Obviously, some very important government officials thought school age kids that lived on fox farm islands should be able to go to school like ones who lived in big towns like Sitka, and get educated. Juneau legislators decided to consider it an “emergency” and something that needed to be done immediately. They said when folks established a school district, the Board of Education could set aside as much as $2,500 to pay for the construction of and equipment for a school house.
A petition to establish a school district had to be signed by at least eight adults who lived in the area. Each had to be a U.S. citizen (or a resident who declared the intention to become one) and of course, live within the boundaries of their school district. We haven’t seen a copy of the petition but most likely Dr. Goddard, his wife, daughter Winn, along with CJ, Gretta, Seth & Edna Mills, Adolph Thompson and contractor Ed Harris were some of the ones who signed a required document. Obviously the Clerk of the Court thought it was an awesome request.
The May 1925 Alaska School Bulletin said this new school district near Sitka had been established at Goddard, it was supposed to open on April 15th and about ten students would probably be taught by Miss Winn Goddard.
So special schools could be built in places where there were fewer “white” children than required by law for the establishment of a rural school. This was outside an incorporated town, places like where our family lived in the Goddard area. There did have to be at least six white children between 6 and 17 years old and they could teach kids from kindergarten up to 10th grade in order to keep getting help from government to pay the cost.
On January 12th, 1927, the Territorial Department of Education opened a bid to build this 16 x 24 foot school building on the shore of Hot Springs Bay. Ed Harris won the award for $1,149 and had to complete construction by April 2nd that same year.
He hired Claude Huff February 5.th On the 19th, Grampa (Chris Jackson) was working with our Uncles Ole and Happy to get a house built on Legma Island for the family. He also helped clear land and set the school foundation.There was work every day in March except for the 8th, when they got a foot of snow! Several other fox farmers were also helping the Huffs, including the CJ Mills family, Seth Mills and his wife, along with Will Harris and his girls, at this new school site.
Additionally, on March 19th, Forest Service Ranger George Peterson noted in his diary that he left Sitka with a trail crew at 10:30 in the morning and got out to Goddard at 12:25. He showed the men what he needed for this trail to go from the school house to Goddard’s springs. They left Goddard at 4:28 P.M. and arrived back to Sitka at 6:36 p.m. and noted: 11-8 hrs. Wow! So eleven guys and travel time—to and from the job…. Impressive!
A “property card” for the Territorial School was applied for that day and issued six months later, September 29th. That was for 1.12 acres ¾ miles south of Goddard on the shore of Hot Springs Bay. Best of all there was no annual lease charge. In the middle of March, about the same time Nanny and the children moved out to Legma, Uncle Happy helped build the woodhouse for the school. (It’s the smaller building on the left in CJ Mill’s photo. School doors (actually the one door) opened only two days late, on April 4th. But realistically, that was a lot of work they did get done in less than three months!
George’s report cards on display at Sitka Museum included his first day of school, which was April 4th 1927. Records also say it was Don Huff’s (from Elovoi) 1st day at school and Ms. Alta Smith was the teacher who signed out the last day on October 13th.
Going to school every day in this brand new school house on Goddard was very exciting. We aren’t sure if George got picked up by the School Boat or if Grampa took him. Nanny couldn’t have taken him because she had preschoolers at home; there weren’t any day care centers available in the area, and most dads didn’t share child care. Plus, she didn’t run the boat or row the skiffs, cause she never had to. JoAnn could have rowed them over but then they would have had to tie in Gertie and Polly so they wouldn’t fall out, because Don Huff made a note in his diary that the seas were really rough that particular day.
The new one-room school was big enough for ten desks, and there was a store room, but they didn’t have any running water or an inside potty. All the view windows were on the ocean side of the building with five green shades and a beautiful view. They had a nice heating stove that needed wood, which cost $10 a cord (800 pieces). WOW! Today a cord of wood usually sells for about $125!
Gas lamps were used for lights. Most likely it would have never happened but just in case there was a fire or too much smoke in the building they were required to have fire drills at least twice a month. The rules said fire drills (weather permitting) but it’s hard to believe there was ever a day with weather so bad they couldn’t do a drill. Right?
On April 10th, the Forest Service trail crew, including Fireman Hansen, was back to do the final required work. Obviously there needed to be more details about the size of the school site since Officer Peterson also needed to submit a measurement of the trail and to survey the school lot, which he did on a Sunday, going out to the island at 9:30 and getting back to Sitka at 5:15.
All students attending had to bring their lunch to school because it was way too small for a cafeteria and they sure couldn’t afford to go over and buy something at the Goddard Hotel. The Jackson kids always had snack veggies like carrots, sandwiches on homemade bread (of course) with rolla polsa (venison), salmon, or peanut butter and jelly. It was also the best time of the year to fill up on fresh ripe berries, and usually there were plenty of those bushes right outside in their “playground” between school and the beach.
