Presentation on YMC School History
By Alda Lueders
Courtesy of Yellow Medicine County Museum
[Rough draft - under construction. More Exhibits will be added/uploaded soon.]
Yellow Medicine County [Exhibit 1], one of the most western counties, in the Minnesota Valley, extends from the South Dakota borderline to the Minnesota River and Renville County on the east, a distance of 54 miles. There are a few small lakes, and the Florida and Canby Creeks. The highest elevation is in Fortier Township, 1,750 feet, and the lowest is at Minnesota Falls, 856 feet. [Exhibit 2] The land is sandy clay loam, some 2 foot deep and capable of the highest cultivation. The granite strata extends from Duluth to southwest of Sioux Falls and provides granite for many buildings and cemetery stones.
Yellow Medicine County is so named from the natural flower "Pejuta Ziza" whose long slender and bitter root was early used by the Indians as a medicine. The county was organized in 1871 with the county seat being Yellow Medicine City. Later it was removed by a vote of the people to its present location, Granite Falls.
Several railroads crossed the county, namely, Chicago and Northwestern; Great Northern & Chicago, and Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, which afforded ample facilities for passenger and freight traffic. The Chicago & Northwestern ran from Gary, SD southeast through Canby, Porter, and on to Marshall and on. The US Government sold to the Railroad the odd sections of land (10 miles each side of the tracks) to Chicago Northwestern and they were given a certain amount of time to make the rails passable to the state line. Sections 16 and 36 were designated as school land and were rented to pioneers with the proceeds supporting the local school districts. This left the even numbered sections of each township to be homesteaded. Most townships were a square 6 mile piece of land, and numbered 1 to 36 starting at the NE corner of each township and ending at 36 in the SE corner. There was 106 school districts in Yellow Medicine County. [Exhibit 3] [Exhibit 4]
And the families came --old and young --mainly from the old country. Often neighbors and families from these countries settled next to one another. When an area had a population with 20 children under 18 years of age, they would petition the county commissioners for the right to build a school. They were numbered in the order that they were approved by t he County Commissioners as they received their petitions. Hence, the numbers are in no order at all. naturally, the east end of the county was settled first and the schools numbering 1 through 26 are all east of Clarkfield. [Exhibit 5] [Exhibit 6-10] [Exhibit 11]
The 2 schools #39 Oshkosh, the "Cole School" and #41 Hammer the "Lueders" school were located east and north of Canby are the schools I am going to discuss:
District #39 as the number indicates was the 39th school stared in Yellow Medicine county. It was organized on April 27, 1880. There were 18 pupils and the first teacher was Mrs Eunice Call. Marcella Westfield Oellien's great grandmother. The school term ws 60 days and her salary was $25.00 a month. The first clerk was George Peterson and Mr Peabody was the first treasurer. Marcella's grandmother, Lydia Westfield and her great Aunt, Chloe F. Call, both taught at the Cole School.
Lydia Hennig Bode taught here in 1939. Otto Dahn's nephew from Germany came to live with his aunt and uncle. His name was Nicholas Walters and he spoke but a few words of English. Lydia taught him English, to read and write and understand and know what the words meant. What an experience. On October 28, 2005, Alda picked up Nick and we went to see Lydia. They had not seen each other since 1939 when he went to the Cole School. What a fun day we had.
Richard Larson was the teacher from 1947-1949. He wrote several articles about his teaching experiences at #39 and #41. Most of a teacher's daily work carries over into their many years ads the nurse, janitor, arbitrator, instructor of play time at recess and the most important position of all, the instructor of all the eight grades in a country school.
Lee Savold was born March 2, 1915 and was a student at District #41 in Hammer Township during the 1920s. Lee became an internationally known citizen when he became a contender for the heavy-weight boxing championship of the world. During the era of Joe Louis, Lee was rated in the top ten contenders for quite a dew years f\during which time he fought Max Baer, Buddy Baer, Gus Daranzio, Joe Louis, and Billy Conn.
