MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
Some of the early history of what later became the
Pershing School District centered around the Bar K2
Ranch and the Owendale Farm, and much of the land
was owned by the Knight Sugar Co. In 1911 Sam Stod-
dard was foreman on the Bar K2 and his wife Mary
provided meals for the many riders coming and going by
the ranch. Jim Peters spent some time on the ranch, and
later came Bob Argyll and wife.
Original owners of the Owendale Farm were R. H.
(Roger) and Owen Owens of Minneapolis, shareholders
of the O. W. Kerr Co., who had obtained extensive
holdings from the Knight Sugar Co. The Owens lived in
the east, but Roger and wife spent some time in the
summer at the farm. Their daughter and husband, Mr.
and Mrs. Cummings, lived in Lethbridge where the O.
W. Kerr Co. had their western office. The fall of 1910
saw a wonderful crop of winter wheat on the Owendale
farm. Earlier that year A. J. Passmore and wife came
from Minneapolis to the Owendale. He came as foreman
for the O. W. Kerr Co., but the following spring bought
land from Ben Moriarity. In the spring of 1912 the family
moved to a rented farm north-east of Woolford where
they lived until 1913, when they moved to Lethbridge for
a time, Mr. Passmore returning to his former business.
Following A. J. on the Owendale was John P. Jones, a
Welshman who came from Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Albert
Olsen, also from Iowa, worked on the farm, Mrs. Owen
cooking for the crew of men. John P. became ill and
returned East the next winter accompanied by W. J.
Roberts as he was unable to make the trip alone. Albert
and Mrs. Owen also left the district for the Chin area
where they rented land. Mr. Jack Patterson was the next
foreman on the Owendale and Mrs. McDermid, a grand
Scotch lady, was the cook. After Jack returned to Taber
his place was taken by another Welshman, Johnathan
Ellis. Mr. John Sugden spent a short time on the farm,
and then Mr. and Mrs. Howell, who came from Wiscon-
sin, were the last to occupy the place under R. H. Owen.
The farm changed hands and Martin H. Galt farmed the
Owendale for a time, followed by the Nay Bros. At that
time the Jim Hampton family lived on the Owendale for
awhile, and they were succeeded by Will Wickson and
family. Soon after this Mr. Orene Hansen bought the
Owendale and lived there for many years.
In 1910 and 1911 there were many newcomers in the
district. M. C. Taylor and son, Amsi, followed by Clark
and later the rest of the Taylor family came from
Washington State. At that time, too, a bachelor by the
name of Slim built a shack on the side of the coulee north
of the present Sherman Farm. Many interesting tales
were told centering around the shack, including, a
boisterous shivaree party. About that time, in the
neighboring district to the south came the A. C. Drake
family, the Wilsons, Rickmyers, Dawsons, and soon
after many others followed. In September A. J.
Passmore needed help and his brother Bert and wife, Jen-
nie, came from Michigan so Mary L. Darch-better
known as May in those days- and a niece of the
Passmores came with them. May came for a year as she
was having eye trouble and was advised to take a year off
from studies, but like many others she stayed. That year
there was a huge hay crop in the country. A. C. Drake
had a large hay camp and a crew of men and their large
outfits hauling and stacking the hay.
J. W. Lee and family settled on the Moriarity farm in
1912 and in time Dill, Lester and Walker all married and
obtained land of their own in the district. In 1915 May
Darch married William J. Roberts. Ben Hague and fami-
ly came from Washington State and farmed the land
later owned by Vern Leishman. Then there were the
Richards, Shem Purnells, and Glines. The Taylor boys
Amsi, Clark, and Bill all married and had homes of their
own. Mr. Carpenter from Spokane settled on Section 2C
and broke 200 acres of land, then left the country. In
1914 J. W. Kienholz and family came and settled on this
land. Oscar Kienholz and family stayed there for many
years and were joined by a brother, Alfred.
The Pershing school, like many other small districts
in Alberta, served a very useful purpose for 22 years, then
was absorbed into the Jefferson Consolidated School.
