I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
Old Murray Schoolhouse nears 150th birthday
By Barry Schrader.................................November
Anyone watching reruns of the Waltons on TV or who has been raised in
a rural area back in the 1930s and 1940s probably has a vision of what a
country school was like.
The first one-room country school in the Amador-Livermore Valley is
still around today. It is the old Murray School, now a museum operated by
the City of Dublin and located on Donlon Way next to the Dublin Pioneer
Cemetery and Old St. Raymonds Church.
The school was opened in 1856 on what is now Flanagan Road, housing
an average of 40 to 50 pupils from grades one through eight each year. It
was built on land donated by James Witt Dougherty and named after Michael
Murray who was one of Dublins earliest settlers and a supervisor from
The structure had to be moved to Dublin Canyon Road in 1860 due to frequent
flooding in the old location. Jeremiah Fallon used oxen to drag it to higher
ground. Then much later, in 1953, it had to be moved to accommodate the
widening of Highway 50. That was the year after the last class graduated
from 8th grade and it had been closed. Fortunately, the Primitive Baptist
Church needed a home and took over the school as its place of worship, keeping
it maintained and occupied. The fate of every other school in the valley
was sealed after it was closed and left empty, either it was destroyed by
fire or torn down.
The original bell tower was removed in 1940 and it is believed the bell
went to the scrap drive for the war effort. The bell tower was never replaced
until after the Dublin Heritage Preservation Association (DHPA) was given
the building by the state due to the need to make way for the widening of
I-580. The old school was moved to Donlon Way in 1975. The new bell tower
was finally added in 2001 through the efforts of DHPA members and community
The facts about a buildings history are pretty dry so it takes
the stories of the schools students over the years to make it more
interesting. I was pleased to reach two of those Murray alums plus the spouse
of another to learn more about school days at Murray school.
Bill Kolb, who attended there from 1936 to 1944 when he was promoted
to 9th grade at Amador Valley High, remembers his two teachers were Leona
McGlinchy and Lillian Jensen Hansen. He said grades 1-4 were in the side
room, which had been added years earlier, and 5 through 8 in the larger
front room. At first they just had wood stoves and the boys had to help
bring in the wood daily to keep the stoves going. Later came the oil stoves.
Also, he remembers when they got indoor toilets in 1936.
Bill and his two sisters Donna (now deceased) and Carol (Strom) all
went to Murray as well as their father and maternal grandmother Henrietta
Kroeger. Talking with Carol who attended up until its closing in 1952 and
then graduating from the new Murray School a year later, she recalls only
one classmate who was with her all 12 years and that was Sarah Thomsen (Silva).
That second Murray school on Dublin Boulevard near Starbucks, no longer
exists. Of course the current Murray Elementary School is on Davona Drive.
Carol remembers some of the games they playedhopscotch, kick ball,
baseball and then jacks on rainy days inside. They also had the added attraction
of a ring set in the schoolyard which they swung from over and over, never
tiring of it.
Then I learned that John Cronin, late husband of Marie, attended Murray
School from 1928 through the 8th grade. Marie said his sisters Alma, Frances
and Helen also went through grade school there and their father was a trustee
of the Murray District for 23 years. At one time the District encompassed
14 square miles.
It should be a great reunion next year when all the surviving alumni
gather to celebrate the old school buildings 150th anniversary. I
hope someone has a tape recorder to collect all the reminiscing. It is a
tribute to Dublins citizens, the DHPA and City that they have preserved,
restored and kept the school for todays generation to see what it
was like a century or more ago when the three Rs were taught
to the tune of a hickory stick
Two readers Max Eckert and Jim Muir quickly answered last weeks
question about the connection between comedian Chic Sale and outhouses.
It seems Chic had a routine about being a specialist who designed
and built outhouses. He wrote a book as well which sold over a million copies
and eventually his name became synonymous with privy. If you have web access,
the story of The Specialist can be found at www.jldr.com/specialist.htm. Two readers took a guess
at the answer: Marjorie Welham of Pleasanton knew her grandfather owned
a Chase Model F Surrey about that time, and Bob Wood suggested they were
a Star and Durant, the brands sold at the Duarte Garage in Livermore a few
So the history mystery for this week: What two one room schools in the
Livermore Valley were burned down by arsonists after the schools had both
closed in the early 1950s?
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551