By Helen Boertje
Richland was located two miles east of Otley on Coolidge Street near the intersection with 190th Avenue. Built on land owned by Geert Dykstra, it probably derives its name from the rich land surrounding the school. In 1959 the building was auctioned off and purchased by Mrs. Ralph (Marie) Dykstra. According to a story in the Pella School History book, the only vandelism suffered by the little school was having the outhouses turned over nearly every year at Halloween.
Teacher Marjorie Boot Vos, a longtime teacher who taught in both country and Pella schools, told me that the only unusual memory she has of this school is that a skunk took up residence under the building.
Among her students were the Pol children. I talked with Jeanette Pol Van Hal who told me there is just one year difference in age between each of the four siblings. Her mother, she said, was very busy but still managed to make the girls’ clothes, including their underwear from feed sacks. Sometimes they wore their brothers’ overalls. Her two brothers got up early to help with chores and went home right after school to help with the farm work. They had only one bicycle which the boys usually rode while the girls walked the mile to the school.
She recalls that every morning someone put out the flag but if a rain came up they brought it back in as it was very important to keep the flag dry. They often skipped recess to allow for a longer noon hour when condiditons for sledding were good. One year their teacher became pregnant and two or three others finished the year. “That wasn’t a very good year,” she said. (Imagine how difficult it must have been for the students in the late 19th century who routinely had a different teacher for each of the three terms)
Teachers included Algie Kelsey 1891, Gertie Prickett, George Douwstra 1895, Katie Ver Heul 1898, Elizabeth Gosselink 1899, Mae Fisk, Grace Hawthorne 1900, Elizabeth Van Nimwegen 1901, Lula Marshall 1902, Harrie Harmsen 1903-04, Marinus Vander Linden, Maggie Van Zee 1905, Caroline Gezel 1906, Hattie Harmsen 1907-08, Marie Vander Busse, HattieHarmson 1909, Hattie Harmsen 1910-16, Anna Brummel 1917, Hattie Harmsen, Lola Comer 1918, Raymond Vos, Miriam Fetcher 1919, Grace Pannekoek 1920-21, Rosetta Walraven 1922, Harriet A. Toom 1924, Leona Bogaard 1925, Jeanette Kentz 1926, Jeanette Rouwenhorst 1927-28, Leona Arends 1929, Mrs. Lena Schippers 1930-31, Henrietta Van Roekel 1932-33, Ada Van Dusseldorp 1934, Mae M. Vogelaar 1935-37, Irene M. Vriezelaar 1938-39. Emily Hiemstra 1940, Alta Beyer 1941, Mrs. Vyola M. Tuttle, Ruth Van Essen 1942, Marjorie Boot 1943-45, Beulahdean Bos1946, Darlene Bevan 1947, Ellen Karr 1948-49, Jo Ann Crawford 1950, Mrs. Mabel Bogaard 1951-56, Mrs. John H. Rozendaal 1957.
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