Yelm E. K. Fristoe, Cor. (Morning Olympian August 30, 1932)


E. K. Fristoe, Cor.

(Morning Olympian   August 30, 1932)

The vote on the school bond issue for $9,000 was carried a small majority.  The election was held Wednesday for the purpose of voting bonds with which to build a new modern  gymnasium.  The total number of ballots cast was 265 with 140 favoring the bonds and 125 opposing the issue.

Yelm’s new grade school is nearing completion and will be ready for the fall school opening.  This replaces the unit built two years ago, also the old upper grade building and the gymnasium; both destroyed by fire.  Erection of the new gymnasium  will begin immediately after the bonds ave been sold.  J. Beckett of Seattle is architect for the  building.

School Districts – Consolidation July 8, 1906

County Superintendent Hears Petition for Consolidation

Morning Olympian July 8, 1906

County Superintendent Fred Brown left last night for Yelm where he will hear a petition of school districts 13, 57, & 58 for consolidation.  The petition will probably be granted.

The object of the consolidation is that districts 57 and 58 employ a teacher and one teacher could very easily do the work at less expense. With one teacher they could have a nine month school, it is stated.

Mr. Brown yesterday received the vote of districts 41 and 22 to unite into a union high school district.  He will number the district union high school district No. 3.

According to district records the Lackamas school possessed copies of the following books in 1923-24.

From Earth to the Moon              Jules Verne
The Last of the Plainsman            Zane Grey
American Claimant                   Mark Twain
Matthew Arnold                      Thurman
Vandemarks Folly                    Quick
Daddy Long Legs                     Webster
Dombey and Son                      Charles Dickens
The Making of Herbert Hoover        Lane
A Man for the Ages                  Bachellor

8/30/26 – 5/24/27           Chester Biesen Grades 4, 5, 6 15 students $1,125 10 6th grades, 1 5th grader, 4 4th graders

Daily Schedule

9:00        Opening Exercises
9:10        4th arithmetic
9:25        5th arithmetic
9:40        Physical training
9:45        6th arithmetic
10:00       4th spelling
10:10       5th spelling
10:20       6th spelling
10:30       Recess
10:45       4th history and reading
11:00       5th history and hygiene
11:15       6th history
11:30       4th hygiene
11:45       6th hygiene
12:00       Noon Intermission
1:00        penmanship
1:15        4th language
1:30        5th language
1:45        6th language
2:00        5th reading
2:15        Recess
2:30        6th reading
2:45        4th geography
3:00        5th geography
3:15        6th geography
3:30        Dismissal

State law required that schools keep a log of all visitors that stopped by the school during the day.  In the 1931 records the visitors often made comments about what they witnessed.  Here are some of those comments:

Excellent school & spirit
Excellent cooperation
Pull together spirit
Quite different from Seattle schools
A very enjoyable school and good spirit
Farther advanced than some schools

September 6, 1938   Inventory of Ida R. Mertz

Number  Articles
1       paper punch
1       small desk
1       large art scissors
1       primary printing set
1       fire extinguisher
1       set of phonetic element cards
1       typewriter
1       set of arithmetic cards
1       phonograph
1       first aid kit
1       paper cutter
1       set of alphabet blocks
1       book case
1       set of toy money
1       sand table
1       duplicator
1       clock
1       bench
1       globe
1       waste paper basket
1       wall map
1       swing chair
8       primary chairs
15      rulers
2       primary tables
11      scissors
1       teacher’s desk
8       pen holder
1       rhythm band set
1       whistle
1       set of chart material for use with Webster’s readers

School Day

8:45-9:00   Opening Exercises
9:00-10:00  Reading (all grades)
10:00-10:45 History (grade 4) Grades 1, 2, & 3 seatwork
10:15-10:30 Recess
10:30-11:15 Arithmetic 3 & 4
11:15-11:45 Spelling (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
11:15-12:00     Art (Friday)
11:45-12:00 First Grade Reading (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
12:00-12:45 Noon
12:45-1:00  Story Hour
1:00-1:30   Phonics 2 & 3
1:30-2:00   Geography 3 & 4
2:00-2:15   Recess
2:15-2:45   Language
2:45-3:00   Penmanship (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)
2:45-3:00   Health (Thursday, Friday)


To the State Board of Education

September 1, 1948


By action of the Board at its meeting on July 27, 1948, this proposal is scheduled for a hearing before the Board in conformity with the request of both the proponents and the opponents of the proposal.  The following statement of facts has been prepared for the purpose of furnishing board members with essential information about the proposal.

