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Following is a history of the Elementary Schools in the Township of Gilman beginning with the organization of the one room country schools in the late 1800's to their consolidation in 1958. The information for this posting comes from a booklet put together to commemorate  this consolidation and provided by Teresa Traynor Sopko, SVHS Class of '65.

Spring Valley Public Schools

Gilman Grade School

December 14, 1958


Left to Right: Mrs. Garda Madsen, First grade; Mrs. Mary Spindler, Third grade; Mr. Bernard Grant, Fifth Grade; Mrs. Phyllis Anderson, Sixth grade; Mrs. William Mulhollam, Seventh grade; Mr. Allen A. Anderson, Principal; Mrs. Isabelle O'Connell, Fourth grade; Miss Rena Bellum, Second grade; Mrs. Ellen Nelson, Kindergarten.

First Pupils in Gilman School


Anderson, Brenda

Anderson, Calvin

Anderson, Charlene

Anderson, Tommy

Brooke, Gail

Bunce, Danny

Bunce, Donny

Caine, Janet

Chilson, Thomas

Christopherson, Gary

Ellefson, Randy

Everson, Linda

Everson, Patricia

Everson, Michael

Falde Marcia

Foote, Glen

Hauschildt, Norma

Hoh, Shirley

Murphy, Mary

Nestigen, Jon

O'Connell, Richard

Odahlen, Ellen

Perry, Gladys

Sampson, Louanne

Schlosser, Elaine

Schlosser, Patricia

Swenson, Bert

Stark, Nita

VanRiper, Cindy

Vanasse, Steven

Sebion, Karen

Wasson, Karen

White, James

White, Bradley

Bemis, Robert G.

Bunce, Dianne


Anderson, Doyle

Bee, Lois

Bjornson, Julie

Brooke, Gwynn

Esanbock, Nolan

Gilbertson Bobby

Hanson, Beth

Hoh, Roger

Hoven, David

Hueble, Bobby

Hutter, Mike

Jenson, Ricky

Lansing, Debra

Miklian, Mary Ann

Neiderhauser, Carolyn

O'Connell, Sue

Olson, Gerald

Olson, Greg

Olson, Lorraine

Perry, Nancie

Shafer, Kathy

Shafer, Peggy

Shafer, Timmy

Sebion, Bonnie

Sebion, Sonja

Sukowatey, Dean

Traynor, Dick

Traynor, Stephen

Wasson, Linda

Widgren, Candy

Wood, Timm


Anderson, Orlin

Bee, Steven

Chilson, Dennis

Cain, James

Everson, Bonnie

Falde, Gail

Foote, Ellen

Grant, James

Hanson, Kathleen

Jenson, Roger

Knutson, Gary

Shafer, Dennis

Schlosser, Veronica

Stark, Wayne

Sukowatey, Donald

Thompson, Donald

Traynor, Terrence

Vanasse, Gregory

Vanasse, Lorelei

White, Brenda

White, Donald

Wasson, Steve

Zopp, James


Anderson, Craig

Anderson, Sandra

Dedrickson, Susan

Ellefson, Arland

Everson, Betty Lou

Hanson, Betty Mae

Hoven, Shirley

Jensen, Bruce

Kendall, David

Koehler, Jim

Lansing, Dawn

Plan, Debby

Ryan, Sheila

Shafer,  Bonnie

Stark, Jean

Thompson, Ellen

Vanasse, Ricky

White, Brian

Huebel, Diane

Hanson, Edward


Alton, Beverly

Anderson, Crystal

Bee, Nancy

Bemis, Roberta

Bjornson, George

Chilson, James

Dodge, Charles

Esanbock, Sharon

Gilbertson, Gary

Golden, Bill

Grant, Bennie

Grape, Carolyn

Hanson, Bill

Hanson, Lorna

Hauschildt, Denise

Heuble, Roger

Jahr, LeAnn

Knutson, Bonnie

Lansing, Linda

Mattison, Patsy

Miklian, Wayne

Murphy, Charles

Nelson, Russel

O'Connell, Brian

Olson, Paul

Raehsler, Duane

Roach, Mary

Sebion, John

Schlosser, Kathleen

Shafer, Gary

Shafer, Lana

VanRiper, Larry

Wood, Cheryl

Wood, Mary Jane


Anderson, Barbara

Anderson, Byron

Anderson, Willard

Bunce, Wendy

Cain, Jerry

Chilson, Elaine

Ducklow, Robert

Esanbock, Linda

Foote, Evelyn

Gilbertson, Judy

Hanson, David

Hoven, Kenneth

Hurtgen, Kent

Lansing, Jane

Mattison, Mickey

O'Connell, Jeanne

Odahlen, Bonita

Schlosser, Theresa

Schuch, Connie

Sebion, Julie

Stark, Harold

Sukowatey, Thomas

Wanbaugh, Vicky

White, Jeanne

Widgren, Greg

Wood, Scott

Zopp, Jerry


Anderson, Larry

Cain, Kenneth

Chilson, Carol

Christopherson, Diana

Ducklow Steven

Falde, Gary

Foote, Margaret

Grant, Diane

Huebel, Gary

Hutter, Betty

Kewin, Robert

Kitch, Robert

Koehler, Kenneth

Knutson, Janice

Linder, James

Madson, Dean

Madson, Larry

Murphy, John

Sebion, Donna

Ryan, Diana

Shafer, James

Sjolin, James

Skrutvold, Monica

Sukowatey, Alan

Traynor, Joyce

Traynor, Kay

Traynor, Teresa

VanRiper, Bill

Vanasse, Paul

Wasson, Charlene

Wood, Phyllis

Wood, Tom


Anderson, Carol

Croes, Mary Kay

Esanbock, Nancy

Gilbertson, Herman, Jr.

