Rosedale Elementary School

By: George Forgard

The history of Rosedale goes back to the Donation Land Claim of John and Caroline Tory who moved onto their claim in the year of 1850. They crossed the plains from Illinois by ox-team in 1847 and bought a “squatter’s right” from a man who had taken the claim. The Jorys settled on or near Battle Creek, and at one time the Jory brothers together owned 2., 560 acres of land in a compact body from Rosedale south to Ankeny.

The land was farmed by the Jorys who raised wheat and other grain, but was covered with small oak trees called “grub oak. ” The Oregon Land Company purchased part of the Jory claim, among others, and began to bring in workers, including many Chinese coolies, to clear the grub oak off and plant prune orchards. These orchards were known as the Sunny side Fruit Farms and were widely pub- licized with promises of an easy life off the annual prune crop. Many settlers, in – eluding members of the Friends Church, were attracted by these offers, among whom were William and Robert McGilchrist who purchased land near Battle Creek in 1892.

That was the year the little town of Rosedale was platted and several houses built, A blacksmith shop, operated by Lambert Coppock, the smith, was set up close by the creek on the main road, which was the original 99E route south. A large square two-storied house was built and used as a boarding house for the workers of the land.

In that year the Rosedale school district was formed and the first school was held in a house Next to Battle Creek near the present Fredrickson place on Reese Hill Road. The teacher at this temporary school was Hula COx. There were 15 pupils that first year, among whom was Frank Teter, who still lives in the community.

The Land Company donated a 5 acre site for a school and in the summer of 1893 William and Robert McGilchrist built the original Rosedale School at a contract price of $900. It was a one-classroom structure with a cloakroom, and a woodshed in back, and put together with wooden pegs. The lumber came mostly from Scotts Mills and was hauled by the Land Company’s four-horse teams. James McGilchrist, son of William McGilchrist, recalls that his father brought some of the lumber in their Own wagon from Illahee, and that they made a total profit of $300 on the whole contract. The school district comprised fourteen hundred acres and was bonded for twelve hundred dollar s/ The first teacher in the new school was Charlie Abbot who was paid $200. the first year.

The second year there was a small prune crop and his salary was boosted to $400. William McGilchrist, Jr. was the first pupil to graduate from the eighth grade and James McGilchrist was the second, James McGilchrist has a lot of stories to tell about the early Rosedale days. The worst thing was the necessary trip to town in the winter-time. There was no drainage on the roads, and the horse and buckboards had to travel slowly through the mud. The trip took all day, starting at 4:00 o’clock in the morning.

Finally, the farmers themselves graveled the road from their own quarry, which is still in the locality. It was not surprising to see pupils of all ages in class. James McGilchrist relates that when he was in the second grade, he sat next to a man 32 years old.

One night a group of these older students bound and gagged the teacher, Walter Townsend (who, it is said, actually was a very fine teacher, but very strict) and left him in a cold barn all night. He showed up the next morning and never said a word about the incident.

About 1920 the school was remodeled and a second room added. Three or four years later an enclosed play area with a. sawdust floor was built, with a cement floor added afterward. This play area was the scene of many a good time in later years. Oil heat replaced the jacket stoves and a stage was added by extending the east end of the building in 1933. It was built by community labor and with material donated by the community. On Sunday evening, July 20, 1952 a roaring fire with flames shooting high into the darkening sky ended, in a little over an hour, the career of the historic old school, a landmark and community center for Over five decades.

Starting in the shed at the south end of the building around 7:40 p. m. the fire burned itself out in the northeast corner, leaving nothing but two brick chimneys standing. Cause of the fire was un- known. Loss was estimated at around $12, 000, including $2, 000 worth of books, desks, chairs, maps, and an old upright piano. There were 77 students, Grades 1 through 8, and three teachers in the structure during its last year. It was in January of 1952, six months previously, that the Rosedale district had decided to consolidate with the Salem School District, along with the districts of Prospect and Ankeny (whose histories are included separately), and to build a new consolidated school on Bates Road not far away. The new school was well along in construction at the time of the fire and was ready for occupancy at the beginning of the school term in September of 1952.

The new school building is a four-classroom brick veneer structure built at a cost of around $90, 000 on a six-acre tract purchased from Floyd Bates. It includes a stage, auditorium, kitchen, office, and other work rooms. . Since consolidation, Grades 1 through 6only have attended Rosedale School, Grades 7 and 8 going to Leslie Junior High in Salem. Attendance has climbed from 54 in 1952 to 70 as of this year.

The largest single class enrollment in its history, 16, is scheduled to register in the fall of 1957. Some adults still living in the community who attended the old Rosedale School are: Frank Teter, Floyd Bates, Mrs. Helen Berndt, Kenneth Cole, Mrs. Shirley Thomas, and Mrs. Berchen Caldwell. Mrs. Caldwell is a member of the present teaching staff and some of her pupils today are children of former students she once taught in the old school.

The old Rosedale School bell is preserved in a glass cage and is on display in the hallway of the new school today. Insurance money left do the old Rosedale Community Club fund in the amount of approximately $175 was used by the members of the club to finance the preservation of the bell. The case was constructed by Lee Fredrickson. The rest of this money was used to buy colored lights for the stage of the new school and to purchase 8 firing kiln for the new school.

The pioneers of Oregon were determined to possess the agencies of refinement and civilization, and so they made provisions for schools, churches, and libraries. The first free public schools were opened in 1845. Half a century later there were 1,800 schoolhouses, with 3, 200 teachers and 58, 000 pupils.

High schools have come to Oregon, almost entirely in the present century, for in 1900 only Portland, Astoria, The Dalles and Baker had high schools. Churches took the lead in establishing academies and colleges, but later the western ideal of a public educational system extending from the primary grade to the graduate institution was achieved.

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