• The History of Dairyland School

    (In the 1980s, the original two room school house was restored.  During the process, the following records were found.  These records are information about the school and community between the years 1915-1938.)

    Organization and History of the School District 

         Early in the year, 1915, there were several families living in the northern part of Munich District or what is now called Dixieland. These families were anxious for their children to have an education without having to ride to Chowchilla on the train, as they had done in the past. Mr. M.M. Dyer, Mr. Gus Briner and Mr. Cleland were appointed by the County Superintendent Cunningham to arrange for organization. A section of Munich District was organized and named the Dairyland District. This name was given to the district by the U.S. Land Co. who owned many sections here.

         School opened in September 1915, in a house owned by Mr. Hummel, known as the DeSpain house. In a few months school was held on the school ground in a renovated warehouse made of galvanized iron. Later 2 ½ acres were given by the land company for the school grounds.  School opened with nineteen pupils, with Miss Pfau, a sister or Mrs. Buffington as the first teacher.  The same board that had been appointed was officially elected at the first school election held in a tent. 

         A bond election was held and $2,500 was raised to build the school house. Mr. Lane was the architect and carpenter. A two room building was decided upon by the board. When school opened in September 1916, they were housed in the new building.  Miss Mayme Brothers was the new teacher but as the attendance increased to 45 pupils, it was necessary to hire another teacher.  Mr. O. A. Robertson, the founder of the colony, was a friend to the new district. When funds were not available to pay the new teacher's salary, he advanced three-fourths of the necessary amount and the Ladies Improvement Club paid the other fourth.

         The school board, with wisdom and foresight, decided to purchase the land around the school for playgrounds and a park. Here, again, Mr. Robertson came to their aid and sold them the 7 ½ acres needed at a reasonable price of $750. The purchase of this land and its subsequent development has made Dairyland one of the finest schools and grounds in the San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Dyer and Mr. Briner were on the school board during these trying years of organization.

         By 1920, the attendance had increased so that another building was required. This building, consisting of two rooms, was completed under the direction of board members Mr. Briner, Mr. Blacowand, and Mr. Wills. Abeautiful park of sycamore and eucalyptus trees were planted under the direction of board members Mr. Phillips, Mr. Howard, and Mr. Campbell.  This park has been used for years as a picnic ground by many organizations. Tables, benches, and a platform were provided by the Ladies Club. A stove for barbecuing was also built. Dairyland School now consited of four well equipped school rooms with modern desks, primary chairs, and tables. The lavatory space had also been increased.

         Dairyland School had a spacious lawn for children to play on, beautiful trees under which lunch is eaten, three ball diamonds, a rock-a-bye, teeters, swings, bars, and rings. Good gloves, mitts, balls, and bats were provided as well as jump ropes and playground balls.

         During the 1937-38 school year, the average day attendance was 106, and the staff consisted of Mrs. Gertrude Jorgenson, Principal,and teachers: Miss Dorothy Colwell, Miss Anna Johnson, and Mrs. Grace Trabue.  We deeply regreted that Miss Colwell did not be return the next year. She had accepted a position in the Chowchilla School System. Miss Johnson has also decided to leave. She planned to be married and live in Redlands, California.

    Board Members during this time period:

    M.M. Dyer, Gus Briner, C. Phillips, George Campbell, H.M. Howard, Ward Bollinger, W. Murphy, W.R. Reaves, Paul Reh, Milo Hollister, and M. Van Elswyk.

    Teachers during this time period:

    Miss Carrie Pfau, Miss Mayme Brother, Miss Helen Byfield, Miss Grace Dahlberg, Mrs. Ruby Jones, Miss Adelaide Dahlberg, Mrs. Crystal Know, Mrs. Grace Trabue, Mrs. Vera Riggins, Miss Conroy, Mrs. L.J. McCoy, Mrs. Marian Carver, Mrs. Tuttle, Miss Mary Redden, Miss Dorothy Colwell, Miss A. Cunningham, Mrs. Gertrude Jorgenson, Miss Anna Johnson, and Mrs. Olive Kelsay.

    Organization of the Woman's Club and History

        Whenever a few families settled near each other in a community, even though conditions were most unfavorable through poor roads, limited finances, and isolated sections,  the thought of proper schooling and some social communication were very important to people of the community.

         On a parallel with the growth of the district was the growth of the Dairyland Ladies' Improvement Club. The organization meeting was held at the home of Mrs. L. McKean on the afternoon of October 21, 1915. Those present were:  Mrs. M. M. Dyer, Mrs. F. A. Briner, Mrs. L McKean, Miss Lizzie McKean, Mrs. Mock, Mrs. H. H. Smith, Mrs. Frank Powell, Mrs. H. J. Steeves, Miss Eva Knoght, and Mrs. A. W. Buffington.  Mrs. M. M. Dyer was elected president of the club, a position which she held for many years. It was truly a long record of unselfish community service. Mrs. A. W. Buffington was elected secretary-treasurer, and Mrs. Briner vice-president.


