STARTING OF EDUCATION IN SOUTHERN UTAH
as told by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in their Book UNDER DIXIE SUN.
In reviewing the early history of St. George, we find that one of the first considerations of our people was the education of the children. On December 4th, 1861, Elder Erastus Snow ‘called the people together in the "big tent", and the first business transacted was to choose teachers, and organize a school. Jabez Woodward as the teacher, and the "big tent" was to be his school room. For two weeks, he carried on, and then the "Big Rain" came so the tent had to be used as a temporary shelter for the families who had lost their homes by the flood at Tonaquint.
But this delay in education was of short duration, for when the people moved to their city lots in January of 1862, Orpha Everett taught school in a tent on her lot. Before March 1st of that year, a good sized willow school house had been erected on lot 1, block 12, plat A, of the city su rvey. The walls were made of cottonwood poles driven in the ground and woven tightly with water willows, the roof being made of similar material. For a protection against the cold,. a thick coat of mud was plastered over the willows. In the center of this room, resting on the dirt floor, was a huge flat rock. On this was a pole which supported the rock also served as a desk for the fortunate children who had anything to write with.
Very soon after the erection of this willow school house, work was started on a permanent building close by. This building measured 20 X 36- feet in dimension. Its foundation was laid up with red sandstone, and the walls of adobe, made from the clay of their old camp ground. The foundation material used is is evidence that it was one of the earliest buildings, for the people soon learned that the alkali present in the ground, ate into the soft sandstone causing it to crumble rapidly. This building was completed about 1863 and was used thereafter as the First Ward school house and church building.