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Friday, May 26, 2006

I Remember by Opal (Myer) Collicott

Rural Schooling in Nebraska
As A Pupil
Opal (Myer) Collicott
Haigler, Nebraska
District # 42 School
This school was located 4 miles east of Haigler to Green Railroad Crossing, 1½ miles north and one mile east.

The school was a good two mile walk from home. We lived on the C. L. Will farm six miles east of Haigler. Mrs. Will was a niece of my father, James L, Myer. The farm is now owned and farmed by Richard and Paula Bush.

One thing I recall vividly from my rural school days as a pupil was the blizzard of 1931, which was one of the most violent blizzards in a decade. Nebraska weather - if you don’t like it, wait awhile and it will change - such was the case on this particular day.

It was a very cold, but beautiful morning. The atmosphere was heavy with moisture but was practically still. My eldest sister Evelyn (Myer) Creach was teacher of the school. My youngest brother Gerald was a first grader. He and sister Grace had gone to school earlier that morning with Evelyn, leaving my older sister Velma and myself to come later. I was in the fifth grade.

Shortly after crossing the Republican river bridge and walking past the Oren Bush residence, the wind suddenly came up and snowflakes began falling so thick and fast that our view of the road path through the pasture became invisible and we were lost as to direction so we followed the fence rows hoping we would reach the school house. Snow became deeper and deeper. The strong wind with the bitter cold cut the flesh on my legs.

We knew that if and when we reached the school there would be a warm fire and a warm welcome, so with this thought in mind, we two trudged on. At long last the fence posts led us to the school house. How happy we were to arrive at school that morning.

Evelyn bathed my legs with cold water to take out the frost from them, and our hands were rubbed with snow, The Myer children were the only ones in school that day.

The storm increased in intensity as the day progressed and by noon, Evelyn decided we would be spending the night so we were advised to save part of our lunch for supper.

My bed for the night was under the sand table. Velma and Grace were on the floor by the pot bellied stove. Gerald slept in the sand table as he was the youngest. We used the textbooks and wrapped them with towels for our pillows. We used our coats to cover us. The fire was kept burning through the night with coal and cobs to help keep us warm.

The following day towards noon Frank Allan, who lived a short distance south of the school, brought soup for our dinner. Later towards evening my dad, with the help of our neighbor, Oren Bush, came after us with the team and wagon. The names of the horses were Dick and Maud. Mother had put in quilts, which we used to cover the top of wagon to make it warmer for us. There were drifts that were too deep for the horses.

--Written about 1976

District #42 Teachers

District 42





Board Members


Mrs. Anna McKie



6 mo

Frank Carroll, Freeman Fisk, Chas Smith


George Buffington



F. A. Carroll, Harry Strone, C. W. Smith


George Buffington



8 mo.

F. A. Carroll,, Homer Faris, A. Rogers


George Buffington



8 mo.

Josie Rogers, Mrs. Dale, Homer Faris


Hazel Logan

Mrs. Josie Rogers, E. M. Armstrong, A. O. Rogers


Gwen Atkinson

Mrs. Josie Rogers, J. H. Tibbetts, Charles Smith


Bessie McFarland



8 mo.

W. W. Johnson, J. H. Tibbetts, B. F. Allen


Lottie Watkins




Belle McGregor



W. W. Johnson, J. H. Tibbetts, B. F. Allen


Edith Clegg



8 mo.

Oscar Lukes, Roy Tibbetts, B. F. Allen


Helen Drommond



8 mo.



Helen Drommond



9 mo.


Hazel Logan


9 mo.



Frances Casey


9 mo.

C. L. Will, Roy Tibbetts, John Jenkins


Mrs. Elizabeth Weakline


9 mo.

C. L. Will, Oren Bush, John C. Jenkins


Sadye Coleman


9 mo.

C. L. Will, Oren Bush, B. F. Allen


Ruth Lunsted



9 mo.

C. L. Will, Mrs. N. J. Welch, B. F. Allen


Alice Myer


9 mo.


Mrs. Edna Clements


6 mo.


Elizabeth Johnson


C. L. Will, Mrs. N. J. Welch, Oren Bush


Helen M. Jackson



C. L. Will, Roy Tibbetts, Oren Bush


Edna Andres



9 mo.



