Tukwila’s schools took root in mid-1800s | Tukwila’s Story

In the mid-1800s, with the establishment of family farms, the population began to include many children. Many of the settlers had little or no formal education but decided it would be important to establish schools. One such school opened in 1866 on the farm of Samuel Maple.

  • Thursday, March 21, 2013 2:00pm
  • News

The original Foster High School.

Pat Brodin,  chair of Tukwila Historical Society,  co-authored this month’s “Tukwila’s Story” article with Louise Jones-Brown, about development of schools in the greater Duwamish River Valley area.  Jones-Brown is treasurer for the Tukwila Historical Society and acting director of Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center.

The early pioneer settlers established land claims in the 1850s and 1860s from the mouth of the Duwamish River to just south of the Black River.  In 1869, the Surveyor General’s Office completed a survey of King County.  Most settlers selected land near waterways due to lack of roads and most travel was by canoes and small boats.  A few names found on the survey include Luther Collins, Jacob, Eli and Samuel Maple, Joseph and Stephen Foster, Frances McNatt, John Buckley, T. Grow, C.C. Lewis, Bennett Johns, Henry Meter (Meador), George Holt,  A. Hograve, John Moss,  C.E. Brownell, and Henry Adams.

In the mid-1800s, with the establishment of family farms, the population began to include many children. Many of the settlers had little or no formal education but decided it would be important to establish schools.  One such school opened in 1866 on the farm of Samuel Maple.

A deed filed in 1871 King County, Washington Territory, shows Samuel donated land for a Maple School to the “Directors of Seattle School District No. 2.”  John Wesley Maple, Sam’s brother, worked as a teacher in the Maple School in 1868 and served as president of the school board until his death in 1902.  A photo of the Maple School in 1884-1885 has the following student’s names listed: Cora, Dora and Cliff Maple, Howard and Maude Horton, Henry, Herman, Louis and Theodore Wendt, Charles and Nina Gifford, Abbott and Jasper Mayo, Albert Rossi, Steven Collins,  Henry Manderville, Rose Newell (a Maple cousin), and Viola Miller. Most of the students would arrive for classes by boat or canoe as there were still very few roads in the valley.

Joseph and Martha (Steele) Foster were advocates for education and were instrumental in formation of the local school district.  They offered a tract of land which was officially transferred to the new school district for a $1 gold coin on March 1, 1892.  The residents of the community then built Foster School at the corner of 51st Avenue South and South 139th Street.  The site is known today as Foster Memorial Park. Once the new one-room school was built, the Foster School District No. 104 was established in 1892. During the first five years, the Foster School District only had a handful of students while Joseph Foster served on the school board.

As in the 19th century, the school year consisted of a four-month winter term and a three-month summer term, allowing students time off when their help was needed on the farm. On April 7, 1904, Foster School District consolidated with the Black River School District No. 6 and then became Foster School District No. 144. Consequently as enrollment increased, the school board purchased an additional acre of land in 1905 from Joseph Foster immediately north of the original acre.  The district quickly built a new four-room school and moved the original one room school to the southeast corner of the property where it stood until about 1930. In 1909, district voters approved a $16,000 bond issue to purchase sites and new schools at Duwamish, Riverton and Tukwila.

Enrollment grew throughout the entire upper Duwamish River Valley with improved transportation and immigration during the first decade of the 20th century.  Later consolidations led to the establishment of South Central School District No. 144 and finally Tukwila School District No. 406 as we know it today.  From the one-room schools of the 1800s to the present time, the pioneering vision and progressive support of people such as the Fosters and the Maples contributed greatly to the local education for those living in the valley.

Pat Brodin is chair of Tukwila Historical Society and co-authored this month’s “Tukwila’s Story” article about development of schools in the greater Duwamish River Valley area.  Louise Jones-Brown is treasurer for the Tukwila Historical Society and acting director of Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Garage Sale, Tukwila Historical Society Fundraiser at the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center, 14475 59th Ave. S.

Saturday, April 27, 2 p.m., Highline Historical Society presents a Military Road Sesquicentennial Program at Tyee High School, by Michael Vouri, National Parks Service at San Juan Island and author on Pickett and the Pig War.

Saturday, June 8, 1 p.m., Tukwila Historical Society and Tukwila Arts Commission presents a Military Road Sesquicentennial Program presentation, “Territorial Voices” A Civil War Reader’s Theater by Lorraine McConaghy, author and historian. Program made possible by Humanities Washington. Free admission.

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