Mendon, Utah Schools…

Education has been very important to the people of Mendon, from the early times. Startinging in the first log homes, and then into the log church, rock church, rock school, red brick addition to the front of the rock school, and then to the 1935 yellow brick school and today still, our new elememtary school that openeded in August 2008.

Mendon Utah Logo

Mendon Schools—


Compiled History of the Early School at Mendon, Utah—Early School Days

The people of Mendon made permanent settlement in 1859. They soon, as all Mormon villages were made, began to get logs out of canyons to build the church, school and homes. They began to build the church first. The building was used for church and school for a while. By 1861 and 1862 they opened the first school in the log house. It was in measurement eighteen feet by twenty-four feet. It was located where the new district school now stands on the southeast corner of the public square. It wasn’t long before they built a larger rock building on the west side of the square north of where the lovely new church is being built, 1965. This building housed the church and school for some years. As near as I can find out this rock house was built in the late 1860’s. Not long after the first log place, as these wonderful people were industrious people and wanted to build up their town. Encouraging all kinds of improvement and advancement among the people. Their main concern was the education of their children.

By about 1880 they had built a rock building on the west side of the square across the street. Sometimes the school membership was so large that they held some classes in the jail building south of the rock schoolhouse and even in people’s homes. Then in 1899 the people built the red brick addition. This seemed to take care of the enrollment until the new school was built down on the southeast corner of the square near where the first log building was. The new school building was completed by 1935. The first teachers were called in to teach the children to read, write and do arithmetic. Amenzo Baker, Jasper Lemmon with several women as Marie Baker, Seny Sorensen and others opened the first school in 1861 and 1862. The women would teach the little ones while the men taught the older ones. We are told that Mary Baker Nyman was a very bright child so she was sent to school when very young.

Adam Craig Smyth and John Donaldson were the first trained teachers. Adam Smyth was a credit to Mendon School, as when he left Mendon he became a leading educator in the state in the music field. Lila Johnson, Mercy Baker, Stella Egbert and Isabella Forster were among the ones who taught in the 1880’s. A little later came C. T. Olsen, Mary Baker Jensen. Franklin Christiansen was a principal in later 1880’s. Peter Larsen was among the best-liked teacher as has been referred to in L K. Wood’s contribution. He taught quite a number of years, five if I am right. Then Alfred G. White. He was quite a teacher. He was Emma Baker’s (Sorensen) first teacher and principal. A. G. White taught for several years. He has been referred to in Agnes Jensen Sorensen’s contribution. Coming down the line were Will Reese of Benson, Emma Baker Sorensen. Here she was a student in the early school and now a teacher. I am sure this report would not be complete with out saying something about Emma. She is one of these persons who made good, a direct product of real pioneer people and although many hardships came along her way, she was surmounted the difficulties and has really done herself proud. She still is able to work in the Salt Lake Temple (1965) and it was through her efforts the very fine Baker Book has been published. A credit to anyone. Then came Jessie T. Reese of Benson, another favorite teacher. I believe in my experience I have never seen a person who exemplify the characteristics of a real teacher. He fit into the picture around 1888 or 1889 and taught several years. Charles E. Embley came next. He has been referred to in the contributions. He is the one who was famous for the awkward squad drills. Hugh R. Adams came here for one year. I respected Mr. Adams. I Gladys Hughes (Nelson) graduated under Mr. Adams. He later went to South Cache High School as Principal. A highly educated and respected teacher. Of course Edna Baker taught the “middle room” and was well liked I understand she taught in Mendon three years. She was every inch a lady and was true to her profession as a teacher. She still is the same Edna Baker Hoopes, a sweet little lady living in Provo. She and Sadie have lived in Provo several years. Sadie having died a short time ago. Then just two weeks ago another member of her family, Jesse passed away (1 April 1965) leaving Edna and Charles (in his nineties) of that Baker family (Albert).

Mr. Moyer was the principal at the time that Edna Baker taught. He lived at Forster’s. The Forster family had a large house (which has been well kept and still in 1965 is in good condition) and they used it as a hotel. They have housed many people in its day, who needed a night’s lodging. Well Mr. D. A. Boyer, I don’t know his first name, but he stayed at Foresters.

In the year of 1912 or 1913 as near as I can figure Cora Hardman, Eulalia Sorensen, Vera Bushman, Ronella Watkins, Sadie Stuart (Hardman) were the teachers of the lower grades. Sadie stayed in Mendon and married Floyd Hardman. She is loved and respected for her labors in the L.D.S. organizations and as a mother of a fine family. Between 1912 and 1916 Clifford Watkins became the principal of the school. He was a musician and did much to further musical events in Mendon.
1916-1917-1918 David Winn was principal. He had taught in Rich County and from Mendon he went to Centerville, Davis County where he taught several years. After David Winn, Preston Maughan was principal for one year. David Winn, Married Edith Hughes and have a nice family of four boys and have lived in Centerville since.
Lillian Jensen was a teacher of the third, fourth and fifth grades, while Preston Maughan was in Mendon. Louise Abbisher, Marie Bushman, Ada Plowman (Walker) and Adellia Lemmon (Lallis) were the teachers during this period, between 1916-1919.

