Friday, August 24, 2007

The Last Bell - The Country Schools of Stevens County, Washington

As an alumnus of the Colville (Washington) School District, Leland Meitzler's post today, over at Genealogy Blog, caught my eye. He's got a book review about The Last Bell, written by Alpha Naff. Originally published in 1984, it was reprinted in 2005, and "deals with public education at the turn of the century in Northeast Washington – the 'country schools' of Stevens County." Reading the table of contents of the old one-room schools was like coming home. My parents live off Aladdin Road and the old Aladdin Schoolhouse is now a private home, just a few stones' throw down the mountain. In fact, when I was a teenager in the '80s, we had some elderly neighbors whose kids had attended that school in the '60s. No school buses in those days, they had simply walked the three miles literally down the mountain and back every day, taking shortcuts through the woods until they reached the old logging roads that are now part of the county road system.

Only last week, while on vacation up in the Colville National Forest, I had passed two other former schoolhouses, the Addy Schoolhouse, now the Old Schoolhouse Trading Post (a combination convenience store and museum) and the Tiger Highway Schoolhouse (abandoned; although not long ago it was a private home).

Today the 107 schoolhouses of Stevens County have been abandoned, destroyed, or used for other purposes, and six school districts cover the county, the largest being Colville School District. The district's bus routes cover an amazing distance guess is that the average is a 25-mile trip--one way-- over mountain roads with the city being the hub of the circle. We never had a snow day in all the years I can remember, even though it was often an iffy three-mile trip down to the bus stop over ice and many inches of snow! (Hmm, I'm thinking Apple can appreciate this!)

I've got a lot of connections to this district; besides myself, my brother and sister also graduated from this district, and our dad, nearing retirement, begins his 29th school year as a staff member this fall. This book looks like it would make a great gift for my family members; I know I certainly will enjoy it! If you have Stevens County ancestors who lived in the area between 1875 to 1930, I'm sure it will make a nice addition to your home library. Besides, a purchase of this book will benefit the Northeast Washington Genealogical Society!

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