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Alderton/McMillin School(s) Reunion
Enjoyed by Many
The theme this year was the Alderton School building Centennial Celebration, as classmates and guests
honored the memories of the Alderton School. Upon arrival attendees were
offered home-baked red schoolhouse shaped cookies and/or a blue "A" shaped
cookie (for Alderton). A ten foot replica of the front of the Alderton School stood before them with a May
Pole and marble board (for playing marble games) in the adjacent mock school
yard. Next was a string of tables with display boards of classmate
pictures and other archives. On stage was a screen welcoming classmates
and projecting pictures of committee members working on past and present
Re-enacted school day
activities included a May Pole dance demonstration. The only problem was the
amount of years since participants danced it, caused some interesting people
jams. The ribbons managed to braid anyway.
The reunion program
consisted of the reading of Alderton School history by reunion committee
members. A slide show followed titled
"name this student" that challenged guests to try to identify selected students from
class pictures that spanned three decades (1930's-1950's). Believe it or
not there were students from each of those decades in attendance. The
reunion committee members read student memories periodically throughout the
presentation. The food was great and the fun was had by all at this year's
reunion. See some of the reunion photos on the link below.
"Apparently Our Last Reunion"
by David Hill
Over 40 classmates and
friends attended what has been an annual event for decades. This year the
event organizers and officers of the reunion retired and no nominations were
received to replace them. The annual business meeting at the reunion
closed without replacements for the President and Secretary/Treasurer.
During the meeting it was voted on how to distribute the remaining reunion
assets to include bank account balance and reunion archives. It may be
possible that the reunions will someday be revived by a classmate, but the event-type reunions will no longer take place as in previous years.
The reunion committee will have it's last dinner meeting in early July to begin
to disperse and dissolve the reunion assets as directed.
(President) offered an emotional and heart-felt appreciation to all of this
year's and previous year's reunion committee members and to all who have been
such loyal attendees. This marks the loss of another piece of Valley
history, but will live on in its archives and memories passed to later
generations. A class reunion every year? Remarkable! The
Alderton/McMillin reunions have proudly reflected the rural character of the
Puyallup Valley. We will miss them.
The Alderton School
by David Hill
Located on the corner
of SR162 and 96th St. E in the community of Alderton, WA, (between Sumner and
Orting) stands the decaying campus of the Alderton School. The campus
consists of a two-story school house and adjacent gymnasium. The school
house was built in 1915
(100 years ago) and the gym followed a few years later.
The then modern two story
building included indoor plumbing, a full kitchen with electricity, a lunchroom
and three multiple grade classrooms which served grades 1 through 8.
The Alderton School provided an education for valley students for more than four
decades until the district was consolidated with the Sumner District in 1958.
The School ceased operation in 1961.
A Little History*
During the 1860’s, there was no Sumner, no Puyallup
or Tacoma. Steilacoom was the “City of the Sound” with only Olympia and Seattle
as possible rivals. The Naches trail brought early settlers in wagon trains
into the Puyallup Valley near Alderton. Orson Annis and his family were the
first to settle in the Alderton area in 1869. In 1876, the railroad was linked
from the mining and logging camps to Puyallup and Annis saw the potential for a
lucrative town at Alderton. The railroad connected to the main line that moved
not only commercial items such as logs, coal, and limestone, but also
travelers. Many military soldiers passed through Alderton, including a young
Ulysses S. Grant. At one point, a train passed every 10 minutes. Alderton was
one of the earliest settlement towns in the Puyallup Valley.
School District No. 6 (Elhi District) was created
in about 1865 and included Alderton. The log schoolhouse had only one room and
was not located at the site of the current building. There were no desks, only
1871, District 11 was created out of District 6. During that year, a school was
built of logs and served both the Alderton and McMillin areas until 1888. Still
a one-room schoolhouse, the building had three windows on each side. Finally,
there were two-seated homemade desks made of cedar added to the classroom. In
the middle of the room was a stove capable of burning 3-foot logs which provided
heat. One of the early teachers who taught in 1877 was William Spinning. A
Puyallup grade school currently bears his name.
