Old School



      May 4, 1796 – August 2, 1859

Sporting the dour personage of his day, nonetheless Horace Mann was much respected and revered for his progressive ideas on education in the early days of this country. He probably has his name on more elementary schools than even George Washington.

No one did more than he to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of education ends

Arguing that universal public education was the best way to turn unruly American children into disciplined, judicious republican citizens,


Photo and above information obtained from Wikipedia



Indeed American children, and the American population in general in the early 20th century, were an unruly lot, which happened also to be their strong point.

Surprisingly though, lacking almost all of the appearance and accoutrement of what would be considered “civilized society”, Plumas County, even on it’s first official mapping by Arthur Keddie, the most legible characters are those that indicate the various school districts. One of them, The Mann School District in Quartz Township, is located in what would become Graeagle.


                                 The first drawn township map by Arthur Keddie

And that, unruly children, leads us back to our heroine from my December blog post: Ghost of Christmas past, written almost in its entirety by Louise McKenzie Knickrem., the first school teacher at the “new” Mann School.

Louise McKenzie Knickrem’s life was a living history of her time. Born in 1890 to one of the first pioneering families in Mohawk Valley, Mrs. Knickrem nee McKenzie was immersed in a literary tradition by her well educated parents.  Indeed, one of the earliest registries of lending libraries in Plumas County notes two locations in Mohawk Valley, one at the McKenzie Ranch, the other at the Mann Schoolhouse, both under the direction of Mrs. Knickrem and her family.

Even the most remote and seemingly untouched parts of our expanding country were not spared the invasion nor the enormous loss of life that was the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic to which newlywed, Mrs. Knickrem, lost her husband, J.C. Knickrem, second generation son of the pioneering Knickrem family who established one of the earliest lumbering operations in Mohawk Valley.

Mrs. Knickrem eventually left her home in Mohawk Valley, but she continued her teaching career, teaching in the Santa Clara School District for over 40 years.

                                                 The Mann School Bus

The above images were drawn from the book entitled California’s Beautiful Mohawk Valley by Ruth Martin and Jane Long…

…who go on to note,

Mann School image: “The history of any school is really the history of the teachers and pupils. The teachers we remember and dearly loved are:Louise McKenzie, Vivian Knickrem, Leola Rife, and Mrs. McClasky. Louise McKenzie was married to Vivian Knickrem’s brother and this beautiful romance was cut short by the flu epidemic that we previously mentioned. Vivian Knickrem lost her husband, Mr. Long, in World War I. Leola Rife became Mrs. Clarence Schott and we have been in touch with her for many years.”

Mann “School Bus” image:  “This is the Mann School bus taken in front of the Blairsden Mercantile Store. Chris Lemm is the driver. The other adult in the picture is a teacher, Mrs. McClasky. Jane, George, and Ruth are seated between them. Mary Ann is under the canvas in the back. The double Bob-Sled and the team of horses was owned by Chris Lemm. The picture was taken during the winter of 1921.”

Dwindling year round population and school enrollment numbers forced the closure of Graeagle’s Mann School some time ago, but we can still celebrate its 100th anniversary. The schoolhouse still stands across from the Frosty at the intersection of Highway 89 and Johnsville Road. It houses the Queen Bee Boutique, featuring “Fashion clothing, jewelry, accessories and fun…”  I think that would have made Mrs. Knickrem smile.











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