Thunder Butte

September 02, 2007

Beehive and Hilltop Schools

The original spelling of my Dad’s name—who I’ve always known as John—was “Eugean,” a variant spelling of Eugene. Dad never liked the name. Later in life, he adopted the more standard “Eugene” and switched it with his middle name. His old school records list him as “Gean,” though.

I was able to find some of these old records about my Dad's school days around Thunder Butte while in Faith last March. They come from a few pages in a photocopied binder that I found at the new Faith museum. The binder was titled, "The Way They Were - Ziebach County Rural Schools 1910 - 1978," compiled by Carol Johnson. This is what I was able to learn—

During the 1927-28 school year, my Dad attended the Beehive school with his sister Cecil. She was 12 and in the sixth grade and he was six and in the first grade. Mind you, this was a one room schoolhouse, which was common to the area around the butte until recent times. Their classmates included three of Frank Veit’s kids—Harold, age five and in 1st grade, Alvin, age six and in 1st grade, and Treva, age nine and in 3rd grade. Ada Jones had a son, Gerald, in the class. He was 14 and in the 8th grade. Mrs. William Soam had two daughters in the class for a time—Amy, age eight and in the 1st grade, and Clara, age five and also in the 1st grade. Both of the Soam girls dropped out, as did Harold Veit. Possibly some of the kids were too young and not ready for school. The woman shown as the teacher for four months of the school year—it’s not clear who taught the rest of the term—was Margaret Stephenson. Her salary is listed as $85.

During the 1928-29 school year, records show my Dad—at age seven and in the 2nd grade—was the only member of his family left in the Beehive school. There were fewer students, too. Four of Frank Veit’s kids were attending—Treva, age 10 and in the 3rd grade, Alvin, age 8 and in the 1st grade, Harold, age 7 and in the 1st grade, and Roy, age five. However, Roy dropped out because he was too young for school. The only other kid in the school at the time was Woodrow Hayes, son of J.A. Hayes. Woodrow was 14 and in the 7th grade. The teacher for the first half of the school term was Minnie Hayes, whose salary was $95.

My Dad doesn’t remember the teachers, but he remembers the Veit kids, most of who he says used to get the “jump on me and try to beat me up.” He remembers the Veit girl, Treva, as being the nice one of the bunch. Of Treva, he says “she was way older than me and she used to beat hell out of all the other Veits when they would [try] to beat me up.”

Another source, "South Dakota's Ziebach County, History of the Prairie", published in 1982 by the Ziebach County Historical Society in Dupree, SD, says this about those attending the Beehive school: “Students in 1931 were Treva, Alvin, Harold and Roy Veit, Gean Crowley and Helen Roseneau.” The book also says that the Beehive school “was located about 8 miles south of Glad Valley and ran from 1917 through 1936.” It also says: “On the official records the school was called Beehive, but locally it is known as ‘Beebe’. Elmer Beebe was the first teacher in 1917-18. After the Beehive school closed, “Dutch Parrot bought the building and later sold it to Pickers.”

It’s too bad that I wasn’t able to find any records of the Hilltop school, where my Dad later attended. He says “that’s where I used to live in the sheep wagon, so I wouldn't have to ride in the blizzards, because it was something like eight miles from home.”

Both the Beehive and Hilltop schools were one room schoolhouses, and probably were not much different from either of those old schoolhouses depicted in the photos from last month’s post on the schoolhouses of Thunder Butte.

--Mike Crowley
Mike Crowley Sunday, September 02, 2007


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