Gem Co. map
Reading & References
Sharon McConnel,
Gem County Coordinator

History of the Butte Schools

Written by Meree Fowler (Schneider), 2 Oct 1919 for a school paper

In the year of 1908 the Butte neighborhood started a school in an old ranch house on Mr. Luther Phillip’s upper place, where five pupils were present.

A few seats and books were bought from the Emmett Pioneer School and Miss Dorothea Tracy, an 8th grade graduate from Homedale, ID, who received four dollars and board per week for her services.

In the spring she went home six weeks before her term ended and Miss Marvel Fowler, also an 8th grade graduate, from Nebraska, finished the term.

The next summer (1909) a joint district, number 62, of Boise and Canyon Counties was formed and an acre of land was selected from the north edge of the Fred Fowler ranch, which was the most central part of the district. Here a school house of 16 x 24 feet was built. Twelve desks were bought of an Emmett school. books, a teacher’s desk and chair were bought from a hardware store in Emmett. The stove was an old heater donated by a neighbor and the bell furnished by Mrs. Henry McDowell.   (This bell was later given to Vern Hanson to use for the Shriner’s. He and a friend mounted it on wheels, welding it to a tongue. It has been used in the Cherry Festival parade ever since.)

      There were nine pupils: Max, Meree and Jim Fowler, Ernest, Mildred, Mae and Ellis Marker,  Margaret and Willa Phillips.  Our teacher was Miss Ina Shearer of Boston, for part of one year. Then Miss Ellsie Bell of Emmett, ID, Miss Lois Yeck of Emmett, Miss Alison of Emmett, Miss Ethel Newman of Emmett. She taught 12 pupils; Miss Hattie Finnigan of Columbus, OH and Mrs. Fred Fowler did some substitute teaching. 

    In 1914 when Miss Ethel Newman taught the students were: Ellis, Ernest, Mae and Mildred Marker, Raymond Knight, Mary Louise, Elizabeth and Katherine Nichols, Lilda Lake, Margaret Phillips, Meree and Avis Fowler.

Miss Bayston taught one year and part of another. Just before her 2nd term, Gem County was formed and the district was changed to number 20 (Jul 5, 1915).

In the spring of 1915 the district was enlarged, taking in the Van Deusen holdings and the location of a new school house determined to its present location, because it was a more central location for the children attending. This was land from a new ranch Fred Fowler had bought. At least when late summer came the foundation was laid and the building was started. We went to visit once the first part of Sep when the floor was being laid. At last, on Sep 22, the grand day came and we all hurried to school – for it was the first day in the brand new school house. Of course, we thought it was a great event, as we had been used to the little rough school house. This one was painted white. It had a belfry. It had two doors off a long porch, one door for boys and one for girls – each leading to a cloak room for coats, overshoes, lunches etc. and three different sizes of desks. The tops raised up for books and paper storage. Windows all along the north side and two windows in the west.  A black board all along the south wall; a stage between the coat rooms and a huge stove with a metal jacket around the back and sides. Mrs. Whittaker from Boise was our first teacher, who stayed only two days.  Miss Ethel Williams of Minadoka, ID taught the rest of the year.

The boys brought grubbing hoes and rakes, which we used to make the yard bigger and to clear away shavings, short boards, sand etc. Now we can play ‘black man’ and other games.

The next two years Miss Effie Glass of Emmett, ID, taught 15 pupils. They were: Raymond Boren, Walter Schneider, Frances, Ruth and Alice Talbot, Meree, Genevieve, Georgia and Avis Fowler, Mercedes Brushwood, Hattie, Harold and Dale Smith, Dorothy Glasscock and Fred Gants. 

This brings our school to the present year. The history of which will be better written after the close of the school year.  Now there are 16 pupils. That will be Apr 1920.

The local school board was men of the district. In 1919 they were Ernest Schneider, Albert Martin, Fred Smith and Fred Fowler. Joe Hanson was on that board at one time and others served on it also.

1920 Wesley Crooks was the teacher. Students were: Mercedes Brushwood, Genevieve, Meree, Avis and Georgia Fowler, Raymond Boren, Ruth, Frances and Alice Talbot, Dale, Harold and Fay Smith, Allene Kroush, John Martin, Walter and Louise Schneider, Leonard and Vern Hanson, Donald and Flossie Adkins.

A few facts about Dist. 62:

Mrs. Fred Fowler taught Sunday school class at the Dist. 62 school house for some time. Then had a literary class. Parents gave reading and verse at school programs. There were a few dances there also of the ‘Put Your Foot Down’ type. Two young men played fiddles. Then Oliver Phillips bought a graphaphone with a red horn and a box of cylinder records and a crank on the side of it. One of the records was ‘Preacher and the Bear.’

There was a spring on a slope just across the fence on Luther Philip’s place. Willows and grass were nice. The men drove a ¾” pipe back into the ground and took water to the school grounds – fastened the end of pipe to a fence post – the stream was about 3 ft. above ground and ran into a creek west of the building. The children brought pretty rocks to line sort of bowl on the ground for a bird bath. Two different years they planted a tree on Arbor day. Just inside the door was a shelf about 3 ft long. A water bucket and wash pan was on it. The water dipper hung on a nail above and another bucket on the floor for wash water.

Four windows in the north was enough light. A big sand box on a table was the scene of farm projects – wild life etc. The pupils made the different buildings needed for the projects. A black board was along south side half way. Coats hung on nails on east wall – beyond the water bucket. A big U.S. map pulled down like a curtain over the blackboard. The stove was in the center of the room with a place to dry gloves.

Lots of times when it was foggy in Emmett, it was sun shine on the Butte. One time we could see that it was and at noon climbed up on the hill east. Miss Glasss could show us what a bay, inlet, shore line, isthmus, peninsula etc was. The top was rough and a few wispy pieces like big waves – just like an ocean.

Several times Dad went to town and people complained about the bad weather. Dad could tell them the sun was really bright when he left home and his wife was washing.

Feb 18 1923  Dad sold his “Tin Lizzy” for $10 and bought a new Model-a-Ford for $480.

Copyright © 2009 - Sharon McConnel. All Rights Reserved.

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