Golden, Barry

Grant, Mary

Gunderson, Bruce

Halvorson, Linda

Halvorson, Luella

Hanson, Daniel

Hurtgen, Larry

Ingli, Rita

Knight, Carol

Lansing, Judy

Lansing, Nancy

Mathieson, Mary

O'Connell, Richard

Perry, Roger

Schoeder, Eugene

Stark, Marlene

Wood, Terry

Wilkens, Ronald

History of the Consolidation

   During the years 1955 to 1957 public meetings were held for the purpose of discussing the advantages and disadvantages of attaching the rural area West and South of Spring Valley to the Spring Valley School District. This area had been served by the Spring Valley High School for years on a tuition basis, but rural schools had been in operation since the late 1800's, serving the individual districts of Gilman Mines, Locust Grove, Lone Balsam, Gilman Center, South Hill, Olivet, Waverly, and Woods.

   Each school district appointed one member to a planning committee made up of Bob Esanbock, Art Anderson, Joe Sjolin, Glen Grape, William Traynor, Severean Jensen, Vincent Wood and Mrs. Henry Hutter. The planning committee held at least two or three meetings in each district. At these meetings, the Supervising Principal of the Spring Valley Public Schools discussed with the school boards such problems as: taxes, transportation, site for a new building, curriculum, and operation of the rural one-room buildings while the new school was under construction.

   Following these meetings the clerk for the Town of Gilman met with those schools located in Gilman, and they discussed the problems by themselves.

   Petitions were circulated by the planning committee and on April 29, 1957, a meeting was held in the Spring Valley auditorium for the purpose of attaching the eight districts. Tabulation of the votes showed 93 for and 3 against. This concluded the attachment, but the eight rural buildings were operated for one more year.

   El Paso was attached by County School Committee action on July 1, 1958, to the Spring Valley and Ellsworth school districts

   On September 2, 1958, the new school building was opened with seven grades and Kindergarten. Arrangements were made for bringing all eighth grade students into the village.

   The entire time spent in the planning and attachment of these areas to the Spring Valley district was one of friendly cooperation. No meeting was ever held without a social hour in connection with the regular business of planning. During these times many of the crucial problems were discussed around a lunch table over a cup of coffee - making it possible for the people with different ideas to help give shape to the new building and the new district.

   At the first annual meeting of the newly-reorganized district the number of school board members in the Spring Valley Public Schools was increased from five to seven to give each municipality in the newly created district representation on the board.

   The members of the first school board of the newly created district were: E. H. Fast, President; Otto Thompson, Clerk; S. A. Forthun, Treasurer; Marvin Anderson, Thorburn Stein, William Traynor and Bob Esanbock, Directors.

  The first school board after the new school was in operation was: E. H. Fast, President; Otto thompson, Clerk; S. A. Forthun, Treasurer; Severean Jensen, William Traynor, Marvin Anderson and Bob Esanbock, Directors.


Pioneer School

The first Schools and the first Teachers in Spring Lake

   An item of school history written in 1902 about school beginnings 86 years ago in Spring Valley and vicintiy. The article is from the February, 1932, files of the Spring Valley Sun. This was probably one of the first schools in this area.

   Mrs. Peter Vanasse, one of the early settlers of Gilman, also one of the first school teachers in this section, wrote this article in 1902, just 30 years ago; so when she says "36 years ago" it means 66 years for us. NOTE: nearly a century separates us from the time of these reminiscences. (Note: This was taken from a booklet put together in 1958 - 52 years ago.)

By Mrs. Jennie Vanasse

   To those living in the age of the prsent educational advantages and privileges, a few reminiscences of the struggle

Mrs. Jennie Vanasse

for starting, conducting and supporting the first schools of Spring Valley and vicinity may be of interest.

   I came here with my father's family from Goodhue Co., Minn., thirty-eight years ago, when we started a home in the unbroken wilderness about two miles from Spring Valley.

   I soon after went to stay with an uncle, a Methodist minister, in Hudson, to further my education, returning in 1866. In the vicinity of my wilderness home had "settled" five families who were desirous of having a school organized.

   To secure this a certain number of months' school must first be taught in a community.

   I was chosen as a teacher, and thirty-six years ago began the first school of Spring Valley and vicinity, in a windowless log cabin which stood near the willow tree that grows near the center of the farm owned by C. E. Weldon. There was certainly no resemblance between this structure and those in present use. Wooden benches, made from hewn slabs, served as seats. The floor was made from the same hewn slabs (puncheon). One hole in the wall, and the door, let in the light. Each pupil brought anything in the line of school books that he happened to possess.

   My patrons were families of J. Coon, S. Andrus, M. Hooker, J. Graham, and W. D. Akers, furnishing twelve pupils in all. My permit to teach was given to me by C. Supt. Thurston, of Prescott.

