Independence School House
A submission by John Garretson from the book "Haskell County - 100 Years Beneath the Plow"
The Independent School, District #40, building is in the southeast corner of the southeast quarter of section 36–27–32 and is of frame construction, 16 x 32 feet. I taught five terms there, having all eight grades under very crowded conditions. One year we had an enrollment of 41 students. Families attending school there over the years included Brock, Buller, Dawson, Weeks, Jantz, Simmons, Nichols, Nightengale, George, Koehn and Eck
My teaching career at Independence was during the worst years of the dirty 30s. The windows in the schoolhouse were not too snug, and a suitcase farmer was trying to grow wheat north and west of the school. The dirt blew in so badly that I put the teacher's desk and bookcase back to back and draped them with a curtain that we had for use for school programs. The next morning I would gather the curtain by its corners and carry the dust outside to complete its journey to the gulf. I do not know why dust pneumonia did not claim most of us.
While teaching at Independence I received a compliment which I cherish to this day. J.R. Jones, superintendent of Sublette schools, told me that the eighth graders I sent to Sublette High School were the most ready of any, and the grades they came in with were quite accurate, as the students continued to maintain their grade averages throughout high school.
Other Schools in Haskell County
The Colusa town site was founded in 1885 in the approximate center of Section 35-27-31 in northeast Haskell County, 22 miles from Sublette. A sod schoolhouse was built on this site and Anna Josserand, mother of the late Guy D. Josserand, was the first teacher. I can find no record of the date, but later a frame schoolhouse was built in the southeast corner of Section 34-27-31 (70th and Rd. WW) where I went through all eight grades. Enrollment was as high as 42 pupils, with only one teacher. This 16 x 32 foot frame building served the district until it was replaced by a modern two-room brick building in 1932, and school was held there until consolidation with Copeland. The building now serves Lockport community.
Families attending Colusa School, District #12, over the years included Swartz, Imhoff, Call, Lindeman, Moore, Rome, Ihlanfeldt, Achilles, Girad, Glasco, Woodrow, Gilbert, French, Yost, Peaster, Audrey, Unruh, Schmidt, Nightengale, Nichols, Nusser, Weeks, Jantz, Miller, Wedel, Degenhart, Kovtynovich, Garetson, Henry, Ward and Monnahan.
Alex and George Kovtynovich came here with their parents from Russia. They are uncles of Paul Ho-lovach. Although they lived six miles from the school, they came to Colusa one term and walked or ran, as the occasion dictated, and were neither tardy nor absent. They graduated from Sublette High School. Paul Ho-lovach tells me they enjoyed successful careers and are now retired.
An incident most amusing to me that illustrates the change in school discipline occurred in a country school: A group of larger boys gave the teacher, Mr. Rome, so much static and made things so disagreeable that he quit at Christmastime. We had vacation until semester break and then Helen Burns finished teaching the term to finance her further education. She was about five foot, four inches tall as I remember, with eyes so black they sparkled. When she called school to order she said, “Children, you know why I’m here. We will start in where Mr. Rome left off, and you may call me Miss Burns.”
Roy Woodrow, one of the larger boys and a ringleader, sized up the situation and—not realizing what thin ice he was on—began laying plans for further disruptions. I do not think we had bubble gum then, but Roy had something in his mouth that produced the desired sound effects. He started his operation with intermittent outbreaks of loud popping sounds. Miss Burns met the challenge in great form. When she was sure she had the culprit she asked, “Roy, what have you in your mouth?” His smart reply was, “Why, my tongue.” One of her hands shot into his hair like a striking snake while the other began slapping with a sound like a machine gun. When her arm was tired she changed hands and repeated the action on the other side. She then said, “Roy, put your tongue in the coal bucket.” Needless to say, she had the situation well under control for the remainder of the school year. - John Garetson
East Banner School, District #30, was located at 20th and Rd YY, 26 miles from Sublette. It was a frame building and larger than the Colusa schoolhouse. There was a windmill with a hand pump hookup. (As a bit of water level history, the well was 60 feet deep.)
