School History


The very first public school near what is now the town of Wheatland was established in the kitchen of the Roddan home in the late 185O's, probably as early as 1856. Mr. Hollowman was the teacher and held school one term. The Hugh Roddan home at that time was located on Oakley Lane near Wheatland Road.

The next year a small building was erected in the corner of the field, which is now the Wheatland Cemetery. Hollowman continued as the teacher. To this school went the Bennetts (Jack and Tom) the Roddans (Dave, Jack and Will) and the Thomas girls. The Thomas's lived on the Plumas Lake Road, and were nieces of Mr. Armstead and Mrs. Murdy.

In 1862 or 1863 the Roddans moved farther east to the Roddan Ranch. It was later known as E. Clemens Horst's "Horstville." Now it is known by the name of "Estate of Samuel Mills Damon." Most of the pupils moved with them as they were in some way connected with the family, and another one room school was built in the field directly across from the Muck Ranch. An old fig tree still marks the spot where the schoolhouse stood. A willow porch was built around it to keep out the heat.

Children of the parents who had crossed the plains with the Roddans and who lived on the Roddan Ranch attended the school. These were Pete and George Galligan; Jim, Andrew, and Al Jorden; the Codys; Charles, James, Nat and Salome Muck. It seems that Bill Muck was not old enough to attend school at this, time, but nevertheless had a great longing to go, as many hundreds of little folks have. One morning he reached school in his nightgown. Later, when he reached the legal age to attend school, the teacher on asking his name was surprised to hear, "I'm Captain Winnie Muck, the Bamboo Chief." The men on the ranch had given this title to him.

School was held here two years, possibly 1865 and 1866. Mr. Shoemaker was the teacher. The building was then moved to Frazier's field (now Price Waltz's) because there was a growing demand for a more central location, many families having moved in. To this school came Bud Parker, Will, Oscar, and Lizzie Jasper, the Roddans, Lizzie Pinner, the Mucks, Malinda Drollinger, the McKinneys, Mary Whitesides, Bell, Justice, Jimmy, Bally, and Lelia Murphy, Wesly Frazier, Charles Holland, and Will Bowne. The Murphy and Justice children came from the section across the river at Johnson's Crossing. Mat Andrews and Mr. Daugherty were the teachers. Some of Daugherty's pupils believed him to be crazy. His favorite expression was "How dare you defy my authority!" He used to shake the children vigorously by the shoulders and yell these words in their ears like one demented. On rainy days, the Roddans with a team picked up all the children on the way to school.

A story is told about the little boys who would leave school at noon and go into the field of Dave Wood to play. The first day they didn't get very far, and heard the bell ring, but every day they went farther into the woods in hopes they would not hear it. One day their wish came true; they wandered so far that the bell did not disturb them. When they returned, it was near two o'clock and they were doomed for a lecture on defying Mr. Daugherty's authority. Boys will be boys in any generation, so they say.

Elmer Roddan had cause to remember his first day of school. The teacher told him to sit with one of the big girls, Lizzie Jasper. Elmer being bashful, hung back, and was therefore punished on his very first day of school. In 1860 the school was again moved. By this time Wheatland had been established and like all other towns, wanted all the honors, so a one-room school was erected near where the Point Motel now stands. Hugh Roddan is quoted as saying, "The Wheatland People stole the School." Daugherty, in spite of his rash ways, was still employed as teacher. Another man named Kirkpatrick taught later. In 1871 or 1872 a two room building was erected on the south side of Main Street where the primary classrooms are now located. This was erected at a cost of $3,000, land included. Only one room was occupied at first. Among the teachers were Kirkpatrick, Shelley, Johnson, Powers, Soward, Heard, Wyatt, Frazze, Babcock, John Durst, and F1ora Denton. Enrollment was 41 girls and 15 boys.

When they decided to use the primary room, Bell Flagge was hired to teach four hours a day. In this building mottoes were written on the plastered wall in blended colors. One was, "Be Busy, Be Still." Another was, "Order is Heaven's First Law."

In 1853, the East and West Bear River Townships were established. In the early days of Yuba County, about 1857, the Southern part of the county was known as East and West Bear River Township. The citizens of the area filed a petition with the Board of Supervisors for the formation of a school district. Bear River School District was formed in 1864. I n 1871, the Bear River School District was divided into Virginia and Wheatland School Districts. In 1871, the Bear River School house was moved to Wheatland. The building being used in 1879 cost $3,000.

First school in Wheatland, 1879
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The School term was ten months, with a vacation during the Christmas holidays. Two teachers were employed with a combined salary of $175 per month in 1879.

Today, Wheatland Elementary School District includes the original area including all territory in Beale Air Force Base. The schools that were disbanded when Camp Beale was established in 1941 were: Virginia, Elizabeth, Waldo and Lone Tree.

Gerald Arnold is the District Superintendent of the Wheatland School District today and the Board of Trustees is John Stineman, Francis Nichols, Lemuel Osborne and Glenda Rastetter.

