At the opening of the year 1898, there was no school in the territory now embraced within the boundaries of Ferry county. Early in the spring of that year agitation was begun for the establishment of a school in Republic Camp. At that period it was estimated that there were at least one hundred children of school age in the camp; the citizens wisely decided that it was high time to make some arrangements for the elementary education of their children.
There were no funds in the Stevens county treasury at that time which could be used for public school purposes, and Ferry had not then been set off from Stevens county; but a little thing like that did not serve to deter the enterprising people of the new camp, or in the least discourage them. It was decided to circulate a subscription paper for the purpose of realizing funds with which to build and equip a school house; maintenance to be provided by a small tuition fee. It required but a short time to organize this school after the agitation was well under way; within a very few days all necessary funds were provided. Patrick CLARK, the prominent mining man, donated the lumber for the building and also a flag and flag-staff. A number of carpenters were quite generous with their labor, and within a remarkable short time the building was erected. The committee in charge of the construction reported as follows: Expenditures - Lumber and flag-pole, $151; labor and supplies, $149.80; total, $300.80. Receipts - From Patrick CLARK, $151; collections from citizens, $136.90. This left the new school in debt $12.90, but this amount was immediately contributed and the school commenced free of debt.
Monday, June 27, the school opened with an attendance of 30 scholars, under the tutorship of Mrs. W. R. COLLINS. There were twenty-six little "home-made" benches and desks, all smooth and utterly devoid of paint or varnish. The institution began very auspicously (sic). During the first week claases (sic) were formed and the school graded. The children were drilled in exercises to be held at the Fourth of July celebration and this proved one of the most enjoyable features in the first Independence Day celebration in Republic camp.
Educational affairs in western Stevens county (which became Ferry county in the following year) caused considerable discussion during the summer of 1898, and a number of mass and indignation meetings held in the town of Republic resulted. It appears that this was owing to a series of misunderstandings concerning the actions of County Superintendent O. J. SMITH, who was the responsible head of the school in the new town. During the latter pat of July, Mr. SMITH came to Republic and, it is claimed, without consulting many of the citizens, organized a school district and named A. S. SOULE, H. C. PARLIMENT and E. M. HODGSON as a school board. The new board immediately organized, and under the direction of Mr. SMITH, proceeded to business. They levied a five mill tax on the assesed (sic) valuation of the district, which yielded in the neighborhood of $3,500. This having been accomplished it was ordered that $850 worth of school furniture be purchased; the selections were made and the goods ordered.
James E. PICKEREL, of Colville, who accompanied the county superintendent to Republic, was employed by the board as principal at a salary of $1,000 per annum, and it was also decided to engage and assistant principal at a salary of $65 per month. Arrangements were also made for the erection of an expensive and commodious school building. It was not until several days afterward that the people of Republic generally learned that a district had been formed, and of the actions of the new board. Then a mass meeting was immediately called which was largely attended. A. W. STRONG was made chairman of the meeting, and the views of many of the citizens of Republic Camp were voiced in forceful language. It was estimated that the tax of five mills, together with money which would be received from the state and county, would realize about $10,000 available for the school district. this amount was considered to be far in excess of the demands of the new district at that time. For the number of scholars in the district the present accommodations were considered sufficient. Following considerable earnest discussion it was decided to name a committee to confer with the newly appointed board with a view to arranging matters more in accordance with the expressed wishes of the people. John STACK, R. B. CURRY, and P. I. ROTHROCK were named as this committee. These gentlemen met with the board and a decision was reached to cut the tax from five to one and one-half mills, and to utilize for a school house the building which had already been erected for that purpose by the citizens of Republic. It was also decided that, in order to accommodate the school children in the north end of town, a building should be rented there for school purposes.
The school question was not satisfactorily settled, however, until August 20. On that date, the school board held a meeting to which the public was invited, and a large number of Republic's citizens and taxpayers were present. The trustees reported that to conduct a nine-months' school it would be necessary to levy a three-mill tax. To this there appeared no serious objection, and the matter was disposed of. Mrs. Ellen W. COLLINS, who had had charge of the school the previous term, was elected principal, and Miss Ellen GAILBROTH, of Deer Lodge, Montana, was selected to conduct the school in the North Town. Thus all the disagreeable "kinks" that had been connected with the school matters were amicable straightened out and matters satisfactorily adjusted.