Evelyn Myer




Edna Andres


Henry Kraus, Oren Bush, Roy Tibbetts


Edna Andres


Henry Kraus, Oren Bush, Carroll Jenkins


Vernell Ham


Henry Kraus, Mrs. B. F. Allen, Carroll Jenkins


Mrs. Pearl Richards



Mrs. Pearl Richards

H. Kraus, Jake Walter, Clyde Card


Eula Brunswig



Grace Marble



Agnes O’Brian

Oren Bush, J. Walter, P. Christianson


Bonita Kirkman



Zella Wolfe

O. Bush, C. Jenkins, Roy Walter


Anna Mae Stamm



Joseph Stamm



Anna Mae Kisela

Reece Sims, Jenkins, r. Walter


Imogene Oakley



Anna Mae Kisela

Sims, Jenkins, Florence Bentley


Alberta Ekholm



Maxine Jensen

Sims, Cecil Workman, Roy Walter

--re-typed from record in Haigler Centennial book

District #42 by Don O. Bush

Donald 0, Bush
l032 South Fancher Avenue
Mt. Pleasant, Minnesota 48858

District #42 was one of about 200,000 school districts scattered, throughout the United States to provide educational opportunity. These one-room country schools called “common schools” were probably the most American of all the institutions ever founded. For more than two hundred years, these schools were an important part of every community.

At a time in our history when the frontiers were being populated and developed, many of the first citizens were uneducated and did not speak English. The country schools provided those first families an opportunity to learn English and become American citizens. This was especially important in the early days before the development of technology for travel, telephone, radio, and news media. In fact, it was the common school that contributed to the invention of this technology and provided the educated citizenry to use it.

These schools were established by the early settlers out of some inner urgency and resonsibi1ity to their children and their future welfare. The pattern of locating a one-room country school wherever a dozen or so families settled as repeated in every state and county from the east coast to the Pacific shore. The earliest sett1ements in Nebraska followed the pattern and one—room schoo1s were established across the state. They were a part of frontier life. Those in eastern Nebraska date back to the early 1800’s - those in the western part of the state followed. Those in Dundy County probably date from the l880’s to 1900 depending on when homesteaders claimed the land.

District #42 probably had its beginning in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. It was typical of all the other 200,000. It was a simple rectangular frame building large enough for one teacher and space to seat up to 20 students ranging from age 6 to 18. Some school buildings were smaller and there were some large enough for 50 to 60 students with one teacher.

Nebraska, being a more rural and agricultural state, provided a base for more one—room schools than most of the other states. The early settlers in Nebraska established more than 7,000, which persisted as school districts until the 1950’s. By this time, many areas of the state had become depopulated, which, along with improved travel and communications, resulted in many districts with no students or very few. These were closed because of no students or excessive operational costs. The 1950 decade saw the school districts in Nebraska reduced from 7,000 down to about 2,500.* District 42 was one of those K—8 districts reorganized into Haigler, a K-12 district. The schoolhouse was sold to David Bush who moved it to his farm where it continues to be used for storage. The land reverted to the original tract which is owned by Forrest Scrivner.

I remember the first day of school in September, 1925. We lived one mile east of the schoo1. It was haying season and that fall, Oren Bush, my father, was putting up wild hay on a piece of land about one-half mile north of the schoolhouse. He dropped me off the hayrack at the corner east of the school with my lunch pail, pencil and school tablet. I walked the remaining one-fourth mile up and over hill to school. The teacher, Miss Lunstede, met me and assigned a desk near the front by the north windows. I don’t remember much about that day except when it was over, I walked the mile down the trail through the pasture to our house only to find no one home. I sat on a corner post and waited for what seemed like hours. It as getting dark when Mom and Dad came over the hill with a load of hay.