   About the time of closing my first term of school, I married; and the following winter taught a second term in the

A. Wilcox

log house which was then, and for thirty-three years after, served as my home. I had fourteen pupils this term, another family having settled near by. At this time Spring Lake, Gilman and Martell together comprised the township of Martell, and when our school district was organized it covered a large part of these townships.

   At about this time an organized district was desired where Spring Valley now is, so I wrote and induced an old schoolmate in Hudson, a Miss Aggie Harriman, to come and organize a school there. This she did in the summer of 1867, using for a school house, Alfred Wilcox's milk house, which stood about where the Tanberg residences now stand. The three families of Geo. Wilcox, J. Francisco and A. Wilcox were the only families in the wilderness where is now the beautiful village of Spring Valley, and were the only patrons of the first school there, sending nine pupils in all.

   In my school I taught reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.

   Each pupil read "in turn", and was "prompted" by others. My spelling class stood in a row (bare-footed and tattered) and "left off head" receiving a prize for the "most headmarks" at close of term.

   We had no slate or lead pencils, nor blackboards, so I taught writing with my own pen and ink. Our only roads were winding paths "blazed" through the dense forests, and pupils frequently reported having seen bear, deer or wolves while going to or from school.

   Do not let me impress you, however, with the idea that those were days of loneliness and gloom. Far from it. The latch string of every cabin hung invitingly out, and welcome was he who brought the first news of any new step toward the bettering of educational advantages. There was not an entire absence of a desire for religious knowledge as a Sunday school, which I organized and conducted in my first school house, was largely attended, some coming four or five miles "on foot" to attend.

   My only Sunday school literature was books kept from my childhood days, and a few papers sent me from Hudson. These were largely read by all.

   It was about this time that, to us, many exciting incidents happened, such as "a woman lost with her two children"; "caught by a bear" and "chased by wolves". These may some times be written up by other old settlers.

Mr. Martin

Mrs. Martin

Mrs. Matteson

   Prominent among the pioneer teachers were Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Martin, Mrs. A. Matteson, S. Brown, Mrs. J. Biddle, and Mrs. M. Maxgood.

   I will say, in concluding, that I still possess my school and Sunday school registers of those days, and would be pleased to show them to any interested parties.

Mrs. J. Vanasse

Following is a short history of each school before the consolidation:

East Hill School 1954-55

Front row: Kathleen Wentlandt, Mary Hendrickson, Mike Kurchinski, Donald Brown,

GordonHendrickson, Brian Miller.
Back row: Myron Lockren, Janet Hendrickson, Wayne Hendrickson, Kent Miller,

Frank Brown, Jeannine Wendlandt. Mrs. Marion Linden

Thanks to Mary Hendrickson Thompson, identifications complete!

El Paso School

   The El Paso School was organized in 1868.

   The last teacher was Vanita Aamodt.

   The last school board in this district was: Billy Anderson, Clerk; Wayne Murray, Treasurer; Gerald Shafer, Director.

   Jt. School district No. 1 of the towns of El Paso and Gilman was formed by the supervisors of the towns of El Paso and Martell while the town of Gilman was part of the town of Martell, or prior to the organization of the town of Gilman.

   Pupils who attended the El Paso school in the last year of operation before the consolidation and who are now enrolled in the Spring Valley schools are:

   Freshmen: Douglas Raeshler and Jacquelyn Ryan. Eight grade: Lana Bjornson William Odahlen. Seventh: Rita Ingli. Sixth: Gary Falde, John Murphy, Donna Sebion, Diana Ryan. Fifth: Bonita Odahlen. Fourth: George Bjornson, Charles Murphy, Duane Raehsler, Gary Shafer. Third: Susan Dedrickson, Sheila Ryan. Second: Gail Falde, Dennis Shafer.


1958- El Paso Students

Front: Lanette Christopherson, Gale Falde, Mary Ellen Jenson, Sheila Ryan, Bobby(?) Hillman, Susan Dedrickson, Sonja Murray, Mike Fosset.

2nd Row: Marilee Fossett, Sharon Christopherson, George Bjornson, Donna Sebion, Steve Anderson, Kay Lou Linder, Duane Raschler

3rd Row: Linda Jenson, Danny Olson, Arby Linder, Keith Peterson, Sandy Murray, Bonnie Odalen, Jimmy Hilton, Tommy Peterson

Back: Teacher Mrs. Aamodt, Diana Ryan, John Murphy, Jim Peterson, Janice Peterson, Rita Ingli, Gary Falde, Chuck Murphy.

Waverly School

WAVERLY SCHOOL'S LAST PUPILS: Back Row from left to right: Charles Dodge, Ronald Wilkins, Glen Cockerell, John Krause, LaMoine Roatch, Richard Kendall, Gary Dodge, Harriet Lansing, Judy Klecker. Front Row: Bernard Grant, teacher, Phyllis Wood, Nancy Lansing, Jeanne O'Connell, Tommie Wood, Billy Van Riper, Brian O'Connell, Mike Koehler, Richard O'Connell, Larry Van Riper, Wayne Miklian, David Kendall, Jimmy Koehler, Mary Roatch, Diane Grant, Cheryl Wood and Jane Lansing.