As the town grew it became necessary to have more school room. In the early '80's the school building was raised and two rooms were built underneath. Some of the teachers in this building were: W.H. Carlin, A. Huffacker, George McDonald, Lucy Hamilton, Phoebe Thomas, Jennie Durst, Lottie Cantlin, Addie Wilbur, E.T. Manwell, L.D. Baun, W.P. Rich, Mr. Petit, Miss Anglin, Miss Grummit, Ella Camper, Ella Stineman Cummings, Lizzie Browning, Margie Collins, Kate Sheets, and Cora Dam Ferguson.

School raised in 1880
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The first record of trustees that could be found at this time was in 1878 and 1879. W.W. Hollowman was clerk; John Stineman and Dr. D.P. Durst were the other members. I n 1891 the trustees of the Bear River School District changed the name to the Wheatland School District.

May 18, 1902, a $15,000 bond issue was passed for erection of a two story school with full basement on the land bounded by Main Street, Olive and A Streets; where the Eastside school is located. This new two-story building was completed in June of 1903, and when; school started in September, two of the faculties were: W.P. Rich, (former Senator) and Ella Camper.

In 1904 each child brought ten cents that was used to purchase the walnut trees that were planted on the school grounds. The Wheatland Civic Club planted trees on the grounds and the school board furnished the first play-ground equipment such as swings, bars, rings, etc. much to the delight of the pupils.

Wheatland High School (1903)
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September 25,1907 Wheatland High School opened with 23 students. This is no longer a dream, but a reality. About three years ago the enterprising citizens of Wheatland laid their plans for some time in the future to be the proud possessors of such an institution, and when they taxed themselves to erect a school building the high school was provided for by having three suitable rooms fitted up for that purpose.

At that time the only thing of the kind in sight for the girls and boys, who had finished a course in grammar school was a worthy ambition born in the hearts of a few of the leading citizens that some day in the near future this ambition would be realized. They thought of this branch of our educational system not as a luxury, but a necessity. T o ignore the thought was criminal; to sneer at it was folly, and to oppose it was treason. A few of the young people, it was true, could be sent to some other community and kept there by parents who had the means, but the less favored boys and girls must be content to close their school days when they completed the grammar grades and then go through life tormented with a wish and hope of dreams that would never come true and brave hearts with longings that could never be realized.

An impartial provision must be made for all classes was the demand and nothing short of having the possibilities of a high school education laid at the door of the poor as well as the rich, and bridge the distance between the financial ranks of the young people would meet the public demand.

The first step was to make it possible for such an institution to exist in this city. To do this a new law must be created by the state legislature and every town in the state of California as well as our little city owes a large expression of thanks and gratitude to Hon. E. T. Manwell of this place for drafting the new law and succeeding in having it passed and signed by the Governor of the State. Today, we congratulate ourselves not only over the fact that we have a high school, but it was originated here--by men who believe that every spot in our land should be explored, and every place illuminated by the torch of an education.

After a sweeping vote that decided that a high school should be organized in this community, then the important step of selecting the right teachers was the problem that confronted the trustees. Not only the vocation of training the young, which is the most sacred of all others, was to be considered, but to find a man who could lay his own foundation and build upon it meant a combination which is not always easy to find. But the Board of Trustees in selecting their principal Professor J. C. Ray made no mistake, Mr. Ray is a graduate of the first class the Chico Normal ever produced which was in 1891, and in 1902 he received the degree of A.B. from Stanford University, after which he taught seven years in graded work. He then organized the Sutter County High School, which at that time was the largest in the state. For five years Mr. Ray was the principal of this school and those who live in this section of the Sacramento valley are sure that he was a perfect success in Sutter County. In Arcata, Humboldt County, he organized a Union High School and at Covelo another, each of which proved to be a success.

For the three years prior to his coming here he has been principal of a high school at Carona, Riverside County. So with his past history and his practical experience no one doubts the wisdom of the Board of Trustees in securing Mr. Ray to take the lead in this new educational enterprise of our community.

And in selecting an assistant there is no doubt but the same wisdom was displayed when the board employed Miss E. Watkins of Oakland for that position. Miss Watkins graduated from the University of California in 1905, with the degree of B.L. from the College of Social Science, and for the past four years she has taught in Berkeley and Napa County, and comes to us highly recommended. Both of these teachers have had years of successful experience.

The school has started out with an enrollment of twenty-three people and a number of others who will doubtless enter soon. As a matter of history we insert the names of students at this place. The young ladies are: Leona Dam (Blackford), Rachael Hackett, Therese Hicks (Moore), Hazel Hollingshead (Lewis), Aphra Harding (Gorton), Lila Jameson, Ruth Langdon, Marjorie Manwell, Harriet Patterson, and Bernice Roddan. The boys are Ray Manwell, Ivan Akins, Carlton Anderson, Charley Beilby, Robert Blackford, Joseph Hollingshead, Burt McCurry, Richard Monson, Alton Reichers, Otis Roddan, Preston Scobee, and Clarence Alexander.

