Washington County

Burdett School History
by Arlene Glenn

The community of Burdett was named for a wild horse hunter, Bill Burdett, who had a camp on Rock Creek in the 1870s. He built his shanty of buffalo hides.

The Burdett school was organized in 1888. The first three month term was held in an unoccupied homesteaders shack by an old gentleman by the name of Forbes. Following that first term, a small shack was bought and an addition added, making the building about 12 x 20. The first church and Sunday school services in the community were held in this building. There was no foundation - only a few rocks had been placed in the corners to hold up the frame structure.

In May 1890 the board voted to build a 16 x 24 school out of sod with 4 x 6 frame outhouses. This was the first of four Burdett school houses. It was originally to be built in the NW¼ of Sec 33 but in June 1890 they voted to build on the SE¼.

Old school records show that until 1900 the tax levy for school expenses was about 15 mills. In 1890-1891, five months of school was held and $25 a month was paid to the teacher for the first two months dropping to $20 for the last three. School started in September and no school was held in December. Miss Willa Clanton was the teacher for the 1890 term. Other early Burdett teachers were Mrs. Lon Felkey, Mrs. Jess Nitzen and Lizzie Gardner. Plattie Butler taught the school in October 1892 and January 1893 and was paid $30 a month. Mary Kerby taught during April, Many and June at the same salary. The next year the school term was increased to six months with the teacher's salary remaining at $30.

In 1894 the district voted to charge non-resident students 75¢ a month. This was often hard to collect, as in 1900 when the charge was increased to $1.25 and the teacher was strictly ordered to refuse instruction to pupils who's tuition had not been paid in advance.

The names of S.C. Jefferies, G.W. Stockman, J.J.S. Harvey and Lon Felkey appear often as school board members. The records show that one year no school meeting was held due to scarlet fever in the family of a board member.

Susie Pesch was the teacher in 1899. At first there had been 15-16 students in the district, but when hard times hit, the homesteaders left the country. The student population dwindled to only one student when the peak of the exodus was reached about 1900. The school, church and Sunday school were discontinued and the Burdett school wasn't started up again until about 1910-1911.

A frame building was built just south of the middle of section 33 on the east side of the SW¼. In May 1915 the board voted to build a one-room frame building in the northeast corner of the NW¼ of the same section.

There were no real formal grades. The student just started the next term where he or she left off the term before. Students used whatever books they had, and when one was finished, another was begun.

Some teachers from 1912-1916 were:
    1912-1913 Mrs. John Davis
    1913-1914 Miss DeJean (from Akron)
    1914-1915 Dora Shane
    1915-1916 Miss Shackley (a niece of the Felkeys)
         - provided by Elsie Jepson Morgan

Burdett Teachers in the 1920's were:
    1921-1922 Edna Turley
    1923-1925 (Edna Turley ?)
    1925-1926 Mrs. Cadle
    1926-1927 Lawrence Burley (from Akron)
    1927-1928 Loel Mollison
    1928-1929 Dorothy Werner (from Greeley)
    1929-1930 Jesse Starling

In 1921 there were 31 students at Burdett. School continued in the same building and students attended from community families - Polzells, Dressels, Stanleys, Klinzmanns, Gemaehlichs, Gundersens, Mummes and Giles.

The Lutheran Church held services in the Burdett School in he 1930's.

Other teachers were 1938 - Mary E. Pleasants and 1941 - Leo Rein. Elsie Ross was the teacher in 1943-1944 and Ruth Rowland taught the 1945-1946 term.

When Burdett students finished the 8th grade, they attended high school at Lone Star.

The June 20, 1952 Lone Star board minutes relate that patrons of District 23 voted to dissolve the school district and annex to District 28, Lone Star school.

The Burdett school building was moved to Lone Star and Earl Mekelberg was hired to remodel it into a cafeteria. When the new Lone Star school was built the old Burdett building was again remodeled to provide a home for the school custodian. In 1980 the building was joined to the old Richmond school building and was yet again remodeled to use a a home for the district School Superintendent.

Return to the Burdett School Index.

This page was last updated Thursday, 22-Oct-2009 14:35:19 MDT