    The preamble is worthy of a place in the history of Dairyland District.


    "In the course of modern development, we find the women are being greatly benefited in all communities where social and educational clubs have been formed. Realizing the women in the Dairyland section, are in need of such advantages, we have organized the Dairyland Ladies Improvement Club for the following purposes:

    • To secure a closer relationship among one another
    • To apply the Golden Rule
    • To discourage gossiping among social circles
    • To teach our members the art of plain and fancy needlework
    • To cooperate with teacher and trustees in schools matters
    • To unite in the solving of mothers' problems
    • To educate our members in scientific cooking
    • To teach the classification of foods
    • To eliminate wasteful practices in home keeping
    • To strive for harmony and good will among all mankind and sisterly love among ourselves
    • To consider the laugh of innocent childhood, the sweat of honest labor, and the virtue of a happy home among the world's brightest jewels."

          Several names had been added to the roll of Dairyland Ladies' Improvement Club.  Among those were Mrs. Snelson and Mrs. Trabue. Mrs. Trabue came to the district as a bride and soon became active in community betterment. She has been a teacher in the Dairyland school system for a number of years. She was even a primary teacher on the teaching staff for 1938-1939.

         Other well known names that were added during 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919 were: Mrs. Salaberry, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Dougherty, Mrs. Hollister, Mrs. Campbell, Mrs. Chester, Mrs. Colwell, Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Knight, Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Rice, Mrs. Swank, Mrs. Pratt, Mrs. Boyer, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Goodridge, Mrs. Ed Gross, Mrs. Haynes, Mrs. Reaves, and Mrs. Knoblauch.

         In December 1915, the first community Christmas tree and treat was furnished to all the people of the district by the ladies. A warehouse on Mr. Kidd's ranch was chosen as the only place for the Community Christmas event. This became an established custom until 1936 when the attendance was so large and the population of the district had increased so much, it was found necessary to make other plans.

        In early spring of 1916, school funds were not sufficient to purchase play equipment, so as usual, the Ladies Club supplied the want and purchased a basketball and goals for the school. Mr. Frazier donated the lumber for the goal posts.

        On the evening of May 6, 1916, a dance was held in the school house, and the proceeds were devoted to a piano fund. This was added to, from time to time, by these energetic ladies, and soon the school was fortunate in having a fine piano. The piano was used purchased by the school board for the school some time later.

         Always alert to the needs of the school, the ladies discussed the proper lighting of the school house with the trustees. As school funds were low, the club gave a program and applied the proceeds to the school funds.

         On April 6, 1918, a motion was made and seconded at a club meeting to build a platform in the school auditorium. This was done in a few weeks and much enjoyed by the school.

        One of the most lasting monuments that this farseeing group of women and trustees accomplished was the planting of the lovely Dairyland Park. For years we had the only park on the school grounds of any rural school in Madera County.

         Rather an interesting side light was given in the minutes of the May 3rd, 1918, meeting. A program was being planned and a committee consisting of Mrs. Dyer was appointed to provide kerosene lamps to light the stage and auditorium. About this same time, curtains were purchased and made by the ladies for the stage in the autitorium.

         Other notable accomplishments of the ladies club for the good of the school and community have been the purchase of chairs, the flag and flag pole, piano tuning, and individual flags for the rooms. The club also furnished hot lunches for the school children.

    War Relief Work

         An interesting chapter in the work of the Dairyland Ladies Improvement Club that was closely allied with school activities was their war relief work. This was a chapter of work, sacrifice, and heartaches and surely the "blessings cast upon the waters will return after the many days" to this little band of unselfish, loyal women. Money was raised by programs and suppers. Lunches were sold at dances and food sales. This money and the quantity of clothing made was given to the Red Cross or Belgian Relief Fund for distribution. In all of this work the school children and teachers assisted whenever possible.

    Allied School and Club Activities

         When the school was first organized, it was held in a shed or building that was covered with galvanized iron. What merry times were enjoyed during heavy rain storms. No matter how high the teacher's voice was pitched, it couldn't combat the steady rat-tat-tat of the raindrops on the roof.

         In 1915, the attendance averaged about 15 pupils. In 1938, the peak of attendance was 173 and five teachers were employed: Mrs. Gertrude Jorgenson, Principal, Miss Dorothy Colwell, Miss Anna Johnson, Mrs. Grace Trabue, and Mrs. Olive Kelsay as an assistant in the primary room.

         On November 4, 1915, the Dairyland Ladies Improvement Club decided to cooperate with the school trustees in the building of a new school house. This was built in 1916.

