Kittitas County Genealogical Society
article from
The Ellensburg Dawn  Thursday, January 29, 1903
by Prof. Warren A. THOMAS
George W. PARISH was the county superintendent of schools in Yakima county for the two first terms following the organization of that county. He bounded school districts and started in organizing the schools in that county in 1868. 
Fred LUDIE and John GALLEN were at that time the only white settlers within the bounds of Kittitas county as then organized. The first school in Kittitas county was organized by D. F. COOKE in the fall of 1870. 
In 1878, Mr. PARRISH was again elected superintendent and served for one term, declining to be a candidate for the succeeding term. During this term he held the first teachers institute ever held in Yakima county. It was held in Yakima City, then the county seat of Yakima county. John P. JUDSON, Territorial superintendent was the conductor. 
The next institute was held in the SHOUDY hall, over John A. SHOUDY's old frame store building. Among the teachers in attendance at that time were D. E. LESH, Mrs. S. STAIR and her father from Yakima valley, W. H. PETERSON, Mrs. S. T. STERLING, and D. G. C. BAKER, the latter two of whom are deceased. 
In 1880, W. H. PETERSON was elected school superintendent. He held the office for two years and declined to be a candidate for reelection. He held his first annual institute in Yakima city. A representative of the Territorial superintendent was in attendance. It was well attended by the teachers of Yakima valley. Only a few teachers from Kittitas valley attended, there being no railroad between the valleys at that time. There was a good attendance of the "old town" residents at every session. Lawyers, doctors and merchants attended the evening sessions and participated in the proceedings. 
The next institute was held in the old Presbyterian chapel in the then village of Ellensburg. There was a good attendance of the teachers of Kittitas valley, but none from the other end of the county. It was well attended by the citizens, and was quite a success for those early times. 
At the beginning of Mr. PETERSON's term of office, there were only twenty-three school districts in the county of Yakima, which included the present county of Kittitas. During his term of office, he organized the Moxie school district. He also organized a new district on the south side of the Natchese river and divided the Cowichie district into the north and south Cowichies. He also organized what is commonly known as the Peterson or Lyle District in the eastern part of Kittitas valley. Upon the petition of John A. SHOUDY and others, he divided the district that Ellensburg was then in. At the time of division, the district included all the territory lying between the Yakima river and the line separating range 18 and 19 E to the summit of the mountains. Before the close of his term, he also created the Reeser creek district. At the time that Ellensburg was set off into a separate district, it had for a school building a little log house north of Ellensburg. It was covered with hay, brush and dirt. The last school taught in was taught by D. G. C. BAKER and was visited by Mr. PETERSON in his official capacity. At that time, there were no districts east and north of the summit of the Wenatchee mountains, or north of Kittitas valley proper. Still visitation was no small matter. The most distant school he had to visit was Alder Creek, 100 miles from Kittitas valley. 
Schools then had to be visited by the superintendent on horseback or foot, as there were no railroads in the county, and very few roads of any kind. Old Indian trails often served the purpose of roads for him on his long and lonesome rides. 
Mrs. Ella S. STAIR was elected to succeed Mr. PETERSON to the office of county superintendent. She was an honored teacher in Yakima county at the time of her election. 
During her term of office, Kittitas county was organized, the board, named in the act of the legislature, creating it, consisting of C. P. COOKE, S. T. PACKWOOD, and Robert N. CANADAY, appointed Miss Irene CUMBERLIN the first superintendent for the new county of Kittitas. She was a graduate of the state normal school at Kirksville, Mo., and one of the most competent teachers in the county. They authorized her to renumber school districts of the county consecutively, after having procured copies of the boundaries of each from the records of Yakima county. 
It may be interesting to note some statistics at the close of Miss CUMBERLINE's term, 1875; Total number of children enrolled, 612; number of teachers employed, 20; number of school districts, 20; amount of money raised for school purposes, $3,762.  Miss CUMBERLIN, having resigned, D. G. C. BAKER, now deceased, was appointed as her successor. He filled the unexpired term and Miss Clora PETERSON was elected in 1876. Miss PETERSON owed her election to the ladies, they having the right of sufferage at that time. However, the supreme court of the state decided that female sufferage was unconstitutional shortly afterward. 
In 1889, J. L. McDOWELL was elected superintendent. He re-districted all the school district boundary lines, the records of all former records having been destroyed by fire. 
Prof. J. H. MORGAN was elected to succeed Mr. McDOWELL in 1890 and was not a candidate for re-election, having accepted a position as principal in the Ellensburg school. He was well qualified for the office of superintendent, having served one term as Territorial Superintendent. He organized several new school districts during his term. Prof. MORGAN is now holding a professorship in the State Normal School at Ellensburg. 
George M. JENKINS was elected to the office of school superintendent in 1892. He served two terms. He organized a number of districts during his terms, some of which were in the Wenatchee valley. At the close of Mr. JENKINS terms he took a position in the Ellensburg high school - a position he still holds. 
In 1896, the writer was elected school superintendent. During this year the organization of Rosa, district No. 49, was completed, the same having been granted by Mr. JENKINS. I also organized districts 50 and 51, the latter being at Tunnel city, at that time in the extreme northwestern portion of this county, but now in Chelan county, on the line of the Great Northern railway.  In 1898, C. H. HINMAN, another of the Kittitas county teachers, was elected. He organized a new district in Wenatchee, this making the total number of districts 50, 38 having been disorganized by Mr. JENKINS. During Mr. HINMAN's term of office, the northern portion of Kittitas county, known as Wenatchee valley, was cut off and added to what is known as Chelan county. At the end of Mr. HINMAN's term of office in 1900, we have the following statistics taken from the Fifteenth biennial report of State Supt. BROWN: Number of children enrolled in the schools of the county, 2,760; number of districts, 37; total number of teachers employed, 79; total amount of money received for maintainance of schools, $60,053. 
In 1900, the writer was again elected. My present term will expire in July of this year.  During my term, I will have made an effort to thoroughly organize and classify the schools. One new district has been organized, district 36, on the upper Teanaway. Districts 33 and 41 on Teanaway and Swauk creeks respectively, have been consolidated and designated district number 38. 
At the present time, Ellensburg employs fourteen teachers, including Prof. F. L. CALKING, as principal. Roslyn employs thirteen teachers, Prof. W. D. BRUTON is the principal. 
The educational standard in this county is high. The majority of teachers employed being graduates of the Ellensburg normal school. The sixteenth biennial report shows about the same statistics as is shown in 1900, the time of division of the county.  Many interesting facts are not obtainable without much time and research. I am indebted to my friend, W. H. PETERSON, for much of the early history of schools in the valley. 
H. F. BLAIR, a graduate of the Ellensburg normal school (class of 1902) was elected superintendent at the last election, and will assume the duties of his office, August 1st, 1903