The teacher was always busy processing the students through the various subjects in all eight grades. I remember we took our turns being called up to the front at the side of the teacher’s desk to sit on a recitation seat. There were three first graders——Catherine Allen, Charles (I don’t remember his last name, only that he moved after a couple of months) and me. Although there ere several others who joined our class for a short time or several years, Catherine and I graduated eight years later in 1933. There were periods during those years when the enrollment was as low as five or six and other times when there were twelve or fifteen. Some of the other students I remember were Max, Emmor, and Sie Allen; Oscar and Eugene Tibbett, Ralph and Alene Gies, Lyle and Irma Hoffman, Eugene, Bernice, and Maxine Kraus and others who were in attendance a few months or years. Then in about 1928, the Meyers moved into the community and for several years, Velma, Opal, Grace, and Gerald were in attendance. My brother, Dale, started in 1927, sister Dorothy in 1929, and David started after I had graduated.

In 1926, Alice Meyer was hired as the teacher. At Christmas time, she resigned to marry Cary Hill, and in time they provided six or seven students. Edna Clements finished out the year. In 1927, Elizabeth Johnson was the teacher and in 1928, Helen Jackson; in 1929 Edna Andres, 1930, Evelyn Meyer, an older sister of the ‘Meyer students, and then in 1931 and ‘32, Edna A Andres, who was teaching when I graduated.

It was a practice for teachers to board with neighbors. These included the Andres and Jenkins. Since the automobile at that time was not too reliable or available, the teachers usually walked to school. Some of the students did ride horseback. There was a barn in the northwest corner of the school property which probably served those in the earlier years. A garage was built in about 1930 but I never saw it used.

School board members included Cary Will, Carroll Jenkins, Jake Walter, Oren Bush, Frank Allen, Roy Tibbetts, Henry Krause and several others. It seemed that Oren Bush was a board member from 1926 to about l949. It was his responsibility to keep the schoolhouse open. Each fall before school started it was necessary to clean and repair the building. He always needed help, so it was my lot to help. In August, it was hot and the wasps had taken over inside and out. It was my job to knock down the nests and clear them out. Usually the inside was painted and the floors were cleaned and given a coat of linseed oil. The weeds on the school grounds needed to be cut and cleared away so the children could play. The coal bin attached to the front of the building was filled.

There was no water available so water had to be carried. If the teacher had transportation, she usually brought the water, out much of the time students carried it. The school provided a tall three gallon pail with a lid. The several years that Da1e and I carried it we were paid 50 cents per month. We dipped it from the reservoir on the Bill Johnson place. Each student had a tin cup. The water left in the crock water holder each day was drained into a bucket to be used for washing hands and faces.

Lunch was always a fun time. Half-gallon syrup buckets were the most popular dinner pails. Some students were always ready to exchange food. It seemed that what other mothers packed was better than their own.

In the spring and fall, recess and noon was a time for outdoor games. All the students were included in games by having the two best take turns choosing until all were on a team. Anti-over, pump-pump-pull away, ring-um, and softball were popular. At times hide and seek was played in order to extend the recess time by not finding everyone. In winter, there was not much to do. The teacher would often go to the Haigler library and select an interesting book. We would prevail upon her to read to us if it was an interesting story.

The school was the center for a number of community activities. About once each month, there would be a P.T.A. type meeting with a program and refreshments. Christmas was always a big affair with a tree, a school program, Santa, and exchange of gifts. We worked for week making valentines for Valentine’s Day. In the spring the Haigler school invited all the rural schools so an activity day. We had academic contests in the mornings and field events in the afternoons. There were ribbons for the winners. These were motivation for much practice and preparation before and in anticipation of winning everything the next year.

In order to be promoted to high school, students must pass the county exams. Three subjects were taken as seventh graders then the remaining eleven as eighth graders. This was cause for serious study. The seventh and eighth graders seemed to spend most of these years working on the Warp Review books. These provided sample questions and answers used in the county exams. I think it was more important to the teacher than it was to the students that we score well.

There were many fond memories of the eight years in District #42. The small number of students in several grades provided ample opportunity for the older students to help with the younger students. It was much like a family where everyone had a place Parents seemed to realize that they were supposed to help their children with homework and discipline was never a problem. The teachers always seemed to have high expectations. If we didn’t get our lessons, it was because we didn’t work. With a little extra work we discovered she was right. No excuses.
Times have changed nearly everything around us. The future promises to change the world even more. The one-room “common schools” were an important part of life for millions of families while America emerged from a rural ,agricultural society to an industrial society which now faces the challenge of an information society. It was right for the time. Like most other inventions, the genius of people create new and better systems and the old ones are written about in the history books. The one-room schools deserve an honored place as a significant and most important American institution.