He started his career in boxing by being trained by Ben Dobak, a local boxing promoter from Canby. At about 18 years of age, he went to St Paul, the hot spot ob boxing at that time. He was trained in My Sullivan School of Boxing and later signed a contract with Pinkie George, a boxing promoter from Des Moines, Iowa, who arranged matches for him in both United Stated and England. Lee lived in England for awhile, as he wasn't allowed to bring the proceeds from his fights back to this country at that time. Sports pages showed pictures of him playing polo with the Prince of Wales.
He never did get to be champion as he could not defeat Joe Louis, b\probably the best champion of all time. AFter retiring, he lived in New Jersey where he passed away at the age of 54. A banquet was held in his honor on December 5, 1941 in the Canby SChool Auditorium. This article was written by Ray Nemitz, a classmate of Lee's from District #41.
In March of 2008, our pastor at Nicolai Lutheran Church in Canby received a letter on the Internet from Heidi Anita of Norway. She was looking for family genealogy for Ingeborg Steinsrud. She left Norway in 1882 and came to Canby. She married P.A. Larson , and they had 4 children, Bennie, Arlo, Mabel,and Oliver. Arlo had 2 boys, Robert and Richard. She needed some births and deaths --where they were buried and their occupations, etc. The pastor gave me the letter, and I was able to contact Richard Larson. I connected him with her.\, did the research at The Depot (they have the Canby News clear back) and sent her several pages of history about her family here.
Ione Benck McIntyre of Bemidji, MN grew up in the Canby area going to school at District #48 in Fortier Township. She is in the process of compiling booklets about the schools in YMC.
Elder Grove, District #37 of Oshkosh Township was printed last year. It contains 111 pages of stories, maps, Teacher reports, school board members, student and teachers stories and photos.
This year District #67-#102 and #104 have been combined into 1 booklet (as they closed, the children went to the next one near by) and it is ready to be sold to those interested in those districts.
Yellow Medicine County Fair 2011 update:
Mr Larson did some "home movies" of these 2 schools where he taught. They have been put onto a tape and ran during the fair this year (2011). Dora Syltie showed this film at the Yellow Medicine County fair during the 100th Celebration in 1989.
Mr. Larson taught at the Toben or Lueders school from 1944-1946. District #41 was purchased by the Yellow Medicine County Fair board and moved onto the fairgrounds to be on display as an old time country school. Each year during the county fair, the school building is open to the public for viewing from 12 to 9 each day. The CAREA-retired teacher and former students will show what it was like to go to school in a one room school. Hundred of stories written by teachers and students can be read while you are visiting . During the last several years, a home-made quilt could be won by registering at the door when you come. This year, 2011, Dr Sahlstrom was the winner of the patchwork quilt. The "old time movies" were shown several times each day. Gordon Palm was able to identify most of the pupils on the video. Lewis Miller brought in his short video when they moved the school house, District #17, to the front of the Canby School in the late 1950s. That has been added to the YMC DVD. They are for sale: $5.00 each. (please contact the Yellow Medicine County Museum for more information.)
Ben & Sandy Knee from St Leo came in one afternoon looking for the grandparents of Sandy. They lived in the Canby area during the 1920s. With the help of Ella Quenroe, Marcella Oellien, and Gordon Palm, we found them. Their children went to school at District #81, the Christies School. They lived west of the Antelope Church on the Herb Lueders farm. John and Olive Hart's children were Glen, Louise, and Lyle. We have several pictures at the school house. Marilyn Hart, a granddaughter, lived with her grandparents and went at least 1 year to District #39, The Cole School. I sent several pages of material to the Knees.
235 registered at the door during the fair. Those that came the farthest, came from Texas. You may also bring your school pictures to the YMC Fair (Schoolhouse) be scanned. Enjoy!
All Exhibits on this Page.