October 10, 2009

LITTLE BITTY SCHOOL HOUSE





In September, we took a trip out West and among other things, one of the highlights of our trip for me was a visit to Ft. Bridger in Wyoming. Ft. Bridger lies 124 miles from Salt Lake City. It was very warm that day and we were told that the college students who usually man the different buildings on the fort had returned to school, but we would be able to see the interiors of the fort through Plexiglas and possible enter a few of the buildings, like the jail.




I was especially intrigued with the small building of the restored school house which was painted white as it was historically. It was the first school house ever in the state of Wyoming in 1860. Judge William Carter was appointed as the Army’s fort Postmaster at Ft. Bridger. He established the school for his four daughters and two sons in order that they would be educated and in compliance to meet college entrance standards without further preparation into colleges such as Vassar and Cornell. Only the best instructors in the East were employed.



 In my photograph, the right side of the building was only one room, barely large enough to accommodate the teacher’s desk, blackboard, and four student desk. The building attached on the left was the milk room. I took this picture of the interior through the window since it was closed because of lack of student volunteers. It was like stepping back in time as I wondered how hard it must have been to keep warm in the winter. Just down the walk was the parade ground. Behind the school were the fort’s stables and where the wagons were kept. Housed in the same square was a stable for the pony express. In the same area was the dining hall and commissary. Ft. Bridger was one of the stops for the Mormons along the Oregon Trail.








It was hot the day we were there and the air very still and silent. I could just hear the children’s happy voices as they made their way to the little school house where the teacher awaited them with her prepared lessons, while the soldiers, busy with morning drill and activities, paused to greet the children as they sauntered by. I stood and marveled that these buildings were still preserved after all these years, and contemplated a simpler time that allowed one to hear the morning trill of a nearby bird perched on the fence, the wind howling around the outpost promising another harsh winter in the offing with the only real concerns were of possible Indian attacks or snowstorms. No cell phones, computers, twitter, radios or TV’s to occupy them or cars clogging the peaceful prairie roads. I wonder if I would have been strong enough mentally and physically to endure what the pioneers were able to withstand. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the history so much and being able to write novels about a different era.



It was said of Judge Carter that he was a man of culture, devoted to science and literature. He was generous and his hospitality knew no limits. He gave of his time and means to advance his home community and Wyoming has him to thank for the first school in their state. Fort Bridger remained U.S. Government property until 1890. In 1933, the property was dedicated as a Wyoming Historical Landmark and Museum.

I could tell you so much more about the history of Ft. Bridger and Judge Carter, and perhaps I’ll revisit it again in another post. Mainly because right now I’m in the middle of galleys for book 3, A Love of Her Own in my Heart of the West series and have a book signing in Kennesaw tomorrow. So much history…so little time.

HAPPY TRAILS

7 comments:

Tina Dee Books said...

Loved hearing about the schoolroom and how/why it was started.

Great pics too.

Wouldn't it be a treat to go back in time, but what about those historical figures you mentioned coming forward in time to see what's become of all they did? I wonder if they'd be shocked to see things still standing and even being preserved, even their own names, deeds, and words.

Thanks for a great post, Maggie! Happy trails to you as you go through your galleys!

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Thanks, Tina. I'm always thrilled to take a step back in time. I think the historical men and women would be surprised at the interest and care to preserve what they started--and proud!I will blog more about Ft. Bridger later on.

Lynne said...

So fun to see a bit of the old West, and your picture of the inside of the school was great considering it was taken through plexiglass!

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Wow, Maggie! You got some great pix! Have you ever been to Westville located in Lumpkin, GA? It's really neat ~ you would probably love it! Here's the link:

http://www.westville.org/

Thanks ~ Lori

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Lynne, did you click on the interior picture? You can actually see inside much better if you do. I wish I could've been there when it was hosted by a student. I was able to go inside the homes of the commanding officer, etc. and most of those photos came out really good.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Hi, Lori. No I haven't been there, but I'll check out the site. Thanks!

April said...

Great pics and great post.
tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com