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Bovey Minnesota History


From the Itasca Centennial
Published November 1949 by the Bovey Press

Second Avenue in Bovey Minnesota in 1903
Second Avenue in Bovey in 1903   -   Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

When Bovey was Young

Bovey was young when this picture was taken of Second avenue. Note the pig rooting in the street. The scene looks toward Trout Lake, then at the foot of Second avenue. The Trout Lake community was first reached by boat from Bovey over Trout lake during the summer and over the ice of the lake in winter. There was no road, no trail.

At the right, above, is the Whitmas hotel building and at the left can be seen a portion of the present Hageman store and the present postoffice. The store was started in 1903 by Erik Johnson, still one of Bovey's active residents.

It was about the time this picture was taken believed about 1906, that a creek running behind the school house and down through town emptied into Trout lake, which came considerably closer to the village than now.

Bovey was never a lawless town, says one historian. "Very few people were slugged or murdered and there were very few robberies committed"- But many gladly paid $5 for use of a billiard table as a bed. Space on the floor for sleeping was free and for 50 cents, in some places, it was possible to use a mattress on the floor.


Storefronts in Bovey, 1903    -    Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Populations

Independent School District No. 2, all part of the important Mid-Itasca area, has a population of approximately 7,500. This estimate is based upon a complete tabulation of school census results for 1947.

Following are the community and township populations:

Bovey 1,362; Coleraine 1,359; Calumet 981; Marble 891; Taconite 321: Lawrence Lake 498; Trout Lake 308; Cloverdale 446; Grand Rapids Twp- including LaPrairie 545; Greenway Twp. 905; Iron Range Twp. 323.

Second Street in Bovey Minnesota in 1905
Second Street in Bovey in 1905   -   Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Early History of the Bovey School
By J. A. Vandyke

IN 1903-4 the news spread that iron ore mining operations were about to be opened in Itasca County just north of Trout Lake. A town-site company platted forty acres of forest covered land for the new town of Bovey, the first of six villages which later developed in School District No. Two. Workmen, merchants, boarding-house keepers, adventurous pioneers flocked to the new mining location in 1904-5. In keeping with the American tradition wherever there are children there must be public schools.

The three farmer members of the school board, residing at La-Prairie, were John Fraser, President; A. M. Sisler, Secretary; and E. J. Anderson, Treasurer. They built the first school house in Bovey. It was a small, belfry-topped, frame building located on what is now the site of the residence of the Catholic priest. It was later moved to the rear of the Northern Hotel and used for a law office by E. H. Bither, who served for some time as a member of the Board of Education. This one-room school was soon filled to overflowing and a flat-roofed, store-like structure was erected on the present site of the Catholic church. The Dinwiddy sisters of Grand Rapids were the teachers in 1905-6. The farmer school officials in March, 1906 elected J. A. Vandyke, Superintendent of schools at Fergus Falls, Minnesota, to supervise the schools of the District. He began his duties the following July.

Bovey Minnesota School in 1905
Bovey School in 1905   -   Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

When school opened in September the Bovey teachers were Miss Hawley, grammer grades in the small belfry-topped building, Miss Louise Spencer, primary grades, and Miss Minnie Corbett, intermediate grades, both in the other one-room building. The cloakroom was used in which to conduct recitations with "standing room only." With the rapid increase of school population a new frame building, known as the Leibermann Hall, was rented and Miss Corbett and the intermediate grades were transferred there. This building was located on or near the site of Olson's garage and across the street from the Star Movie Theatre. Miss Berry of Duluth was the teacher at the Prairie River rural school, situated about a half mile east of the bridge near the E. J. Anderson home. (This building was later destroyed by fire and never replaced.) Miss Berry was transferred to Bovey to assist Miss Spencer with the now over-crowded primary grades.

The few children in Coleraine attended school in Bovey during the fall term. By January, 1907, so many families had moved into these bustling, new mining towns that primary and intermediate classrooms were opened in the new store building of W. J. Stock in Coleraine. Miss Spencer and Miss Corbett were transferred there. At the same time, January 14, the first high school of the District was opened with four students in a front room on the second floor of the Stock building, Miss Gould of Hudson, Wisconsin was the teacher.

The Superintendent's office was on the second floor of the Bovey drug store, across the street from the Northern Hotel. There were two rooms, one Used for the office and the other, furnished with cot. was the schoolman's living quarters. His family remained in Fergus Falls until August, 1907, as it was impossible to rent a residence in these new villages. The school office furniture was distinctly the "pioneer pattern". No polished oak, roll-topped desk; no upholstered, swivel chair. Instead there were- a cheap kitchen table and chair; the typewriter stand was a rough box from a grocery store; for an office file there was purchased for fifty cents a crude piece of furniture which had been thrown out of Niles and Aiton's meat market across the street. The room was heated by the conventional type of hard-coal, base-burner stove. In April, 1907, the new school building in Coleraine was so far completed that the office was moved there.

Living conditions were hard. The schoolman "boarded around" at boarding houses with miners, engineers, and "bosses," or at the tarpaper, lunch-counter-shacks, owned and operated from cooking to dishwashing by a. man who had been a cook in a logging camp. But the superintendent was too busy to worry about the inconveniences of frontier conditions. Children, coming from everywhere, had to be placed in proper classes; textbooks and their school supplies must be ordered for the ever increasing enrollment; new classrooms opened and furniture, purchased and installed. When additional blackboards were needed at the old Trout Lake rural school he hired a livery team in Bovey to drive nearly twenty miles through Grand Rapids and around the lower end of Trout Lake to reach the school building only three miles from Bovey. There was not even a footpath through the dense forests between Bovey and the Rydberg farm near the school. His first visit was made to the Trout Lake school by row boat. In winter the trip was made by team and sleigh across the frozen lake.

Enrollment of the Bovey school in 1906-7 was probably about 100. September, 1907, the new brick school building was ready for use. Miss Willetta-Dolan was the first principal. Her sister, Alice, was the, first teacher and also the first principal at Taconite in a new frame school building which was completed in the fall of 1906, being the first school building of more than two rooms in School District No. Two. The only foundation for this four-room structure was cedar posts. It is a part of the present remodeled building.

When shown the plans for the new brick school for Bovey, the Superintendent advised the Board of Education that is should provide for at least eight classrooms. He was told that four rooms would be ample for some time. On the opening day of school four rooms were packed and the office of the principal had to be furnished with seats and desks or pupils and this room was packed like "sardines in a box".

Olcott School in Marble Minnesota - 1950
Olcott School in Marble   -   Source unknown

Soon it was necessary to use a part of the auditorium on the second floor, not intended for class use. A year later two, poorly lighted, small class rooms were made in what was dormer-window space in front on the second floor. Later six rooms, including a combined office and library were added at the rear. After the building had been badly damaged by fire the auditorium was completely remodeled. About 1920 the addition for physical education was constructed. This afforded a splendid gymnasium, with gallery, and a modern swimming pool with shower and locker rooms. The first gymnasium in the District was at the Olcott School in Marble. Bovey was the first with swimming pool. The Greenway High School had neither gym nor pool. For basket ball contests Greenway first used the gymnasium at Olcott and later the one at Bovey.

The Junior High School at Bovey was organized probably about 1925 or 1926.
Mr. Ellian followed Miss Dolan as principal at Bovey. Mr. Clem holds the record of the longest term as principal. His term of service was broken by a year or two by Mr. Ames. Mr. Conner, now head of the Covey School, succeeded Mr. Clem.

Bovey Schools, Bovey Minnesota, in 1924
Bovey Schools in 1924   -   Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

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