The Highland School


By Ruby Lee Buhler with V. Keith Adamson and Nida Adamson Hall

Additional information from many other sources

Church-early 1945 Highland 1st School_small.jpg


The original Highland School was a one room school built in 1888 on the Southeast corner of 6000 W. and 10400 N. on land provided by John Hegan, the original homesteader. All the grades were together at first but they later partitioned it off with a curtain into two rooms and we had a lady teacher for the younger grades. The first lady teacher was Miss Amelia Osterloh from Lehi. She drove her buggy up, in the winter thru the blizzards, to get to school. This was much concern for the students as they watched for her in the storms. When winter was here for good, and it was bitter cold, she stayed at the home of Mrs. Duffin, a blind lady who lived on the northwest corner from the school across the street. Later, as spring came on, she went back to driving horse and buggy. She being the first lady teacher we'd ever had, we really looked forward to her and thought she was really nice. Mr. Simmonds taught the older ones, also Mr. Orville C. Day. Other teachers were: James C. Orr (is recorded as the first teacher although there may have been earlier ones), Mrs. Temple, Francis L. Rasmussen, Rachel Hood, Miss Vance, George T. Burridge, Minnie Oberhansley (who married Laurence Harmon), George C. Scott, Mrs. Nicholes, Ariel Jensen (1917 - 19), Rosa Abel, Alice Miller, Mr. DuBois, Fern Jennette Brown Russon (wife of Lott Erastus), and Helen Smith. In 1893 a school board was formed with George Y. Myers as President and Stephen Moyle and William Wilcox as members. By 1907, Hyrum Harmon and Amanda Beck had replaced the last two as members.

In the bitter winter weather the students would watch for the teacher. She'd be so late in coming they'd worry that she wasn't going to make it. The big, larger boys would stand out and watch for her, then call to the students to let them know. They'd rush out and help her into the building, unharness the horse, and put it in the stable on the north side of the school. Some of the students didn't get to come to school on the worst days. The ones that were further away up towards the canyon were hauled in a covered wagon. Anyone that lived two miles away got to ride. When the bell would ring for school to start they'd line up on the west side of the porch railing along the cement sidewalk and keep time. Especially they loved to mark time. The teacher would count them off as they marched into the room; maybe someone played music of some kind as they marched in.

They had some fine times at recess. Sometimes Mr. Day would get so enthused with the games that he forgot to ring the bell. He'd be out there playing with them, like baseball or steal the stick, when all of a sudden he'd realize it and tell them to come quickly so they could get started on the lessons.

Those good old days they had real fun times in Highland. It was hard to get to school, and hard to get home, but they always loved that old school house in the spot where the Highland church now stands. The old adobe brick is still in the framework of the present building. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the building from Alpine School District in 1930 for $300 to use as a church house. David H. Adamson was the trustee of the Highland School at the time, also Louis Strasburg and others.

About 1915 they built another room onto the east side of the building, making a porch on the south side where we could hang our coats. We would then go through double doors to either room, with a little library and place to store desks in the middle. The five grades of the school had a row for each grade. The older ones helped the younger ones with their reading. They did many things as a group and other things as a grade. But all had recess together and lunch time. They all brought a sandwich from home wrapped in a newspaper, perhaps deviled meat or fried egg and salad dressing on homemade bread. There was no lawn to sit on, only the ditch bank or the cement walk. There were no trees or shrubs, a few trees on the north side along the ditch and fence by the stable. Quite a few had horses to ride to school, but mostly everybody walked, and it wasn't a hardship because everybody did it.

By now they were having eight grades, the three older ones on one side and the five younger ones on the other. George C. Scott, who later taught school in American Fork High School, was the Principal at this time. Mrs. Nicholes was one of the few lady teachers, especially a married lady, who taught in those days. Her husband was disabled and she needed the work to support the family.

They had a well outside that they hand pumped the water from in a bucket. They also had two outdoor toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls. They both had a shield around so no one could see in. The boys used to chase the girls a great deal in those days and they'd run for refuge into the girl's toilet…so they'd dare each other to see who'd go closest to the girl's toilet and maybe pound on the wall so they'd scream. Whoever could do that made a lot of points for the game…great fun.

Another game they played was "Annie-I-Over". They'd divide up sides and one group would stand on one side of the school building and one on the other and they'd throw the ball up over the roof and call "Annie-I-Over". As the ball came down on the other side some one would catch it and the whole team would run around the school one way or the other, we'd never know which way they would come, they would throw the ball and try to hit us to make points for them. This one time we both went for the same corner and kamash!! We knocked our heads together and fell down…watta game.

Other times they'd play baseball, rounders, or choose sides. Also play hopscotch, or the boys played marbles, the girls played jump the rope. In later years when they didn't use the stable for horses, the kids would play there at recess.

They all used to go on May walks when the weather was good. They would braid the Maypole for the 24th of July celebration. Kids nowadays wouldn't know what that is.

In the winter time they'd go down to the canal at noon and skate on the ice in the canal. We were called to school by a school bell which the teacher would bring outside and ring in her hand. The canal was quite far away and sometimes we'd act like we didn't hear it, so we could play longer, and they'd have to send someone down to tell us it was quitting time.

One time on April Fool's Day the older boys got there early and hid the bell, so when it came time to call us in for school that morning, Mr. Scott came out with a bucket and pounded on it with a stick to call us in. Then when it came time for recess there was no bell to ring to release them for recess. He made it known then, unless the bell showed up there'd be no noon, so the bell was soon brought back.

