RAVALLI COUNTY SCHOOLS
Click on school name to see the high school graduating classes for
each of the schools. Not all classes have been added, but more
will be added as time allows. At the bottom of the page is
information about school & class reunions.
For lists of graduates for each high school and other school
on the name of each
In the early days, settlers in the Bitter Root
valley were not allowed to establish educational facilities for
their children, so many home schools were established.
The first schools were primitive compared with
the schools of today. The first were "parlor" schools where a
mother, who was better educated than most, educated her own children
and neighbor children. The education was limited to the fundamental
three R's and school was in session only during the winter months
when the farm chores were light. Even though many of the early
settlers could not read or write, they were convinced that education
was important and necessary for their children. St. Mary's Mission
school was started in 1841 by Father DeSmett. At St. Mary's school,
the Jesuits taught the Indians Christianity and agriculture. It
isn't known whether they taught reading and writing.
In 1864, when the first Montana Territorial
Assembly met at Bannack, the office of Superintendent of Public
Instruction, County Superintendent of Schools, and District Clerk
were created. The Assembly also provided for the organization of
counties into school districts and the election of school trustees.
The first territorial superintendent was Thomas J. Dimsdale.
In 1867, the first public school in Missoula
County opened at Corvallis and Corvallis offically became School
District #1. This school first school was kept by a man named Woods.
The first schoolhouse in Corvallis was located near the Slack farm,
about 3/4 mile north of the present day Corvallis. It was a 1-room
school building made of logs. William Slack, who was only 3 years
old, attended the school to make the required 12 students needed for
a school. The teacher was Bent Reeder.
Montana became a state under the Enabling Act of
1889, which required new states to provide for the establishment and
maintenance of public schools. As an incentive, the federal
government set aside two sections of land per township in new states
for elementary education.
Schools were allowed to levy a limited amount of
money each year to operate and maintain the schools and could not
bond themselves beyond the current year. When a new school house was
needed, the money had to be raised locally by subscription. Many
schools were built on land donated by local farmers and
School district numbers were assigned when
Ravalli County was part of Missoula County, then the numbers were
changed when Ravalli County was created in 1893. Through Ravalli
County's history, there have been about 40 school districts, but
have been consolidated into the present seven.
In 1906, there was an election to establish a
county high school in Hamilton. For more on this story, go to
Eighth Grade Examinations
Not a little misunderstanding has arisin in connection
with the exact provisions of the resolution of the state board of
education relative to teachers and eighth grade examinations.
Therefore, The Western News reproduces it verbatim, as follows:
"Resolved, That the several county boards of
education examiners be authorized to hold eighth grade examinations
in their respective counties as provided in house bill 118, Tenth
legislative assembly for the purpose of granting eighth grade pupils
who show themselves proficient cetificates to enter accredited high
schools, such examinations to be optional with local authorities
until January 1908. Afther said date all pupils desiring to enter
accredited high schools regularly from the eighth grade shall hold
certificates granted by the county board of educational examiners.
The questions for these examinations shall be prepared by the state
superintendent of public instruction and the examinations shall be
held under the rules and regulations prescribed by him. The minimum
standing for passing shall be 65 percent with an average in all."
The Western News, April 24, 1907, page 1
FLORENCE CARLTON SCHOOLS in Florence, Montana
The first Stevensville school was established at
St. Mary's Mission by the Jesuits who followed the pattern of their
order and held classes for the Indians. Then, John Owen hired a
tutor, P. MacDonald, to teach the Indian and half-breed children at
Fort Owen from December 1858 until April 1859.
The home of Henry Buck was the first school in
the town of Stevensville. At first, it was a just a school for his
children, but then became Stevensville's official grammar school.
Records show that 26 pupils attended the school in 1872 and three of
the early teachers were Mrs. Sara Lent, Rosa Knapp (later Mrs. Amos
Buck), and Mrs. Nellie Haynes Buck.
In 1890, 152 students attended the Stevensville
school during the 7-month term. They had a total of 10 library books
and the one teacher who was paid $75 a month during the winter
months and $65 a month during the spring. The next year, the school
had 116 students and two teachers. A man who received $65 a month
and a woman who received $50 a month. The school term was 10 months.
The town population and the number of students continued to
increase. By1905 there were 324 students, one man and three women
teachers, 880 library books, and two school buildings.
Teachers for hired for the 1909-1910 school year: Highschool: Prof.
C.C. Williamson and Mrs. Ruth Smith
Public school: Prof. J.F. Sharp, principal; Miss
Ida L. Crossman, 6th and 7th grades; Caroline Wells, 4th and 5th
grades; Josie Robb, 3rd and half of 2nd grades; Miss Debora Wagy,
1st and half of second grades.
