Schools in north-central Minnesota (1871-1909). Father Francis Pierz invited the Benedictine sisters from St. Joseph to teach in Pierz where he and his parishioners had begun building a school in 1869. The school had not been completed by the time the sisters came in 1871, so they lived with some of the parishioners until the upstairs of the log school house was completed as the sisters' convent. The school on the first floor accommodated 100 pupils. For the sisters, this was a first experience of staffing a rural school and living at such a distance from the motherhouse. However, rural schools mushroomed quickly throughout the Northwest Territory. By 1910, the sisters staffed over 40 such schools outside St. Cloud and the Twin Cities area. Needless to say, the teachers endured many hardships in these rural areas. If they were lucky, equipment consisted of desks and a piece of blackboard. Attendance was variable and classrooms were overcrowded (sometimes 80 in one small room). At times there were no classrooms other than the church, the church basement or sacristy. Cold and hunger prevailed and the ever-present hostile controversy of public versus parochial schools affected school discipline. Salaries were sparse or even non-existent (Saint Benedict's Monastery Archives ; McDonald, pages 68-69).
This photograph shows, from left to right: William Bickel, Gov. Horace Austin, and J. K. Moore, who was the editor of the St. Peter Tribune. Austin served as governor from January 9, 1870 to January 7, 1874.
This is the home of George Dryer, who lived at the intersection of Third and Walnut Streets in St. Peter. Dryer was the steward at the St. Peter State Hospital. The 1880 census lists Dryer, his wife, Anna, and their children, Mary Emma, Anna, and Horatio. George is on the porch and Mary is in the carriage.