Pleasant Grove School No. 1863

Pleasant Grove School

Pleasant Grove School District was established on July 24, 1908. It was located on the NW quarter of 28-18-25-W4. Directions from Vulcan – North 12 miles on Highway 23, turn west at Highway 23/24/542 junction (Corner Store) for 6 miles, turn South on Range Road 254 for 1½ miles. Latitude 50.55020, Longitude -113.39191. The school had a big bell, complete with tower, at the top of the school, made to ring by pulling a rope. It was the only one around, and could be heard for miles.

Mabel (Gordon) Green wrote:

Pleasant Grove S.D. No. 1863 was formed in 1908. Permission to borrow $1,200 for the purpose of fencing the 1 1/2 acre site, donated by J. Burgess, building and furnishing a schoolhouse, sinking a well, and providing outbuildings, was given Sept. 26, 1908. It was located on the N. W. 1/4 of Sec. 28-18-25 and named after the home town in the East, of one of the trustees.

Pioneer settlers in the district were Mr. Leahey, Ira Olsen, Dan McNiven, T. Johns, Gold Soper, the Burgess Bros., the MacKeller Bros., H. Jacobson, Ed. Corliss, M. Peterson, R. Sallenback, J. C. Belyea, E. Roger, and J. Nagle. The first trustees were Dan McNiven, chairman, T. Johns, and H. Jacobson, secretary. According to the minutes of 1908, C. H. Mitton’s tender for hauling lumber at $3.75 per thousand feet, and 35¢ for shingles was accepted; as was George Hartwick’s tender for $340 for building and painting the schoolhouse.

Miss Mary McLeod was the first teacher from January, 1909 until June. She remembers it as a very nice school and the pupils were well behaved. Old Brant was the nearest town, about 4 miles away. There was a very good store, school, post office, and a few houses. She recalls that there were dances in Brant every Friday night, and they were most enjoyable. There were 24 pupils attending school that first term. She remembered most of their names. There were 7 in the Olsen family, Laurel, Irene, Coral, Lillian, Sabine, Syble and Darce; there were 2 or 3 of H. Jacobson’s children; 4 Sallenbacks, James, Lizzie, Freida, and Stevie; 2 Burgess children, Rilla, and Milton; and the Leaheys, Mae, George, Eva and Alfred. Miss McLeod boarded at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gold Soper (presently the home of Wm. Holoboff, Jr.) until spring. Then she went to stay with Mae Leahey at her parents’ home, which was just south of the school.

It was at this time (1910) that the Halley Comet was in the news, having been forecast to land somewhere in the vicinity of Brant. This caused much apprehension, and Mrs. Mae (Leahey) Todd remembers that one family proceeded to build a boat, so that they could escape via the creek in case of a flood or other catastrophe. The Nagles boarded many of the school teachers, family and teacher all living in a small shack 12’ by 16.’

According to the minutes, the school taxes were assessed at each annual meeting and ranged from 8¢ per acre in 1909, 14 1/2¢ in 1919, and 4½ mills in 1933; the secretary-treasurer was instructed to requisition the municipal districts of Royal and Dinton for the appropriate amount, Pleasant Grove S.D. having land in both areas. It seems that it was sometimes hard to collect the taxes, as they had to borrow from various banks to pay expenses.

The teacher’s salary was set from $60 per month in 1909, to $1100 per term in 1928, and $850 in 1932, where it apparently remained until the school was closed.

The secretary-treasurer’s salary was $20 in 1909, raised several times until in 1918 it was $75, and gradually came down to $35 in 1932. The janitor work was done sometimes by the teacher, but more often by one of the older boys attending school, for which they earned 50¢ a day from October until April, and 25¢ all other days. In 1930 it was changed to $6 per month.

The Departmental Examination papers were handed to the teacher by the Sec. Treas. each morning as specified.

A new well was drilled in 1922, cleaned and drilled deeper in 1929, but the water didn’t improve. It always seemed to have a murky color and taste. In 1926, a bill was received from Mr. Joe Murphy for repairing the school and building a barn, which was a welcome addition, since most of the pupils rode horses, or drove a horse and buggy. In 1931, a piano was purchased, replacing the old organ. Also that year the telephone was removed.

For some years in the 20’s, the students were encouraged to send exhibits to the Blackie School Fair, bringing back prizes for sewing, handwriting, etc.

Activities in the school yard were softball, chasing gophers, and some interesting family feuds which continued on through the years. There was also a small pond (except in the dry years) which provided a place for skating or sliding in winter, and wading in summer, also providing amusement for the onlookers when anyone accidently fell in.

About 1928, the Okotoks High River Health District began to send a Health Officer and nurses to the schools to examine and immunize the students.

Some of the trustees mentioned in the minutes were: Dan McNiven for about 16 years until 1928, being chairman most of that time; H. M. Jacobson was secretary-treasurer for a few years, as were Ira Olsen, T. Johns and W. L. Nagle. Other trustees were Gold Soper and J. C. Belyea. Later O. Sam Malmberg was secretary-treasurer from 1922-27; Thos. Morin was chairman for a few years, secretary from 1927-39; George Gordon was trustee in 1921, chairman 1929-38; Mrs. Murphy, trustee from 1938-40; Mrs. Georgina Finlayson was secretary-treasurer 1936-40; Mr. Art Finlayson was chairman 1938-40. Wilbur Nagle acted as secretary for the school board and Mr. Finlayson still had the record book in 1951. The Finlayson family supplied a lot of information for this record.

After the school closed in 1939, it was moved to Brant. Most of the students went to Herronton School, with Jack Green as van driver.

More information about Pleasant Grove School may be found in “Wheat Country – a history of Vulcan and District” and “Fencelines and Furrows-a history of Old Brant, Frankburg, Herronton, Farrow, Mazeppa and Blackie”, at the Vulcan and District Archives and from school directories (maps and driving directions) which are available at the Vulcan & District Museum.

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