Facts and Developments Connected With the Proposal

  1. Yelm School District No. 400 is a joint district, including territory in Thurston and Pierce Counties.  At the present time it operates a high school and a graded elementary school in Yelm and a three-teacher elementary school for grades 1-6 at McKenna in Pierce County.
  1. Prior to the last school year (1947-48) the Yelm District also operated a one-room school at Lacamas in Thurston County, approximately ten miles southeast of the city of Yelm.  This school was operated under an arrangement whereby parents residing in the vicinity were permitted to choose between the one-room school at Lacamas and the graded school in Yelm.  Under this arrangement the average daily attendance at Lacamas dropped from 16.7 in June, 1943, to 7.7 in June, 1947.
  1. In view of the declining attendance at Lacamas and a division of opinion among residents of the area respecting attendance at the school, the Yelm school board requested a nonresident of the school district to interview parents regarding their attitude toward the continued operation of the Lacamas school.  The interviews were conducted in may, 1947.  Selected for interviews were the nine families in the area whose children (16 in number) would be in grades 1-6 during the school year 1947-48.  Statements from the report of these interviews throw light on the situation prevailing in this area and are, therefore, quoted below:

Quoted from the report

  1. “No difficulty was experienced in getting people to talk.  They expressed themselves freely, and often with real conviction.”
  1. “Four families preferred to send their children to school in Yelm.  In nearly all cases this was a positive, unqualified preference amounting to a deep conviction.  Two families preferred Lacamas; one family was undecided; two were not interviewed” (presumably could not be located at the time

For the Formation of the New District Territory

Yes                                                          No

# of Families# of Children   # of Families   # of Children

Residents of Old                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lacamas District                            3                      4                      6                      9

Residents of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Territory in Old Yelm                  2                      7                      1                      2 District

Total                                                   5                      11                    7                      11

One family with two children is not reported in the foregoing tabulation because of conflicting reports about the family preference.  Excluding this family, five families with eleven children appear to favor the formation of the new district; and seven families with eleven children seem to be opposed, preferring to have their children attend the graded school in Yelm.

Proposed Adjustment of Assets and Liabilities of the Districts Involved

Estimated Revenue of Proposed District                                                                                                                        1948-49

  1. That State and County funds based on attendance during 1947-1948, of all elementary school pupils residing in the proposed new district become an asset of said district during 1948-49, the state and county funds available for expenditure by the Yelm District to be reduced correspondingly (4300 days at 37 cents per day)                                                                                                                                                               $1590
  1. That one educational unit be credited to the proposed District for 1948-49, and that state funds therefore be made available for said district and deducted from receipts of the Yelm District                                                                                                         $1650
  1. That proceeds of the general fund tax levy made in October, 1948, by the Yelm District No. 400 in the amount of five mills on the taxable valuation of the new district become an asset of said new district (5 mills x $585,000)                                   $2925
  1. That sixty percent of approved transportation costs for the new district for the school year 1948-49 be allowed to said District out of state transportation reimbursement funds apportioned to the Yelm District during 1948-49                    $1300 (est)


Total                $7465

Michaela and Jessica Murdock Dillard Jenson Interview About Lackamas School – June 2003

Michaela and Jessica Murdock  Dillard Jenson Interview About Lackamas School – June 2003

Jessica: How long was your school year? I know that it’s 180 now, but there must have been more time off?

Dillard: We started right after Labor Day and we always got out the last of May. Usually around May 29. Yeah, because I don’t think we had any spring vacation. But, yeah, we always got out the last of May.

J: Was there a lot of farming kids out here?

D: Oh yeah! All farming kids. We all farmed. That’s all there was, was farm kids.