The course of study is such as complies with the law, offers a liberal education and prepares pupils to enter Stanford University, the California State Normal schools and the following colleges of the University of California: Social Science, Natural Science, Commerce, Agriculture, Mining, Civil Engineering, Mechanics, Chemistry, Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy, and all the students who expect to enter the University will be required to select one of the above courses.

This shows that the Wheatland High School is organized with the object of helping the young man or woman who has selected his avocation for life and desired to lay a good foundation for a successful man or womanhood.

So the Wheatland High School was established in 1907 with the two teachers, Mr. Ray and Miss Watkins. The trustees at that time were Mr. W.E. Niemeyer, A.C. Stagner and Mr. Gus Riechers. High School was held on the second floor of the new grammar school building.

Up to 1910 the academic course had been the only one offered. There had been some dissatisfaction among the students over it, as they wished for a wider field from which to choose their subjects. So in 1910 a District High School was established and was still held on the second floor of the new Grammar School.

The question often arose, why the Wheatland High School had always been so small, while the other towns like Lincoln had maintained a much larger school. But this question was easily answered. Lincoln had a Union High School, while Wheatland had a District High School. Between the Union and the District High School, there is a vast difference in size. Where students are taken from at least half of a larger and populous county and brought together to form a Union High School, that school would naturally be larger. On the other hand, the District High School is hampered by the bounds of its district and in a thinly settled farming region, the District High School will naturally be small.

Later, Mr. Elmer Roddan, George Oakley and Mrs. C. H. Dam were the trustees of the two schools. Several years later Mrs. Dam was sent to the University of California at Berkeley to ascertain the requirements in order to make our school an accredited High School, and to secure some one to come to Wheatland and explain to our teachers what subjects were necessary under present conditions.

For fourteen years it remained a District High School and was taught in the Grammar School Building. In 1923 a Union High School District was formed, taking in Wheatland, Virginia, Elizabeth, Waldo and Lone Tree Districts, and the school is still known as Wheatland High School.

Plans for a new High School building were made. It was built in 1924 and was ready for dedication in 1925 with four teachers, leaving the old eight-room two-story building solely for the Grammar School.

In 1927, another unit, the Gymnasium was completed and two years later the shop building was added. The Quonset hut type building was built which housed the shop and agricultural classes.

In 1934 a bond was voted for $33,000 to build the Eastside Elementary School. The new school was erected to the rear of the old two-story building. The new Eastside Elementary School was first used in September 1935 and was the most modern school building in the State of California at that time. The old building was condemned by the State as a firetrap in 1934. After completion of the building, the o1d one was razed. The new one was dedicated by the Native Daughters of Wheatland. Mr. Elmer Cummingham was principal of the Grammar School for twenty-two years (1918-1940) when he passed away.

In 1953 a Kindergarten was established for the first time in Wheatland, and has been very successful.

In 1955, with the influx of children from Camp Beale, our school was running double sessions for some classes, as we did not have enough classrooms. As a result, the Wheatland School District added five new classrooms near the High School. These buildings are modern and attractive. The school district was reimbursed by the Federal Government for the expenses in building this school in the amount of $126,947.00 because the federally connected students were enrolled in the Wheatland School District.

February 1959 the first phase construction of the Lone Tree School was started at Beale Air Force Base and the completed school plant of 39 rooms, at a cost of $1,526,437.00 was constructed. Gordon Stafford was architect of the Lone Tree and Westside Schools on Hooper Street and was a member of the architectural firm that designed the Eastside School, now the Wheatland School.

The sum of $259,892 was allocated by the federal government in November 1961 to construct the new Seventh and Eighth Grade Center, Bear River School, on Hooper Street in Wheatland.

School facilities in the Wheatland Elementary School District now include the $860,820 Far West School, the $1,894,108 Lone Tree School and the $320,122 Johnson Rancho School at Beale Air Force Base; the Wheatland School, $433,692 and the $1,387,095 Bear River School, both in Wheatland.

Growth did not really hit the area until the late 1950's and until then the student body of the Wheatland High School was not in excess of 100 students. The full impact of the growth was foreseen about 1957 and the planning of the present plant followed. An election was held for voting the bonds in 1959 to construct the school plant. The completion of the new High School was September 1961 with the gymnasium completed in December 1961 and full occupancy January 1962. The contract was let October 28, 1960. The architect of Wheatland High School is Leonard Dam Blackford, a former student of the school.

Wheatland Union High School (1960 concept)
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The four million dollar high school plant includes a Library, Girls and Boys gymnasium, outdoor community circle for entertainment; The Commons; lighted tennis courts; football field, baseball field, track facilities, shops, and forty-one classrooms.

Today, plans to add portables and other buildings are underway to expand the campus to accommodate the increase in population.  Our current student body of around 700 is expected to grow by some 200-300 students by 2020.

Take a Campus TourDIALUP USERS: this will be slow.


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