Not much water to drink, but snow to go sledding on, and a wolf showing up; those were some of the segments of life when this woman attended a one-room school.
Louise (Mrs. Albert) Johnson was the grandmother of Colleen (Donahue) Witte, of Sugar Land, Texas.
Louise attended Gallatin school in rural North Dakota from 1894 to 1905, and wrote of her memories of that school in 1976, when it was believed she was the oldest person still living who had attended it.
Colleen and her husband Thomas sent Louise's report to Neighbors.
"Gallatin was the name of the school in Sverdrup township. It was also the name of our post office in Griggs County," Louise wrote.
This was about seven miles southeast of Cooperstown.
"My oldest sister, Betsey Johnson, later Mrs. Olof Johnson, was my first teacher," Louise wrote.
"At Gallatin school, there was a small building where the teachers could live during the cold months in winter. We sisters stayed with her. At night we could visit the close neighbors like the Chalmers, Larson and Freer families.
"Our schoolhouse was not modern and we seldom had water to drink at school, so when we ate our dinner, the food would go down our throats with a pain.
"The school was near the Sheyenne River, so in winter at the noon hour we could run down and do some skating. There were big hills around us, also, and when the snow came, we could skip and go sliding, which we enjoyed a lot.
"We had several teachers after my sister Betsey taught," Louise wrote, "and one of them was H.A. Bemis, who had the position for several years. He used to make his pupils interested in school by meeting them on their way to school and finding out what subjects they were most interested in. He used to have parties at school in the evenings and he would bring us treats and we would play games. On some Sunday afternoons he would have song services for us and taught us new songs. This teacher, too, would have some of us older pupils help sweep the schoolroom and he would pay us by giving us a dictionary.
"Most of the time my sister and my cousin, Eric Stadig, who lived at our house for a time, had to walk to school, which was 2 miles.
"Before going off to school, we had to do chores, like milking, etc., so it was a rush to get to school on time.
"It was not uncommon to see a wolf in the morning crossing our road. He would stop and look at us and then run on his way."
And there, thanks to Louise's writing, is a taste of life in a one-room school more than 100 years ago.
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