 1936 where she met Ralph Maguire, and they married.
  • Roy's father, his uncle Everett Van Tassell, and his great uncle Carl Busch wired many homes when electricity came to Otterville and Roy's mother told Roy that his dad and uncle Carl wired the Hamilton Primary School.
  • Roy's maternal grandmother died when Mildred was 5 years old.  Mildred moved around Missouri and Illinois 30+ times as her father worked wherever he could in the 30’s. She wrote that her life began when she got to Otterville and Hamilton School.
  • Roy L.. Maguire was born in the house that was built by Silas Hamilton.
  • Roy donated funds to replace the front doors of the school, as they were beyond repair and where not like original doors. The new doors were dedicated at the annual Hamilton Primary School Festival on Saturday June 11th in his mother's name. Roy's aunt Verna (Maguire)(Van Tassell) Wilson attended the dedication at the age of 91.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to this endowment fund, please click the button below for online donations.  Or, you can mail a check made out to the Morton Community Foundation to 105 E. Jefferson Street, Morton, IL 61550.  Include a memo indicating you wish the donation to go into the Historic Hamilton Primary School Endowment Fund.

HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL

The story of Hamilton Primary School, 107 E. Main, Otterville, IL 62052, is actually the culmination of the lives of two men of different races who were endowed with the best of human traits and lived lives that were influenced by the spirit of liberty and brotherly love.

Dr. Silas Hamilton, a native and practicing physician of Vermont attempted to conduct a Southern slave plantation in an intelligent and humane way as an example to his neighbors in Adams County, Mississippi in 1820.

While making a trip on horseback to see his mother in Vermont, Dr. Hamilton came upon a young black boy whose mother had been sold into slavery and taken south.  Dr. Hamilton purchased the young boy for $100 dollars.  The young boy named George Washington came under the influence of a fine and honorable man.

Unable to accomplish his objectives at the plantation, Dr. Hamilton traveled north and eventually settled in Otterville in 1830.  He freed his twenty-eight slaves in Cincinnati.  However, George and one Negro couple chose to stay with Dr. Hamilton.  Dr. Hamilton being the only physician in Jersey County, was forced out of retirement in 1834 by an excessive amount of sickness in the County.  His labors were so excessive that his health broke and he died on November 19, 1834.

Even in death he continued to aid mankind in a way he thus expressly stated in his will:  "Believing in the very great importance of primary schools, and desiring that my friends and relatives in this neighborhood should receive the benefit of them, I give and bequeath $4,000. dollars for the establishment of a primary school.  $2,000 dollars to be appropriated to the erection of a building suitable for the school and a place of public worship, and $2,000 dollars to constitute a fund for the support of a teacher, said house to be erected not to exceed one mile south of this residence, nor one mile north, nor a quarter of a mile east, but at or near the point called the Four Corners, and I desire my executors to oversee the erection of such a building..."

CLICK HERE to read more about the Hamilton Primary School.

The monument was erected by a former slave, George Washington, to his former master Dr. Silas Hamilton, this is the only monument of its kind. No where in the world is there such a monument.

The monument was erected by a former slave, George Washington, to his former master Dr. Silas Hamilton, this is the only monument of its kind. No where in the world is there such a monument.

George proved to be an able and willing learner under the influence of Dr. Hamilton.  He absorbed the teachings of the doctor so well that his life was lived with such humility and love of mankind that it approached true greatness.

After the death of Dr. Silas Hamilton, George lived with the Gilbert Douglas family.  He attended the primary school and eventually became a highly successful farmer.  He was always an active member of the Otterville Baptist Church, served as janitor of the church and Sunday School.  Being an excellent singer, he was always depended upon to lead the singing.  He became assistant superintendent of the Sunday School and taught a class as well.

George never married; instead, he adopted the people of the community.  His acts and deeds speak fluently of his love for his family and neighbors.  Whenever there was sickness, George would appear with wood for the fire and food if there was a need.  He became the "grave digger", without charge, for the community.  George silently performed these and many other acts of kindness.

George's last act in 1864 for his fellowman.  In an unwritten will he left a sizeable estate which was to provide for payments of all his debts, a monument to his former master, and for the education of "colored persons, or Americans of African descent".

The monument was erected by George Washington to his former master Dr. Silas Hamilton, this is the only monument of its kind. No where in the world is there such a monument.

The Monument reads as follows:  DR. SILAS HAMILTON / Created by George Washington / Born in Virgina a Slave / Died at Otterville, Illinois / April 18, 1864 / A Christian Freeman / To the Memory of; Dr. Silas Hamilton / His former master / Born at Tinmouth, VT May 10, 1775 / Died Otterville, Illinois November 19, 1834 / Having his lifetime given freedom to Twenty-eight slaves and at his death bequeathed four thousand dollars for the erection and endowment of the Hamilton Primary School.

Read More:  Landmarks Illinois, Hamilton Primary School, Statewide Endangered

 

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to this endowment fund, please click the button below for online donations.  Or, you may mail a check made out to the Morton Community Foundation to 105 E. Jefferson Street, Morton, IL 61550.  Include a memo indicating you wish the donation to go into the Historic Hamilton Primary School Endowment Fund.