The Waverly School district was organized about 1868.

The last school board was Vincent Wood, Percy Lansing, and Lawrence Garaets.

The last teacher was Bernard Grant.

The present Waverly School building was built in 1940.

Locust Grove School - 1953

Teacher: Kenneth Roen. Back: Frank Niedermeyer, Helen Gjovig, David Wettleson,

Roger Halvorson, Charles Gjovig, Judy Truesdale, Larry White, Dean (Eugene) Sebion.

Front: Linda Halvorson, Paricia Neidermeyer, Louie White, LaVonne Anderson, Judy

Rudesill, Steven White, Luella Halvorson.

Locust Grove School - 1957

Teacher: Cherie Larson. Front Row: Eddie Hanson, Kurt Munson, Nancy Bee, LeAnn

Jahr, Ricky Vanasse, Patsy Mattison. 2nd Row: Brian Munson, Julie Sebion, Micky

Mattison, Linda Halverson, Luella Halverson, Jeanne White, Lorna Hanson, 3rd Row:

Miss Larson, Dean Sebion, LaVonne Anderson, Louie White, Judy Rudesill, Patricia

Neidermyer, Norman Chilson.

Locust Grove School - 1958

The Locust Grove district was organized on April 5, 1871.

   The first school house was a log building. This was replaced by a frame building in 1890. This frame building burned in September of 1912 and was replaced by the present building in 1912. Miss Jessie Andrus was the first teacher in the present building.

   The last teacher in the present school was Cherie Larson.

   The last school board in this district was A. E. Anderson, Clerk; Mrs. Melvin Mattison, Treasurer; and Francis Bee, Director.

   Mr. Peter Halverson, later a son, Rudy Halverson, and a granddaughter, Mrs. Melvin Mattison served a total of more than 60 years on the school board in Locust Grove.


GROVE: Back row, left to right: Luella Halverson, Duane Mattison, Julie Sebion, Norma White, Lorna Hanson, Linda Halverson. Second row: Ricky Vanasse, Edward Hanson, Clarence Barringer, Patsy Mattison, LeAnn Jahr. Front row: Donald White, Greg Vanasse. (Absent: Nancy Bee - insert.

The above photo is an enlarged version of the photo on the left.

Woods School

LAST PUPILS AT THE WOODS SCHOOL: Back Row, Left to Right: Mary Shafer, Judith Shafer, Alan Sukowatey, James Shafer, James Linder, Theresa Schlosser, Kathleen Schlosser, Thelma Vanasse, teacher. Front row: Gary Huebel, Russell Nelson, Robert Kitch, Roger Huebel, Thomas Sukowatey, Lana Shafer, Diane Huebel, Bonnie Shafer, Veronica Schlosser, Donald Sukowatey, Thomas Golden. (Absent: Barry Golden - inset.)

   The first school house was built in 1870 on government land. The second school house was built in 1855. Both were log buildings. The present school house was built in 1891.

   The last teacher was Thelma Vanasse.

   The last school board was: Dora Murphy, Clerk; William Traynor, Treasurer; Herb Traynor, Director.

   Some of the first teachers in this school were Ed Fitzgerald, Ed Hurley, Charlie Appleman, Maggie McShain, Nina Sigerson, Ben Thompson, and Ida Nelson.

   The term of school was five months - three months in the fall and two months in the spring.

   Teachers were paid from $20.00 to $25.00 per month.

   The children carried the water for the school from a spring, and they also chopped the wood for the school.

Gilman Mines School

LAST CLASS AT GILMAN MINES: Back Row, Left to Right; Carol Chilson, Carol Knight, Judy Lansing, Nancy Esanbock. Front row: Elaine Chilson, Linda Esanbock, Barbara Anderson, Sandra Anderson, Bonny Everson, Byron Anderson, Jurnell Timm, teacher, Craig Anderson, Sharon Esanbock, Linda Lansing. Back row: Kenny Raasch Richard Knight, Bruce Gunderson, Barry Anderson. Front row: Dennis Chilson, James Chilson, Larry Anderson. (Absent: Greg Widgren - insert.)

   School District No. 3, Gilman Mines, was organized July 16, 1870, at a meeting held at the home of Tollef Johnson.

   The first school board was: J. B. Maxgood, Clerk; U. F. Hals, Treasurer; Martin Nelson, Director.

   At a meeting held September 26, 1870, it was voted to raise by taxation the sum of $275.00 to build a school house. It was also voted at the same meeting to raise by taxation $125.00 to operate the school, and to have five months of school - two and on-half months during the winter and two and one-half months during the summer.

  The last school board was: Bob Esanbock, Clerk; Elmer Everson, Treasurer; Henry Olson, Director.

   The last teacher in the school was Jurnell Timm.

Olivet School

LAST PUPILS AT OLIVET: Back Row: Gerald Wilk and Mrs. Ellen Cooke. Second row: Steven Ducklow, Gerald Ducklow, Laverne Hauschildt, Daniel Hanson, Russel Grape and Larry Hurtgen. Third row: Susan Hanson, Charlene Wasson, Sharon Bee, Kay Traynor and Teresa Traynor. Front row: Robert Ducklow, Kent Hurtgen, Terry Traynor, Steven Bee, Denise Hauschildt, Carolyn Grape, Kathy Hanson, Ellen Thompson, Jane Fritz, Donald Thompson and David Hanson.