J: What kind of farms did you guys have? Was is mostly cows?

D: Cows! Everybody had a little farm, everybody had a couple cows. Everything was on a small scale.

*Rustling…conversation lost…

J: How did you guys get to school? How far usually was the range?

D: By a homemade school bus. It had benches along the side. Was an old… just an old regular pickup. Old wooden back. And uh then… up the Peisner road here. Whoever lived up there Mr. Peizner had an old car and then he’d deliver them. And then up above Clear Wood, which is Clear Wood now, up on Johnson road, there was another old gentleman up there and he had a big old car and he used it for a bus. And that’s how everybody was transported.

J: So…do you know how large the range was from where kids were coming from?

*Rustling…conversation muddled…

D: The range… oh well the range didn’t reach out all that far. Probably… twenty miles. But  what happened is the Yelm School District- now we’re going way back- the Yelm School District the valuation at that time was $500,000. That’s all there was. This one here was $550,000 cause we had Weyerhaeuser, which added more valuation. Well Yelm couldn’t get by without reorganizing and adding this school. So that’s what they done and we were always promised a school, but when the ink dried they took the school away from us. So now we’re getting it back. (Laughs)

J: So what years did you go to school here?

D: I went here first through sixth. Then everybody after the sixth grade went on to Yelm.

J: So that was in 19…?

D: It closed down in 1947.

J: So 1941?

D: I started in ‘40.

M: So you went right until the end?

D: Yeah, I went just about to the end. I think it ran maybe one year after I left.

J: What was the attitude toward school back then? Did the parents think it was very important?

D: Very important. You want to remember everything was entirely different. We had one teacher. No superintendent, no principal, no janitor, no nothing. One teacher ran this school. And every Friday we would put a list up on the board and two boys would feed the wood furnace for the following week. Two boys would take care of their restroom. Two girls would take care of theirs. The teacher always cooked the noon lunch. And she’d have two girls, their names would be on the list, they’d help cook the lunch for that week, but they only cooked lunch for four days a week and every Friday one of the mothers would bring us something special for lunch. And that’s the way it worked. And then about fifteen minutes before school was out every day we’d have to clean up our room, so it was ready for the next morning. And then once a week we’d go out and clean up all the school grounds and clean everything up. And then of course one person had to put the flag up and take it down every day.

J: I think that is so cool. I think that teaches you so much more responsibility.

D: But like I said I wasn’t the best student. When I went to Yelm I sat there for two years, because it was a complete review I’d already had. So I wasted two years. Well… I mean I didn’t waste it, but I’d already had it. Because when you’ve got six grades in one room and you’re in first grade, it’s just like computers today, you store everything, well you store the same in your mind and so when you get to the second grade you’ve already heard those kids recite their lesson- they recited everything back in those days. So it’s already stored in there, right on up through the six grades. When you get there it’s just a review for you. It’s a wonderful to learn. I’d like to see them teaching kids that way again.

J: You probably get a lot more one-on-one time too?

D: Oh sure! Well and another thing, you couldn’t get away with anything. You got bent over…(laughs)…that’s the way it was…there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and then when you got home you got some more.

M: So there was definitely some corporal punishment.

D: Well it was…but they’re going to have to go back to a little bit of discipline today, because it’s not working. It’s not working. We all…I don’t care who you are, we all try to get away with as much as we can…everybody does that. So, I say we need a little bit more discipline. But that’s maybe coming from an old-timer‘s mouth.

J: I think that’s interesting to see like, what was breaking the rules, though, and what was looked over, and what was totally not acceptable to do. I think you could push yourself a lot further now, and I was just wondering what was grounds for punishment?

D: Well you tried to push yourself, but you couldn’t, you didn’t get it done, because you got a good whipping or the paddle. And when I went to Yelm it was the same thing there… was a teacher, a principal by the name of Harry Southworth. And he had this nice little wooden board with holes in it and you got the same treatment there. They had control of you. You might try something, but it wasn’t going to work.

J: What kind of curriculum did you guys learn and what was your day?

