Early local teachers came to RBC for work, found love

The Lime Kiln Schoolhouse, constructed in 1917, is seen here in 1929 with Eleanor Kugler Service in the doorway. Lime Kiln Schoolhouse is one of 39 school in operation within the county in the past century and most assuredly played a role in the romance of one or a couple school teachers who came into the area to teach.

Presenting skits of 1900s teachers in Rio Blanco County on Sunday at Kilowatt Korner, the Meeker Arts and Cultural Committee joined with the Rio Blanco County Historical Society to portray romances that occurred here in the early and middle parts of the 20th century. Playing the husband in all three skits was Gary Zellers, right. Playing the three school marms were, from left, Sena Zellers, Josie Drussel and Sember Leatham.
Presenting skits of 1900s teachers in Rio Blanco County on Sunday at Kilowatt Korner, the Meeker Arts and Cultural Committee joined with the Rio Blanco County Historical Society to portray romances that occurred here in the early and middle parts of the 20th century. Playing the husband in all three skits was Gary Zellers, right. Playing the three school marms were, from left, Sena Zellers, Josie Drussel and Sember Leatham.
MEEKER I The Rio Blanco County Historical Society and its Rural School Committee teamed with the Meeker Arts and Culture Council Sunday, April 6, to portray “Rural School Days,” a fun and informative historic presentation.
The presentation took place at Kilowatt Korner, located on the northwest corner of Market and Sixth streets in Meeker.
Everyone has heard of “the three Rs” — reading, writing and arithmetic — but the fourth may be for romance. Sunday, those in attendance heard some fun romantic stories about the early rural school teachers.
These tenacious women took on the duties of educating children in a time when the job of a teacher went far beyond simply ensuring their students knew the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Their classes included children of all ages from around the designated areas. Teachers were often required to board with area families, arrive at school early to start the fire, or even prepare a warm meal for students.
They were in charge of everything from social gatherings to school performances to walking students home. The teachers came from across the United States with the lure of up to a $100 per month salary compared to an average $75 they were getting in some Eastern states.
Communities would get together, decide they needed a teacher and send for one. The young women (and sometimes men) would pack up their belongings and set out on what could be extremely long journeys via train and covered wagon to their remote destinations. They perhaps knew they would be a great attraction for the single men in the area and the courting stories are as much a part of the history as the journey itself.
For instance, the lure of land attracted young men and families to settle in the Rangely area in the late 1800s. C.P. Hill and his surrounding neighbors decided they needed a school for their children, and that, of course, would require a teacher.
Caroline Blakeslee’s journey west from Massachusetts began in 1887. Along the way she found herself in Iowa working as a dressmaker. When she saw an ad for a teaching position in Meeker, she and her cousin headed west via train to Glenwood Springs.
They traveled by stagecoach to Grand Junction before taking the freight wagon owned and operated by Mr. Hill to Rangely.
The Rangely School was still under construction when she began teaching, and she filed a claim on some area land. She had to prove up on the land, and, while doing that, she needed a ride to Meeker to fill out the final paper work. There is a story in the trip that clearly involves her courtship.
The Lime Kiln Schoolhouse, constructed in 1917, is seen here in 1929 with Eleanor Kugler Service in the doorway. Lime Kiln Schoolhouse is one of 39 school in operation within the county in the past century and most assuredly played a role in the romance of one or a couple school teachers who came into the area to teach.
The Lime Kiln Schoolhouse, constructed in 1917, is seen here in 1929 with Eleanor Kugler Service in the doorway. Lime Kiln Schoolhouse is one of 39 school in operation within the county in the past century and most assuredly played a role in the romance of one or a couple school teachers who came into the area to teach.
Lime Kiln schoolteacher Eleanor Kugler grew up in Missouri and attended a teacher’s college there. When she and a fellow teacher heard of the money to be made and the idea of having only 10 to 12 students to teach as opposed to their present class size of 38, they ventured west to Colorado looking for job opportunities.
Eleanor took a job in Routt County at the Dunston School on Williams Fork. She was prepared to go back to Missouri when she completed her term, but she heard of a school starting in the summer on Lime Kiln. In May 1928, she took the job at a schoolhouse on land donated by Jack Service.
Eleanor was an attraction for men in the area, and so another romance began. The story took Ella away from Lime Kiln for a couple of years, but the hard times the country was facing brought her back to the area and she continued teaching in 1933.
A teaching position in the Coal Creek School afforded Sally Sheridan the ability to work while she waited. Sally grew up in Meeker on the Bar Seven Ranch, not far from the school. She attended Denver University before coming back to teach.
Sally was pestered during her horseback journey to and from school by her brother, Jim Sheridan. Jim would hide along the way, then jump out to scare her horse. She endured the spooking of her horse, and continued teaching, while she waited for her high school sweetheart as he went off to war.
These women played an important role our area’s history, teaching the next generation of residents and finding romance along the way.