My Aunt Gertie was five years old when she started school. She does say the first day when she had to go to the bathroom (of course it was an outhouse) and wasn’t tall enough to reach the latch, she had to get someone to help her. It has always been remembered as one of the most embarrassing and traumatic days of going to school when the family was living on fox farms. She also remembers how many of the other kids ate seagull eggs. Her mom couldn’t believe how “different they tasted” and didn’t think they made cookie dough work very good either. Polly, 15 months younger than her sister Gertie, remembered she always had to sit at the front desk in the classroom because she was in kindegarten and she always had to work on cards and count as far as the calendar went. She thought that was definitely some of the hardest work.
Cora Mills always wondered what the heck the teacher had been dropping down “the bathroom hole” that was always all wrapped up. They thought it (napkin) was indeed secret and didn’t know why. She also never forgot the one drum stove set in the middle of the room.
No evidence (pictures or tapes) was found but most likely the students had some kind of concert for their parents and maybe even invited guests at Goddard Hot Springs. She was the only teacher that included a grade for their Effort and took the time and explained what G, (good) E (excellent) and F (fair) letters meant. School started on April 15th, and the last day was October 25th 1929. This year, new additions to our school law said it needed to be open a total of 20 days each month and also that “School Age” meant a student had to be 6 years old that year or would be that age on or before February 1st of the next year. Plus, now they required TWO fire drills every month of a school year and a U.S. flag had to be on or near the building during school hours. Even leaving one on display all the time would be fine too!
1930: We don’t have a student or teacher photo for this school year.
There is an Annual Report that the teacher has to turn into the Commissioner of Education at the end of the school year. The general statistics submitted by Ms. Garrison, the teacher in 1930, did report there were 5 boys and 1 girl (Gramma Jo) attending Goddard this year! Both George (10 years old) and Hannah (JoAnn) (9 years old) were going to be “passed up” to the next grade.
The school was only three quarters of a mile southeast of the Goddard Hot Springs Hotel. There were always awesome and famous guests who came from all over the world and lots of times a teacher, like Ms. Garrison, in 1930, would ask them to visit the classroom and talk about their travels. The last day of school that year was in the last week of October which seems kind of late, because usually weather can get pretty bad and water really rough, for the School Boat rides that time of year.
In 1932, eight kids started on March 28th for 139 days of school. Gertie Jackson, at age 6, was there every day with her brother and sister and she was promoted to first grade. When she talks about it today, she does remember her mom would not have been against any native youth attending their school but there weren’t any in their class for some reason.
It’s a good thing it wasn’t required that six students had to attend every single day because sometimes none or only a few students could make it to school. One sample was August 4th, 1933. George, JoAnn, and Polly Jackson and Don Huff were the only students at school because on this particular day, all six of the Mills kids (and Gertie Jackson) stayed home sick with the flu!
Don Huff said he was never going to forget the last day of school that year, 1933, which was October 6th, because not only did everybody pass up to the next grade, they all got a treat of candy as their “honor”- WOW! Pretty Special!
She also said in her 1931 report that even though the school building was really small, it was secure and warm and fine for the number of children attending, and unless they had a big population increase, it would be good for many years and the location was satisfactory.
When she was asked about the community providing aid to the school - things like playgrounds, play sheds or a gym, other buildings, etc. - she said there weren’t any needs-- obviously the kids were just fine playing on the beach and in the trees.
Obviously she liked the area. She said it was “very good fishing grounds near here” and, she was ok posing for a picture while holding a gun. (Very cool!) Our Aunt Gertie also remembers her as being a very “excellent” teacher dealing with most of the students who did not have an easy time speaking English “properly” all of the time.
Basically, from our family records, all the teachers they knew were “so knowledgeable;” they had a very “holistic approach” to education; always really good responding to the students; were liked and excited too with positive thinking and could hardly wait to get to their job at the school.
We’re not sure how much Grampa and Nanny had to pay for the kids to be picked up by the school boat. They didn’t keep a record about that expense like Mr. Huff did. Apparently CJ Mills had the contract to provide school transportation from 1926-1931 for $15 a month. Their teen-age daughter Ruth operated their boat named Midget. Sometimes her mom ran it. Fuel cost in September 1927 was $1.24 a gallon. I don’t know if the amount charged each of the families depended on how far they were from the school but if it was, the Thomsens would have had to pay the most.