D: You had your Math and your English, and just the basics… you know, lots of penmanship. Even though I don’t write every day, I still have lot’s of it… and health classes.

J: You said you had to recite a lot, what did you have to recite?

D: What did we have to recite? Well, in Reading and different things like that we probably read more than we had to recite, but we did have to get up and read to the class, stand up in front of the class…or even in Math, she’d make you get up and work your math out on the blackboard and everybody would watch you and see if you were doing it right. So, that’s where you learned from the class ahead of you, so when you got there it was pretty much review. Everything was done pretty much without teacher. She sat at the front of the room and she’d call you up and you’d work on the blackboard, because you wouldn’t want to mess up.

J: So you didn’t want to make any mistakes?

D: No you didn’t or you were in trouble.

J: So, it wasn’t a big deal having different grades in the same class?

D: No, it wasn’t.

J: And having to share the teacher?… When I was reading the Hart’s Lake School thing they said that they put the schedule for each grade up every day and that you just looked at it and knew what you were doing and you didn’t have any problems with that?

D: That’s exactly what it was…That’s exactly the way it was…yep…it was amazing. It probably wouldn’t work today…

[At this point in time Roger Schnepf and Brandon Brownell arrived at the school to take pictures. The Interview stopped for a short while, but the tape kept playing. Dillard insulted the boys and we all laughed. We talked a little bit…]

Michaela: What was the basement used for?

D: Oh we had a shop down there where we built, didn’t amount to much, but we built little things. As good as we could.

J: Did you guys use the gymnasium for physical education classes or just for fun?

D: We just had a basketball hoop, we played a lot of baseball.

M: Did you have any sports or clubs after school?

D: Everything we did…garbled

M: You did golf.

D: I never got in on the golf. That was before I started here… They had a little nine-hole course out there.

[Brandon interrupts to take a picture of Dillard]

J: Did you guys ever feel lonely or cut off from other people? [The Yelm of his youth]

D: Didn’t know the difference. Probably went to town once a week… something like that. Wolf’s department store, right there in the Drew Harvey Theater, that was the big place in Yelm back in those days. Everybody bought their groceries there, bought their clothes there, bought everything there. They sold everything. Cattle feed…*mumbling/garbled… And right there at Gorder’s Body Shop, that was Brown Brothers. And there was the John Deere dealership. And the Plymouth and Dodge car dealership. The original theater was over…the bowling alley, that was a theater… yeah, see that was the second one, the old one burned down. But, let’s see…the bank there on the corner, I can‘t remember the name, Timberland or something…then right next to it used to be D&H Mobile service station, so that’s an Apex grocery or something now. Say, right there was the original theater. Regular movie theater. It burnt down and then the built the one where the bowling alley is now. That was a movie theater and then the built one in Parkland and it burnt down…garbled…but they were identical theaters. They just built the theater floor up and put in the bowling alley. Try to think what else was in town. There were all kinds of things. Yelm was a pretty nice little town… But it was all basically right in that area. Across from the Drew Harvey Theater was a big meat market and right next to him was a restaurant and bar. And then, if I can remember, I was just a little kid, it was in ‘39 they had built a new highway from, they had finished it from Tenino, that was the main highway. And then they had a big get-together. I think that was around the first carnival they had. And right where the old fire station is, that was an old lot there at that time, just a narrow lot, but that’s where the first carnival was.

Forest School News 1914-15

Yelm Community Schools

The entertainment given recently by the pupils of the Forest school at McKenna and witnessed by quite a few people from this town was a big success, netting the school $18.50 to be applied on the purchase of piano and giving the attendants a most pleasant evening.

Washington Standard   May 8, 1914

A literary society was organized last Friday evening at the Forest school.  A short program was rendered and there was a debate between Mr. J. C. Conine, R. F. King, and Mr. Peters and R. S. Smith.  The subject discussed was, “Resolved, Tat the United States should own and maintain a merchant marine.”  This was enjoyed by everyone present.   There literary meeting will be held every two weeks and promises to be both instructive and entertaining and should have the co-operation of everyone in the district.

Washington Standard   October 12, 1915

Miss Eide, the primary teacher of the Forest school, was a week-end visitor with her parents in Tacoma.

