Willow Lawn #40

Willow Lawn School (Courtesy: Yelm Historical Society)


There is little information about the Willow Lawn district. Records show that J. C. Conine taught there in 1891, later serving on the board of directors. In a 1992 letter, Dallas and Marguerite Edwards wrote that Willow Lawn was built on property donated by James Longmire. More specifically, they placed the building in the area near the Five Corners intersection and Yelm Creek, east of town. It seems more likely that they meant Four Corners which would have been closer to the original Longmire farm and within the boundaries of the Willow Lawn District #40. 


District Outline Map 

School Districts – The Old Fashioned Way – The location of Willow Lawn among the districts of the area. 

Willow Lawn School

List of Teachers (1899-1918)


District #28 – Deschutes/Morehead

Local historians claim that the Deschutes School was first held in a log cabin in 1876. Renny Pollard was an early teacher at the school. The earliest document from the school is a postcard communication from 1884. In 1894 there were 19 students enrolled at the school. L. J. Byrne was serving as the teacher at that time. Three years earlier Edith Corbett, of Mt. Rainier fame, taught at the school.

The Deschutes school, District #28, was operating in 1886. Documents show that Elcaine Longmire, the clerk received a note from the county superintendent that the school’s annual report had not yet been submitted,

1894 records from District #28 tell a little more about the school. Nineteen students were enrolled that year. The students were divided into five groups with each being designated according to the “reader” they were using. The school term ran for 77 days and the school maintained a 96 percent attendance rate. The district supervisors made no bones about it, their school was not well equipped. The school did not even possess a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Needless to, say the school did not follow the curriculum prescribed by the state.

The Deschutes/Morehead district was absorbed by the newly created Lackamas District. What happened to the Morehead school immediately following this in uncertain. In 1929, however, the building was sold to private hands. The highest of the three bids was for one hundred dollars. The school building still stands and it currently used as a private home.

Documents – District #28

School Districts – The Old Fashioned Way – Map – Find the Morehead District among the other districts of the area.

District #28 – Outline Map

Postcard to Elcaine Longmire, Clerk District #28, 1886 – Address, Note

Teacher’s Contract, Edith Corbett, 1891

Record of Teacher Contracts (1892-1899) District referred to as Deschutes #28

Teacher’s Report to County Superintendent, 1894

Certificate of Special Tax Levy, July 5, 1897

Estimate of School District Tax Levy, 1909

Board Minutes, November 11, 1929 – Lackamas school board sells Morehouse school and grounds to Mrs. W. R. Whitman for $100.

Morehead school today, Smith Prairie Rd. (front), Corner, Rear

Personalized Grade Card District #28


District #70

Today the western-most school in the Yelm district is Southworth Elementary.

It is the latest in a number of schools that have been located at that site. In the 1890s the Lindstrom school was probably located there. The Story of Yelm identifies two other schools west of town, Wells and Rathbun-Morgan. Possibly these are all the same school, but known by different names during their use. In 1906 the Lindstrom District absorbed the district (#58) west of it. District #58, alternately referred to as the Reservation or Butler’s Cove District, would have been located along the Yelm Highway between Southworth Elementary and the Red Wind Casino.

One community served by the Lindstrom school was the Union Burn area. The Union Burn was located in what is now the Ft. Lewis military reservation. West of town and south of the Red Wind Casino, the Union Burn was home for a number of farmers and loggers and their families. The fact that District #58 was sometimes referred to as the “Reservation” District implies that Nisqually children might have attended this school.

The Lindstrom school takes its name from Gustaf Lindstrom. Lindstrom ran a lumber operation west of Yelm and had a house located near where the Centralia Power Canal powerhouse is now located. Lindstrom also served as clerk for the school district that bears his name from 1906-1920. One of Gustaf’s children, Evald, attended the school. One of Evald’s textbooks, Graded Lessons in English, 1909, is in the possession of his grand-daughter Emily Neat Carter.

Graham “Ikey” Wood attended the Lindstrom school in 2nd grade. In an interview in 2003 Wood recalled the schoolhouse. Like so many schools of the era it had a bell. The bell served a practical purpose. Today, the time, is standardized. Radio and television programs start at specific times. Radio shows regularly announce the time. Clocks on our “cable boxes” all show the exact same time. How different it was in the early 20th century. Certainly few children wore watches and clocks at home were set to a hodge-podge of times. The piercing sound of bell in the morning beckoned the children. There was a wood stove in the middle of the room which supplied heat. As was common in the era, children fetched the wood. Wood recalled being delivered to the school in the morning in a horse and buggy. The school served first through eighth graders.

