HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN KITTITAS COUNTY

article from

The Ellensburg Dawn
Thursday, January 29, 1903


by Prof. Warren A. THOMAS

George W. PARISH was the county superintendent of schools in Yakima county for the two first terms following the organization of that
county. He bounded school districts and started in organizing the schools in that county in 1868. Fred LUDIE and John GALLEN were at that time the only white settlers within the bounds of Kittitas county as then organized. The first
school in Kittitas county was organized by D. F. COOKE in the fall of 1870. In 1878, Mr. PARRISH was again elected superintendent and served for one term, declining to be a candidate for the succeeding term.
During this term he held the first teachers institute ever held in Yakima county. It was held in Yakima City, then the county seat of
Yakima county. John P. JUDSON, Territorial superintendent was the conductor. The next institute was held in the SHOUDY hall, over John A. SHOUDY's old frame store building. Among the teachers in attendance at that
time were D. E. LESH, Mrs. S. STAIR and her father from Yakima valley, W. H. PETERSON, Mrs. S. T. STERLING, and D. G. C. BAKER, the latter
two of whom are deceased. In 1880, W. H. PETERSON was elected school superintendent. He held the office for two years and declined to be a candidate for
reelection. He held his first annual institute in Yakima city. A representative of the Territorical superintendent was in attendance. It
was well attended by the teachers of Yakima valley. Only a few teachers from Kittitas valley attended, there being no railroad between the
valleys at that time. There was a good attendance of the "old town" residents at every session. Lawyers, doctors and merchants attended
the evening sessions and participated in the proceedings. The next institute was held in the old Presbyterian chapel in the then village of Ellensburg. There was a good attendance of the
teachers of Kittitas valley, but none from the other end of the county. It was well attended by the citizens, and was quite a success for
those early times. At the beginning of Mr. PETERSON's term of office, there were only twenty-three school districts in the county of Yakima, which included
the present county of Kittitas. During his term of office, he organized the Moxie school district. He also organized a new district on the
south side of the Natchese river and divided the Cowichie district into the north and south Cowichies. He also organized what is commonly
known as the Peterson or Lyle District in the eastern part of Kittitas valley. Upon the petition of John A. SHOUDY and others, he divided
the district that Ellensburg was then in. At the time of division, the district included all the territory lying between the Yakima river
and the line separating range 18 and 19 E to the summit of the mountains. Before the close of his term, he also created the Reeser creek
district. At the time that Ellensburg was set off into a separate district, it had for a school building a little log house north of
Ellensburg. It was covered with hay, brush and dirt. The last school taught in was taught by D. G. C. BAKER and was visited by
Mr. PETERSON in his official capacity. At that time, there were no districts east and north of the summit of the Wenatchee mountains, or
north of Kittitas valley proper. Still visitation was no small matter. The most distant school he had to visit was Alder Creek, 100 miles
from Kittitas valley. Schools then had to be visited by the superintendent on horseback or foot, as there were no railroads in the county, and very few roads
of any kind. Old Indian trails often served the purpose of roads for him on his long and lonesome rides. Mrs. Ella S. STAIR was elected to succeed Mr. PETERSON to the office of county superintendent. She was an honored teacher in Yakima
county at the time of her election. During her term of office, Kittitas county was organized, the board, named in the act of the legislature, creating it, consisting of
C. P. COOKE, S. T. PACKWOOD, and Robert N. CANADAY, appointed Miss Irene CUMBERLIN the first superintendent for the new county of Kittitas.
She was a graduate of the state normal school at Kirksville, Mo., and one of the most competent teachers in the county. They authorized her
to renumber school districts of the county consecutively, after having procured copies of the boundaries of each from the records of Yakima
county. It may be interesting to note some statistics at the close of Miss CUMBERLINE's term, 1875; Total number of children enrolled, 612;
number of teachers employed, 20; number of school districts, 20; amount of money raised for school purposes, $3,762. Miss CUMBERLIN, having resigned, D. G. C. BAKER, now deceased, was appointed as her successor. He filled the unexpired term and Miss
Clora PETERSON was elected in 1876. Miss PETERSON owed her election to the ladies, they having the right of sufferage at that time.
However, the supreme court of the state decided that female sufferage was unconstitutional shortly afterward. In 1889, J. L. McDOWELL was elected superintendent. He re-districted all the school district boundary lines, the records of all former
records having been destroyed by fire. Prof. J. H. MORGAN was elected to succeed Mr. McDOWELL in 1890 and was not a candidate for re-election, having accepted a position as
principal in the Ellensburg school. He was well qualified for the office of superintendent, having served one term as Territorial
Superintendent. He organized several new school districts during his term. Prof. MORGAN is now holding a professorship in the State Normal
School at Ellensburg. George M. JENKINS was elected to the office of school superintendent in 1892. He served two terms. He organized a number of districts
during his terms, some of which were in the Wenatchee valley. At the close of Mr. JENKINS terms he took a position in the Ellensburg high
school - a position he still holds. In 1896, the writer was elected school superintendent. During this year the organization of Rosa, district No. 49, was completed, the
same having been granted by Mr. JENKINS. I also organized districts 50 and 51, the latter being at Tunnel city, at that time in the extreme
northwestern portion of this county, but now in Chelan county, on the line of the Great Northern railway. In 1898, C. H. HINMAN, another of the Kittitas county teachers, was elected. He organized a new district in Wenatchee, this making the
total number of districts 50, 38 having been disorganized by Mr. JENKINS. During Mr. HINMAN's term of office, the northern portion of
Kittitas county, known as Wenatchee valley, was cut off and added to what is known as Chelan county. At the end of Mr. HINMAN's term of
office in 1900, we have the following statistics taken from the Fifteenth biennial report of State Supt. BROWN: Number of children enrolled
in the schools of the county, 2,760; number of districts, 37; total number of teachers employed, 79; total amount of money received for
maintainance of schools, $60,053. In 1900, the writer was again elected. My present term will expire in July of this year. During my term, I will have made an effort to thoroughly organize and classify the schools. One new district has been organized,
district 36, on the upper Teanaway. Districts 33 and 41 on Teanaway and Swauk creeks respectively, have been consolidated and designated
district number 38. At the present time, Ellensburg employs fourteen teachers, including Prof. F. L. CALKING, as principal. Roslyn employs thirteen
teachers, Prof. W. D. BRUTON is the principal. The educational standard in this county is high. The majority of teachers employed being graduates of the Ellensburg normal school. The
sixteenth biennial report shows about the same statistics as is shown in 1900, the time of division of the county. Many interesting facts are not obtainable without much time and research. I am indebted to my friend, W. H. PETERSON, for much of the
early history of schools in the valley. H. F. BLAIR, a graduate of the Ellensburg normal school (class of 1902) was elected superintendent at the last election, and will assume
the duties of his office, August 1st, 1903.

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