Prather’s Pick: Remembering the Morapos School
This week, when I was checking the cattle up at Morapos, I drove past the schoolhouse where my siblings and I attended school. I went to school there from first grade through eighth grade, then attended high school in Craig. The school is on family property, just down the road from the ranch.
The first couple of years of my schooling were spent in an old log schoolhouse. I don’t remember much about those years except that the teacher had to care for the wood and coal stove to keep us warm during the winter. Lots of community residents went to school there as children. Some of them rode their horses to school and tied them up in a sort of barn there during the day. Our mother, Julia Osborn, taught school there (during that time, she met our father, Kenneth Osborn). When I was in third grade, a new school was built, the same school that stands there today.
Next to the school is the teacherage. It’s the name given to the building where the teacher lived. (I’m not sure if “teacherage” is a real word, because I can’t find it in the dictionary.) In earlier years, the teachers lived with neighborhood families, but then, one year (my siblings and I am not sure when), the families got together and obtained a one-room house. As far as we know, it came from one of the old oil field camps. Later, another room was added on.
During the time I attended Morapos School, the teachers were all women and none of them had cars. They stocked up on supplies and had to ride to Craig with neighborhood residents if they needed something. I was always intrigued by the teacher’s life.
The teacherage has a kitchen that was furnished with a gas stove, table and chairs, a Hoosier-type cupboard for dishes, and a little washstand. My brother, Duane, remembers Dad telling him that, at one time, the teacherage had running water pumped into the building. But, there were other times water was hauled in.
The other room is a bedroom that was furnished with a bed, dresser, closet, and gas heater. There wasn’t room for much more. At least once, when our cousin Patty taught at the Morapos School, I got to stay overnight in the teacherage. I can remember listening to the radio after we went to bed.
In those days, there was a school board for each country school. The county superintendent’s office, located in the courthouse, was headquarters for the schools. The county superintendent was responsible for ordering books and deciding on curricula, testing, and so forth. The superintendent visited our school at least once per year, and the school board was responsible for hiring and paying the teachers. I can recall the book of warrants; our mother once had the job of filling out the warrants to pay the teachers.
The school board interviewed teachers during the summer. I remember one of them came from Denver, but some were local. Some stayed more than one year, but when we had a new teacher, we kids were nervous about the first day of school. More about the first day of school next week.
The history of Northwest Colorado has no shortage of fascinating characters. A.G. and Augusta Wallihan are no exception.