DAYTON SCHOOL DISTRICT #38 and #36

In the spring of 1925 when Flathead County Superintendent of Schools Marguerite Hyde visited her schools she came out of the Big Draw with burned out Model T brakes. They stopped in Dayton, "an up and coming town" to get the brakes fixed and went on visiting the schools on the way back to Kalispell. McAlear wrote in Fabulous Flathead:

The water front was alive with activity as grain, livestock, and freight moved in and out of the docks on the steamers. Then the dry years of the twenties and thirties hit, and took their toll in Dayton. The town had more than its share of bad fires, and where there had once been a thriving business, there remained ashes.

In the 1930's Rose Ober, later Schultz, walked clear down from Black Lake to attend first grade with Ruth Babcock Guinn teaching. She thinks she only had to walk about half of the school year. Her family moved to Black Lake from Des Moines, Iowa in 1927 and two of her sisters, Esther and Virginia, attended Dayton since then.

 

 

 

By the time of the 1935 Flathead Reservation Report by Branson, the Dayton school had 17 white students and no Indian students. Rosella Engdahl was the teacher. Rosie Ober should have been in seventh grade that year, but had to quit most of the year because of tonsilitis. Rose took seventh grade in 1936-37 with Iris Smith, later Hawkins, the following year. Iris Smith (Hawkins) played with us at recess." Iris today at 86 lives in Polson at the assisted living center. Iris had a long association with Dayton and Proctor as her mother Sadie Parsons, was the first teacher in the original Dayton (now Proctor) community and her father H. H. Smith was on the Board of Trustees of that original Dayton School.

When Twilla Ober (later Walker) was in the first grade in 1937-38 with Mary Smalis as teacher, she remembers Miss Smalis taking a carful of students to Kalispell to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She drew names to fill the car. Sisters Grace, Rose, and Twilla all went. Grace, now Mrs. Hartsoch, believes the teacher "fixed" the drawing as all the others that were not drawn had families with cars. Twilla has since bought the Snow White video because of the fond memories. Rose Ober graduated when Mary Smalis taught in 1937-38. Mary Smalis was courted on horseback by Trustee Chairman Rolland Tibbetts and soon married him teaching only the one year. Her eyes were bandaged for awhile but you still couldn't get away with anything because Miss Smalis could still see everything. Rose thinks all her teachers "were pretty good teachers. At 88 years of age Mary Smalis Tibbets wrote from Terry, Montana where she had grown up and taught before coming to Dayton. She and her husband moved back to eastern Montana in the spring of 1941 and raised their three sons who all ranch in the area.

 

Rose fondly remembers the annual school picnics held at the closing of school. They were held on the grounds of the Dew Drop Inn owned by the Lawrences. Grandfather Elmer Lawrence built the Dew Drop and several cabins. Son Jim Lawrence annually invited the Dayton children to that place on the lake for the picnic. Dayton teacher Louise Nelson Senft lived in one of the cabins the four years she taught at Dayton from 1931 to 1934 and the next three years that she taught at Big Arm. Mrs. Senft passed away in Sandpoint, Idaho in March of 1999 nearing her 90th birthday. That cabin she lived in exists on the Schultz property as the new Inn owners did not want the cabin and it was moved. Both the Ober family and Schultz family children attended Dayton schools.

Ethel Terry was county school superintendent from 1935 through 1942. From 1946 to 1952 she taught at Dayton. Mrs. Terry was teaching in 1950 when J. B. Kiracofe presented Big Arm, Dayton, Elmo, Proctor, and Rollins Eighth Grade Graduates their certificates at the ceremony held in Proctor. Dayton students recited "The Voice of America." Dayton graduates were: Dale Johnson, Al Nicholas, Gene Nicholas, Nancy Thomas, and Donna Violet. By 1952 Mrs. Terry had only one eighth grade graduate, Billy Proud, who recited "My Diploma." Ethel Terry was born August 2, 1893, in Fairplaine, Missouri where she received her formal education. She attended Morrisville College in Morrisville, Missouri, and received her teaching certificate. She moved to Kansas where she met and married Leon F. Terry on May 28, 1914. In 1936, the Terry's moved to Polson where she reside until her death in December of 1972. Ethel Terry also taught in Stevensville, Ferndale, and Elmo. She retired from teaching at Elmo in the 1960s.

Were there high school classes taught at Dayton? Yes, the records show that in 1914-15 Mr. A. W. Bagley taught the upper grades which included grade 9. It is known that adjoining Proctor School District #24 had a freshman class in 1926-27 when teacher Bessie Marble brought three Rollins students with her to teach at Proctor. Dayton too may have had other high school classes. By February 23, 1949 the districts along the west shore of Flathead Lake were consolidated to West Shore High School District No. 1. Yet no high school was ever held on the west shore once the district was formed. The consolidated districts shared transportation expenses for sending high school students to Polson. The West Shore High School District was annexed to Polson High School District No. 23, July 3, 1952 because "they did not operate a high school within the boundaries of their district." Since then all high school students have ridden Polson busses to high school.

Another small boundary issue occurred in 1954. Levi, Myrtle, and Richard Learn and C. R. Weaver petitioned to have their Dayton district property transferred to Proctor because the road they had to use to get to Dayton School went by the Proctor School first. County Superintendent Ina Mae Kain wrote in her unopposed order for the transfer that the petitioners were, "praying for withdrawal of said territory."

Harry Dwelle was a member of the Dayton school board from 1952 to 1955. Son Bill and his wife, Duskie, and sons Josh, Jeremy, and Justin, ranch and still live on the Dayton property. Duskie served as trustee from 1983 to 1994 when she resigned. She was by far the longest serving trustee in the district's history. For ten of those years Duskie was the board chairman. Duskie also served as clerk for over a year prior to joining the board. The district clerk Carol Brubaker Cunningham served the district consecutively since 1981 into 1999. That exceeded the longtime clerical service of Jack Meuli from 1967 to 1972 and even longer service of Mildred Williams from 1952 to 1964. Duskie Dwelle began again as district clerk following Carol Cunningham. The Meuli family has to have the record for service over the most generations as Jack's grandfather Mike Meuli served, his father Mel and mother Laura served, he served, and son Mike Meuli also served for the three years of 1993 to 1996. The people of the three communities loyally serve their schools.

The district ended as #38 to avoid conflicting with the Bigfork Joint District #38-J March 20, 1959. It became Dayton School District #36.