Pioneer Village Museum
Ward County Historical Society
North Prairie School
The North Prairie School #1 was built in 1903 at the cost of $984 in the small community of North Prairie, located approximately nine miles north of Velva. The school was originally just one room with a central heater. The entry was added in the summer of 1914 and provided a place for coats and lunch pails. In the summer of 1917, a basement was added which contained a furnace and cistern. Out buildings at the original site included an outhouse and a barn for horses and buggies belonging to the teachers and students.
The first teacher was Miss Hattie Deibler, who came to the North Prairie community from Corwith, Iowa. In the fall of 1903, she boarded a westbound train, arriving in Granville, North Dakota, on 12 September 1903, during a snowstorm. She was a teacher for fifty years before retiring in 1954. In addition to teaching at North Prairie School #1, she taught in Granville and elsewhere in McHenry County. In September 1942, she began teaching at North Prairie School #4.
Twenty-five teachers taught within these walls in the 43 years the school was in service. The first students were: Martha Jurgens; Elida Skarison; Martin, Anna, Arthur, and Anton Hjertaas; Mello Byerly; and Bertha and Willard Shipman. The director of the school was M. Skarison, the president was Mr. Rowe and Mr. Byerly served as clerk.
The school closed in 1947. It was purchased by Elmer Moen in 1955 and moved to his farm where he and his sister, Ingeborg Moen, transformed it into a small museum and library for local residents. Ingeborg had been both a student and teacher at the school. They repaired the ceiling, re-plastered and painted walls, installed floor to ceiling shelving to accommodate over 2,000 books, restored desks and gathered pictures and samples of schoolwork for display. The original blackboard, although now gone, was located behind the teacher’s desk.
In 1989, the school was donated by Mr. Moen and moved to the Pioneer Village Historical Museum. It is available for tours. Outfitted with desks and books, you can be transported to an old time school day when you walk in.