New Trier Founders

NT Founders plaque
General Charles H. Howard

General Charles H. Howard
President

General Charles H. Howard of Glencoe was born in Leeds, Maine and graduated from Bowdoin College. Mr. Howard enlisted as a private in the 3rd Maine Infantry in 1861 and reached the position of Brigadier General during the Civil War. He fought in Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He was later placed in command of an African American regiment which was then called the 128th Colored Troops. After the war, he worked with his older brother General O. O. Howard in organizing the Freedman's Bureau to educate the newly freed African Americans. Howard University in Washington D.C. was named for his brother, and Charles H. is listed as one of the original incorporators. His work as inspector of Indian schools and officer of the American Missionary Association during the period when it was building schools on the frontier and in the South, as well as his personal experience as a teacher early in life, had especially fitted him for the work before the new board. He was an early resident of the Village of Glencoe and was president of the Village in 1891-92. He was also head of the Central School Board before becoming the first President of the New Trier High School Board. He died in Glencoe in 1908.

James M. Johnson

James M. Johnson

James M. Johnson of Wilmette was a businessman. He was born in Pittsburg, Pa. and came to Chicago in 1878 as financial manager of the Wilson Packing Co. In 1885, he took the position as treasurer of James B. Clow & Son, a leading manufacturer and dealer in supplies for plumbers, steam and gas fitters, water and gas works, railroads, and contractors. He remained in that position until his death. For many years, he was prominent in the work of the Royal Arcanum, a fraternal benefit society with the motto "Mercy, Virtue, Charity." He chaired a committee of that organization entrusted with the investing of the Widows' and Orphans' Fund.

Merritt Starr

Merritt Starr

Merritt Starr was a prominent Chicago attorney who earned a degree from Harvard Law School. He argued many appellate court cases, including in the United States Supreme Court. Active in Chicago civic life, in 1889, Starr was a founding member of the Hull House Social Science Club for Men.

In 1892, Mr. Starr moved his family to Winnetka, where he was an influential supporter of the successful 1899 referendum to form a New Trier Township High School District. He was selected to serve as one of the five original Trustees on the New Trier Township High School Board in that referendum, and he was elected by that Board to be its first secretary.

An acquaintance of the future President, Theodore Roosevelt, while they were students at Harvard, Starr promoted the former President's legacy in speeches and writings after the President's death in 1919. He also contributed an introduction to Thomas H. Russell's book, "Life and Work of Theodore Roosevelt", which contains several anecdotes from Starr and Roosevelt's years together as students.

Reverend William Netstraeter

Reverend William Netstraeter

Reverend William Netstraeter, who was born in Germany in 1843, came to the United States as a young priest. He was appointed pastor of Saint Joseph Church in Wilmette in 1872 and spent the next 51 years in that role working for his church, its members and the larger community. In return, the citizens of Wilmette showed their respect for and confidence in Reverend Netstraeter by electing him as a Trustee to their Village Board in 1882 and on two occasions as their Village President.

Rev. Netstraeter nurtured St. Joseph's grade school over the years as it grew, and he wanted to ensure that the children who completed primary school had an opportunity to continue their education. During the 1890s, he dedicated his efforts to bring a high school to New Trier Township, actively campaigning in four separate referendums to achieve this objective. The first three failed, but in 1899, the referendum to establish a New Trier Township High School District succeeded. Rev. Netstraeter was elected to serve as a Trustee on the original New Trier School Board, upon which he remained until 1907.

It was Reverend Netstraeter's vision and tireless efforts which were largely responsible for finally achieving a high school in New Trier Township. Once he saw the need for a higher level of education for his students, he worked toward that goal constantly until it was reached.

Dr. Byron C. Stolp

Dr. Byron C. Stolp

Dr. Byron Stolp was the first resident physician in Wilmette. A traditional family doctor, he was honored and respected by its citizens. He was active in civic affairs in general, but was particularly prominent in the field of education. Dr. Stolp served on the Wilmette School Board for 14 years, and the grade school at 10th St. and Central Ave. was originally named the Byron C. Stolp School.

Dr. Stolp was involved in a number of secondary school referenda which sought to establish a secondary school in New Trier Township. One of these attempts, which lost by 3 votes, would have annexed a portion of Wilmette to Evanston. Had it succeeded, some of the formerly Wilmette students, who would have become Evanston residents, would then have been eligible to attend an existing Evanston High School.

Ultimately, in 1899, a referendum to provide secondary education to students in Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka and Glencoe succeeded. Dr. Stolp was elected as a Trustee to the first New Trier Township High School Board which, during its first year, held meetings in his office in Wilmette.

In 1917 St. Stolp died in an automobile accident en route to care for a patient.