   The Olivet School District was organized on August 16, 1869.

   The last teacher in this school was Mrs. Ellen Cooke.

   The last school board was Gehard Thompson, Clerk; Glen Grape, Treasurer; and Donald Traynor, Director.

South Hill School

FINAL CLASS AT SOUTH HILL: Left to Right, Front row: Constance Schuch, Mary Jane Wood, Beverly Alton, Roberta Bemis, Roger Jensen, Bruce Jensen, James Chilson, Dawn Lansing, Shirly Hoven, Billy Hanson, Scott Wood, Benedict Grant, Kenneth Hoven, Richard Srauss. Back row: Isabelle O'Connell, teacher, Gary Peterson, Kenneth Schuch. Margaret Strauss, Judy Grant, Jean Britton, Mary Louise Peterson, Mary Alice Grant, Mary Kay Croes, Diana Kewin, David Strauss, Terrry Wood.

   The South Hill School was organized on August 6, 1869.

   The last teacher in the South Hill School was Isabelle O'Connell.

   The last school board in the South Hill School was: Mrs. Earl Vanasse, Clerk; Joe Croes, Treasurer; Severean Jensen, Director.

Gilman Center School

LAST GILMAN CENTER PUPILS AND TEACHER: Left to right, Front row: Erlene Dahlman, Debby Plan, Robert Dahlman, Brian White, Paul Olson, Karen Dahlman, Wendy Bruce, Brenda White, Lorie Vanasse. Back row: Mary Spindler, teacher, Janet Madson, Patsy Christopherson, Jim Sjolin, Dean Madson, David Olson, Eugene Schoeder, Don Olson, Larry Madson, Joyce Plan, Dianne Bune, Vicky Wanbaugh, Dianne Christopherson, Mary Lou Mathieson. (Absent: Paul Vanasse - insert.)

   The Gilman Center school district was organized April 27, 1869.

   The last teacher in the district was Mary Spindler.

   The last school board was: Mrs. Alf Olson, Clerk; Kenneth Olson, Treasurer; Joe Sjolin, Director.

Lone Balsam School

LONE BALSAM - Group at left: Left to right, Back row: Janice Knutson, Ethel Foote, Mrs. Anthon Anderson, teacher, Marlene Stark. Middle row: Betty Hutter, Beth Skrutvold, Bonnie Knutson, *Gaynell Anderson, Margaret Foote. Front row: Carol Anderson, Crystal Anderson, Ellen Foote, Betty Everson, Jean Stark, Evelyn Foote, Monica Skrutvold. Group at right: Back row: John Sebion, *Walter Anderson, Lynn Sebion, Richard Hutter, Harold Stark, Willard Anderson. Front row: Gary Knutson, Wayne Stark, Orlin Anderson. (*-Walter and Gaynell Anderson are visitors.)

   The school district was organized on May 29, 1869. Previous to that time it was part of the Martell school district.

   The last school board members of this district were: Mrs. Henry Hutter, Clerk; Conrad Skrutvold, Treasurer; Freeman Hanson, Director.

   The last teacher to teach in this school was Mrs. Phyllis Anderson.

The following photos are displayed in photo albums of some of the classes included in this web site. If you happen to have photos that were taken during years any of these schools were in operation, I would love to include them, too. Just scan them and send them to me at
South Hill School - around 1945

Back Row - Lee Davidson, Leo Davidson (Deceased), Brian Grant, Bryce Vanasse (Deceased), David Vanasse (Deceased), Norbert Jensen, Dennis Davidson (Deceased), Janet Schuch.
Second Row -Marie Engle, Wayne Supri, Loyal Hanson, Donald Croes, Irvin Vanasse, Bill Schuch.
First Row -Judy Croes (Deceased), Jim Traynor, Clarence Schuch, Stanley Davidson (Deceased), Wayne Jensen (Deceased),
Monica Grant (Deceased), Frances Croes.

Olivet School - 1946

First Graders- about 1941

Rosalie Holden & Joan Traynor

Rita Traynor


Jim Traynor-8th Grade


Lone Balsam School

Lone Balsam School - 1945

Front Row: Karen Dedrickson, Karen Peterson, Duane Foote

Row 2: Sally Cunningham (deceased), Barbara Larson, Sue Cunningham (deceased), Iola Anderson (deceased), Vernon Anderson

Row 3: Gary Anderson, Millard Anderson, Donald Dedrickson (deceased), Douglas Foote, Carmen Anderson

Row 4: Monte Anderson, Brian Traynor, Howard Peterson (deceased), Charles Christianson

Lone Balsam School - 1946

Lone Balsam School - 1951

Front Row: Richard Hutter, Marlys Hanson, Barbara Finke, Jean Sebion, Beth Skrutvold, Judy Finke, Donald Anderson, Ronald Anderson. 2nd Row: Lynn Sebion, Bob Sebion, Lorraine Anderson, Carol Anderson, Billy Finke, Vivian Foote, Douglas Foote. 3rd Row: Karen Peterson, John Sebion, Carmen Anderson, Duane Foote, Teacher-Mrs. Glumske,.

