Sunday, April 24, 2011

O is for One-Room Schools

Montana has about 61 one-room schools; the only state with more one-room schools is Nebraska.  I am the only one in my immediate family that did not attend a one-room school.  My mother taught in a number of one-room schools in Custer and Garfield County.  She taught from 1974-1988.

When I was looking up current background information for this post I read an article by Dean Reynolds, in the article he used a line that says so much. 

“We were tracing the route to the Stevenson Elementary School – a place so remote, even by North Dakota standards – that the closest mailman comes from next door Montana.”

I remember at many of the schools Mom taught the mail came only once or twice a week.  Rita helped me remember some of the schools Mom taught at: SH School; Cat Creek; Pine Grove; Powder River; Riverview and Pine Creek.

My mother loved the country and saw the beauty in these remote places rarely seen with human eyes.  I remember how she would recount watching the animals. 

One of the schools was up near the Missouri Breaks.  Calling that land rough or rugged is like saying Katrina was a bit of wind.  Mom often walked in the evenings.  She told me one time she had walked down a coulee and all of a sudden she felt like she was being watched.  When she looked up there a 5 or 6 mule deer watching her.  All of a sudden they bounded off.  She said deer are very curious. 

Another time she had been working in the schoolhouse when the electricity started to go out.  She headed back to the teacherage where she lived and got ready for bed in the dark.  About 3:00 in the morning she woke up because the lights had come back on.  When she got up she realized the lights had been left on in the schoolhouse.   Looking into the school windows were a doe and a couple of yearling fawns.  She guessed the lights had pricked their curiosity. 

She always had a story to share.  Now I wish she had kept a journal of her observations.  I miss hearing her tell about the country she loved.


  1. Lovely to hear about the schools. My mother-in-law taught in one in Missouri, so we heard so many stories about her experiences, but it wasn't as remote certainly. I looked up Missouri Breaks. Beautiful country. Thanks again for your writing.

  2. The Missouri Breaks are breath taking. I often wonder about the early homesteaders in this region. It is so remote even by today's standards.


Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.