In 1929, an Article 15 was added the Education chapter in the state Constitution that dealt with the transportation of pupils. It said the Board of Education would let a school board enter a contract for transportation to and from school for the kids who lived more than two miles from the school they were required to attend. Going to school by boat was one added expense to the budget the Jacksons hadn’t planned for and there were a lot of days Grampa gave the Huffs fish when they were providing school transportation. Most impressive of all and obviously one of the best examples of the on-time transportation anyone could ever believe, boating students to the school was so effective for the Jackson students, not one was ever tardy one day of the entire 1934 school year which lasted all the way to October 12th.
The Thomsen family lived on Biorka Island (the farthest away - about six miles to the west from the school) and Anna would have to row and anchor her skiff out a ways from the beach in front of where they lived to be picked up. She told us there were a lot of days the water was pretty rough. One time it was so rough when she was waiting in the skiff, it capsized. Her dad rescued her and she definitely didn’t go to school that day. Well, no kidding!
Adolf Thomsen was the only one who bid for the school bus in 1932 and picked up all the other kids on March 28th on his way into Goddard. In 1934 Grampa and his brother Sig went over to Claude Huff and asked if he would take the kids to school. (Not sure why they didn’t think Mills should—maybe he was charging more ?) Claude said yes but it was going to be $5 a day more than last year. (Really? $5 a DAY—no that can’t be right!) A week after school started on April 2nd, 1934, Sig hauled the children until Claude took over, after he had an exam for the contract on May 16th.
Don Huff wrote in his diary “took kids to school”, and it seems like there were quite a few days he had to because his dad had problems with the boat he ran. It was a 15 or 16 foot, steel, gas-powered boat which he bought from a Russian priest. Eleven times Anna stayed with the Huffs because the water was so rough they couldn’t take her home to Biorka.
School Bus Transportation Costs and Bus Drivers:
(From the Claude Huff Diary)
Contract with CJ Mills 1926-1931-- $15 per month Fuel= $1.14/gallon
Operated by daughter Ruth
May 31st Started taking Don Mills to school
July 12th Paid $2.25 for hauling Don to school
August 16th paid $3 for hauling Don
July 21st Paid CJ Mills $4.80 for hauling Don to school
Aug 21st Paid Ruth Mills $3.75
Sept 17th Paid $2.65 for hauling Don 7 times
1929: Huff-- $100 paid off in June
Claude November 13, 1929—got paid for last 2 months hauling to school
1930: Put school route bid notices and take letters
March 18 1932:
Adolf Thomsen was the only one who bid for school bus in 1932 & picked up all the other kids on March 28th on his way into Goddard
April 13, 1933: 30 degree; hard storm; Thompsen school boat @ 9:30
1934: Mills was going to take all the kids to school again
Claude said yes but will be $5 more a day than last year
(really, $5? A day?)
A week after school started on April 2nd Sig hauled the kids until Claude took over
May 16th 1934— Huff had a physical exam for school contract
May 28th—Fair Rough school run; picked up Anna Thompson at South Biorka Harbor
June 4th—Claude paid Mills $25 for first week of school run
June 22nd—surf bad—Claude had to get Anna off beach at Biorka
July 16th Jackson hauled kids to school on Sea Star
July 24th—Huff driver into town for field trip in evening
We have a few of Uncle George and my mom JoAnn’s Report cards:
First card was a 2nd grade in 1929 for Uncle George that shows he did really good and was promoted to Grade 3 when they finished in October; teacher Miss Julia McCaus signed. His first Report Card for Grade 1 in 1927, at the fancy school building described in the first section of this part of the story. His first day of school was April 4th with a teacher named Ms. Smith. Even though he did get lots of excellent and very good evaluations in all industry and deportment, he didn’t get passed up to second grade. Obviously she thought his grammar should be better. So he just moved up to grade 1A.
Amazing that in Grade 1A, he didn’t have to take drawing; got three excellent and three good and was still excellent in industry and deportment. Industry probably included activities like woodworking, construction projects and trapping for guys and things like sewing, cooking and preserving food for girls.
Our Gramma, Nanny’s, # 1 priority, was the perfect attendance. They only counted ½ day of being absent and he only missed two the first year and three the second, most likely because of the weather. Just to make sure he was evaluated correctly, Ms. Whitmore included a note on his grade 1A report card that “promotion was certain!” Wow—maybe he took her cookies or a nice thank you card.
We don’t have all of Mom’s (JoAnn’s) We also found out that “Deportment” probably meant things like behavior and hygiene because they said there was a big emphasis in Territorial Schools on promoting cleanliness.
Children were expected to be well groomed, wear clean clothes, and sometimes teachers would even inspect their homes. “We never did hear about that happening out here at Goddard.” Wow! And Check this out—our Mom, JoAnn, was identified as Hannah. That was her name in the 1929 Census, and three years later when she was in the 5th grade at the Goddard School in 1932 that was her name, and I think it was listed that way because that’s how folks said the Norwegian name- Yohawna.
Next post: The Jackson Family Moves to Tava Island