Graham Wood could not recall any of his teachers, but earlier historians always associated W. Alberta Johnson with Lindstrom. County documents show that she worked at Lindstrom for at least one year, in 1906. Described as a “very superior woman,” she was associated by The Story of Yelm with the Lindstrom, Wells, and the Rathbun-Morgan school. This may further indicate that those names apply to one school at a particular place. Considering the population of the area it is hard to imagine three different schools operating in the area.

A little is known of the fate of the Lindstrom school. Graham Wood stated that it closed sometime in the 1920s. The Yelm District consolidated with other schools in 1921. Perhaps Lindstrom was one of those districts. What happened to the building after that is uncertain. If was truly located at the site of Southworth then its remnants are lost forever. If, on the other hand, the school was indeed located a mile and half off the Yelm Highway, its surviving wooden remains might be found covered in bramble, forgotten in time.


Outline Map of District #57

Outline Map of District #58

Map – Lindstrom District and other Neighboring Districts

Certificate of Special Tax Levy – 1893 – District #57

Record of Teacher Contracts – District #57 (1899-1905)

Record of Teacher Contracts – District #58 (1899-1902)

Outline Map of District #70

Record of Teacher Contracts – District #70 (1906-1920)


Lindstrom Family (from L – R, Sophie, Gustaf, Wilhelm, Sylvia, & Evald – Courtesy of Emily Neat Carter)

Evald’s Signature in Textbook (Courtesy of Emily Neat Carter)

Graded Lesson in English (Cover – Courtesy of Emily Neat Carter)

Graded Lessons in English (Title Page – Courtesy of Emily Neat Carter)

Table of Contents of Graded Lessons in English (Courtesy of Emily Neat Carter)

1880 – Yelm in the News

  1881 – Twenty children attended class in a one room log cabin school, purchased from Thomas McClain Chambers.  Their teacher was Mr. Dolby for a school term.  (YP) 
1888  James Longmire, capitalistRobert Longmire, general storeP. B. Van Trump, general store and hotel 
[untitled]Washington Standard   February 8, 1889 
Messrs. J. B. Jonis, R. H. Kandle and S.S. Lawrence, of Yelm, were in town this week transacting school business before the County Commissioners.  
[untitled]Washington Standard    February 22, 1889 
Messrs. John Algyer and John Montgomery, of Yelm, visited Olympia this week on district school business before the superintendent.  
Jacob Stone Probate Introduction:  Jacob Stone lived southeast of the town of Yelm.  The following information is taken from his probate record. 
Shopping at the Robert Longmire Store(money owed by Stone) 
Five visits in October 1887 – April 1889,
74 visits to the store, average nearly four times month 
Beginning Balance of $29.74October $34.64November-December $20.80
January – $17.64
February   $5.25March – $17.42
April – $23.90May to August – $131.37, Paid – $1.45 on dry goods
September (1887) -$37.99, $20 paid toward account
Paid – December 28, 1888-$9.00,
January 4, 1889-$6.00, another time $2.00$20 interest charge = $422.96  
$316 debt, paid $21.45, bought $286, paid $21.45
Total indebtedness = $422.96 The following is a list of the types of (though not quantities) of items purchased on Jacob Stone’s account at the Longmire store in Yelm
ax handle
axle grease
gloves  (it was winter)
ladies shoes 
salt petre
baking powder
sirup [sic]
oat flakes, r
olled oats
Jamaican ginger

Miscellaneous Financial Sold his personal property $486.35
Seems to have leased land for people to run their horses on
Sold J. C. Conine hay
Amos Miles rented land from him
Borrowed $500 from James Longmire in 1887
Had borrowed money from Theresa Riell 
South half of sw qtr, section 10North half of section 15, twp 16 north, range east 2 = $2500 
January 11, 1889 – doctor visit
Died January 12, 1889 
Property For Sale at Auction 

10 cows
2 three year old cattle
1 bull
6 two year old cattle
7 calves1 wagon
1 set harnesses
3 plows
2 work horses
1 scrapred?
1 joint harrow
1 revolving hay rack
½ interest in dick harrow
1 mower
1 hay knife
1 mowing scythe
1 grain cradle
3 pitch forks
2 shovels
1 hay press
1 pair of scales
2 barrels
1 crosscut saw
1 log chain
1 crowbar
1 barking iron
2 hand rakes
1 kit of horse shoeing tools
1 drawing knife
2 augers
1 brush scythe
1 brace & bits
1 pick1 stove
1 clock1 tubdishes
17 milk pans
1 churn
1 table
2 lamps
3 lanterns
1 dish fran?
Bailing rope
6 seamless jacks
3 hogs
2 dozen chicken

County Commissioners   Washington Standard   April 26, 1889 – Yelm J. A. McKenzie and P. Van Trump, Judges and John Allen Inspector.   


untitled] Washington Standard    May 3, 1889  – Mrs. Lou Jackson Longmire, of Yelm Prairie, will please accept the thanks of the OLYMPIAN for a beautiful bouquet of choice pansies. They are the largest ever seen here and are a convincing argument of the capabilities of Yelm Prairie soil. It is reported that Yelm creek is almost dry, and the like had not been known the past twenty years.  


