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As It Was: First Henley, Calif., School Holds 40 Students

The first Henley, Calif., schoolhouse was a simple building at the southwest end of the community’s main street.

Big enough to handle 40 students, it was constructed of rough siding with interior walls of knotty lumber. The blackboard was simply a pine board painted black.

Desks made of 7-foot-long boards seated four students.  The school had a single outhouse and lacked a playground, library, and water well.  Students used stone-slate pencils to write on slate slabs and packed their own lunches to take to school.

Parents purchased books each term.  When students completed the eighth grade, they simply left without a graduation ceremony.

The school closed in 1887 or 1888 when a new schoolhouse opened in Hornbrook after the railroad reached town. 

A teacher who taught at the Henley School, Kate Cooley, became the first teacher at the newly named Henley-Hornbrook School.  She was replaced by I.N. Matlock the second year.  In 1893, M. F. Cowan served as both teacher and principal.

The school received a new wing in 1893 that allowed separation of students into lower and upper grades.

Source: Jones, J. Roy. The Land of Remember. Second ed., Naturegraph, 1971, pp. 122-24.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.