1919— Henry Gorril Hughes became the principal and teacher of Mendon School in the red brick schoolhouse. He had been in the World War I conflict in Europe and came home in the spring of 1919. Superintendent R. V. Larsen was kind enough to place him near home. Olive Sorensen was the teacher in the “little room.” Garl was a good teacher interested in the advancement of the children of his beloved “Home Town.” By his excellent leadership the Mendon School became one of the best in its class. The buildings were kept up well with the help of the janitors, brother and sister John Ladle, Clella and Mabel. Who couldn’t be beat. So gracious and willing to do everything possible to make a good environment for the children of Mendon.

1920— Gladys Hughes (Nelson) began teaching in the third, fourth and fifth grades. The three people worked so harmoniously for the advancement of the boys and girls of the school. Mention of more of Henry G. Hughes activities at the Mendon School is said in the contributions of this history. Olive continued teaching until she married Henry G. Hughes, 21 December 1927. Olive was one of those persons who was willing to walk an extra mile. I highly respected her ability as a teacher and a sister in law. Then after Henry G. Hughes died in 1943, she carried on taking care of her two daughters until her death December 5, 1961, still living in Logan, Utah. Her two daughters are both married and living in Denver and Ogden, Utah.
Between the year of 1920 and 1931, I Gladys Hughes (Nelson) enjoyed with the children of Mendon and I will always cherish the love I have for them in my associations at Mendon School in the red brick schoolhouse.
During 1931 and 1935 the teachers were Fern Buist, Olive Bird Jensen, Pearl Johnson, Melba Marler, Rozella Law, Anna McCullock, Hilda Andersen and perhaps others.

When the schoolhouse was built down on the east and south corner of the square, 1935, Durrell Hughes, Annie Buist, Jennie Richards, Gladys Hughes (Nelson), Veda Sorensen and others taught. Annie Buist has taught for many years. She began in 1942 and taught until 1964 when she retires. Having given a long time of efficient service as a teacher in seven schools. Another teacher who gave his life for the teaching profession was Vance D. Walker. He taught in Mendon (new building) for ten years. He was every whit a teacher among men living and doing in the highest manner. We shall always respect his work among those he loved.

The present, 1965 is Mr. Ned James Bodily as principal. He married a Mendon girl, Irene Barrett and has really become a Mendon native. He has built a nice home in Mendon and is working for the advancement of education in that little town, “Mendon.”

Sister Charlotte Barrett Richards contributes the following from Mendon History by Jens Jensen. School was begun almost as soon as the first families were located. The first teachers were Amenzo Baker, Jasper Lemmon, Mrs. Dabell and Charles Bird, Jr. Each for a very short period. About 1865 A. C. Smyth a recent arrival from England who later became prominent as chorister and composer in Salt Lake City was employed and occupied the position as teacher about 1872. Besides being far superior educationally to the previous teacher, he was a great asset to the ward of Mendon as a musical instructor.

The schoolhouse and furnishings were very primitive having seats without backs or desks. A. C. Smyth was succeeded by John Donaldson who came from Scotland. He was an efficient instructor and had charge of the school for many years Henry and Alfred Gardner taught one school term and Isaac Sorensen finished the latter part of the term as John Donaldson left for a mission to his native land, Scotland. Until 1880 schools were financed wholly by local taxation and tuitions. Teachers being paid more by farms products, firewood etc. than by cash. Each family was required to deliver one load of wood each year for use of ward and school purposes. The same building being used for both.

Sister Jemima Forster who is in her nineties contributed a few thoughts regarding the early schools. School was held first in a log house built where the new school now stands. The building was used at first for church and school. The teachers made the fires and swept the rooms, as there were no janitors hired in those days. The teacher held school in one room. So you see the teachers in the days of 1860 to 1870 were busy. Annie N. Thatcher and A. G. White boarded at William Barrett’s. In the early days of the school at Mendon the women teachers would teach the younger pupils and the men teachers the older ones. In the spring the yard around the schoolhouse became muddy. The teachers asked some of the boys, Oscar Barrett, Charles, Bird, Vernon Bird to hitch their horses up and haul some straw to cover the mud so it wouldn’t be so muddy in the house. Alex Richards was a trustee and he made the boys gather the straw up. The straw was soon gathered up regardless what the teacher wanted. On Washington’s Birthday, the whole school went sleigh riding. They would usually ride to Wellsville and back after riding around town. We used to have a lot of snow on Washington’s Birthday and as there were no automobiles, the horse and sleighs helped to make the winters merry. The schools burned all wood and the parents furnished the wood brought from the mountains. In these early schools they had spelling and writing matches. At one time they had a writing contest, Charles W. Hughes was chosen the best writer in the school.

Carol Hughes Holland