Sunday, November 13, 2011

Early Education in the Bear Lake Valley

Education has played a big role in the lives of the Darrell and Edna Eborn family.  My earliest memories of school include stories of Dad and Mom's elementary school days.  They attended separate elementary schools about three miles apart.  They were both multi-class two room schools.  Mother, of course, went to the Liberty School and Dad went to the Lanark School.  These schools did what most schools did then.  They concentrated on the three R's, Reading, Riting, a Rithmatic.  I'm sure by this time there was also some attention paid to other subjects such as history, geography, grammar and even spelling.

I remember Mom telling of how much she loved school.  She was one of the best students in the school and won a spelling bee, as I remember it, as the best, speller in the school.  She learned to read and write, but not just to do it, but to love it.  I remember her reading often when we were growing up.
Dad also, learned these same basic educational skills.  I don't remember much about Dad's experience in school from his stories, except he sometimes told about how cruel the school master was and I do remember him telling me that he had worked as a young boy before school for Uncle Leo Passey milking cows etc.  His pay for this task was his school lunch, a fried egg slapped between two slices of dry bread.  He said it was the same every day.  I also remember him telling of how difficult it was to have even the most necessary school supplies, like pencils and paper and how he sometimes felt embarrassed that he didn't have what he needed.  I also remember both dad ad mom telling of how the schools were heated with a wood burning potbellied stove in the corner of the room.  The wood was supplied by people in the community who had children attending the school.  I can easily imagine how difficult a task this was in those days, before chain saws and trucks etc.  No wonder they sometimes complained about the temperature inside the classrooms.  For recess, there was no gymnasium, so it was bundle up and out into the cold to play in the snow or suck on an icicle.  That may seem strange, but remember there was no running water at the school and no restroom facilities except for the outhouse located behind the schools.  These conditions were certainly not ideal, but they learned to read, and to love reading.  They learned to write and I for one am very grateful because it meant I got letters and encouragement from home when I was on my mission for two and a half  years in Germany.  My mother wrote to me twice almost every week of my mission.  Not only that, since our mission president told us that we were in Germany to work and spread the gospel message we should not keep a daily journal.  He said we didn't have time to do that.  As a result my mother meticulously hand copied most of my letter home into a "Missionary Journal" which I prize all the more highly today because of the love and the effort put forth by my mother during those months and years.  She also in her later years wrote a personal history and helped Dad in doing the same.  In later years Mom's eyesight began to fail.  She got glasses which helped, but as funds were generally limited she didn't go in and get frequent checkups and new glasses.  As a result it became increasingly difficult for her to read.  In her later years he came to live with us for a while after dad died.  She would often say how she wished she could read more.  One day Iris loaded her up and took her to the eye doctor.  He said she had cataracts and that they could be removed, so Iris took her to the doctor in Pocatello.  He  removed the cataracts and prescribed a new set of glasses for her.  From that day forward she could see much better and she kept us busy selecting books for her at the County Library in Montpelier.  She would read a four or five hundred page book every week.  She enjoyed it and was so happy to be able to do this.  Another thing that astounded me about Mother was her memory.  As a youth in school in Liberty she learned to memorize, not just the times tables, but lengthy poems etc. which she could still quote verbatim almost until the day she died.  She had an amazing memory.  She had thirty-eight grand kids and could tell you all of their birthdays and how much most of them weighed at birth along with myriad other things that just astounded me.

Dad too learned to enjoy reading.  He didn't receive much formal education, but he did learn a love of reading.  He especially read a lot of Church books.  I remember him sitting or laying down with a book in his hand many times after lunch and before going back out into the field to work.  He actually became a gospel scholar of sorts and his thoughts and ideas were freely shared and respected in Sunday School class each week.

Below is an article I found about the Fielding Academy, one of the first secondary schools in the West.  It was located on the hill to the west in Paris, Idaho.  This school had burned down just before Mom and Dad were to enter High School.  I hope you find this as interesting as I did.  It certainly puts things in perspective when we feel inclined to complain about the schools of the more modern age.

Fielding High School, where all of Darrell and Edna Eborn's children attended and graduated from high school.  This picture is from 1954.  Ellis graduated in 1955, just to put things in perspective.

Fielding Academy

This article was written before the Academy was destroyed by fire September 17, 1928. Author and date of writing unknown but with the dates in the article is believed to have been written during or shortly after the 1901-1902 year.

Paris, Idaho

An Educational Institution of the
Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints with High School, Normal, Missionary and
business Courses of Study.