Families attending school at East Banner included Sherman, White, Rose, Towns, Hale, Loucks, Johnson, Withers, Hoskinson, Glassco, Smith, Schmidt, Koehn, Unruh, Hesser, Ar-dery, Beck, Nusser, McMannamon, Harsman, Stukey and Rundle.
Two Mennonite boys, who could not speak a word of English, came to school for first grade. They were speaking English and doing well by the end of the term.
The original schoolhouse is gone, and the site is now farmed. The district purchased a two-room schoolhouse from a district that had closed. This schoolhouse, a mile west of the original school site, was in the southeast corner of Ardery’s pasture in Section 11-27-31. - John Garetson
Folsom School. District #29 was located at 140th and Rd. VV. It was crowded at times, like most of the rural schools. Families attending school here included Stultz, Merzie, Johnson, Cave, Frame, Kelley, Sherer, Glover, Ward, Wedel, Whitaker, Schmidt, Phillips, Metts, Ocker, Cleghorn, Dirks, Morse, Hargett, Marine, Moody, Feltner, Spanier, Fry, Mullin, and Converse. The schoolhouse is gone and the site is now farmed.
Golda Hemker taught school here and told the following: In health habits there was a chapter on tobacco and alcohol, and she really gave the children a song-and-dance on the bad effects of their use. In class discussion after her presentation one of the boys said, “Mrs. Hemker, I’ve never been but I sure have been dizzy lets of times.” - John Garetson
Ivahhoe School, District #9, was built in the 1880s and served the town as its grade school until Ivanhoe was abandoned. In 1911 the building was moved one mile south where it sat on the corner just north of the Charlie Cox farm. The school term was eight months. Location: Highway 83 and Rd. 90
It was a typical one-room schoolhouse with a cloak room and another small area where the drinking water was kept, along with each student’s tin cup hanging on a nail below their name tag. This was also the washroom. A cistern furnished water until about 1930 when it was abandoned. After that water was brought in each morning.
There were eight grades all being taught at the same time. The older students struggled with arithmetic and geography at the back of the building, while up front first graders proudly read “The Gingerbread Boy” from their primers, their short legs dangling from the recitation bench.
Imagination ran wild at recess. We played Andy-Over, Steal Sticks, Crow Bait, Blackman, Run-Sheep-Run, Last Couple Out and Kick the Can. We also played a lot of softball. One recess a group of older boys went to the far corner of the schoolyard and built a cowboy campfire so they could heat water and “drink their coffee from an old tin can.” When the bell rang to end recess they hurriedly doused the fire and returned to school. Not too long after, one of the boys looked out the window and yelled, “Miss Johnson, the prairie’s on fire!” Indeed it was; the campfire was still smoldering and the dry buffalo grass was burning rapidly toward the buildings. The teacher got all of the children out quickly, and two girls vaulted the fence to get help from Coxes. The men came with shovels and gunny sacks and beat out the flames which were by now close to the coal house. It was handy having the Cox farm next door in case of fire, a broken bone, or for something we wanted to borrow.
The ‘30s found us continuing our education as if everything was right with the world. We gave programs, had spelling bees, music festivals and track meets in competition with other country schools. Dirt storms boiled in with regularity. When it became impossible to see, we put our books away and the teacher stood by the window that let in the most light and read stories to us. Our schoolyard fence became badly drifted with blow dirt, and in some places we walked right over the top.
Many good people began their education at Ivanhoe, among them the Kniefs, Forneys, Preedys, Wilsons, Walters, Wrights, Paces, Younts, Lindemans, Snavelys, Hawes, Meairs, Coxes, Leonards, Batmans, Eiseles and Birneys. We were all good friends, and how wonderful it was when our parents were away and we went to one another’s homes to play after school.
Ivanhoe went the way of all country schools and closed in 1953, merging with Pleasant Valley School five miles north. The following year Ivanhoe was consolidated with the Sublette district. - Ruby Rutledge