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A look at the past: rural schools in Boyceville’s history

By Kelsie Hoitomt

BOYCEVILLE – When children first began going to school, they attended a rural, single room schoolhouse that was closest to their home where one, maybe two teachers taught six to eight grade levels.

There were 42 of these schoolhouses placed across the land and within the different townships and villages around Boyceville or “Barker” as it once was.

The schoolhouses that once represented the Boyceville School District were Best Valley, Big Beaver, Bilse, Blanchard, Bolen, Boyceville, Clack, Chimney Rock, Clover Valley, Connorsville, Downing, Fern Valley, Forest Grove, Goff, Granger, Happy Valley, Hawthorne, Hilkrest/Hillcrest, Hilson, Knapp, Lamb’s Creek, Lierman, Little Beaver, Lochiel, Maple Ridge, Meadow Brook, Midway, Norton, Oak Lawn/West Valley, Oak Ridge, Peaceful Valley, Peck, Pleasant Dale, Pleasant Hill, Pine Grove, Riverside, Roach, Schindler, Tree Park, Vanceburg, Washburn Farm and Wheeler.

Of the 42, there were 28 schoolhouses, which are bolded, that became entirely part of the Boyceville District and are honored with a special tag above certain classroom doors at the Tiffany Creek Elementary.

Cardboard displays with pictures, interviews and pieces of history from those 28 schools were placed outside the elementary classrooms during the back to school open house on September 2.

Of those 28, information about a few of them, which was pulled from those displays, is written below.

Bolen School

Bolen School was built in 1888 at the location south of the present Hallie Smith Farm. Around 1900, that building may have been moved or a new building was built at a new location on a hill overlooking county Road Q.

Bolen School usually had one teacher to teach grades one through eight. At times the number of school children was over 40. As time passed, the tractor took the place of horses, the milking machine took the place of hand milking; along with a lot of other changes.

One farmer could farm as much land as four or five farmers had before. Also the number of children dropped from six to twelve per family to two or three.

A way of life that is gone forever, except in the memory of those who lived at that time in the United States.

The former Bolen schoolhouse was most recently the home of Eleanor Drinkman, located at the intersection of Highway 64 and County Road Q. The school bell was mounted in the front yard.

Wheeler

At the Wheeler State Graded School, Edna Sanders was the teacher in 1943 and the school officers were Reverend V. R. Miller, Mrs. Clarence Lorenz and Peter Mickelson.

Students listed that year on Christmas Day were Nancy Stevens, Herman Severson, Mavis Fawcett, Roger Olson, Jean Cole, Jerry Pierson, Virgil Erickson, Lovejoy Henry, Stanley Andrews, Anee Traxler, Hope Miller, Richard Losness, Valerie Bachelor, William Grant, Tommy Stevens, Darrell Gleiter, Richard Leiter, Cora Bachelder, Kenneth Amundson, Paul Miller, Henry Lemon, Allan Andrews, Eileen Goodell, Teddy McCuen, James Olson, Barbara Kiser, Robert Burton, Joan Mickelson, Roger McClure, David Grant, Donald Vatne, Janice Hoff, Richard Schultz, G. Gleiter, Jeannette Gleiter and Teddy Erickson.

The Wheeler Graded School was built in 1915 and was there until 1955. The schoolhouse did have two rooms eventually as well as an orchestra, a football team and baseball team.

This schoolhouse was later turned into a church and became a hangout place in Wheeler. It was open to everyone on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and it was named the Church of Nazarene.

Riverside

Riverside School was located on the west side of County Road G before it burned in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

At that time, students were in charge of the fire that heated the school and apparently it got to hot, which set the building a blaze. These students then had to attend another area schoolhouse.

Clack

The Clack School was once a logging operation office and boarding house in the 1800s. That house was also used as a post office, library and school.

Around 1857/58 the school was moved about a half mile south on Highway 79 near Weber Road and that is where the traditional one room schoolhouse was built.

The schoolhouse stood for 100 years until it was closed and then burned down some time in the 1960s-70s.

In 2001, it was stated that the Snyder Family lived in the very first Clack School and the O’Connell’s house is where the second schoolhouse once stood.

An average day at Clack School started around 8:55 a.m. when the second bell sounded. Before classes began, each student was given a health inspection, which meant the teacher made sure they had bathed, brushed their teeth, combed their hair, etc.

