#Lookback: Rural Schools

    A County 10 series in partnership with the Fremont County Museum System
    where we take a #Lookback at the stories and history of our community and
    presented by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    On September 8th, 1908 Mary J. Freeman filed to homestead a plot of 160 acres located at the Northwest ¼ Section 12 1N 2E about 4.2 miles north of Riverton. Over the years, three separate schools served the students who lived in Riverton and the rural area surrounding the town. 

    The first school to be established on the property was known as Freeman School Number 1. In 1909, school director, J.J. Jewett, made arrangements with Mary Freeman to have school held in her residence. The exact location of the Mary Freeman residence on the 160-acre property is not known. After arrangements were made with Mary Freeman, the school directors hired Josephine Jordon, daughter of Oscar T. Jordon, to serve as the first teacher at the Freeman School Number 1. The school directors, at this time, were J.J. Jewett, A.B. Tonkin, and P.D. Dykeman. The contract was for Miss Jordon to serve as the schoolteacher from 1909 to 1910 and she was to be paid $60 per month. In July of 1910, Miss. Jordan informed the school directors that she did not wish to return to her assignment and Naomi Cherry was hired to take over the teaching position at Freeman School Number 1.

    On October 12th, 1910, Mary Freeman deeded one acre in the northwest corner of her property to School District Number 25 and the rest of the property was sold to J.A. Delfelder in the same year. There was no record of any payment for the acre deeded to the school district. In November of 1912, J.H. Arnold bid to build a schoolhouse on this acre of land for 1,041 dollars. This school would become known as Freeman School Number 2. Freeman School Number 2 was in operation starting in 1913 with Jessie Baker as the first schoolteacher, however, she was soon transferred to the Riverton City school system in the spring of 1913. She was replaced by Maude Watson who taught at the school until the end of the 1912-1913 term. The Freeman School Number 2 was in operation until January 1921. After this school building was closed, it was rented to several farmers and ranchers in the area until the building was sold on February 17th, 1936, for $350 dollars. 

    In a meeting dated June 4th, 1920, School District Number 25 voted to authorize an architect to draw plans for a new school building. On August 7th, 1920, Westerlund and Schodin were contracted to build a building for the Delfelder Consolidated School for 8,600 dollars. Also, in August of 1920, the Delfelder property was mortgaged to John W. Hays of the Teton Land and Investment Company and on January 7th, 1921, the school directors voted to open the Delfelder School located on the property on January 10th, 1921. The bank foreclosed on the Delfelder property and sold the property to Teton Land and Investment Company in 1926. After the bank foreclosed on the property where the Delfelder School was built, there was a civil suit being argued that went all the way to the Wyoming Supreme Court. These property suits were eventually settled in 1939, but the Delfelder School continued to operate until it closed in June of 1929. On June 7th, 1929, School District Number 25 voted to close the school to further reduces the school’s taxes. 

    After the Delfelder School was closed, the students were transferred to the Riverton Schools. The school building remained empty until December 6th, 1929, when the school decided to hire D.T. Botts to look after the school. During this time, the building was used for community purposes. Later, on May 13th, 1932, the school district decided to rent the building to Guy Beall for three months. On October 3rd, 1939, the land where Freeman School Number 2 was located was deeded by School District Number 25 to the Teton Land and Investment Company. In exchange, another tract of land was deeded from the former Delfelder property to School District Number 25 from the Teton Land and Investment Company. This is the tract of land where the Delfelder School had been built. Finally, on July 15th, 1940, School District 25 decided to sell the property and the Delfelder School to the Delfelder Hall Association.

    Photograph above: Delfelder School with the students dated circa 1923.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museums

    March 3rd, 6 pm at the Riverton Museum “Women in Wyoming” by Linsey Linton (via Zoom)

                  Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 7th, 6 pm at the Riverton Museum “Seed Starting with the Riverton Garden Club”

                  Wyoming Community Bank Discovery Speakers Series

    April 17th, 2-4 pm at the Riverton Museum “Seed Starting for Children”

                  Bailey Tire/Pit Stop Children’s Exploration Series

    Joe Scheuerle Art Exhibit: “Native Americans of Wind River Country”, 9-5 Monday-Saturday Pioneer Museum Lander, Handle with Care: Art Moving

    The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum are seeing significantly decreased visitation this summer as a result of Covid-19. As a result, the self-generated revenue we rely so heavily on to make ends meet is not keeping pace. We are counting on private donations to continue to maintain successful and engaging museums during this time. We urge you to make a tax-deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support. 

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