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Liberty School - March 2013 Full Newsletter


During the fall of 2012 Ron Boise, John Luchau and Vickie Andrews Sanders discover one another through email and start sharing stories about the Liberty School days. I joined the group in November and the topic of the Liberty School 1957 “buried time capsule” floated  up. Now I’m not sure if I really remember this event or do I? Vickie recalls that it was buried in the Spring of ’57 out by a tree on the front lawn and was to remain there for 50 years. None of us recall hearing about the “dig up” part of that equation either. My Mom couldn’t have possibly missed an Oregon – Statesman news flash like that.

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The group grew to include Mary Blanchard Smith, Joyce Cates Mennis, and Alton Albin, and speculation continued regarding the time capsule.   Boise has Google Earth open looking at the Liberty property, while I’m trying to find a link to Mr. Cal Bryan, our teacher. He was friends with my parents up to their deaths about 10 years ago, and the family Rolodex had been long ago tossed. 


So what was the Principals name? Maybe he could lead us to something. Mr. Wally Turnidge was his name and there seem to be some local connections around Salem for him. So far no contact has been made.

From the Salem Keiser School District website we located the email address of the current Principal, Mr Whitman and his assistant, Sandy Allen. Although neither of them were aware of the “time capsule” we were invited to dig through a “history drawer” that had been maintained all of these years. Vickie and Joyce scheduled a visit in February 2013 and successfully did visit the “drawer.” There were no photos from the era or leads to help with the “time capsule search. They did find an old scrapbook created in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the school.  We will have the scrapbook on display in August, and will thereafter donate it to the Marion County Historical Society. Vickie compressed 100 years of history into these paragraphs.

Yeah, I was surprised at the age of our old Liberty School too--can you believe 1868? The land on which it sits was originally a part of the Joseph R. Patterson Land Claim 50; he sold to J.  A. Johns, who sold to Daniel Strang, who sold to Charles Swegle--all transactions apparently before 1865, when the U.S. Government issued a patent.  Swegle deeded 5 acres to School Dist. 71 on January 25, 1869, for the cost of $25.   Since you expressed interest, here's a chronological list of the various builidings erected on the school site:  1868--16' x 20' building; cost $457.75; 1892, schoolhouse replaced by a larger one-room building for $970.  In 1896 or '97 a one-room addition was built.  1906, classes were conducted in the Dorman Dance Hall across from the cannery (later known as the Grange Hall); 1908, a two-story, four-room school was built; 1934-35 gym and cafeteria built (was a WPA project), 1953 a six-room addition was built, 1957, another six-room addition was built; 1959, three classrooms and restrooms were built; 1960, three classroom were built; 1964 the old building was demolished and three classrooms and a library were added.  There is a lovely drawing of the 1908 school in the mystery drawer, which probably should be saved! 

The 1908 Schoolhouse was constructed with a bell tower.  The bell in it came from a linseed oil mill built by George W. Gray on the site of the present Thos. Kay Woolen Mill.  When the bell tower was torn down, the bell was given to the Liberty Church of Christ located on Skyline Road, where it could be heard every Sunday morning (don't know if it still is though). 

To put the age of the school in perspective, Frank Judd wrote:  "At the time Liberty School was built, Mr. A. C. Gibbs was governor of the state.  The Civil War had been over for three years and the Indians had been removed to the reservation at Grande Ronde.  Many of the roads of today were already laid out but most of them, if not all, were unsurfaced.  In winter the roads were so muddy, Mrs. Hrubetz reported, that some thirty years later it still took all day to go to Salem and back.  Many families went to town for mail but once a week.  Ferries across the Willamette were pulled across by ropes."  There's quite a bit of historical information; for instance, in 1888, there were six houses between Salem and what was Rosedale.  The homes are named.  Other tidbits of info I found interesting was that in 1872 the Modoc Indians were at war; 1876 the University of Oregon opened at Eugene; 1877 Nez Perce War when Chief Joseph surrendered; and 1885, 17 years after Liberty School started, the Oregon Agriculture College was established at Corvallis.

I put together a small website ( ) that would hold the photos that we had gathered between us of the Class of 1957 and we started putting names with the faces. To date I think we are only two names short of identifying the entire class.


We have put together this table of classmates. Those names with a * we have been in communications with. The red text and ** are known to be deceased. The balance we are still searching for. If you are in contact with any of the "missing" please let me know at


Dick Bunse*

Sharon Knepper Lemonds*

Ron Turvey *

Mary Ann Agalzoff **

Joyce Cates Mennis *

Steven Kurtti **

Kristen Anderson Howell**

Karen Anderson Mcdonald*

Karen Sorenson Nye*

Dick Edge **

Christine Butler Kansier*

Sheiry Troxell Beard *

Mary Kay Bent

Alton Albin *

Dan Withers *

John Luchau *

Robert "Bob"  Smith*

Polly Clark*

Vicki Andrews Sanders *

Richard Alexander

 Michael Barker*

Dan Hughes *

Nann Nelson **

Fred Fagg **

Carol Jones

Evelyn Cobb Lewis*

Barbara Meech Davis*

Ron Boise *

Lila Braatan Thomas**

Margaret Gates

Bill Berry

Tom Childers

Bill  or Joel ??? from photo

Mary Blanchard Smith*

Gary Friese

* In touch with ** Deceased HIghlight - Unknown    

Do you remember the Graduating Class Song? It was a modification of the Perry Como song, Find a Wheel. I was able to put together a few of the stanzas, but that's it. What can you remember. Send any ideas to me at the above email address.

Find a wheel, and it goes round, round, round,
As it skims along with a happy sound,
As it goes, along the ground, ground, ground,
‘Till it leads you to the one you love!





Then your love, will hold you round, round, round,
And your heart’s a song with a brand new sound,
And your head, goes spinnin’ round, round, round,
‘Cause you found what you’ve been dreamin’ of!


All the cooks and John. (not sure where this goes. John was the bus driver.)



In the night you see the oval moon,
Goin’ round and round in tune.
And the ball of sun in the day,
Makes a girl and boy wanna say:

Reading, writing, arithmetic,
rubber bands and spit wads too.
Working , playing all the day
are the things we like to do



Find a ring, and put it round, round, round,
And with ties so strong the two hearts are bound,
Put it on, the one you found, found, found,
For you kno’ that this is really love!


Liberty now we will say goodby,
to another school we say hello.


Although we have yet to discover any useful information about the “time capsule” we have had a lot of fun gathering the evidence and sharing our childhood memory stories. Who knows how accurate they really are, but were sticking to them.

Friday, August 23, 2013, we invite classmates from Liberty School to meet at the school (you all remember how to get there!) at 2 pm to share memories and to reconnect.  We are trying to locate the time capsule and if we can do that, we will have a digging-up ceremony.  We look forward to going back to our childhood for a short time.  Please attend!

Dan Withers - 1957 Sixth-grade alumni, Liberty School