Just as the end of the year school picnics were held back in the old days of country school, people can bring their favorite dish, hot or cold, to share with others. All Morrison County rural school students, teachers and friends are invited to attend. Plates, cups, napkins, silverware and beverages will be furnished — perhaps even a dish of ice cream to go with bars and cookies that may come in. There will be a $1 cover charge to handle the cost of items furnished.
The annual district picnic was not only a celebration of the students completion of another school year, but a highlight opportunity for all adults of the area to enjoy a community gathering with parents involved in a possible spring cleanup of the grounds and/or a ball game. Picnics and the Christmas program were probably the two main highlights of the school term when the school became, or very close to, standing room only, with an ample supply of food brought in for both events. A school day afternoon or Halloween and Valentine’s Day parties ran a close second in anticipation for the students, which also included treats mothers sent to school to be enjoyed with nectar or Kool Aid.
Morrison County eventually had 151 organized rural schools beginning with the first in 1855, in Belle Prairie Township. Many of them operated throughout the years until 1971, when the State of Minnesota closed the remaining schools that were still educating rural area students. One can only guess how many teachers and students passed through the eight grades of the many rural schools dotting the countryside.
It is the third building of Morrison County’s first School District, organized while Minnesota was still a Territory, that was moved to the Morrison County Fairgrounds in 2002, and serves as a memorial to all Morrison County rural schools, their teachers and students.
This historic rural school followed years of education taught first in a log cabin, then a stick built building which burned, and finally the 1875 structure, now on the fairgrounds. There were 96 consecutive years of education in that building before it closed as mandated in 1971; the building now is 137 years old. In the building’s 10 years on the fairgrounds there have been an undeterminable number of past rural school students and otherwise interested visitors which have passed through the school either recalling the years they may have attended a similar school as a youngster or simply interested in early rural school history.
The school can be open when other events are being held on the fairgrounds or by calling June Brutscher (320) 745-2280 or Dorothy Lindquist at (320) 632-6082 for opening.
The sixth annual Rural Teachers Tea will be held in the afternoon of Tuesday, July 24, in the school on the fairgrounds beginning at 2 p.m. The tea is open to any of the women and men who have taught in a rural school anywhere. A reservation can be made by calling either of the telephone numbers above.