The First School in Iron County

As school starts up, we will take a look back at some of the early days of schooling in the county. We have come a long way from brush shelters and two books. The first settlers arrived in Iron County in what would become Parowan in December 1850. The following entries from the diary of George Albert Smith record the start of schooling soon after.

Feb. 1851 We commenced building a wicky-up with slabs and brush. I proposed to the brethren that we start a school in the wicky-up, providing they will help finish it. One side of the wicky-up was covered with 14 slabs taken from logs brother Richard Benson sawed up for the mill. Thermometer 16 degrees

Feb. 21, 1851 I commenced a grammar school in my wicky-up. My scholars were Thomas Wheeler, Hosh Millet, Peter. A. S. Smith, Richard Benson, Benjamin Hults, and Wm. Mitchell. By the lithe of the fire and only one grammar book.

March 3, 1851 My wicky-up is a very important establishment, composed of brush and a few slabs and 3 wagons. A fire in the center and a lot of milking stools, benches and logs placed around, two of which are fashioned with buffalo robes. It answers for various purposes: kitchen, schoolhouse, dining room, meeting house, council house, sitting room, reading room, and storeroom. To see my school some of the cold nights in February, scholars standing around my huge campfire, the wind broken off by the brush and the whole canopy of heaven for cover. Thermometer standing a 7 degrees, one side roasting while the other freezing requiring continual turning to keep as near as possible an equilibrium of temperature. I would stand with my grammar book, the only one in school, would give out a sentence at a time and pass it around. Notwithstanding these circumstances, I never saw a grammar class learn faster for the time.


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