Democratic Convention  Washington Standard    May 10, 1889 Representative Democrats from the different precincts of this county, and from the precinct of Centralia, in Lewis County, met at Columbia Hall Wednesday afternoon at 1 o’clock and transacted the following business: The Convention was called to order by John Miller Murphy, who placed in nomination E. T. Young, for chairman of the Convention. D. L. Ward elected secretary and J. A. Taylor, of Centralia assistant secretary. On motion, J. B. Landrum, John Miller Murphy, and P. B. Van Trump were appointed a committee on credentials and submitted the following report which was adopted: Yelm- P. B. Van Trump and Thos. Chambers by Van Trump, proxy. 

[untitled] Washington Standard   June 7, 1889  The hoodoo Indian doctor, from Yelm Prairie, who received a wound in the wrist sometime ago, is in town. The death of an Indian girl was attributed, by her father, to the hoodooing of the doctor. To avenge her death, the father attempted to kill the doctor, but only shot him through the wrist.  


[untitled] Washington Standard    June 16, 1889 – Several Indians are in the city today to attend District Court, as witnesses in the case of the shooting of the Indian doctor. Mr. James Longmire is in the city, and brings his usual budget of good cheer from the southwestern portion of the county.           

[untitled]  Washington Standard    June 23, 1889 – The blackberries that have been brought into Olympia from the neighboring woods since the season commenced would load a freight car.            

[untitled] Washington Standard    July 5, 1889 – Logging camps have generally shut down in vicinity of Olympia and loggers are coming into town to have a good time.            

[untitled] Washington Standard    August 8, 1889 – Mr. Henry Kandle, one of the pioneers of our Territory, now a resident of Pierce county, is on a visit to the Capital city.           

[untitled] Washington Standard    August 9, 1889 – It is reported that Yelm creek is almost dry, and the like had not been known the past twenty years.    [untitled] Washington Standard    August 9, 1889 – The house of Mr. Ed. Norman, at Yelm, was destroyed by fire, on the 30th ult., with all its contents. It caught from a forest fire while the owner was absent.            

[untitled] Washington Standard    August 9, 1889 – Willow Lawn school house, in this county, was destroyed by fire, last Tuesday. Fires are raging in every direction and great damage will be done if it does not rain soon.            

[untitled] Washington Standard    August 16, 1889 – Mr. James Longmire, of Yelm, called on the OLYMPIAN, today, and stated that the report published some days ago of the robbery of his son, at that place, was inaccurate in several particulars. The store was entered at night, and the safe opened and $1,000 taken from there. Nobody was assaulted, and the safe was opened without violence, although Mr. Robert Longmire is sure that it was locked on combination when the store was closed for the night. Two men, who had been at Yelm that day, and who bought tickets for Portland at Media next morning have not yet been apprehended.Longmire’s health resort, the medical springs at the headwaters of the Nisqually, are beginning to attract considerable attention, and there is an average attendance of twenty-five guests, at this season of the year. The springs are situated about sixty-eight miles from this city, and are reached from Yelm by horses over a good trail.            

[untitled]  Washington Standard    August 16, 1889 – A collision occurred on the Northern Pacific railroad at Yelm station a few days ago, between a freight and a coal train, which resulted in the destruction of several cars and much damage to the locomotives.

[untitled] Washington Standard    August 30, 1889 – Miss Margie Ross, of Eastside, will close her second term of school at Yelm next week, and then resume her studies at one of the schools in this city.  