    Interesting Reminiscences

    • Do you remember, Mr. Hollister, when you ferried the school children across the slough?
    • Do you remember, Mr. Phillips, when some doubted the wisdom of the school board in planting the park?
    • Do you remember, Mr. Dyer, when a little one room school with no room for community affairs was thought sufficient?
    • Do you remember, that the school well was an artesian well and has yet the purest water in the community?
    • Do you remember that Mr. Dyer Plowed the first furrow in the colony and raised the first pumpkin vine?
    • Do you remember how much we appreciated Mrs. Meta Footman's kindness when she was Superintendent?
    • Do you remember that Robert Colwell attended Dairyland eight years, became interested in music, continued his studies at Chowchilla High and is now a university graduate and a music director in Arizona?
    • Do you remember that Reba Abicht was a Dairyland scholar who has also made good and is a director of Religious Education now?
    • Do you remember, Mr. Campbell, what splendid Farm Bureau meetings there used to be?
    • Do you remember the fine 4-H Clubs we had with the help of the Bollingers, Trabues, Mrs. Riggins Mr. Noble and Miss Colwell, and the fine times we had?
    • Do you remember how the Ladies Improvement Club has always helped wherever and whenever they could in community betterment?
    • Do you remember, boys, how hard Mr. Noble has worked to help you succeed in baseball?
    • Do you remember, boys and girls, how fortunate we have been in having a beautiful park and clean, cool, green, grass on which to play?
    • Do you remember, Old Timers, the joyous times we had at the community meetings when every one worked and played together?
    • Do you remember the political rallies held in the park when every politician talked his loudest and best?
    • Do you remember, teachers, the strain and stress of the community night programs?

    School Achievements

         All schools in 1916 and 1917 strove toward an ideal called the Superior Standard school. Dairyland had complied with most of the requirements and had become a Standard School. Immediately the members of the ladies club, with the assistance of the trustees, completed the requirements---The serving of hot lunches and the installation of a standard scale---and Dairyland became the first Superior Standard School in Madera County.

         When the increased acreage was purchased for the school, it was with the hope of making agricultural demonstrations. Under Mrs. Knox, splendid school gardens were planted and the produce sold by the pupils. Excellent exhibits of grapes have been sent to the County Fair.

         In former years, Dairyland has had the unique distinction of being the only rural school in the valley with a park, lawn, and spacious playgrounds. Many visitors have been brought here from the county office by Mr. Craig Cunningham and Mrs. Meta Footman. At one time, Miss Helen Heffernan, of the State Office was a guest.

         When The State Farm Bureau Conference met in the county, they were entertained at Dairyland School on their tour of inspection. Mrs. M. M. Dyer and Mr. George Campbell welcomed them. Unique souvenirs were given to the visitors, pictures of the school and a "boost" for it printed on the back, like the following:

    Dairyland School

    • Chowchilla, Madera County, California
    • First Superior Standard School in the county
    • Finest grammar school grounds in the San Joaquin Valley
    • Ten acres in grounds
    • 2 ½ acres demontration vineyard
    • 1 acre Sycamore Grove for Community Park
    • Lawn-----Trees-----Shrubs
    • Playground with up-to-date play apparatus
    • Building used as a Civic Center
    • Twenty-nine cent school tax
    • Good soil---Good water---Good crops---Good folks
    • Come again and stay longer!

         Dairyland Baseball Team has had many victories, though the personnel of the team changes with the changing years. Yet, the spirit remained the same. In 1937, the team won the Championship of the entire county. All rural and city schools are included in this contest.

         In 1936, Dairyland won first place in the track meet held at Chowchilla. A beautiful redwood plaque was given for this honor.

         Assemblies, which were conducted by the pupils and strictly under pupil government, were very popular. These developed initiative, leadership, confidence and ability in public speaking. These had to be discontinued because there is no available room for them, since the attendance has increased.

         In May, 1937, a voluminous year book was published containing a record of the year's work and activities. This was a valuable souvenir and delighted all to whom it was given.

    Industries in the 1930s

         In the early years of the district, dairies were the most important industry, consequently a great deal of alfalfa was raised. Potatoes were a profitable crop, also.  As the district progressed, grapes were planted and several fine vineyards were developed. There are still some of these vineyards producing good results.

         Gradually the growing of cotton was introduced and in 1937, hundreds of acres were planted to this crop. The labor connected with cotton brought in many people who had been accustomed to this work. This had its good, as well as bad, effects on the school. Most likely, the peak of influx of migratory workers was reached in soon after as cotton reduction program had compelled growers to allow a certain percentage of their land to lay idle or to grow other crops.

         Two well constructed gins, the Anderson and Clayton and the Producers were built here in 1937. This had materially increased the school tax fund. Telephone lines had been extended to the gins, thereby linking the district to Madera and Chowchilla. Several grocery stores and service stations were built. These were forward steps in service to the community.

         A splendid Grange Hall was erected by the local Grange organization and has been used for various community activities, including the school's Christmas and graduation programs. Mr. Paul Reh was the Master of the Grange when it was organized and the hall built. After he left Dairyland to make his home in Idaho, Mr. Grant was Master. in 1937, Mr. Wells Oviatt was at the head of the organization.

    Looking Forward

    Hereafter! O we need not waste

    Our smiles or tears whate'er befall;

    No happiness but holds a taste

    Of something nobler, after all.

    Old pioneers and new ones feel

    An assurance of abiding trust

    In the future God reveals

    That makes us feel whatever

    is, is just.