In the “olden days” most schools consisted of a one-room building that sat out on the open prairie. There was no electricity, no running water, two outhouses and one teacher for about 30 students from grades one through eight. School lunches were packed by mothers and consisted of leftovers, a jar of soup or a baking potato that was placed on the potbellied stove. The teacher was paid about $60 a month, and it cost approximately $5,000 a year to run the entire school.
In Lyon County there were approximately 87 schools scattered at not more than a distance of 2 miles apart from each other. These buildings were placed close together because a state law read that children were not allowed to walk more than 2 miles to school.
Although a school, supported by subscription, had been conducted in this county as early as 1869, school districts were not organized or pubic schools conducted until 1871. School documents are dated about 1870 and signed by the county auditor. Meetings were held at a log schoolhouse near Lynd at the home of F. Lamb, at the store of G.W. Whitney and at several other places.
The first school district of Lyon County was “ordered determined” by the board of county commissioners at a meeting held at the store of G.W. Whitney on March 18, 1871. At this meeting, Whitney was appointed superintendent of common schools for Lyon County to fill the unexpired term of the Rev. C.R. Wright whom, it appears, had been appointed on Oct. 18, 1870. This first school was taught by Miss Lydia Cummins during the spring of 1869 in a log building in Section 33 in the town of Lynd and was connected with Mr. Lynd’s Trading Post.
In the fall of 1873 the first schoolhouse in the county was built in Lower Lynd at the cost of about $700 and belonged to District No. 1. This school was located on a rise about a quarter mile west of the old Kiel/Morgan Hotel on the north side of the road. The school was used until 1905.
The Camden School District No. 14 was located just to the right of the old entrance gate to Camden State Park on secondary road No. 4. The building was built into the hill. The school building was built in 1874 and by 1904 the building had become so hard to heat that the students were moved to the Lynd Town Hall for the remainder of the school term.
In 1905, the Lynd School District No. 1 and the Camden School District No. 14 became the first consolidated school district in Minnesota. The two single-room schools were combined into a single two-room school in the village of Lynd. The two-room frame schoolhouse was erected and ready for use by that September on the site of the present Lynd Public School building. Both of the country schools moved to a central point between them, as one had been on the north of town and the other on the south of town, both about 1-1/2 miles from Lynd. The new school was complete with all eight grades. In 1908 a second story was added, giving them a total of four rooms. A fire destroyed the frame building on Dec. 11, 1922. To replace the lost building a brick structure was built in the fall of 1923, which is now the older part of the present Lynd school. This school accommodated grades 1 through 12 and turned out its first graduating class in May of 1925.
In those “olden days” no one worried about self-esteem — students earned that with an “A” on their report card. And “attention deficit disorder” hadn’t been identified yet — a good swift crack across the knuckles usually cured any lack of attention. For those who did not apply themselves to learning their arithmetic tables, a stool in the corner of the room was reserved where they we would be forced to sit with a “dunce” cap on their heads. For extracurricular activities, students attended a once-a-month Literary Society meeting with their parents, who took the time to get to know the teacher.
Today we may or may not agree with the teaching or discipline methods practiced in the “olden days” — but, nevertheless, it’s the way it was.
Sources: History of Lyon County, Minn, A.P. Rose; News Messenger, May 24, 1912; Lyon County Independent, Centennial Issue, July 1, 1970.