Lone Balsam School - year unknown

Bob & Jean Sebion

about 1944

Marlys Hanson

about 1947

Bob Sebion

about 1947

Locust Grove School

Locust Grove School - 1946

Locust Grove School - year unknown

Gilman Center School - 1954-55

Back row: Keith Olson, David Sorenson, John Mathiesen, Katherine Madson, Rita Strom, Ann Sjolin, Carol Madson, Mary Spieker, Don Olson, Teacher Mrs. Ellen Cooke (Peggy Cooke's mother).
Second row: Paul Spieker, Pat Christopherson, David Olson, Janet Madson, Jerome Schroeder, Diane Bune, Charles Spieker, Dean Madson.
Front: Erlene Dahlman, Larry Madson, Jim Sjolin, Diane Christopherson, Vicky Waughbaugh, Eugene Schroeder, Mary Lou Mathiesen, Paul Vanasse, Karen Dahlman.

Gilman Mines School - 1953/1954

Grades 1 - 8

Row 1: Carol Chilson, Nancy Esanbock, Bruce Gunderson, Judy Lansing, Larry Anderson.

Row 2: Bill Olson Lee Jorgenson, Dale Strom, David Lansing, Wayne Hojem, Barry Anderson.

Row 3: Mrs. Mary Spindler, Darlene Jorgenson, Tom Gunderson, Vernon Raeshler, Jim Jorgenson, Larry Aamodt, Ellen Raeshsler.

Row 1: Bruce Gundrson, Judy Lansing, Larry Aamodt, Lee Jorgenson.

Row 2: Bill Olson, Dale Strom, David Lansing, Ellen Raeshler.

Row 3: Vernon Raeshler, Jim Jorgenson, Vinita Aamodt (Larry's mother), Unknown, Darlene Jorgenson.

 Note: Highland Ridge School is not mentioned in the above articles.

I'm not sure how it was involved in the consolidations of the 1950's.

Could anyone share what you might know?

Note from Dean Blegen ('61) - 7-26-2011: "Ron Odalen jus told me that the El Paso school had 37 students in his 8th grade year, which was 1957. The teacher, Mrs. Neilson had health problems at the end of the school year. Ron and Mary Bjornson both said that that was the last year the El Paso school was open, yet the date of closing on the website says 1958. Maybe it was the same school year but just figured at the beginning or end of the same school year.  I think all of that would add up to splitting that school up between two new schools or at least spinning some students off to another school. That would likely be the Sunnyside School as that’s not too far from El Paso, but it belongs to the Ellsworth School System."

Note from Helen Holerud ('56) - 7-27-2011: "Highland Ridge School closed in 1951 and after that everyone was bused to Spring Valley for school. They didn't consolidate with any other school." Scroll down to read Helen's memories of Highland Ridge School.

If you have any additional information re the history of Highland School, please let me know by e-mailing me at



Following are some memories of SVHS graduates who had the unique experience of attending a one-room country school during their elementary school years. This is an era that ended in the Spring Valley area more than 50 years ago and these memories are worthy of preservation.

Please consider sharing what you remember if you, too, attended one of these country schools during our youth.

Karen (Traynor) Cole's (Class of '61) memories (with input from her sisters: Rita Lynum, Maureen Crossett, and Teresa Sopko):


   Approximately two-thirds of the students in the SVHS graduating class of 1961 received their early education in country schools. A few years after we left them, the schools were consolidated into larger centers, more like our town classmates experienced. But for so many of us, having one teacher dealing with eight grades in one room was all we knew.
   At times, I thought we country kids were deprived of good facilities, better books, more classmates. But there were many benefits to the country schools as well. Children ages six to fourteen (or more) played and worked together at recess, on Arbor Day – when we cleaned every inch of the school as well as the grounds – for Christmas programs, basket socials and so on. Those modest little schools were the heart of their farming communities. The local 4-H Club often hosted square dances. Hallowe’en parties gave us all a chance to dress up; as we got older, we were thrilled to be able to organize the Haunted House in the no-longer-used upstairs of Olivet School, where we terrorized the younger kids (In Grandma Traynor’s day, there were two teachers, one up, one down – she was one of them). On Valentine’s Day we gave cards to everyone and hoped we’d receive an equal number back. We built snow forts and waged war as a group for much of the winter.
    At recess in the fall and spring, we tore out of the building yelling which position we wanted to play for Workup or announcing we wanted to be the captain for Red Rover, which almost every child played. Occasionally, people picked on children who had some obvious flaw, at least in kids’ eye. I recall that we Catholics were called “Cat-lickers,” so we called the Protestants “Pot-lickers.” Not bad when we consider the epithets kids call each other today.
    Avid readers could consume the entire small library before moving on to Spring Valley, but those were great books. Aspiring teachers got an opportunity to teach the younger children and mark their papers while the teacher dealt with the older classes. Once a week the teacher would read a couple of chapters from a book to the whole school. I don’t recall people causing a disturbance during that time. We all sang together led by the teacher playing the piano. Sometimes we listened to “Let’s Sing” and other shows from “School of the Air” on the radio. Occasionally, we’d have a spelling bee or play “Clap in; Clap Out” as a group.
    Our teachers were amazing, and I must praise Isabelle O’Connell, Blanche Hogan, and Ellen Cooke who taught me everything I needed to go on and make a success of my life. They never even got a coffee break, except with lunch.
    Although we might not have had other classmates to share our new adventure in SVHS, most of us knew people from catechism, Bible school and other church events. And before long, we knew everyone. My little country school holds a fond place in my heart. It was heartbreaking to watch it become derelict and then disappear altogether. It took dynamite to bring that tough little school down.

