Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society: Resident shares thoughts on olden days education

Early Pequot School: Men in front are thought to be members of the Board of Education of the time. Building shown may have been the remodeled blacksmith shop.

Creating interest in local history and refreshing waning knowledge of that same history - this is what we hope to accomplish as the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society shares memories from past residents of the Pequot Lakes area.

This week, we share more memories by Myrtle Mabbot, who died in 1982.

Educating their young people was a key goal in any community that intended to grow and prosper, and was usually among the first needs addressed in town charters. A school site was typically donated by a local landowner and building done by community volunteers.

Beyond the “city limits," townships set up independent school districts. They served the rural families living in a one-mile radius of each school. As a student, Mabbot had first-hand knowledge of the pioneer Pequot Lakes school system. It wasn’t quite like the one we have now.

She writes: The first established school was in Frog Town, at the north end of Sibley Lake, where the local dump was up until recent years. (Note from 2020: Mabbot recorded this information in the 1970s. I don’t know if the first school and the local dump co-existed. Let’s say, not.)


The one-room school was heated by a common barrel stove and the drinking water was supplied by a water bucket and everyone drank from the one dipper.

Church service was also held in this school. Later, the school was moved into town and was in the building where the bakery is now. Later they built a two-room school where the parking lot for the Carpet Shop is now located. (That’s at the intersection of the road to Breezy Point and the old old highway).

They held school there until 1914 when they moved into the building now used as a Carpet Showroom. Of course, for the first few years, it was only the front half of that building. Later on, when the districts consolidated the east half was added and then the gym was added later. They had school for the first four grades in Crosslake and also used the school in Jenkins for the first four grades from Jenkins and Pequot until our new school was completed.

Teachers in those days were very poorly paid. In the early 1900s they ranged from $35 to $45 per month. A contract with E Adkins in 1906 provided that he care for the furnace and keep the upper rooms swept and dusted as well as teach school for $45 per month. During the same year Anne Lampson’s contract called for sweeping and dusting and teaching for $35 per month.

Another note: $35 a month doesn’t scream “living wage” in the era we’re living in. For decades, the value of the dollar we work for has been inflated beyond the imagination of people who lived and worked here a century ago. Comparing the buying power of a dollar then and now would add perspective to the discussion, but it’s still hard to shake that initial impression.

Karen Bye is president of the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society.

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