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MEMORIES IN FOCUS: One of 122 rural schools in Marion County years ago

One of 122 rural schools in Marion County

Typical of the 122 rural school districts in Marion County in 1905 was Canada School District No. 60, where teachers James A. Ray and Loretta “Laura” Sheets taught an average of 56 well-dressed students in first through eighth grades daily.

The building, now at Nighthawk Rd. and US-56 a mile north of Canada, was built just three years earlier, in 1902, even though the days of rural primary schools were by then beginning to be numbered.

In 1904, a year before this photo was taken, Burns constructed the state’s first consolidated “union” school.

The following year, three other “union” schools, featuring all grades through high school, existed in the county. A year after that, Ray, typically referred to as “professor” in newspapers of the time, had become county school superintendent and embarked on speaking tour to discuss school consolidation.

Rural schools often lived close to the edge financially. A legal notice in May 1905 listed District 60 as having a balance of just $6.34 in its general fund at the end of the school year.

As was common at the time, the school frequently published lists of students who had been neither tardy nor absent each month. One such listing in 1905 included students with the last names of Balzer, Bluhm, Burkholder, Funk, Giesbrecht, Goertz, Goosen, Kline, Kreutziger, Mastin, Matz, Riesen, Robertson, Rupp, Siebert, Stenzel, and Thompson.

Written on the back of the photo at Marion Historical Museum is a note from the picture’s donor: “Under right-hand window, hair parted in the middle with bow ties, that’s me. Wallace Siebert.”

Ray, Sheets, and Siebert all are buried in Marion County.

Ray, a Kentucky native who died in 1944 at age 79, is buried in Claney Cemetery, on 150th Rd. near Remington Rd.

Sheets, who also taught Sunday school at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Marion, died at age 69 in 1938.

She and Siebert, a long-time Canada businessman who died in 1976 at age 88, are buried in Marion Cemetery.

Last modified April 26, 2018

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