* In 1949 I was employed as a Consultant for School District Reorganization and School Building Planning with the Nebraska State Department of Education and spent 12 years working with school boards throughout Nebraska to provide adequate K-12 districts for the purpose of providing adequate financial support and new or improved buildings for an adequate curriculum,
---Don Bush

District #42 School by Alfreda (Stute) Schroeder

Alfreda (Stute) Schroeder
12117 Heathertree Ct.
Montgomery, Ohio 45247

My first grade experience excitement for me I had a pretty young teacher, Bonita Kirkman She had fun incentive programs where we could earn play money by doing good school work, helping with chores to keep the school and yard clean and on certain days the “store” would be open for us to spend our money to purchase pencils, erasers, etc. This was in 1943.

The school was south of a piece of land that had been broken to farm. However, it was very sandy and on windy days the sand would sift into the school room so bad you could hardly breathe am the windows would hum like paper over a comb when you blow it harmonica style.

In the fall of the year when we’d go back to school, the yard was filled with gourds and sand burrs. We were always picking them out of our socks and sometimes a Mexican sand bur would pierce through my shoes.

Sometimes our school room would be perfumed with skunk odor if one got under the schoolhouse.

On cold days, we’d warm our feet by the stove in the middle of the room. Mid-morning the teacher would put a pan of water on the stove to warm our hot lunches, (usually frozen as the coat room that also stored lunches and our crook water cooler was unheated.) We also used this room to practice reading out loud.

Fun time winter activities were fox and geese in the snow, sledding on the hill south of the school and fun inside games such as clap—in and clap—out. Outside games in nice weather were soft ball, dare base, animal chase (we’d go look in the encyclopedia to find unusual names so we could stump the opposing team), pump, pump pull—away, ante over the schoolhouse, swings, merry-go-round and a new slide.

A highlight was on Arbor my when e planted two trees in front of the school. Today (1984) that is the only evidence of where my school stood.

Other teachers were: Miss Anna Mae Stamm, who the next year became Mrs. Anna Mae Kiesla, Joe Stamm (her brother), and Zella Wolfe. Our “school bus” was a car driven by Esther Walter and later a station wagon driven by Raymond Sampson.

After my sixth (?) grade we took the bus and went to “town school” in Haigler,
—--Alfreda Schroeder

MY FIRST YEARS OF SCHOOL, by Forrest Scrivner

Forrest J, Scrivner
Box 665
Benkelman, Nebraska 69030

Although we lived on a homestead in Kansas, my first year of school was in District 42 in Dundy County, Nebraska.

The reason for not attending the school in our District in Kansas was the fact it was located several miles through the hills or a great many miles by road. Because of this distance, my mother taught me the first few years at home.

So at eight or nine years of age, I walked two and one-half miles to the Freeman Fisk farm and then got in a spring wagon device with Charles and Mildred Fisk and then drove across sand canyon and picked up Mrs. McKee, the teacher. We then drove another three miles to the Allen school. We went past a grove of trees on a tree claim where there was usually a bald eagle.

That year I did not miss a day of school and received a book as a reward for my perfect attendance. At a doings at the Methodist Church I was asked to read Chicken Little and the piece of the sky that fell on. its tail.

The rest of my grade and high school work was in the Haigler Schools beginning in the old school house. At that time, I rode a horse into town and left it in Jimmy Grey’s barn and walked from there. The first day my mother packed my lunch an a syrup pail which I tied to the saddle. When I opened the pail at lunch time, I found the apple had the sandwich pretty well hammered up due to the galloping of the horse. In fact, it was such a mess I didn’t even eat it at lunch time. After that I carried the pail in my hand.

Among my early teachers were Miss Watts who later became Mrs. Campbell, and Miss Walker from Benkelman.

We later moved into Haigler which rather much solved the transportation problem until I finally graduated from High School.

--Haigler Centenniel Book

Monday, May 01, 2006

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