Monday, September 12, the two schools opened. Fifty-two scholars were enrolled in the school of the lower town, and seventeen in the upper town. Within three weeks after the opening of school, eighty-seven pupils were enrolled in the two institutions.
The schools in Republic Camp were not long destined to remain the only ones in Ferry county. shortly after the Republic District was formed a school was established at Nelson (now Danville), and when the rush to the "South Half" of the reservation occurred, the county's third school was organized at the town of Keller. This district to-day is the only one in the "south Half" of the reservation in Ferry county.
With the organization of the county, early in 1899, George A. GRAHAM became the first county superintendent of schools. From his report for the school year ending June 30 of that year, we learn that there were 261 children of school age in the county. Of these 190 were enrolled in the public schools, and there was an average daily attendance of ninety-four. Three teachers were employed in the county, and three schoolars (sic) were graduated from the common school course at the close of the term. There were two school buildings in the county - one frame and one log structure, the latter in Keller, and the former in the lower town of Republic. The total value of the school property in the county, including buildings, grounds, furniture, apparatus, etc., as estimated by Mr. GRAHAM, was $1,980.
While school facilities in Republic, established in 1898, were amply sufficient for that period, the rapid growth of the town demanded later that a larger building be constructed. In the summer of 1899 it became apparent that the present accommodations were entirely inadequate, and a special election was called for the purpose of voting on the proposition to issue $15,000 bonds. The election was held July 21. Of the 123 votes cast, seventy-five were in favor of the bonds. It was at once decided to erect a school building on the lots donated by Mr. Patrick CLARK a year previous, which real estate by this time had reached a value of $3,000. The bonds ere sold to Keene & Company, of Chicago at par, bearing five and one-half per cent interest. The building was completed in 1900, and on April 2, the public school of Republic camp moved into the new quarters. The building is a handsome structure, and one in which the citizens take great pride. A two-room building was also erected in North Republic.
During the school year ending June 30th, 1900, no new districts were added, but there was a gratifying increase in the school attendance. This year, six teachers were employed within the county. The number of children of school age increased to 728. Three hundred and nine scholars were enrolled in the schools, and there was an average daily attendance of 183. The handsome Republic school building was erected this year, and the total value of school property in the county rose to $22,150. During the school year of 1901, the fourth district in the county was organized. This was at a point on the Kettle Falls wagon road, east of Republic. This year also showed large gains in attendance. Of 668 children in the county, 433 were enrolled in the schools and there was an average attendance of 290. Nine teachers were employed, and two new buildings erected this year.
In 1902, there were nine school districts in Ferry county, five having been organized during the year. Children of school age numbered 627; enrolled in schools, 480; and in daily attendance, 355. Fifteen teachers were required to conduct the schools and seven pupils closed the common school course of study. Six new school houses made their appearance. At Republic, Danville, Keller and Curlew, the schools maintained more than one department. The report of County Superintendent Miss Josephine GRIMM for the year ending June 30, 1903, gives a comprehensive idea of the condition of the schools at present. There are thirteen districts in the county. Children of school age number 689. There are enrolled 476, with an average daily attendance of 364, divided as to sex as follows: males 191, females, 173. During the year school was maintained on an average of five and seven-thirteenths months. Twenty teachers were employed - three gentlemen and seventeen ladies. The average monthly salary of male teachers is $88.26, and female teachers receive an average of $65.37 a month. The number of pupils who took the first years' course was 102; second, 95; third, 89; fourth, 78; fifth, 76; sixth, 42; seventh, 23; eighth, 25; ninth, 8. There are twelve school houses in the county, having a total seating capacity of 647. At republic, the first year high school course is taught. Eleven of the thirteen districts have a bonded indebtedness. Of the twenty teachers employed, five hold first-grade certificates, eleven second grade and four third grade.
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