The next school in Alderton was built around
1888. The one room wood framed building was located adjacent to the current
Alderton campus. An early teacher, Mrs. Durgin, recalled her assignment. In
1934, she wrote: “In May, 1890, County Superintendent Matthews asked me to take
the Alderton School teaching position…When 25 students arrived, I found them
better mannered and more intelligent than in other schools I had taught…Back
then, school was always interrupted by hop training and picking.”
The 1915 Alderton School hosted community dancing
and card games every Saturday night. The entire neighborhood attended including
all the children. In later years, square dance classes were included for Friday
PE activities. In the spring, the annual May Pole dance was preformed before a
community audience. Popular marble games included “Dropsy”, “Pots” and “Chaseys”.
Most boys carried pocketknives. How else were you to whittle your time away?
FUTURE, WHAT FUTURE?
What is the future
of the Alderton School? The school is currently owned by the Spooner
Farms. After evaluation it has been determined that both buildings are too
far gone to be restored. Both becoming a hazard, the Spooner's will need
to submit request for permission and the necessary permits to remove the
structures. If you want to see some valley history, drive by the Alderton
School campus for a look.
To close on a good
note, Maxine Herbert-Hill, co-founder of the Puyallup Valley Preservation Group,
has been in contact with the Spooners and has had some discussion about placing
a permanent monument on the intersection corner of the campus after the
buildings have been removed. There will be future articles on this
endeavor and how you can get involved. Retaining history of this
agricultural valley is part of the commitment of the Puyallup Valley Preservation Group.
Happy 100th birthday, Alderton School!
* Sources: A History
of Alderton, Pierce County, WA – 1949; Jerry Bates, South Hill Historical
Society, and articles from the Pierce County Herald by Lori Price
2015 Pierce County
Pioneer Park Pavilion, Puyallup
February 27, 2015
PVPG founder Maxine Herbert-Hill took the day to attend the Second Annual Pierce
County Farm Forum in Puyallup in February and was very pleased with the program
and the content. To continue reading of her day's experiences and forum
discussions select the link below.
"One topic they did not address was harvesting, but the focus was on potential
avenues for selling farm products and how to access them, what those markets
need and how to present your products to those various retailers or
wholesalers. The event was well organized with good resources in personnel,
presenters and materials.
The hall was lined with exhibits and information with knowledgeable
representatives. The doors were open early enough......"
FOOD HUBS, What Are They?
REQUEST MADE TO AMEND
LAND USE PERMIT
FOR PHASE 2 OF DEVELOPMENT
Communities has requested that Pierce County consider a major amendment to their
Tehaleh land use permit for Phase Two of the development. A major
amendment includes significant changes to the original permit and are subject to
the same procedures as the original application. The most significant
change is to increase the number of single unit housing units by
some of which will be designated for senior living.
The County has the
authority to decide whether an Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS)
is required. The County held an open house on September 30, 2014 and
opened a Public Comment 30 day public comment period that will end on October
10, 2014. If you missed this deadline, we will try to inform you of your
next opportunity for review and comment.
communities will be impacted by increased traffic issues amplified by the
implementation of the Phase 2 "Highway to the Valley."
COMMITS TO SAVING FARMING
Purchases Development Rights
As reported by Steve Maynard
in an article in the Tacoma News Tribune on May 13, 2014, Pierce County has
secured the funding to
preserving 154 acres of rich valley farmland located in the Alderton-McMillin
area of the Puyallup Valley. This was accomplished by purchasing the land
development rights from the owners of the land, Dave and Ivan Matlock. As
reported on this website, years earlier, the Matlocks had applied to
subdivide the land for development, but have had a change of heart and hope that
young farming enthusiasts will be attracted to the opportunity to own a portion of
the best farmland in the U.S.
We want to offer our
appreciation to Pat McCarthy, County Executive for the action taken by the
County to preserve farmland. McCarthy was quoted in the article saying;
"Protecting this property is good for farmers, fish and Pierce County's rural
character." That mirrors how we have felt since the beginning and it shows
a change of direction for Pierce County government. Action does speak
louder than words and we commend the action taken by the County to preserve the
Puyallup Valley's rural character.
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