Helen (Holerud) Lorentson's Memories (Class of 1956):

Highland Ridge School

    Two log schools were built on land near the Lousy Creek in 1876 and used until 1885 – the second one was built in 1885 and used until 1929. In 1929 a wood frame building was built by two men who lived in Cady Township, named Mark and Bill Tio. It was named Highland Ridge School and was used until 1951 when it closed and all the kids were bused to Spring Valley to school.
    It was a wood frame building that was long and narrow and had an upstairs and a full basement. It opened at Christmas time in 1929 – the school children got to pick the name for it. In the basement there was a big coal burning furnace that liked to fill the whole upstairs with smoke at times. There also was the neatest place for kids to hide behind it and get warm. Upstairs there was a long hallway that had hooks for our jackets and the stone water jug of which we drank out of the same dipper!!! Behind the school was 2 outhouses – one for boys and one for the girls. The kids that wanted to earn some money took turns carrying water to school on a stick with 2 nails in the middle of it so that the tall narrow pail wouldn’t slide from side to side. Water was usually carried from the Herman Holerud or Matt Hampton home. We got $2.00 a month a piece for doing that and I remember it was so nice to have some money to buy Mothers and Fathers day presents.

   At the end of the long hall there was what was called a reading room and we also put our lunch pails on the shelves in there. Most of the time our lunch was a sugar sandwich and a cookie! The main room was where the desks were all lined up in neat rows for all eight grades to sit. One teacher taught all eight grades. In the back of the school room up 3 steps was a little room called the teachers room. The school did have a telephone that the kids loved to take turns calling to get the time to set the wind up clock that hung on the south wall.. The school got electricity in 1947.

   We loved to put on big Christmas programs with plays and poems to recite and singing – the school would be packed with all the neighbors around coming to watch us. We would then get a bag with some peanuts and candy and an apple – which all the kids thought was the greatest
    All eight of us Holerud children went to school there, and then in 1951 when I was going into the 8th grade, the school closed and was sold to Marvin Anderson who tore it down and built his new house with the lumber. Pat and Bob Pinkston live in the house now and it just happens to be an 1/8 of a mile down the road from my home.

Rosalie (Holden) Meier's Memories (Class of '53):


First Graders - 1941
Rosalie Holden & Joan Traynor

I started to Olivet School in the Fall of 1941. I was very young, having just turned 5 in February. My parents wanted me to go that year as I had a sister in the 8th grade. We lived over 2 1ŕ2 miles from school and so were transported Memories include the long brown stockings we wore in the winter-time. Since we had all 8 grades in the school, when it was time for our class to recite, our teacher would instruct us to “stand, pass, and be seated” in the front of the schoolroom. Sometimes we would have our recitation time around the big old wood stove. Olivet School was a two story building. In earlier times, as I understand it, there were classes upstairs as well as downstairs. During the time I went to school there we would play upstairs during the noon hours when the weather was too bad to play outside. We also had an old woodshed and I recall Joan Traynor and I playing with our dolls out there (guess we were allowed to bring them to school). We also had an old merry-go-round on the playground that always seemed to be broken down. The recess and noon-hour games we played outside were Red Rover, Tag, and of course softball. We used to have box lunch socials where the mothers and girls in the school would prepare a lunch and put it in a box decorated with crepe paper, etc. and the men and older boys would bid on the box. We then had to eat the lunch with whoever bought our box!! Of course the Christmas programs were always a special time with our recitations, plays, etc. We had one teacher, Gert Sweeney , who really promoted music in our school. We had an orchestra with all ages taking part, shaking bean cans (dry beans in a can) and also using oatmeal boxes with sticks as drums. She also provided a couple of guitars which we tried to play, and I learned to cord on the piano in time to the music - thus the beginning of my music interest!! A lot of times, the older children would help the younger children with their school work. I can remember sitting on the steps going upstairs helping first and second graders with reading, etc. To this day, when I smell pears I think of my lunches I would bring to school in the fall of the year when my mother would be canning pears. These are but a few of the memories. They were fun days and I am glad to have been a part of that era.

Helen Holerud Lorentson's Memories (Class of '56):

From Highland Ridge Elementary School To 8th Grade in Spring Valley Elementary School

Highland Ridge, my little one room school house closed when I was going into the 8th grade. I left a school that with all 8 grades didn't have near as many kids in it as my new 8th grade class did in Spring Valley. I went from Mrs. Wallesverd, whom I had had for a teacher ever since the second grade; a Lady that treated me as much like a daughter as a pupil. I remember loving it when she would French braid my hair, and when we had a snow storm so she couldn't get home she would stay over night at our house. I went from this to MISS HELEN CROWELY in Spring Valley, a lady that I had never laid eyes on before! Now to a timid, bashful country kid that I was, coming alone without any other classmates from my old school -- IT was very SCARY. I soon learned that Miss Crowley was a very nice lady and I grew to really like her and respect her. It helped to know a few of the kids from Sunday school and I had the advantage of knowing Bob Langer as my sister worked for his Mom keeping house.