1890 – Shore and O”Dell sawmill (later Shore Shingle Mill (lst in area) built on the Nisqually River.  (YP)  

1870 – Yelm in the News

A Rural Picnic – Washington Standard, June 17, 1871 The picnic goers of Yelm and Chambers’ Prairies had a pleasant time last Saturday, the tenth, at the Pattison Springs, near Chambers’ Prairie, where they found fields of sweet ripe wild strawberries.  Some people have a prejudice against native picked strawberries, and the excursionists on this occasion were choice enough to keep the sentiment in view and pick with their own hands the delicious food.  For the lovers of strawberries and cream (and who are not?) and everything that makes a picnic a gastronomical success, this was the time and place.  After the feast of good things, followed games of an intellectual and mirth-provoking character.   Many justly complain of the tedium of large gatherings, particularly of picnics, and the conclusion follows that the smaller the picnic the greater the pleasure and the longer it will be remembered.  Give me Thurston county for a PICNIC.  [Education] – Washington Standard   April 8, 1871


The following is the programme of exercises held at the Yelm Prairie School, on Friday, the 31st, at which the parents and friends of the school were present. After some general exercises in reading, geography and grammar, in which the pupils acquitted themselves tolerably well, the following compositions were read: “A Hunting Excursion,” Robert Grainger; “Yelm Prairie, and Things in General,” Mary O’Neal; “Gardens,” Rosa Girlock; “Fruit,” Willie O’Neal; “Mount Rainier,” Martha Longmire [the future wife of J. C. Conine]; “Birds,” Lizzie Lotz, and “A Letter,” by Lizzie Longmire. Then followed singing by the school, a dialogue by Lizzie and Martha Longmire, Mary O’Neal and Virinda Pollard, and the exhibition closed by declamations from Fred Girlock, Robert, Frank and George Longmire, Johnnie O’Neal, and others. A lecture on “Education” was delivered here not long ago, for the benefit of the school, and the attendance indicated that nearly all the Yelmites appreciate efforts of an intellectual character. The proceeds were invested in some school furniture, which now renders the house quite comfortable. 1874 – Moses m. Metcalf, postmaster of Fort Stevens, served from his home and store.  Former postmasters had also provided service from their homes throughout the prairie.  (From:  Yelm Pioneers)



District #43: Eureka

Seven miles south of Yelm, John Algyer , formerly of Eureka, California, homesteaded a farm in the latter half of the 19th century. Other families, the Smiths, Morrises, and Langdens, among them, followed. In the late 1880s the families constructed a school for their children. When it was formally organized in 1907 it was identified as Thurston County District #43. Locally it was known as the Eureka school.

Cleora Paine, who arrived in the area in 1889 (the year of Washington statehood), remembered that the people in the area were building a schoolhouse that year. John Alyger and his wife had donated an acre of land for that purpose and residents provided lumber and sweat equity to make their schoolhouse a reality.

According to the authors of Yelm Pioneer and Followers,1850-1950, the Eureka school was located near where Solberg Rd. intersects with 148th Ave. The school would have been located nearly in the center of the nine square mile district. John Algyer’s generosity with his land also had the effect of minimizing a student’s walk or ride to school. Still, any children on the edges of the district would have had over a mile and a half trek through the rain, forests, and mud, so common in the state. Undoubtedly, some were forced to walk uphill and through the snow, thus giving credence to the stories of our ancestors.

Records show that the school was open as early as 1891 when Elmer Ralston opened the doors on October 5. Students thus began their school year which would run through the end of Ralston’s contract five months later. Then he left the school. In fact, teacher turnover, would be a dominant feature of the school. Unable to support a family on four months pay teachers were constantly on the move from district to district and in and out of the fledgling profession. In the seven years from school opening through 1898, nine different instructors taught there. N. Morris, George Weber, R. N. True, and A. B. Smith were among those that served on the board of directors.

The Eureka District combined with the Willow Lawn District and eventually they were incorporated into the ever growing Yelm School District. (This probably happened sometime after 1913) The school is reported to have burned down in 1932.

The Eureka Church

The school also served as a church for ten years. The Eureka community worshipped there until John Algyer donated another acre of land for the erection of a church. The church was dedicated in 1899 and was affiliated with the Methodist church. J. W. Blackwell recalled in a letter in 1933 that when he arrived at Eureka in 1907 he found a “small church building . . .and a few faithful members.” Rev. Blackwell’s day of “rest, as he ironically referred to it, involved his walking seven miles from Yelm to Eureka, where he taught a Bible class and preached a sermon at 11 a.m. Following service at Eureka he packed lunch and ate it as he walked to Rainier where he repeated the process.”

Church attendance dropped off after World War I. Some of the original founders of the church had died, some families had moved looking for better livelihoods, and others headed north to the Yelm Methodist Church.

The Final Years

It is unclear when the Eureka school shut its doors or the church for that matter. The church was torn down in September 1931 and the lumber used for improvements at the Yelm Church. When Edgar Prescott wrote Yelm’s First Church he interviewed Cleora Paine, a former member of the Eureka congregation, who recalled the end:

“I went away to the city. . . . I was gone for several years and when I came back, our church was gone and our school was gone. I went around to my sister, and I asked “What in the world have has become of our church?”

