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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

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.

Archive Page

Old Murray Schoolhouse nears 150th birthday

By Barry Schrader.................................November 3, 2005

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. Raymond’s 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 Dublin’s earliest settlers and a supervisor from the township.

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 donations.

The facts about a building’s history are pretty dry so it takes the stories of the school’s 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 played—hopscotch, 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 building’s 150th anniversary. I hope someone has a tape recorder to collect all the reminiscing. It is a tribute to Dublin’s citizens, the DHPA and City that they have preserved, restored and kept the school for today’s generation to see what it was like a century or more ago when the three R’s were “taught to the tune of a hickory stick….”

***

Two readers Max Eckert and Jim Muir quickly answered last week’s 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 years later.

***

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 :

Historian2sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551

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