Washington Standard  November 19, 1915

Education in Yelm (From: The Story of Yelm)


By Len Longmire, Mrs. F. N. Edwards and Mrs. Jack Kettleman

Introduction:  The following is an excerpt from The Story of Yelm.

At least 22 schools have served the people of this community in the cause of education, and all have at this date been incorporated into the Yelm or rainier schools.  Oldest of all was the Yelm school, which was started as a private school in the Longmire log cabin (formerly McLean Chambers’ cabin).  One day when Mr. Longmire was in Olympia, he heard a man remark that he was a teacher by profession.

“Then come and teach for me,” said the pioneer.  “You can board at my house and all your pupils will be Longmires.  My children went to school in Fountain County, Indiana, and while we were forted up in Olympia but have had no schooling since.”  The man accepted, but his name, unfortunately has been forgotten.

When a schoolhouse was finally built, sometime in the early [18]60’s it was down on Yelm Prairie, a log structure located across from the present site of the Adventist Church.  Several years later a frame building was erected here and was used also as a church and meeting place for the first Grange organization.  Very few dates are available for this period but the school was a going concern by 1872 when J. C. Conine taught the first of his four terms there.

Other teachers recalled by old-timers as having taught here are: Lou Jackson (Longmire), Amelia Ditman of Olympia, Anne Broden, Miss Shelton (Van Trump), Seymour Stone, Mrs. Stoddard, Anna Hart, Mrs. M. Alberta Johnson, Clara McKenzie, Zouy Jackson, Lizzie Waddell and Fred Brown.

The Des Chutes district school was the next in the point of time in this vicinity.  It too was a log cabin, built in 1876.  The site was later occupied by the Morehead school and was a part of the ranch known successively as the Hazlin, Medley and Jensen place.  Here the first teacher was Renny Pollard.

The second teacher proved to be the most famous ever to instruct the youth of this locality.  She was Ada Woodruff (Anderson), author of “Heart of the Red Firs” and other novels.  The scene of her books was laid in the Bald Hill country and one of the families described was the Longmire  family with whom the author boarded.  The gold mine discussed was an actual one and the disappearance was just as authentic.

Following her was Harry Garfield, nephew of James A. Garfield, at that time governor of Ohio and later president. He was a gay Lothario whom the country girls did not seem to appreciate.

Following him were Victor Bunnell; Bill Hart of San Francisco, and Harry Hart his cousin, who claimed some connection with the family of President Wm. Harrison; then Amelia Ditmana and Emma Chitman.

The families of La Blanch Reil and Chadotte Winnue, relatives of Joe Laramie; Johnny Milkain and George Leslie, nephews of Yelm Jim; Fred and Dora Berchti (McVittie); the Gardner girls, Moses Kabana and Dick Fiander
were the first attending this school.

The Des Chutes district was subsequently broken up into four schools:  Laramie, first teacher, Edith Corbett; Moorehead first teacher, Emma Chitman; Bald Hill, first teacher, Ethel Ross; Longmire, first teacher Bertie Cooper; and Hull, first teacher, Fred Grass.  These were in turn combined in the Lakamas school where a modern building was erected and where one year of high school was taught.  This building is still used as a community center.

The District School

Other schools to the North and east, but nearer to Yelm, were: Smith Prairie, Lawrence Lake (Bob Smith), Kandle (Tony), Eureka, Forest, Willow Lawn, and Hewitt (Cook); and in Pierce County, Lieber and McKenna.

West of Yelm were Wells, Rathbun-Morgan, and Lindstrum.  All three of these were at various times presided over by Mrs. Alberta Johnson, a very superior woman.  Out towards Rainier was the Mt. View School.

When the old Yelm school became so crowded that classes had to be held in the cloak room, the primary grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 were moved to a room in the home of Mrs. Anna Coates which had been furnished for their use.  This was about 1899.

Eventually, a new building was erected, but on the present site, which act cause some opposition in the town.  This two  room building was later enlarged to four, and the “shop” annex used as a classroom before the new High School was erected in 1920.