When the Territory of Arizona was created in 1863, there were no schools. Therefore, the First Legislature of the Territory set out to establish elementary, secondary, and university schools by appropriating $250 each for schools in Tucson, Prescott, La Paz, and Mohave City. Each of the towns would provide a matching amount. Prescott was the only town to accept. In 1872, Governor Safford persuaded the Sixth Legislature to enact a broad school law for the Territory which provided public funds. This opened the way for more schools. Ehrenberg was the third town to have a school in the Territory.
Mary Elizabeth Post came to Arizona in 1872 to teach at Ehrenberg. Of her experience there, she wrote. "A place which had formerly been occupied as a saloon was prepared for a school room. It was an adobe building with a dirt floor, very thick walls which were simply rows of arches with columns between and a roof resting upon them. The arches were closed at night by heavy wooden doors opening inward. There were no windows, but when the doors of all the arches were opened in the morning, it was practically an out-of-doors school. At least we had plenty of light and air. Tables and benches were placed here for the teacher and pupils, and the schoolwork began with great difficulties, for the teacher knew not a word of Spanish, and the children not a word of English.
Occasionally a former patron of the place who had been away from town for some time wandered in, but when he found it occupied by a teacher, surrounded by her children, he backed out with profuse apologies."
According to an article in the Yuma Sentinel, Tyson Wells (now Quartzsite) was granted a School District, #10, on July 9, 1897, with a Miss Mabel Morris hired as the teacher. Old Supervisors' records in Yuma show that, on January 11, 1899, Anton Hagely was paid $25.00 rent for the use of a room for a school the previous year. There is no mention of the location of the school; however, I was told by Judge George Hagley and his half-brother, Fred Kuehn, that classes were held in a front room of their father's adobe brick building and that Charles Donnel was the teacher. District #l0 possibly lasted through two school terms. On July 19, 1901, a petition for a school in Quartzsite was rejected by the Supervisors; but, finally, on July 13, 1903, Quartzsite was granted School District #4, covering a total of 14 square miles, with the Post Office in the center.
In September, 1903, classes started with school records showing Miss Edna Cundiff and Lula Carlyl as teachers. There is no information as to how long the terms lasted nor how many months each teacher stayed. In teaching the schools of this area, I came across a photo of one of the earliest Quartzsite schools--a canvas tent, erected under a tamarisk ramada. Judge Hagely verified that it had been his first school and identified Joe Noriega, Rosie Gonzales, and himself in front of the tent with the woman teacher. He could not remember the name of the teacher; however, Fred Kuehn verified that it had been Miss Cundiff. The tent school was located on what is now Moon Mountain Road, near the old Currier adobe building.
A more permanent building was needed, and soon after, William Scott, a carpenter and businessman, constructed a wooden building that served as a school for many years. It was located south of the old Scott home, between the present Business 10 and I-10. It remained in that location until December 6, 1934, when it was moved to its new location, an acre donated by Mrs. W. T. Field, near her old home on Moon Mountain Road. The work was done with SERA (State Emergency Relief Administration) funds, using local men. Mrs. Nelda Dodson, the teacher, held classes in her home until the work was completed, a week later.
By early 1950, plans were laid for a new and larger building. In June, 1950, an article in a Blythe paper reported the school bonds voted for the District in the amount of $20,000 had been sold to a Phoenix firm at a rate of interest under 3%. Homer Lee of Yuma was the building contractor. The school was constructed on the acre previously donated by Mrs. Field, directly in front of the old wooden structure.
On March 3, 1951, at 7:00 P.M., a potluck dinner for the housewarming and dedication of the new school was held for the community. Contractor, Homer Lee and Gwyneth Ham, Superintendent of Schools, were in attendance. The old wooden structure was put up for bid, and B. F. McKnight offered the highest and only bid on the building. It was sold to him for $100 with the understanding that it would be removed in a reasonable time.
Classes continued in the Quartzsite School until the 1966-67 term, when students were transported by bus to the new school in Ehrenberg. Following the closing of the Ouartzsite School in November, 1968, the building was leased and maintained by the Senior Citizens and used for dances, card parties, potluck dinners, and slide shows for the enjoyment of the community. In 1976, the building was purchased from the School Board for $6,000 by the Yuma County Board of Supervisors. The interior was remodeled and made into a courtroom and office for the Justice of the Peace. Judge George Hagely and his staff moved into their new quarters during the week of March 29, 1977.
The following names were teachers of the Quartzsite Elementary School from 1903 until 1966:
1903 Edna Cundiff, Lulu McCarlyl, 1904 G. H. Neaddin, 1906 Mark Phillips, Louis H. Qastrow, 1907 Grace Mathews, 1908 Mrs. M. A. Rucker Jessie Thornbre, 1909 Mary K. Van Pelt, 1910 Nova Blackwell, 1911 Elizabeth Rovinson, 1912 Nova Blackwell, 1913 Caroline Morgenson, 1915 Rose Ballow, 1916 Grace Austin, 1917 Emelia Hagely, Grace Austin, 1917 Grace Hagely, 1924 Mrs. Helena Rogers Blue, 1925 Mrs. Blue, Theresa Hagely, Vergie M. Lucas, 1928 Anna Schroeder, 1929 Mrs. Edith Davis Fanning, Alta Ormsby Ward, 1930 Fern Churchill, 1931 Dorothy Shepard (Gr 1-11), Mrs. G. A. Fanning (Gr. 5-8), 1932 Lucille Haughtelin, Atta Owensby Ward, 1934 Nelda Dodson, 1935 Mrs. C. A. Hawkins, (1st issue of school paper "Quartzsite Chronicle" came out on October 4, 1935), 1936 Mrs. Myrtle Foree , 1938 Grace W. Dodge, 1943 Gladys T. Adams, 1945 Grace Dodge, 1946 Virginia Lee Nelson, 1947 Winifred G. Erdman, 1948 Bertha Cash, Tillie C. Beal, 1949 Monroe Tate (Gr. 4-8), Isabel Kildoo, 1950 Lorena Dryden (18 students), 1951 Ortha May Cockran (Gr. 1-8), Isabel C. Buse (Substitute), 1952 Isabel C. Buse, Thomas Deaton (Gr. 5-8), 1953 Isabel Buse, Emily Peck Lamp (Gr. 5-8,) 1954 Isabel C. Buse (Gr. 1-4) (41 students), Pauline Sandholt (Gr.5-8), 1955 Isabel C. Buse, 1956 Ruth Vannish (Gr. 1-8) 30 students, 1957-61 Ruth Vannish (Gr 5-8), 1958-59 Ethel Lane (Gr 1-4), 1960-62 Isabel Buse (Gr 1-4), 1962 Charles McFadden, 1962-66 Wm. McElhannon and Grace McElhannon, 1966-67 Students transported to new school in Ehrenberg