Deer River School; Denmark District 6


The schoolhouse Of District No. 6, town of Denmark was located in the Village of Deer River through which flows the river of the same name on the north side of the Deer River, the road passes over a knoll; on this stony rise sat the Deer River School, with a semi circular drive in front.  Next to it, is the old stone Methodist church, more recently used as a community center.  In the school yard can be heard plainly the roar of the falls as it passes under the state bridge.

 The deed to the first Deer River school is recorded in Book of Deeds S, page 218, at the Lewis County Clerk's office.  Dated November 16, 1836, it states that the lot, containing one-fourth of an acre, was purchased from Abner and Anna Johnson and John and Cherry Rogers.  The selling price was $10.  That stone school stood across the road from the last schoolhouse.  One end was knocked out of it ands it was used for many years as a garage by George Miller.

In the 1870s, the inhabitants of District 6 decided to build a new schoolhouse.  The only approximation as to the actual date of construction was advanced by the late J. Clark Wiggins who set it as 1879.  The lot for the new school was taken from the Gilbert Johnson farm, the deed indicating that it was sold December 28, 1859, by Abner A. Johnson and Anna, his wife.

The pupils who attended the Deer River School were "fore-sighted" too, in carrying out their schemes to needle the teacher.  Once, when the teacher was inside during the noon-hour, students piled nearly a chord of wood against the door (which opened into the school).  When the teacher opened the door to call the scholars for the afternoon session, he was almost buried in wood.

A search for a documentary record of the teachers at the Deer River School failed to yield very much before 1925.  Memories or older residents provided the names of the following that taught before 1900: Nettie Spencer, Wilma Warren, Steve Otis, Mr. Graves, William Prindle, D. C. Cottrell, Mr. Cruikshank, Mill Morrow, Mable Wilcox, Edith Loomis, John Dence and Mary Dillon.  Others mentioned at later dates were Edith Finley, Leland Stanford - Pelkey, Harriet Rich (1903), Maud Riverss (1903), Clinton Schantz, Leda Rourke, Maude Merrill, Nellie Ford, Miss Carter, Dorothy Wilson, - MacAllister, and Mr. Whittaker.  The record is more accurate, beginning in 1928, but not complete:  1928, Leah Feistel and Carrie E. Feistel; 1929-30, Verna Peebles; 1930-31 Mary Doherty; 1931-32  Irma Brenon; 1932-33, Dorothy Schloop; 1933-34, Nellie Aikens. 

The roll from here on was found complete in the Deer River Schoolhouse: 1934-35, Ida Rothenberg and Beatrice Hennessy; 1935-40, Ida Rothenberg and Edith Lacy; 1940-42, Ida Rothenberg and Ruth Paris; 1934-35 Elizabeth Garrett and Ruth Paris; 1943-44, Alice Garrett and Elizabeth Garrett, who resigned; Mrs. Norma Pridell substituted for a month until Grace E. Sheley was hired; 1944-45, Mrs. Julia LaJoy and Grace E. Sheley; 1945-46, Mary Galvin and Grace E. Sheley; 1946-47, Mrs. Ivah Sauter and Florence Chisholm; 1947-48, Mrs. Ivah Sauter and Mildred Goutremont.  Starting in 1948, Mrs. Ivah Sauter was the only teacher until 1957-58, when Mrs. Dorothy Cummings was hired as a second teacher for the kindergarten in the small room. 

1959 (when the series was written) was Mrs. Sauter's 12th year at the Deer River school.  In January of that year, Mr. Raymond wrote: "The Deer River school is still very much alive, having successfully become a part of the huge Central District No. 1 elementary system and every indication is that it will remain that way indefinitely.  Kindergarten and the first three grades are taught here, with a total attendance of 27 pupils.  A visit to the school will reveal an attractively decorated, well-furnished, well-lighted school house, with flush toilets about to be installed. This school stands out among the country schools of the area.

Unfortunately, it was not to be.  The September 3, 1959 Carthage Republican Tribune features an article headed; Board of Education Closes Deer River, Sarvay Schools. A letter from the State Education Department said that a recent investigation at each school revealed the buildings "do not meet the minimum requirements of the commissioner of education for school buildings in regard to sanitation , water supply and fire safety."

CRT, Jan. 22, 1959

Later, the school became the home of the Foy Insurance agency.  When the Foy's needed more room, the building was moved so the new agency could be built on the school site.  Still later, it was slated for a "controlled burn" by the local fire department, but Amy Wakefield recalls that it appeared to get a little out of control, blistering the paint on nearby buildings.

Deer River Elementary School Circa 1933

Teachers: Carrie Feistel, Dorothy Schloop Cummings

 Top Row: Standing l-r; Frances Cratsenburg, Marion Meister, Edwin Ferrance, Mrs. Carrie Feistel, Edmund Feistel, Ms. Dorothy Schloop, Lucy Meister, unknown female, Pearl Barnum.

3rd Row, l-r; Roger Hancock, Helen Latham, Charles Finley, Helen Warner, Adrian Meister, Shirley Hulbert, L.D. Barnum, Harold Hancock.

 2nd Row, l-r; Francis Pridell, Ed Steele, David Finley, Elwood Meister,  Fred Whiting, Alfred Miller, Perry Virkler.

 Bottom Row, l-r;  Everett Virkler, Virginia Latham, Chares Pridell, B. Steele, Ruth Pridell, Bill Cratsenburg, Harold Barker, Virginia Pridell, Emerson Searle.

Thanks to Alfreda J. Miller McLane from her father Alfred L. Miller for the above class photo