First Semester.

September 22. Entrance Examinations, Registration of Students.
September 23. Instruction begins.
November 17. Winter course begins.
November 27-28. Thanksgiving Recess.
December 19 to January 5. Christmas Vacation.
January 30. First Semester closes.
February 2. Instruction begins.
April 3. Winter Course closes.
_____. Arbor Day.
May 28. Decoration Day.
June 3. Class Day Exercises.
June 4. Commencement.
June 5. Field Day.

Board of Education

Wm Budge, President.
J U Stucki, Secretary.
J R Shepherd, Treasurer.
James H Hart.
Wm L Rich.
Robert Price.
H S Humpherys.
Walter Hoge.
James Nye.
J A Sutton, Jr.
Geo Perrett.
Heber Keetch.
Prof. R T Haag.

Executive Committee

Robt. Price.
J.R. Shepherd.
J.U. Stucki.

General Church Board of Education

Joseph F. Smith, Chairman.

Willard Young,
Anthon H. Lund,
James Sharp,
John Nicholson,
George H Brimhall,
Rudger Clawson,
Joseph M Tanner,
John R Winder,
Arthur Winter, Secretary

The Faculty

Richard T Haag,
Theology, Normal work and German

Walter H Durrant,
Secretary and Librarian.

English and Algebra

Daniel T. Thomander,
Business Branches.

Blanche Cooper, B.S.,
Lady Superintendent
Geometry and Botany

A Teresa Porter,
Preparatory Work.
Physiography and Physiology.

Special Instructors

Lizzie Hoge,Stenography and Typewriting

Joseph R. Shepherd,Musical Director

Adelina H. Spencer,Piano and Organ

Dr. J M Tanner, Gen. Supt. of Church Schools.
President William Budge,
Joseph R. Shepherd,
Brigham H. Roberts,
Alfred Budge,
Susa Young Gates,
Prof. John A. Widtsoe,
Prof. John T. Miller
 In the fall of 1887 the authorities of the Bear Lake Stake of Zion, recognizing the importance of higher education combined with religious training, decided to establish a Church school after the pattern of the mother institution at Provo, Utah.

During the period 1887-1901 this school, which was known as the “Bear Lake Stake Academy,” passed through various vicissitudes. It had no permanent home, its financial resources were inadequate, and many changes occurred in its faculty, all of which were unfavorable to its growth and development. At first the school was conducted in the large hall of the County Court House in Paris, afterward an upper story in one of the business houses was secured, still later the Second Ward Meeting House was used, and finally an old furniture building on Main Street was fitted out for its temporary accommodation. Not until the last season did it emerge from these humble circumstances to occupy the commodious quarters of its present home.

Prof. Gottfried L G Hessell acted as the first principal during the winter of ’87 and ’88. He taught, however, only one year, when he died and was succeeded by Stake Counselor, George Osmond, (later President of the Star Valley Stake) who likewise taught only one winter. Both of these brethren were assisted by Elder Oliver C. Dunford, who took a prominent part in the establishment of the school. Following Principal Osmond, John H. Miles, Jacob Spori, Emil Maeser, W W Billings, Albert Matheson and W H Griffin consecutively held the principalship, Professor Miles, who served for four years, being the longest in office.

The school year of 1901-02 marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the institution. The new Academy building, the corner stone of which was laid in June, 1896, had advanced sufficiently in its course of construction so that school could be held in the rooms of the first floor. Professor Richard T. Haag, recently returned from a mission to Germany, and formerly a member of the Latter-day Saints College and of the Weber Stake Academy faculties, was engaged as principal, and commenced on October 14th. During the progress of the school it was decided to extend its district beyond the borders of the Bear Lake Stake, and a change of name therefore became necessary. Accordingly, on March 26th, with the approval of the General Board of Education, the name “Fielding Academy” was chosen in honor of President Joseph Fielding Smith. Impressive Commencement Exercises, held in the Stake Tabernacle on April 15th, when twenty-eight students were graduated from the grammar department, brought this successful year to a close.

General Aim

With the present school year the Academy enters upon a well defined mission. The uniformity of the courses of instruction now established in all the high schools of the Latter-day Saints, lends a clearness of expression and an impetus of strength to this important work of education as never before. Having an earnest desire to be in complete harmony with our sister institutions of the grand Church School system, we feel that we, as a part of this system, are starting out with them upon a glorious, ever progressive march of success.

