Pioneer schools in Grant County

Students and teachers pose outside the Dayville School in the early 1900s. Photos of Nadia Schultz

At one time, Grant County encompassed parts or all of Harney, Baker and Wheeler counties. Therefore, many schools and more than 50 school districts were located within Grant County's borders.

Various small one-room schools served the scattered populations to avoid inconvenient travel, and later, consolidation and busing brought about larger established schools.

Early teachers, who received little pay and usually boarded at the pupil's home, were responsible for make sure drinking water and a dipper were available, and a fire was going before the students arrived and that wood for the heating stove was carried in and ready for use. The teachers usually were young people who finished school through the eight or ninth grade, or one or two grades of high school.

Prairie City Schools

In 1868, Andy Thompson School was started below the hot springs, but only lasted a few weeks. A one-room school was established in 1870 up Dixie Creek 1/2 mile; the one-room building housed 20 students of all ages. In 1871, the Winegar School set up in Winegar Gulch and later moved to French Lane. Riverside School, which also is in French Lane, was built in 1904 and today serves as a Bed & Breakfast. Prairie City's first school was established on the south side of town in 1876-77, but only lasted a few months; the next attempt was behind the Masonic Hall where all ages and grade levels were welcomed.

In 1885, a new school was built on Main Street, Prairie City; it burned in 1901. The first high school was built in 1891, and the building also housed the grade school. After a fire, it was rebuilt at the location of the present-day Blue Mountain Nursing Home - a two-story building with a belfry and the overflow of students studied at the Masonic Hall. Around 1915, the school was built at its present location. Since 1950, there have been two additions, plus new gyms. One school, known as the Pierce, Parson or Highland school was eventually consolidated into the Prairie City School. Another notable was the Dixie Creek School or Monahan School on Pat and Hedy Voigt's property.

In the 1880s, the Meador School served students in the Loop Road area; Thomas Meador donated the land and built the school. It later was replaced by a larger school on land which today adjoins Mike Emmel's property.

Strawberry School, constructed in 1889, was located four miles up Strawberry Creek west of the Roger Kent Ranch; now called the Ox Bow Ranch, near Camp Logan.

The first Indian Creek School was built 1/2 mile below the mouth of Indian Creek on the Ray Ranch; the second Indian Creek School was built on Indian Creek on the Johnson Ranch in 1900 - the school was torn down and used as a barn for the third schoolhouse built on Indian Creek.

The Austin School of 1890s was moved to Bates. The more-modern Bates Cardwell School was moved to the present-day schoolgrounds at Prairie City in the 1970s.

The Family Christian School began in Prairie City in 2000 and serves kindergarten through 12th grades.

Other Grant County Schools

• Bear Valley Lodge School District No. 37; Logdell School in Bear Valley was a one-room school which served Seneca and Camp 1.

• Silvies school was a log building built south of the Camblin home in 1893-94.

• Izee School District No. 20 was at one time located in Walker Gulch, but later moved to the old McCaffery Home.

• Upper Suplee School District No. 40 in Grant County near Paulina was built in 1900.

• Junction School at Kimberly was established in 1901; teacher Edna Kimberling also taught at Courtrock, Bates, Ritter and Fox.

• The Cant Ranch School operated in 1917 and was held on the third floor of the Cant Ranch house. Known as the Cant District No. 54, it later consolidated with Dayville, District 16.

• The first Antone school was built below the Flat Ranch 1906 and operated until 1908; the second school was east of Rock Creek was later moved to Antone to be used as a blacksmith shop; third school was located on a knoll from Antone Road in 1918-1939;

• Camp Creek School was a log building built around 1890 between Lake Creek and Camp Creek. The school site later moved two miles southeast to a more central location. In 1909, a one-acre parcel was purchased and the school became known as Cove Creek School (District No. 9) as it consolidated with Winlock School. Later it joined with Spray District No. 1.

• The first Dayville School was built in 1885-86 at Battle Creek about three miles west of present-day town. It burned in 1905 and the next school burned in 1922. The present stone schoolhouse on the hill was built in 1922 with the gymnasium added about 1950, with the grade school built soon thereafter.

• Old Ritter school is a pile of logs; the second school was torn down. There is a third schoolhouse still located near Ritter.

• The Carter School near Long Creek was built the summer of 1877.

• Lofton School in Fox Valley was a rough-hewn log schoolhouse built in 1880 located in Fox Cemetery. The building was used for church and community affairs until the early 1900s. There were four other one-room schools in the area - Brownlee School 1880, and Fox School.

• Mt. Vernon built its first school in 1870 two blocks off Main Street on Engle Street with one large room with an ante room attached in front. In 1888, the building was razed and a larger one-room structure was erected in the same location - it was supplemented by a tent house and in 1909 another room was added. In 1919, a new building was built at the location of the present-day Mt. Vernon Middle School.

• The Belshaw or Wyllie School house is located between John Day and Mt. Vernon, across from Gambler Veterinary Clinic, and today serves as a residence.

• The Moon Creek School between Mt. Vernon and Dayville was constructed in 1876 and is used as a shed today.

• The Cummingsville School is still standing and is located between Mt. Vernon and Dayville.

• Marysville School district No. 2, built in 1868, was probably the first school to serve the John Day area. It was located at French Charlie Hill, now known as Dog Creek. In 1930-31 a school was built in John Day with a grade school downstairs and high school upstairs. In time a new grade school, and eventually Grant Union High School were built.

• The Canyon City School was built about 1875 on Rebel Hill in Grant County School District No. 1. The building still stands and serves as an apartment building.

• Mitchell area students were served by Caleb school east of Mitchell or by the Mountain School in the Camp Watson area, also east of Mitchell.

• Many schools served the Monument area in the early 1900s, including the Round Basin School, Cupper Creek, Courtrock at Cottonwood Creek, Hamilton grade school, Sunnyside slightly moved probably in 1920s about five miles west of Monument, Simas School at mouth of Rudio creek, Kimberly School and the Bales school located at the present-day Longview Ranch.

• Gus Peterson of Monument reported that he walked 5 miles to school and graduated form Monument in spring 1940. School busing began in the fall 1940 as following schools consolidated into Monument in September 1940 - Sunnyside, Simas, Kimberly and Bales schools. Hamilton and Courtrock later joined Monument. Fern Creek school was located at Top. Alkali School, up Rudio Creek, was in operation in the mid-1930s, but eventually closed. Olive Reade taught at the Alkalie School at least one year and rode horseback six miles one way. Later she taught at Sunnyside.

Other notables include schools at Granite 1909, Galena early 1900s, Susanville 1984, Trester, Whitney, Lone Rock, Cross Hollow District, and Ranger School and Three Mile School near Ritter.

Nadia Turner Schultz of Prairie City is a member of the Grant County Genealogical Society who is collecting early school history. She also serves on the staff at the DeWitt Museum at Prairie City's Depot Park.

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