She continued, “They had torn it down and used the lumber to complete the second story of the parsonage at Yelm. . . . And our bell was gone. They had given it to the Yelm church.”

There is a brief historical coda for the Eureka School. On August 14, 1946, the Yelm school board voted a resolution “authorizing return of grounds of the Eureka School Dist#43, to the original owner. The resolution “was approved and signed.” The Eureka school had come full circle.

(Information about the Eureka Church is from: Prescott, Edgar. Yelm’s First Church. Tacoma: Privately Printed, 1980)


Timber Cruiser Map of the Area – On this map in the northeast corner is the property of John Algyer. This would have been where the school was located. South of there the Eureka Church is sketched on the map.

Outline Map of the District

School Districts– The Old Fashioned Way – Map of Eureka District with other districts around it

Teachers, 1891-1898

Teachers, 1899-1913

Special Tax Levy, 1896

Special Tax Levy, 1901

Estimate of School District Tax Levy, 1909

Collins #12 (aka Freedom)

Collins #12 (aka Freedom)

Introduction: The westernmost limit of the modern Yelm school district borders that of North Thurston along the Yelm Highway near Pattison’s Lake. Along the Yelm highway, just east of Eaton Creek stands a white, two story family residence sitting among some trees on the south side of that road. This building was the last of the school houses in the Freedom, or Collins, district #12. For decades the building serviced the children of the Freedom Community. (Today often referred to as the Evergreen Valley area)

The Freedom District was originally organized in 1854 and was one of the first districts in Thurston County. The first school was made of logs and located on the corner of the Marcus McMillan homestead. Mrs. H. R. Kagy, longtime resident of the Freedom Community wrote about the school in the 1930s. She quoted at length the memories of Flora Parsons who had attended that school:

It was a low straight building with the door in one (this description was…..there) end and a large cobble stone fireplace in the other end. The chimney was made of sticks and clay. There was a row of small windows on each side. The seats were benches along the side of the wall, and there were six or seven clumsy home made desks with a shelf for books. One low bench had a back and could be moved around. It was used by the smallest children. There was no well on the grounds so each child carried his own individual water bottle which was placed on a bench in one corner of the room. When we wanted a drink all we had to do was walk over there and find our own bottle. My recollection is that we were permitted to drink when ever we wished. There was quite a rivalry among the pupils as to who had the finest bottle. There was a ball around in front and teeters on the fence back of the house.

According to Parsons about a dozen children attended the school during her time there. The log cabin was abandoned in 1869 when a new frame school was erected on the property of William Parsons, southeast of Long Lake. The first teacher at that school was Maggie O’Neal, daughter of Abijah O’Neal of Yelm.

With most of the students living in the southern end of the Freedom District the above school was moved. This time it was located near old Fort Eaton on the road to Yelm. H. R. Kagy recalled that event:

The building was blocked up on rollers and hauled to the new location. It was somewhat wrecked but was repaired and used until the present building was erected. Some of the happiest days of my life were spent in that old school building. The days were never so stormy but what we were glad to walk a mile and a half to school rather than miss a day. The old log forts were our play houses. Two of them were still standing at that time.

In 1917 a new school was built. That building still stands on the south side of the Yelm Highway. The school contained two classrooms and usually employed two teachers. One of the teachers there was Harry Southworth.

The Collins District was eventually broken up with part of it joining the North Thurston District and part of it being consolidated with Yelm District #400. Yelm School Board Minutes from November 29, 1950 contain the following:

Collins school board Mrs. Boyles, Phil Layne, and H. F. Hastings met with the Yelm board to discuss the proposition of consolidating the Collins school district and the transfer of some of Collins to Lacey. After considerable discussion it was decided that Yelm board would all try to be present at the reorganization hearing on Dec. 11, 1950 at the courthouse in Olympia. The Yelm board also indicated that should consolidation take place they would be willing to maintain two teachers at Collins as long as the attendance warranted it.

Collins continued to operate within the Yelm District for several years, but by the mid 1950’s the school was headed for the same fate as the Lackamas School. Board minutes from 1955, read, in part, “A group from the Collins area came to protest any action to close the Collins School. After and extended discussion Chairman Phillips called for a motion to decide the issue.” They were unsuccessful in their attempt to keep the school open. The Yelm board of directors had decided it was more cost effective to bus the students from the Freedom Community to Yelm Elementary, than to keep the building open. Eventually the building was sold to a family, marking the end of the Collins District.


Collins District #12, outline map

Collins District Map

Record of Teacher’s Contracts, 1899-1916

Collins School Students (Courtesy of the Lacey Museum)

Collins School Students (Courtesy of the Lacey Museum)

Collins School Students (Courtesy of the Lacey Museum)