The Pershing District extended from the Kimball canal
on the west to the Milk River Ridge on the east, and from
Jefferson district just north of Mr. Rickmeyer's farm, to
and including the Bar K2 Ranch. The children who lived
in this district had been riding horseback to Woolford or
Jefferson schools, a distance of 6 or 8 miles. In 1919 a
few parents met together and applied to the Dept. of
Education for permission to form a school district. The
requirements were met, and a list of names were sub-
mitted, from which the Dept. selected Pershing as the
name of the new school. The name was suggested as
honoring Gen. Pershing of the Allied Armies. The first
trustees were, Melvin C. Taylor, chairman, with W. W.
Roberts and John W. Lee as councilors, and Mary L.
Plans for the building were selected and the building
contract was awarded to Oland Construction Co., the
same company that erected the Prince of Wales Hotel. A
teacher had been hired, May Coffin of Stirling. But the
first of September was near and the building had not been
started. So a barn was quickly erected by Heber Shef-
field, having one thickness of lumber, a rough board
floor, equipped with a small coal stove in the centre of the
room with a stove pipe through an opening in the roof.
There were pupils desks, a teacher's desk and chair, a
school bell to ring outside and a desk bell, one panel
blackboard, chalk, a yard ruler, a water pail and tin cup,
and the teacher's roll book.
Miss Coffin boarded at the home of Oscar Kienholz.
Mr. Taylor, Ted and Fred met her at the train at
Cardston in one of the few Ford cars in the district. The
roads were just dirt trails, the hills were steep, and the
Ford had only four cylinders, so several times during the
ride, as they came to a hill, Ted, Fred, and the school
teacher had to get out and push.
In that first school there were nine little boys: Ted
and Fred Taylor, Robert, Wayne and Sheldon Lee,
Claire and Clarence Hague, Allan and Forrest Kienholz.
The new barn was comfortable for a few weeks, but
very cold and drafty when the early fall storms began. So
on cold mornings, Mrs. Taylor would get Mrs. Kienholz
and Mrs. Lee on the rural phone, and suggest that it was
too cold for the children to go to school, so classes were
postponed until a warmer day. In this way school con-
tinued until Thanksgiving holiday, which lasted two
weeks. By then the building was completed, a circulating
heater installed, woodwork varnished, adequate chalk
boards and pupil's desks, and the Union Jack and Cana-
dian Ensign decorated the front of the school room. An
organ had also been donated. Later a piano was ob-
There were no library books, just the Alexander
Readers, which were supplied free to every pupil by the
Alberta Dept. of Education. Soon a dance was held in the
new school house, both as a house warming, and to ob-
tain some money for library books. The music was fur-
nished by Ernest Albiston on the organ and his father
Thomas Albiston on the violin. They did this as a dona-
tion. Tickets of .35 cents were charged, and school
children sold lemonade. At that time the Dept. matched
the dollars paid by the district for books, so from this
dance they obtained enough books to fill two shelves in
the corner cupboard. Most of the story books were read
many times by each pupil, and the reference books were
well used also.
The Pershing School was a gathering place for com-
munity dances, programs, and parties. Some of the
teachers who taught there were:
Mary Coffin, John MacDonald, Alice Rickmeyer,
Margaret Woodlock, Lou Goodwin, Ethel Christopher-
son, Mr. Eacrett, Greta Carlson, Ada Venne, Rex
Nielson, Bill Blackmore, Eileen Whitworth, E. Burt.
School was closed June 1941. On Oct. 3 1941 the
school was sold to the L.D.S. community for $500. The
school barn was sold to Walker Lee for $40.
When the Jefferson Consolidated school was built in
1942., Vern Leishman was engaged to drive the van to
take the Pershing children to Jefferson. The school house
was sold to the L.D.S. church in 1949 and moved to
Jefferson and was used for services until 1952. Later the
school was sold to a farmer, Byron Wolsey, where it is
now on his property in Taylorville.
The pupils who began their education in this little
school have scattered widely, and have made valuable
contributions to society, locally, and in various cities in
Canada and the United States. They remember with ap-
preciation the foundation they received in the Pershing
The social life of the district must not be overlooked.
Many good times were enjoyed in the school house.
Christmas programs were a must. Dances were often
held on Friday nights, taking in the entire district of
several school districts. The Community Club also
covered the whole area, and many plays, concerts,
minstrel shows and a three-act play "Deacon Dubbs"
was rehearsed and performed at several of the schools in
the neighborhood. It must also be remembered the many
house parties held in the small homes, and jolly times
they were. Niel Downey (Scotty) and his violin were
around for a long time.