Ann Arbor's city parks sit on the ancestral and traditional homelands of several indigenous Native peoples. Read a
land acknowledgement from the city and learn more about the early history of the land
The park is linked with Lawton Elementary School. Both are named after Uriah William Lawton (1831-1905), the first superintendent of Ann Arbor schools from 1864-1867. He was principal of the Ann Arbor High School in 1862 and taught earlier in Tecumseh and Jackson. He was a Quaker from the Boston area who graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1856. After his stint as superintendent in Ann Arbor he returned to Jackson in 1868 to be superintendent there until 1880. He is buried in Mount Evergreen Cemetery in Jackson. He died in January of 1905.
Lawton School was dedicated in October of 1964. The 12 acre site for the school was purchased jointly by the City of Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor School System. The school is located at 2250 S. Seventh Street.
A story about Professor Lawton was recounted in the Michigan Argus of Dec. 23, 1864. Entitled “A Gross Outrage,” the journalist recounts how Lawton punished several students by whipping them with a willow switch. They had been troublesome before and he felt it required this level of punishment. The biggest student in the class stood up, objected, got a poker and threatened Prof. Lawton. He finally left, but then returned with his father and the father of one of the whipped students. Taken by surprise, Prof. Lawton was assaulted by the three and sustained head injuries. The journalist was outraged and advocated serious penalties for the assailants. The result was a lawsuit filed against Lawton for assault, in which he was acquitted. This shows just how dangerous teaching was in that era, which many perceive as idyllic.