After that, the Pledge of Allegiance was sang and then classes like Social Studies, Language Arts, Math/Arithmetic, Writing, Reading and Choir carried out throughout the day until around 3:30-4:00 p.m.

Forest Grove

The Forest Grove schoolhouse opened in 1892 with kids from Clear Lake, Prairie Farm and Boyceville attending. It closed in 1958 with a budget of $635 when it opened and $7,447 when it closed.

The earliest teachers were Mae Rassbach from 1914-1917, Julia C. Brevad from 1918-1919, Lala Bunce and Florence Grover split the school year in 1920, then it was Jasie Forseth from 1921-1923.

The teacher with the longest term was George Mcloud and he taught from 1931-1940. The last teacher in the schoolhouse before it closed was Louise Bjorkman from 1954-1958.

Pine Grove

At Pine Grove, the highest paid teacher was Kathryn Stansbury with $1,600 paid out in a year in 1946-47. In 1934-37, Mabel Retz was paid between $600-800 a school year.

According to Mabel she had about eight students and a regular day had prayers, opening announcements and classes.

On holidays, there was a Christmas program and on Arbor Day the students would rake.

Aside from teaching and being taught, chores around the schoolhouse included building the fire and putting up the flag.

Roach

A list of school disbursements classified by their purpose was shared from the Roach School.

Salaries of Board of Education was $135 and then salaries of administrators was just $6.00. Salaries of teachers was $285 with a cost of books around $317 and $86.29 for all other instruction supplies.

As for the maintenance staff, their salary was just $39 with $1.59 set aside for supplies and contract services.

Operational costs included $190.69 for fuel, $119.20 for power, light, water, sewer and telephone and then an additional $29.34 for supplies.

Food supplies for lunches and milk was $252.58.

Litte Beaver

Little Beaver became a school in 1881 and remained open until 1958. Two interviews were conducted with students, Elsie McIntyre and Ray Score; they can be found on the display board.

Chimney Rock

Boyceville resident, Vivian Hanestad attended Chimney Rock when she was a child. There were around 18-19 students in school with about two kids in each grade.

She remembers doing chores like washing boards, sweeping the bathroom and putting up the flag.

In school, games they played were “Steal the Sticks” and “Inny Inny Over”. Aside from games, another activity the students would do was preparing for holiday plays. This was typically the only after school activity.

An example of a morning school schedule went as follows; 8:55 a.m.- all students have music, 9:10- 7-8th arithmetic, 9:25- 1st reading, 9:40- 2nd reading, 9:50- 3-4th reading, 10:05- 5-6th reading and social studies and 1-2nd was dismissed for play. At 10:20- 8th physiology and hygiene, 10:30- recess for all, 10:45 1-2nd language and social studies, 10:55- 7-8th language and grammar, 11:10- 3-4th arithmetic, 11:30- 5-6th arithmetic and 1-4th dismissed for play. Before lunch, 7-8th had history and civics.

In the afternoon, class resumed at 1:00 with 1st grade reading. Then at 1:10- 2nd reading and arithmetic. At 1:20 is 7-8th reading, 1:35- 3-4th language, 1:45- everyone had handwriting and drawing, 2:00- 5th geography and 1-4th was dismissed for play, 2:15- 6-7th geography, 2:30- everyone had recess, 2:40- 1st reading, 2:55- 2nd reading and spelling, 3:05- 5-6th language, 3:20- 3-4th social studies and spelling, 3:35- 5-6th spelling and 1-2nd was dismissed and finally at 3:45 the 7-8th had agriculture and spelling.

Hawthorne

The history of Hawthorne School says that it was first a log schoolhouse that stood on a site a short distance from the Kenneth Anderson home.

The exact date of when it was built is unknown, but it was some time before 1863.

The school was formed by the families of John Hawthorne, Edmund Thomas, William Adams, Charles Grutt, George Blakely, John Hoover Sr., Charles Cook, John Blakely, Mitt Green, Heen Bradway, Honey Bee Johnson, A. D. Warner, Abraham Studebaker and the Noble family.

One known teacher was Prudy Dourghty.

When the area grew with more families and more children, another schoolhouse was built around 1880-1881.

Its stated that the land was purchased in 1884 for $15 from a William Wilson. Charles Grutt did the mason work and plastering. John Hoover Sr. was the head carpenter and John Wisemiller, Edmund Thomas and Frank Grutt assisted him.