Victor's first school teacher, Eva Liter, quit
teaching after her husband, Nehemiah, died in 1881. In the spring of
1881, Joel J. Bond, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and their
children, came to Victor to farm and teach school. He initiated a
6-month school term beginning May 1, 1881 for the 64 children who
would attend school in the Sweat House School District. Within a
year, the number of students had increased to 89 (50 boys and 39
girls). The end of the 6-month term qualified Victor for territorial
school funds provided by an 1877 law.
The Montana Territory's first compulsory
education law caused the number of students to increase which
prompted Joel Bond to initate the building of a new school on the
land doanted by Frank Woody for school purposes. The school house
was built by donations and volunteer labor and a barn was built
nearby to stable the students' saddle horses.
In 1882, the Missoula County Commissioners
separated the southern part of the Sweat House District to form the
Fair View School District. The people in this new district built
their own log school house a mile west of Tucker Crossing.
During the next several years, more school
districts were formed: the Pleasant View District in 1888, the
Curlew School District in 1891, and the Roll School District. By
1890, there were 85 children attending the Victor school, 27 at Fair
View, and 48 at Pleasant View.
Joel J. Bond taught school for many years and
served as Ravalli County's first Superintendent of Schools from 1893
to 1895. His daughter, Anna Bond Herbert, was elected as his
replacement in 1895. (see Joel Bond biography)
Early teachers at the Victor School include Miss
Nannie Dowd in 1884; Mr. Tuxbury in 1886; Miss Mary Williams in
1888; "Professor" Fouch in1890; Sue Anderson and Miss Maggie McCarty
in 1891; and P.J. Anderson in1892.
The first school in the
Corvallis area was located near the old Slack farm, which was about
one-half mile northwest of the current town of Corvallis. Bent
Reeder was the teacher. The second school was located in the town of
Corvallis, near the present Corvallis High School. During the early
1900's, there were a number of small schools in the Corvallis area.
Through the efforts of Winfield Scott Bailey, the Corvallis
School consolidated with the Willow Creek, Mountain View and
Woodside school in 1914. Later, the Hamilton Heights, Birch Creek,
and Dominic Schools joined the Corvallis school. This consolidation
gave the community an accredited high school that was housed in a
new brick school building in 1915. The previous school building,
located where the present primary school building is located on the
East side highway, was destroyed by fire in 1914. The new high
school building was erected at the north end of Main Street in
W.S. Bailey was a 1904 graduate of Plattville Teachers College
in Plattville, Wisconsin, and became the first superintendent of
Corvallis schools in 1912.
The Corvallis High School building was destroyed
by fire on a cold January 14, 1930 day. There was a 9-day vacation
for the students. School resumed on Monday, January 29 with the high
school and grades 5 through 8 meeting in temporary facilities. The
98 high school students and their 4 teachers met in the Masonic
building. The 25 eighth graders and their teacher, Sam Cappious,
were established in the Community Hall, the seventh grade of 35
pupils and their teacher, Miss Fern Lee, assembled at the Methodist
Church annex. The fifth and sixth graders joined the four lower
grades at the primary school building.
When school resumed, school supply stores did a
rushing business with many students needing to replace their
personal supplied destroyed in the fire. Basketball practice was
held in the Odd Fellows' Hall, but the ceiling was not high enough
to permit regulation-height baskets. Because of that, Corvallis
played all of their games away from home.
Because W.S. wanted good teachers working at the
school, he convinced several young teachers from the Platteville
Teachers College, including his sister Loretta Bailey (later married
Ernest Scott), to come to Corvallis to teach.
The first teacher in Hamilton was Anna O'Hara.
She taught in a 1-room school located on the Main Street in
Hamilton, where Roberts Books store was located in later years.
SCHOOL & CLASS REUNION INFORMATION
The first annual all-classes reunion was held at
the Corvallis High School July 19, 2003. There were about 300 in
attendance. The annual reunion is held last Saturday of June each
The date for the 2015 reunion is Saturday, June
27, 2015. Dinner is served at 6 p.m. in the old gymnasium and alumni
class pictures are taken from 5-6 p.m. The high school building is
open for self-guided tours from 1 pm the day of the reunion. Punch
and snacks are served in the old gymnasium starting at 3 pm. This
year there will be Stories and Stones at the Corvallis cemetery,
noon to 3 pm. There will be several people at the cemetery who will
be portraying an ancestor or telling the family's history in
The alumni committee attempts to notify all
graduates and those who attended Corvallis High School by mail
and/or e-mail. Please keep your mail and/or e-mail information
current with the committee.
For more information, contact: Ray Dunbar at
406-961-4528 or e-mail Gayle
We are putting together a book or books of the
history of Corvallis schools, students and their families. Copies of
obituaries are needed for those students who died out-of state and
those whose obituary was not published in the local newspapers,
Ravalli Republic, Missoulian or Bitter Root Star.