On July 8, 1871, a school was opened above a saloon in the block between Seventh and Eighth on Front Street. The school room was approached by means of an outside wooden staircase, and aside from the blackboard a small table and some common chairs, was destitute of equipment. Attraction, however, was not lacking, for Miss Cina Hopkins, sister to Mrs. Crocker, was the first teacher. There were eight pupils, among whom were the Gingel children. Miss Hopkins resigned at the end of a few months to become the wife of John Conlisk, a well-known conductor on the Union Pacific road, and they made their home in Ogden for some years, later moving to Los Angeles where Mr. Conlisk died. His widow and two sons survive him.
The next teacher was Miss Whittier, and she was followed by a Miss Holmes. The building in which the school had been held was destroyed by fire, and for a time the Presbyterian Church opened its doors to the cause of education. Miss Holmes was the niece of the presiding elder of the Methodist Church, Rev. Mr. Pierce, and he timed her arrival so that he might meet her on a Sunday when he was preaching in Evanston. The news spread that the town was to be favored by the presence of another lady and an eligible one, and all of the unmarried men, dressed in their best, were found loitering about the platform waiting for the coming of the train. As usual, it was late, and all of the blood in their bodies seemed to have reached their faces to be held there by the unaccustomed stiff collars, but they bore the martyrdom patiently until Mr. Pierce appeared, and taking in the situation, stepped up to them with the words, “Gentlemen, you are no doubt looking for a young and giddy schoolma’am to get off here. I think you will be very much disappointed.” Still hoping against hope, they remained at their post, but all illusion vanished when, half an hour later, a plain, near-sighted maiden lady stepped down, and she was allowed to make her way to the hospitable home of A. V. Quinn with no other attendant than her frank relative.
Miss Holmes was followed by Miss Brundige, a niece of Ed Linsley, and she by Miss Sally Pepperly, who became the wife of W. H. Remington. Mrs. Tooley, wife of the hardware merchant, also taught for a time in the church and some years later in the schoolhouse that was completed during the summer of 1873. The building still stands opposite the courthouse on Center-Street, and with some tasteful additions made by J. G. Fiero, who bought it, has since 1887, been the home of the William J. Cashin family. As a schoolhouse, it consisted of two rooms, in which a lady named Miss Brooks was principal and Miss Clara Bisbing assistant. Miss Brooks married Russell Thorp and continued teaching until 1876. Their home was what is now the Presbyterian manse. From here they went to the eastern part of the state and Mr. Thorp gained fame on the Boseman Trail, where he was engaged in freighting.
Another teacher was James Hoy, who took up land in Pleasant Valley that is now part of the Painter ranch. In 1877 Miss Lou Houston, a niece of General Houston of Texas, became teacher. She was married the next year to Thomas Langtree. A very successful private school was conducted about this time in the Methodist Church by a man named S. J. Griffin, who is now engaged aged in business in Ogden.
Following Miss Houston we find the names of Professor Stevens and H. L. Griffin. From 1883 to 1888 the school was tinder the supervision of E. S. Hallock, a trained educator from the state of New York. Professor Hallock left Evanston for Salt Lake and was for nearly thirty years principal of schools there. The Evanston schools had outgrown the little building before his arrival and had overflowed into vacant rooms in different parts of the town. In 1885 it was moved into the first building to be erected on the high school lot, and a well-graded school of seven rooms was established, which was the beginning of our splendid school system. Professor Hallock was followed by E. ; . Stevenson, and he by J. C. Hamm, under whom the first class was graduated. It consisted of Clara Dickey, Anna Morganson, Ida Carrick, Ethel Demsey, Lulu Winslow, Robert Hocker and John Lauder. Professor Stevenson was succeeded by J. B. Logue, who was here for only one year. In 1893 Miss Frances B. Birkhead, who had held the position of high school principal, was made superintendent. She became the wife of Judge Beard, and as now state historian, with an office in the capitol building at Cheyenne.
Two educators from the state of Kansas, C. M. Perdue and J. L. Fleming, followed Miss Burkhead. In 11898 Professor C. C. Norwood accepted the position and served until 11903. Mr. Norwood is remembered as a scholarly man whose wife also taught. The next principal was Professor Swanson, and he was followed by C. H. Shelbaugh, who resigned to go to California in 1913. Professor George Coverdale from Michigan was superintendent the succeeding six years, and during most of that time the high school was in charge of Professor J. L. Kirtland, a fine educator, whose daughter became the wife of Laurence Engstrum. Since the year 1919 Professor C. C. Voellar has been superintendent. The first building put on the high school lot is now called the East Grade School, and is under the care of James Robb. West of it stands the high school, built in 1915. The West Grade building, three blocks farther west on Summit Street, is in charge of Miss Kate Smith. North Evanston has a building to accommodate the three lower grades. A school wagon brings pupils from the Almy mines.
F. S. Jacobs, of whom nothing more than the name is known, was the first superintendent of schools in Uinta County. Others to hold this office were Richard L. Carter, F. L. Arnold, E. W. Hinchman, Miss Essie Strong, Mrs. Mary Jane Young, Miss Nell Pepper, Miss Iva Thomas, Miss Kate Smith, Mrs. Iva Thomas Irish, and Mrs. Jennie Isherwood, the present superintendent.
The schools of Uinta County have always stood high among those of the state. Since the establishment of the yearly tournament at the seat of the State University, the place accorded our students has been a cause of congratulation to all.