OLD SCHOOLS IN THE GRAND COULEE
This information was given by Louise Scott Smith, Edith Alling's mother.
Mrs. William S. Scott worked hard at getting a school established in the Grand Coulee in 1903. It was located where the first school building built in the town of Grand Coulee was. Norman Scott was sent, although he was only five years old, to make enough pupils to form a district. It was named Columbia School.
ALAMEDA SCHOOL ON ALAMEDA FLATS
One room building about 14' x 20'. It sat on the road that lead to the Pendell Ferry near the Thurlean place. Mother reports that quite a few of the children came barefoot.
SAM POSTOFFICE AND STORE
Sam was the Postoffice and the store in the Rex area. There was also a dance hall overhead and the blacksmith's shop was located there when Pete Pendell lived there. Around 1930 there was a community fair held as Sam. The County Agent came out and judged. A baby contest was held. The babies were Margie Holbert and Otto Jensen, Jr.
Taken from The Star, February 6, 1947
Rex Grange was organized in 1924. It was the first Grange in Douglas County. The Grange Community Hall is sponsored by the Rex Grange and is used for other meetings concerning farming. It is also the polling place for elections. The first Master was Lawrence Strecker. There are thirty four members at present. Cleatis Lacey is the master.
HISTORY OF THE GRAND COULEE SCHOOLS
In the early 1930's Columbia District #55 was paying tuition for the few children in the district to attend school in other places. This was caused by the drying up of the wells which had forced most of the people to leave. In the late summer of 1933 a few families settled in Osborne as the government had let a contract for the building of Grand Coulee Dam. On December 4, four days before the first steam shovel load of dirt had been removed for the dam, school opened with sixteen children present. As the schoolhouse had been used as a dwelling until two days before, there was nothing in it but the desks, the teacher's desk, and a small air tight heater. I was not able to get a boarding place in Osborne and so stayed with Mrs. Jess Evans, whose mother and father homesteaded in the Coulee before Washington became a state. It was necessary for me to bring water from the ranch in a thirty gallon can as there was no water in Osborne except that which was hauled from the Coulee wall. Our first drinking cups were made of tin cans which Mr. L. J. Dors pounded into shape.
Three mothers, who had accompanied their children to school on that first day, cleaned the desks while I drove to Ephrata to see if Mrs. Gladys Washington, the county superintendent, could give me some assistance.
The next morning I went to work with all the grades except the seventh. Harold James had done his eighth grade work in Omak but had not passed the state arithmetic and grammar examinations. Harold and I drove to Ephrata where he took the examination in the county superintendent's office. He passed it and became the first graduate of the Grand Coulee School District.
Mr. Westphal had opened school in North Grand Coulee on January 2 with all grades. He had so many that some had to sit on the floor while others had to stay outside. The citizens gave entertainments to raise money to buy materials and the carpenters donated their labor and built a two-room school in Grand Coulee Center. here the first four grades attended school beginning February 15. Miss Beard had so many she sent the fourth grade to Mr. Westphal but he still had too many and so he would send them back to her. Some people said that the fourth grade spent most of their time on the road. A month before school was closed, Miss Norma Helton came to relieve miss Beard. She taught the third and fourth grades.
In grand Coulee Center during the summer of 1934, eight rooms were built and it housed twelve grades. Mr. Holland was the superintendent in 1935. More and more people were coming to the area and there were so many children that the shift system was introduced in Grand Coulee and Osborne. Before school closed that year, construction on two rooms in Osborne. Before school closed that year, construction on two rooms in Osborne and twelve rooms and a study hall in Grand Coulee was started.
The gymnasium was built and all were happy, especially the high school students. Mr. Parks died during the thanksgiving vacation of 1937. Mr. Westphal finished the year as superintendent. The next year Mr. William Harmon became superintendent and remained for ten years. He worked for a new high school building as the high school had always been crowded in our building. In 1946 they moved into their own building. Then it was time to work for a new grade school building as it was never intended that the old one should be permanent. The teachers visited many new buildings and had many consultations with the architect. Finally the contract was let but building supplies were scarce and so it was not until the last week of the 1950-1951 school term, when Mr. Herman Jaeger had been superintendent for three years, that we moved to our present site. We had hoped to have the gymnasium moved down next to the building but the cost was prohibitive.
Mary R. Cummings (1952)
Mr. Lyman D. Stamper, the present Superintendent of Schools came in the fall of 1950. The new high school gym was completed in 1953. There are now (1958) 22 teachers and 3 administrators in the Grand Coulee Schools.
