Granville Schools

Mrs. Ernest Barkus was known as Verna Morrison when she first came to Granville, North Dakota with her parents in June of 1902. She writes that when she first came, there was no school in the town, but there was a school one mile south and one mile east of town that was still in session. In those days, she says that the practice was to hold rural school for four months in the fall and four in the spring, as there were so few landmarks on the prairies in the event of a winter blizzard. Although there was only one month to go before the session was over, she and her sisters were enrolled and walked to the school with the others from the town. Her teacher was Miss Marie Hallinby. Other pupils who were enrolled at that time included children from the Charles Martin family, Chris Storhaug, Fred Dwello, and the children of Fred Lutjen. The students carried water from the Dwello well and everyone used the same dipper and the same towel, a practice that continued throughout her school years.

By the fall of 1902, there were forty-five children of school age in or near Granville, so the parent sponsored a school in the Modern Woodmen of America Hall, which was above the Brock and Richardson Implement business. The county furnished the school equipment, but each student paid one dollar each month to pay a teacher. That teacher was Miss Evelyn Fisher, who came from Everly, Iowa to teach in Granville, North Dakota. Since there were forty-five pupils, she earned $45 a month. Out of that, she paid $2 a week for boarding and washing. The hall in which the school was held was about 45-feet long by 30-feet wide, sealed with wainscoting, but no insulation. There were four windows on each side, about five feet high, and coming down to within a few inches from the floor, with the ceiling arching down to the top of the windows. All eight grades were taught in the one room.


There were no printed lesson sheets. Miss Fisher wrote the lessons on the board for the older pupils, who in turn made out the sheets for the lower classes. The older pupils were also enlisted to help grade papers. There were no multiple choice questions then; questions were to be answered with from fifty to a hundred words, and both spelling and grammar counted. There was no janitor. The older boys would carry in coal from the hall, and it was considered a privilege when one of the older girls was asked to sweep the hall after school. There was no playground, although there was a narrow strip between the buildings for the younger children.

During the winter of 1902-03, the school board decided to build a school on a hill in the center of town. Known generally as the "School on the Hill", or "First School", the school's actual designation was School No. 4, Granville District No. 25. Construction began immediately. The officers of the Granville District were C.A. Stubbins, P.A. Olson and W.C. Richards, who were directors. W.D. Dwello was the treasurer, and U.G. Morrison was the clerk. The teachers for the 1904-05 year were Mrs. Cordelia Shoemaker Waller of Layton Township, who taught the four lower classes, while Prof. E.W. Frohmader taught the upper classes. Apparently, Prof. Frohmader found  himself in some trouble after he had severely punished a student who was later found to have been innocent. The board asked for his resignation, which he refused to give, opting to hold them to their contract. Prof. Fred H. Buckwalter, of Granville, was hired to head the school, while Prof. Frohmader was relegated to teaching mathematics in a small room. Mrs. Shoemaker stayed through the 1915 school term.


By the summer of 1904, the upper rooms of the School on the Hill were completed. The teachers were Mr. Buckwalter and Miss Ruth Seright, for the Intermediate classes. Miss Ella Foley (later Mrs. James Bailey), of Egg Creek Township, and Mrs. Waller taught grammar. Prof. Buckwalter's father was the janitor, a job that was later taken up by Chris Miller, the father of Mrs. Ernest Hills.

The school house was built on the ridge of a low  hill that gradually increased in height to the back of the building, which was painted white, and faced north. The main part of the school building 35x60-feet, and the addition to the front was 12x40-feet. The belfry in the front of the building was 8x8-feet, and the bell hung up at the top, enclosed by dock. On top of the belfry was a flag pole. The front doors opened into a small entry that was closed on the other side by swinging doors. A large hall opened out of the doors and, passing into that room, the stairs to the upper floor was on the left. A cellar door opened to steps leading down into the cellar. Four other doors led from that one hall. To the right was a small room that was used for recitation. To the south, doors opened into the intermediate room. The cloak room opened from this hall directly in front of the swinging doors, and the primary room was to the left at the foot of the stairs.

The primary room faced east, and had blackboards all around the room, which displayed samples of the pupil's work. Several pictures were on the walls. Recitations were heard at the south part of the room, while the teacher's desk was at the west end of the room. In a west corner of the room there was a bench on which sat a box filled with different articles that the children had made. There were two charts in the southeast corner. Two windows were on the south, and three more were on the other side of the room.

The next room was a large cloak room where coats and other pieces of clothing were hung, and where lunch buckets were arranged along the floor. At the south end of the room, a door opened to the outside.

The intermediate room was roughly the same size as the primary room, but a large chimney was behind the teacher's desk. In this room too, there were blackboards all around the room, and pictures on the walls.

The basement was one large room the size of the whole building. A large coal bin was on the north end, and the furnace was in the middle of the room. There were two rows of studdings, one on each side of the furnace, running north and south. On the west side was a huge pile of lignite coal. Its walls were made of stone, but the floors were earthen. The east side of the basement was empty.

The grammar room upstairs had a stove, a globe, a box of maps, organ, dictionary, and a picture of George Washington. The upstairs high school room had a picture of Theodore Roosevelt.

When the west side of the basement was finished, that space was often used for basketball, although it involved dodging the furnace pipes

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