Out on the east side was a big ditch bank that was the main place to play. They'd dig tunnels back into this ditch bank and take little sardine cans and tie strings on them to pull them through the tunnels to a place where they could spill dirt down into them to fill them up. Then they found a way to blast!! One boy brought some 22 shells to school. They would wrap them in newspaper and poke them way back in the tunnel and light the newspaper. The shell would explode and blow the dirt up. A girl told the teacher and this boy had to lay his hands across the desk so the teacher could rap him across the knuckles with a ruler. One lesson learned!!

Another lesson we learned from this teacher was that when they misbehaved she'd have them lay their heads down on the desk. One day the whole room was being disciplined. She told us all to put our heads down and not to raise them until she told us to, then she walked out. After she left of course we all raised our heads….when we heard her coming back we all put them down again fast, because none of us could go home 'til she said. She came back into the room and asked, "Alright, all who raised their heads while I was gone, raise your hand." Only one boy was brave enough to raise his hand. She said, "O.K. you are excused to go home, the rest will have to stay longer."

Just south of the school was the old well where we could pump us a drink of water with the old hand pump when we needed one. The school was heated by wood and coal in an old pot-bellied stove. Someone had to come early in the morning and build the fire to get the room warmed in the wintertime. Winters were fierce and bitter cold on Highland in those days - not the mild ones we have now. The snow would blow and cover up the fences. Water in a bucket in the school would have ice on it some days.

This building was the center of activity in Highland. Church was held here on Sundays. The socials and weddings with Carter's Orchestra from Lehi playing for dances in the evening were always well-attended. Many banquets were cooked and served there as good cooks were plentiful.

About 1927 they started busing the Highland children to American Fork, Harrington Elementary, to go to school and no more school was held on Highland until the new Highland Elementary was built in 1979. They were driven down there in a wagon pulled by horses from two or three different areas, as it was thought they would have more advantages in a larger school.


School bus Jitney

Picture & information courtesy of Jennie Wild of Alpine & Keith Adamson of Highland.  Pictured: Elizabeth Wilkins

The mode of transportation for the first students of American Fork High School from Alpine and Highland was rather unique. Don C. Strong Sr. fixed up a sheep camp wagon and with a good team of horses and drove them to school rain or shine. The students arose very early to make it to school on time. They left soon after daylight and arrived home about dark, it being six miles from Alpine and four miles from Highland. In the winter, a stove was set up in the wagon to keep them warm. After a year or two, Sterling Devey and Ralph Strong drove for a while, John Healey for a few months. Ralph drove his father's team and wagon. During school hours they would 'put up' in Chipman's lumber yard. They had a good old time riding back and forth. One time some Alpine boys pulled a prank of blowing up a bridge after they had crossed over it, then were in fear of punishment, they got it!!

Leonard Bates made more modern transportation - a GMC panel truck with wire sides and curtains to pull down in bad weather through the winter. Seats were made of 2 x 12's along the sides. However, there weren't many students from Alpine and Highland.

About 1920 Benjamin Bates and his sons ran a blacksmith shop in American Fork, ideal for a bus driver. He built a truck body that had a double bench down the middle and one on each side. This held about 40 people. The seats were covered with padded canvas. Windows ran along the sides, with a door in back. You stepped up on a high step by holding onto a handle to get up in. The daring ones would ride on the steps for a ways, but if you got caught you would have to walk home as that was against the rules. Also, if you were caught fighting, you were put off the bus to walk also. We didn't do that too often.

Vernal Bates, from Alpine, drove a few years. Then after he died, Russ Bates drove 'til they gave up the contract. They would drop the students off at the High School on the Hill, then go down to American Fork Main Street and work at their Blacksmith shop 'til time to pick up the load at the close of the school day. Highland students called it a "Jitney." Such good memories! As time passed, larger and better buses became available; the school district purchased the buses and hired the drivers.

Picture and information courtesy of Jennie Wild of Alpine and Keith Adamson of Highland. Pictured: Elizabeth Wilkins

Source: HIGHLAND HISTORY: A compilation by Charles T Greenland II for the Highland Historical Society


Highland Historical Society Home Page
Highland Historical Society Mission Statement
Highland History Chapters (compiled by: Charles T Greenland II):

  1. Highland History
  2. The 1st Highland LDS Ward
  3. History of Highland by Cora Beck Adamson
  4. Highland Residents Poem by Cora Beck Adamson
  5. Ecclesiastical History by Cora Beck Adamson
  6. Record and History of the Highland Sunday School by Ruby B. Day
  7. Highland Oldsters by O.C. Day 1959
  8. Highland Ward History by Beth Roundy Day Hyde 1954
  9. Early Recollections of Highland by Della Miller Hatch
  10. Beloved Highland by Jean Day Perkins 2005
  11. History of the Highland Church by Eva Buhler Turner 1991
  12. Water
  13. Mining
  14. The Highland School
  15. Electricity Comes to Highland
  16. Peas and Peaviners in Highland
  17. Famous Feature
  18. The People

Highland Family Histories
1958 Highland Aerial Map 
1958 Highland Homes and Families (table with addresses)
Homesteaders' Map
Highland Censuses (and LDS Ward Membership List)
Link to: David T. Durfey 1992 Master's Thesis - Aberrant Mormon Settlers: The Homesteaders of Highland, Utah