Amethyst School No. 3459

Amethyst School was the most short-lived school in the area. It was established on February 24, 1917 and closed in 1918. This school was built on Archie Smith’s preemption on the NE quarter of 21-18-18-W4. Latitude 50.54252, Longitude -112.41101

A debenture was taken on June 1, 1918 for $1500. The first and only teacher was Miss Thursfield (later Mrs. Frank Hill). It is not known how many students attended, but likely from five to ten.

Why the school remained open for only one year is a mystery. One can guess that the one or two families in the area that had children must have moved, leaving no need for a school. Another idea is that this would have been the time of the influenza epidemic. That may have been a factor.

Amethyst had a post office that opened in 1914, with Mrs. Annie Armstrong as postmaster. She continued until her resignation in May, 1918. A. Parent became postmaster in February, 1919 until the post office closed in July of that year. It reopened with Mr. Frank L. Hill as postmaster in February, 1923. He remained until his resignation and the post office closure in January, 1925.

Frank Hill’s family were homesteading in the Lamont, Alberta area. Frank was badly wounded in the First World War. When he came home, he got a soldier settlement farm at Amethyst, Alberta, where he met his future wife, Marjorie Thursfield, who was teaching school at Amethyst.

The trails in that country were just that, very primitive with no real roads and there were, at that time, no fences as the farms were quite isolated and far apart. At one time, Marjorie had to ride horseback fifteen miles each way to get to her little school.

A few years after their son, David, was born, Frank and Marjorie decided they had had enough of Russian thistle and dust and moved to Wabamun in 1924.

Clate Williams filed on a homestead at Amethyst, located 20 miles from Bow City, near the Bow River, which was his only source of water. He was married to Candace (Beagle). He and his family moved back and forth from the homestead to the Sharon district every summer, each time making some improvements on the land. They built a tar shack (14 x 20) @ $200.00, stable (16 x 24) @ $75.00 and a granary ($50.00). They had four horses, two cows, a hog and 25 chickens. Harold (1911), Helen (1912) and Ruby (1914), were born at Brant. They moved to the homestead in 1914. Grandma Beagle, Ray, Jack, Lee, Gladys, Don, Jay and family came later in the summer. The children had a hard time finding a place to play without stepping on a cactus. Their mom was kept busy picking out thorns. She avoided tragedy by giving milk to Harold and Helen one time when they had eaten pods off buffalo bean plants. Harold remembers crossing the ferry for picnics where there were a few trees and no cactus. Harley was born in 1917, while the family still lived on the homestead. Clate bought a ½ section of land in the Arrowwood district at the Indian sale in 1917. He worked both places for one year. The family moved to the Arrowwood area in 1918. The children began school at Arrowwood School, being picked up by its first van in 1919.

Mr. Jack M. Wood and his wife, Mary (Jacobson), came to Vulcan in 1912. They filed a homestead in the Amethyst, Alberta district that year. They had six children: John, Frank, Nellie, Hattie, Edith and Helen.

To get to the site today, you need pioneering driving skills, as it was located 5 miles north of Lomond, 8 miles east, north for 6 miles, east for 2 miles, north for 1 mile and continue north on a prairie trail, taking two correct forks as you continue. The prairie trail is just a trail, rutted and hard to distinguish from other trails. Travel is at your own risk.

When you arrive at the site, the marker sits on top of an incline, with two tires at the base of the post. Undeveloped prairie surrounds it, extending as far as you can see.

The school with such a colorful name has an elusive history.

Amethyst School is mentioned in the “History of Lomond” book. Information is also available at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Lomond Village Office, Lomond Grainland Hardware and the Vulcan & District Museum. (You’ll need one of these!)

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