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Ryssby Frontier School

November 29, 2010

Jamie and I went to the library yesterday to do some old fashioned research on the old fashioned schoolhouse we have our eye on.   It was so fun – we got the librarians all riled up and excited about our research, and accidentally led them to believe that we’d already purchased the property and were in the process of fixing it up.  Once we realized the librarian thought we were the new owners we were too embarrassed to correct him, so we just let him think whatever he was thinking.  Maybe he’ll start a rumor around town that the property has been purchase, which will keep away other potential buyers?

We found out that the school (and a nearby church) were originally built by Swedish immigrants.  They named the town Ryssby, after the town they’d come from in Sweden.

First, in 1873, a school was built of logs.  In 1888 it was razed to make room for this brick school:


The brick building was razed in 1910 and the final stucco structure, which still exists today, was built.  It was originally two rooms, with a teacherage on the second story.


Here it is today.  It is very similar except for the big kitchen/living area that has been added on to the back of the building (far left of the photo).

CO Dream Home 042

We had a lot of fun reading about the history of the school.  Here are some of the interesting tidbits:

  • Roll call for the school included names like the Nelsons, Andersons, Knutsons, and Johnsons.  Sounds exactly like Mora, another Swedish town in Minnesota, where I went to school!
  • Lessons were in English which is the only language the teachers spoke, but the kids would gossip & chatter in Swedish which drove the teachers crazy.
  • Many of the children rode to school on their horses, leaving them in a loafing shed at the back of the property.  One girl’s family needed her horse to help with field work, so she would turn the horse loose when she got to school and it would find its way home each day.  Her father would then pick up her up from school at 4:00 in their wagon.
  • The children planted trees in the schoolyard on Arbor Day, but one of the students remarked that it was a lost cause because “it was such a dry, windy hill that nothing ever grew… only cactus.”

Here’s a satellite view of the property – inside the red box. 


2 Comments leave one →
  1. lucia permalink
    November 29, 2010 9:58 am

    i am smitten by all the tidbits. also i think you owe it to the librarians to at least put a low-ball offer in the place… and then tell them that the deal didn’t go through.

    librarians are a national treasure after all.

  2. aunt B. permalink
    November 29, 2010 6:58 pm

    this is soooooo interesting!

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