What work is undertaken by this institution shall be done as thoroughly as is possible under present conditions. It shall be our pride to furnish material from our class rooms, well prepared to enter still higher courses of learning. Our aim is to fit the young people attending here for practical life, and to promote their complete development, morally, intellectually and physically. Above all we shall strive to realize for the Fielding Academy the fulfillment of the words expressed by our worthy General superintendent: “The schools of the Church are growing dearer and dearer, and nearer and nearer, to the Saints everywhere; and out of them, there are daily marching the standard bearers of God’s revelation of truth to man.”


Paris is ten miles distant from the railroad, but has excellent stage and mail service, and is connected by telephone with all the principal cities and towns.

The healthfulness of climate; the absence of those contaminating influences that curse and defile many of the youth in the large cities; the grand old mountains that afford such unusual facilities for the naturalist to study nature in her mighty fastnesses, – all these advantages make this a most desirable location for such an institution of learning. The location of the Academy is an ideal one. Situated on an eminence immediately adjacent to the thriving city of Paris, and overlooking the broad valley and the beautiful lake beyond, it presents a picturesque and inspiring view from every side.

As a healthful, safe and quiet home for students, Paris, the county seat of Bear Lake County, is unexcelled. The good order and the progressive spirit which characterize this city are widely known. Saloons, gambling-houses and other similar adjuncts of modern civilization that flourish in nearly all cities of its size, have no abiding place here.

Building and Grounds.

It is a source of gratification to know that after being so many years without a home the institution is at last blessed with such beautiful and commodious quarters.

The Academy building, on the lower floor of which school was conducted last season, will be entirely completed and furnished by the beginning of school in September. The main building is fifty-two feet front by sixty-four feet deep, surmounted by a tower seventy-five feet high. The first floor of this building will be used for a gymnasium. On the second story are located the President’s office, the Library, teachers’ room, ladies’ toilet and the grand entrance, with stairway leading to the lecture hall or general assembly room. This hall, which is twenty feet high, occupies all of the third story and will seat three hundred students.

The south wing only, has been constructed and is sixty-three feet front by forty-three feet wide, three stories in height. In each story are three class rooms thirty-two by twenty feet with a corridor eight feet wide, running through the west side of the building. The rooms are well lighted and ventilated and will be heated with hot air, by the most approved system.

The Academy grounds comprise six acres, there being sufficient room for a suitable campus, out-door sport, games and military drill.

Entrance Requirements.

The Academy admits into its courses students of both sexes provided that they are prepared by previous work to Applicants who cannot present credentials from accredited schools, will be required to take entrance examination. If it is found that a student is deficient in not more than two studies, he may be received in his class conditionally until the deficiency is made up.

Special arrangements will be made in the case of students who are above district school age but have not completed the district school work corresponding to the sixth grade.

To enter the Business Course or the High School and Normal course a student must have completed work equivalent to the eighth grade unless he can give evidence of sufficient development to be able to pursue advantageously the studies of this course.

Students who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will not be required to pursue the studies in theology, but should they desire to be excused from these studies, formal application must be made to the Faculty.


Every student on entrance is placed on his word of honor. Strict gentlemanly and ladylike conduct and earnest devotion to duty is expected in every case.

The following regulations are suggested in the spirit of deepest interest and kindliest feeling toward the students, who are subject to these rules both in and out of school.

1. The use of tobacco and strong drink, also profane or obscene language, is strictly prohibited.

2. Students are urged against the attendance of any parties not under the control of the Academy. The faculty will not be responsible for the progress of students who disregard this admonition.

3. It is required of all students to be punctual and regular in attendance. Absence for three consecutive days from school or from a class, without excuse, will be reported to parents or guardians.

4. No student can honorably discontinue attendance, without first reporting to the Principal and obtaining final specifications of standing.

5. Examinations are held monthly and reports of deportment and class standing will be sent to parents or guardians for signature.

6. Students violating any rules of the Academy relating to personal conduct, lay themselves liable to suspension or expulsion from school.

Domestic Organization.

Since the students are subject to the rules and regulations of the Academy both in and out of school, provision is made in all Church schools to see that the rules affecting students when outside of school are carried out in the spirit thereof. This work, as also the mission of introducing the spirit of the teaching of the Academy into every student’s home, devolves upon what is known as the Domestic Organization.

At each of the boarding houses, one of the students is appointed senior, whose duty it is to see that everything pertaining to the students of that boarding house is in order and to report any disorder to the presiding officer of the organization. To effect this, Paris is divided into four districts, corresponding to the municipal wards.