STEAMBOAT ROCK SCHOOL
The first rural school in the Coulee was the Steamboat Rock School. When there were enough pupils of school age, before 1900 Douglas County arranged to have school in the homes. Jenkins and Funks alternated with short sessions of school - as long as funds held out to pay a teacher.
The first regular schoolhouse for Steamboat Rock area children was built of logs, chinked with alkali mud. It stood about one-half mile south of the point of Steamboat Rock near a group of stately pines. It was near George Harley's homestead. The site is now under water of the equalizing reservoir. Schiebner brothers built the school, also its interior furniture. On one occasion there were not enough seats so Mr. Jenkins took sacks of wheat for the children to sit on.
Some of the pupils were: Alfred, Nell, and Emma Northrup, Fred Sitts, Anna, Walter, Herman and May Schiebner, Ed and Mattie Funk, Elma, Gertrude, and Roy Jenkins, Marcy and Hazel Hubbard, and Grace Rupe. The last three came the farthest, from the opposite side of Steamboat Lake.
The first teacher was Mrs. Steiner. Later Judge Steiner who was also the first teacher in Waterville. This area was all Douglas County at that time. Later teachers were: Charles Domrese, Mrs. Tyler, Miss St. Germaine, Frank Emert and Sherm Lacky. The bachelor teachers lived in dug-outs but Emert had a two room house built for his family.
About 1904, a young cousin of the Osborne brothers came west from Tennessee. She was Miss Jennie Blair, a vivacious young teacher who believed in southern decorum. She would ride side-saddle until out of sight of the house, then change to western style. She boarded at the Osborne ranch while teaching the Steamboat Rock School. This was Oscar Osborne's way of transporting his oldest son, Floyd, to school. Part time they drove a team of horses with a buggy. Miss Blair became a close friend to Miss Della Green. miss Green was proving up on her homestead a few miles from Steamboat Rock. She was a teacher at Wilbur at that time. Miss Green became Mrs. William P. Gray, a prominent citizen and State Senator's wife. Miss Blair is now Mrs. tom O'Leary of Eugene, Oregon. The O'Learys published a newspaper at White Bluffs until Hanford took over that area.
Two other marriages occurred about this time. Miss Mattie Funk married Rollie Bernard and Miss Helen Harris married Fred Schiebner. Helen was the youngest daughter of H. H. Harris who taught singing school and organ playing in the early Steamboat Rock School. Both of these successful marriages produced a number of fine children who still live in the vicinity.
Steamboat Rock School was moved about 1908 to a location midway on the north side of the rock. A larger new building was erected with Fred Schiebner one of the main carpenters. For many years it was useful.
Children of the following families attended: Walkers, George and Bailey Martin, Irwins, Jenkins, Greens, Schrocks, Otis Martins, Fords, and Arrands.
Local girls who taught there at various times were: Miss Mamie Walker, Miss Lillian Herron, Nialeen Hanson, Golda Fulton. Others were: Miss Happy Winkler, Miss Myra Pannebaker, Miss Edith Jess, Miss Ione Fockler.
Many social events were held in the building: Church and school entertainments, plays, and dances. In 1916 a Grant County Agricultural Agent helped arrange a rural fair. Quoting the Coulee City Dispatch:
"The Steamboat Rock Community Fair opened Friday with a large crowd in attendance. All the forenoon teams and mounted horsemen came pouring in. During the afternoon there were foot races, horse races, riding and bucking contests. A motion picture man was present and gave a good program of pictures in the evening after which the young people danced. Saturday was another clear sunny day and those who did not camp on the grounds came early. Fruit and vegetable display was very good. Even the children did credit to themselves in canning. Nuts of several varieties were shown proving that they can be grown in the Grand Coulee. The Steamboat Rock School took first prize in school displays, Lakeview School second. County Superintendent Blackburn made a good speech in the interests of the schools."To accommodate families of school children in 1934, Steamboat Rock School moved to the small town of Rimrock near the Hamton Ranch. Mrs. Eunice Fisher of Waterville was the teacher here for about ten pupils. (Mrs. Fisher was Mrs. John Heidt's sister.) Some of the pupils were Billy Jean Lewis, jack and Dick Lewis, Virginia Kruk, George Dowling, an Brown boy and Moore children. As construction of Grand Coulee Dam progressed, another move was made. Districts were consolidated and the Steamboat Rock School building was moved to Electric City. Here it served for school purposes for a few years. In modernizing the school the old building was discarded. it was bought by Earl Rose who remodeled it into apartments. Rose occupies it at present where it is one block off main highway near Electric City Fire Station.