I wish I could remember some of the things that happened in that classroom but kind of think I don't remember because I probably don't want to!! All the kids were great and we soon all got into our share of trouble together, Miss Crowley had to get out her ruler a few times. Of course even in those days everyone had their boy and girl crushes and I guess I did too. The biggest crush I had was on a boy named Jim Tabor whom only some of our graduating class will remember because he moved a way between 8th grade and our Freshman year. I only saw him once after that and was saddened and shocked to have Bob tell me at one of our class reunions that he had passed away.

I was quite a Tom Boy at that time (don't think I ever quit) and having to dress up for 8th grade graduation was quite a trying experience. I remember Rosemary being a great friend to me and invited me to her house when we had to get ready for something. My fondest memories of that year I guess was going to the movies and holding hands, going to Rosemary's house, getting to stay down for a game and going to Bob's house with Lucille and having supper - plus a lot of other fun things in and out of school. Pretty tame stuff from what I see the 7th and 8th graders doing now!
I think it has taken a lot of us to have gotten older to really appreciate all the memories of our school days and classmates.


Barb Blegen Litzell's Memories (Class of '56):

Memories of a One-Room Country School

How many of us attended one room schools???? It appears that at least 37 of us did attend a one room school sometime during our grade years. The one room schools in our area were closed starting in the 50's and all we closed by the early 60's.

The memories of one room schools are many. The long walk to school (sometimes up to 2 miles) started our days and then the walk home after school gave us rosy cheeks and runny noses! These walks were in any weather- rain, snow, sub zero temps – we did it all. Never knowing for sure if a snow storm was bad enough to close school we would make the long journey only to find NO teacher and NO school. Then it was back home playing in the snow all the way. Our snow pants and boots were not water proof so the wool snow pants and coats would be soaked and our feet were cold.

The lower grades had longer recess than the upper grades so the little kids were on their own for the first part of recess. A good time to get into mischief. When the weather was rainy or very cold we would have our recess inside the school. Sometimes we would play in the basement which was not much more than a furnace and wood or coal stored there for the fuel Other times we would play in the cloak rooms (in our case we had a center hall which was always cold – no heat). But we did have fun and the memories are many.

One room schools had lotza “programs”. Halloween was always special and often the parents (at least the moms) were invited for the “Halloween Party” which consisted of poems and songs and maybe a small skit or two.. This was followed by food, bobbing for apples and lots of fun.

We always looked forward to the Christmas Program. We started practicing for the program in early November. Sometime when it was getting close to “program time” we would get the stage down from its stored space and put it in the front of the room. The program consisted of plays, skits, recitations, and music. A tree was put up and decorated and gifts exchanged. This was looked forward to by all of us. The moms always brought and served food after all of these functions. We all received a bag of candy nuts and maybe an apple from Santa.

Valentines Day was special because of the Valentine exchange!

Once during each school year the Superintendent of Schools would visit the one room school. We were on our best behavior the days she/he showed up.

Another memory was the day the Coca Cola truck showed up and gave each of us a bottle of Coke and a ruler. What a treat!!! That would often be the only bottle of soda we would have until he showed up the next year.

At least 2 or 3 times during the spring our teacher and a couple of mom’s that drove would load up all the kids and we would go to a nearby one room school to challenge them in a game of soft ball. Other times we hosted the ball game.

The last day of school was celebrated by having a HUGE Picnic. Everybody in the school district came even those that did not have children in school. The highlight was having a 5 gallon can of ice cream from the dairy in SV and all getting ice cream cones for dessert along with all the other goodies.

Nancy Karnes' Memories (Class of '56): Nancy passed away in 2008.


I went to Reed School in the corner of Pierce County Grades 1 – 3. I went there because my older cousin, Carol, was in 8th grade and she helped me along being I was only five years old when I started. Orval Knegendorf, Wilbur Fuhrman, and Delores Freiberg were all in my class there. I can’t remember much except walking to school and home in the winter. The older boys – Freiberg boys – would pull me on their sleds. Sometimes my Dad picked me up with the horses and sleigh.

In third grade I went to Cady Lucas School when my sister Kathryn started school. It was in the corner of Dunn and St. Croix Counties. There were four kids in my class. My teacher, Mary Simon, was a very strict, old maid teacher. She would slap our fingers with a yardstick and sit you in the corner. We had a wood stove in the classroom and we all carried wood from a woodshed. It had pans of water on the top and kids would bring jars of food and heat them there for lunch. There was no well, so a farmer delivered the water in milk cans.

We played games outside like fox and goose, tag, softball, and sometimes we’d play other schools. The last day of school was always softball and good food for picnics. We had a real stage, with a curtain, for the Christmas programs and we would practice and practice. I had piano lessons so I would play for the programs and be scared and nervous!

After eighth grade graduation I went to SVHS, where I met up with Delores, Wilbur, and Orval. We all rode the Wilson bus to SVHS.

My sister and I joined other kids and walked home from school, biked when we were older, and sometimes skied in the winter cross country.