Special teachers, appointed from among students, make bi-weekly visits for the purpose of aiding the seniors in their work. Semi-monthly meetings are held in which reports of these visits are received and instructions are given relative to domestic duties. In this connection the Academy aims to impress upon the students the importance of a practical application of religious principles, to influence them to form regular habits, to keep proper hours, and to avoid loafing, improper associates, and even the appearance of evil.

Entrance Fees and Expenses.

In all courses, except the Missionary and Winter courses, an entrance fee of $12.50 is charged. 
Students attending the Winter Course are charged $10.00 upon entrance.
In the Commercial Course a charge of $25.00 is made in addition to the entrance fee.

For special business studies, charges are made as follows:
Typewriting, $10.00 per Semester.
Phonography, $10.00 per Semester.
Typewriting and Phonography, $15.00 per Semester.
Book-keeping, $12.00 per Semester.
Band and Orchestral Music for others than regular students $2.00 for the school year.
Piano and Organ:
Weekly lessons for full term (40 weeks), $10.00.
Weekly lessons for half term (20 weeks), $5.00.

Graduation Certificates.
From the Preparatory Course, $1.00
High School Certificates, $1.50
Special Certificates, $2.00
From Commercial Course, $3.00

Board and Rooms.
The cost of living in Paris is much lower than in large cities. Good rooms and board in private houses can be obtained at from $2.00 to $3.50 per week. By renting rooms and boarding themselves, students are able to reduce their expenses to $1.50 to $2.00 per week for room and board. Rooms can be rented at from $1.00 to $2.00 per month.
A list of places suitable for students to stay at while attending school may be had by applying to J U Stucki, secretary of the Board, or Prof. Richard T. Haag, Principal. Students will be expected to consult the Principal before locating in any other place than those recommended by the Board.

Societies and Class Organizations.
To aid students in acquiring a practical knowledge of parliamentary procedure, speech-making and debating, also to acquaint them with social, scientific and political questions of today, various societies are organized, the most important of which is the “Students’ Society,” which has bi-weekly sessions in the Academy Assembly Hall. Each class also has an organization, in which meetings are held at regular intervals. In these societies profitable recreation from the daily routine of class recitation is afforded the students, who take a leading part in these organizations and are responsible for the conduct of the meetings.
The best available talent of the Church and of the State will be engaged, and the special lecturers, whose names appear on page 6 of this circular, will address the students.
Special societies or classes will be organized to awaken an interest in manual and domestic training, preparatory to the introduction of courses along these lines in the Academy. Members of these societies will take up suitable subjects not only for theoretical study, oral and written discussion, but practical results will be sought for from the first. It will be the purpose of these societies to exalt and dignify handiwork, and the efforts of the students in this direction will receive due recognition in all the departments of the school. From the boys some specimen in elementary woodwork and carpentry or in mechanical and architectural drawing, from the girls some article in sewing, dressmaking or needle work will be expected.

The Library.
During the past school year the Library was increased by purchase and donation to more than double its former size, and it is the design further to enlarge it by adding each year the most recent books treating on the various subjects taught in the institution. In addition to the large number of valuable books and pamphlets dealing with theology, ethics, history, pedagogy, biography, economics, literature, art and the sciences, all the important local papers and periodicals, besides many current magazines from various parts of the United States, come regularly to the school where they are arranged on the reading stands within convenient access of the students.
The Library contains the best unabridged dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other standard works of reference, all of which, under prescribed regulations, are at the disposal of the students during each school day. In the classifying and indexing of the Library the Dewey Decimal System is employed.

The Museum.
A considerable number of valuable contributions have recently been made to the Academy Museum, and steps are being taken further to equip this important adjunct to scientific study-work. The mineralogical, botanical, anatomical and alcoholic specimens are used in connection with regular class work, to illustrate the various subjects taken up in physiographic, botany, physiology, zoology, etc.

1 comment:

  1. Fielding Academy served as the first MTC in the Church. Missionaries headed to Germany were trained in Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Old and New Testament and also given classes in German. If the students were not prepared academically, remedial type classes were also given.

    Interesting note: In the rules above, attendance at activities not under the control of the Academy were discouraged. In 1966, an 80 year old resident of Ovid related a story of taking his date via horse and wagon to a dance in Montpelier one Saturday night. Monday morning, the Academy principal summoned him to his office, verified that the rumor he had gone to the "gentile" side of the valley, and expelled him for three days.