|Edmond's Ladies Aid Society|
The first activity was an ice cream social where blackberries, ice cream, cake and lemonade were sold. They made a whole whoppin’ twenty-five dollars from that! That’s not very much in our day and age, but considering back then, you could get a kid sick on one penny’s worth of candy, it was a lot of money! By August, the schoolhouse was in operation and doubled as the church and community center. Rev. Thomas N. Horner preached the first sermon on the 4th of August, then performed the first wedding recorded in Indian Territory on the 11th of the same month. On September 16, 1889, with Miss Ollie McCormick presiding as teacher, the first day of Edmond Public School began. The first day she had nineteen students. By the end of the week she had thirty-seven. The floor was dirt, the seating handmade, children walked, ran, skipped, rode horses and donkeys to school. There are stories that a few students actually rode goats! The schoolhouse had a little lean-to so the animals that were ridden had shelter. The First through Eighth grades were taught there.
The second fundraising endeavor on November 28, 1889, was the town’s first Community Thanksgiving Dinner followed by a ball held at the schoolhouse. It was agreed that the men would go hunt, and the women would cook. It was reported that the dinner included one hundred thirty-two quail, eleven prairie chickens, twenty-two rabbits, seven turkeys, two squirrels, two raccoons and . . . one opossum. What a feast! But their work was not in vain. They managed to raise enough money that the Ladies Aid Society was able to pay off the debt for the lumber, and pay Miss McCormick’s first year salary which was thirty dollars a month for eight months.
Four different churches were established in the schoolhouse. On November 9th and 10th, 1889, the Methodist Episcopal Church was officially organized in the schoolhouse. January 19, 1890, the Christian Church was organized in the schoolhouse and held services there the longest. On Easter Sunday, April 1st, 1890, the First Presbyterian Church of Edmond was organized. On May 11th, 1890, the First Baptist Church was the last church established. Not only did the schoolhouse see the first wedding in Indian Territory, it saw the first funeral on June 21st, 1890, where family, friends and parishioners gathered to say good-bye to the Reverend Rush McDonald.
Enough settlers had come in that, within ten years, the Edmond Public School had outgrown its building. On August 21st, 1899, Hardy C. “Pete” Anglea purchased the old schoolhouse and schoolyard lots for a residence before the new schoolhouse was completed. He put in a staircase so he could use the empty attic space above, moved the house to a sit on a new foundation fifty feet west of the original location in 1903, added windows on each side of the front door, and a new Victorian-era front porch. On January 2nd, 1900, the Edmond Public School was moved to its new home, a two-story stone building. In 1908, Anglea sold his schoolhouse residence to the McGowan family, who sold it to the Pledger family in 1919. In 1927, the Sanders family bought it. In 1950, the Sanders’ son, Woody, converted the downstairs front of the house to his camera shop while the back and upstairs continued to be their residence. Sanders Camera Shop closed in 1975 due to too much traffic forcing the city to widen Second Street to four lanes, taking away the shop’s parking. The building lay dormant for twenty-five years. That’s my earliest memories of the building—odd green peeling paint on the building, boarded windows, cracking siding and sign.
In 1998, the Edmond Historic Preservation Trust started raising funds to buy and restore the schoolhouse. There was a huge debate on whether or not the Sanders Camera Shop really was the original schoolhouse of the pioneer town Edmond, Indian Territory. But the truth came out when the Trust bought it and read the deed. “School Lands”. The Trust had found their schoolhouse! Over the years it has been restored, refurbished, repaired and lovingly attended. Now it is open to local school kids to come experience what school would have been like back in 1889, bringing period-specific food (no bananas) for lunch, dressing up like Little House on the Prairie, and spending the day with the schoolhouse’s own schoolmarm. It counts not as a field trip but as an actual day of school because of the curriculum and the certified teacher. For the general public, it is open, free of charge, the first and second Saturday of every month from 1-4pm. They have a weekend schoolmarm who is a life-long Edmondnite and very proud of her Edmond heritage. Over 126 years ago, Edmond became history with the first schoolhouse in Indian Territory, the first wedding, and the first funeral. About 125 years later, it’s made history again!