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Teacher and students of School 3, District 37 of Williams County stand outside sod schoolhouse near Zahl, N.D.
Teacher and students of School 3, District 37 of Williams County stand outside sod schoolhouse near Zahl, N.D.
TitleTeacher and students of School 3, District 37 of Williams County stand outside sod schoolhouse near Zahl, N.D.
Date of Original1908
CreatorBrekke, John
Creator RolePhotographer
DescriptionThe teacher and students of School 3, District 37 of Williams county appear in the John Brekke photo taken in 1908. Left to right are Anna Bergeron, Teacher Eva McCoy, Elizabeth Coty, Josephine Murphy, Loretta Dunn, Minnie Witsoe, Anna Dordal, Jeffrey Witsoe, Art Witsoe, Ted Bergeron, Earl Harvey, Roy Witsoe, Alfred Coty, Dennis Coty and Rudolph Coty.
General SubjectEducation
Social life & customs
Subject (LCTGM)Children
Sod buildings
Clothing & dress
Subject (Local)Barefoot children
Personal NameBergeron, Anna
McCoy, Eva
Coty, Elizabeth
Murphy, Josephine
Dunn, Lorretta
Witsoe, Minnie
Dordal, Anna
Witsoe, Jeffrey
Witsoe, Art
Bergeron, Ted
Harvey, Earl
Witsoe, Roy
Coty, Alfred
Coty, Dennis
Coty, Rudolph
LocationZahl (N.D.)
Item Number1-1-33-1
Negative Number1-1-33-1
Format of OriginalPhotographic prints
Dimensions of Original8 x 10 in.
Publisher of OriginalShemorry, William E. (Bill);
Place of PublicationWilliston, N.D.
NotesTitle created by staff.
Biography/HistoryWilliam E. "Bill" Shemorry was a native of Williston, N.D. who began work in the newspaper industry as a newsboy selling the Williston Herald and the Williams County Farmers Press. In 1953, he started to publish the Williston Plains Reporter, which he operated for 25 years before selling to the Williston Herald. Shemorry then began to concentrate on his own writing and photography. In addition to writing many books on the history of Williams County, he also collected photographs of early North Dakota photographers. Shemorry was an active member of the Williston Fire Department, was Civil Defense Chief of Williams County for three years in the 1950's, and was a combat photographer in World War II. Shemorry's photograph of the discovery of oil in North Dakota on April 4, 1951 at the Clarence Iverson No. 1 is one of the most famous oil photographs ever taken, and was published in many national publications.
The third school did not start until 1908. By this time, Eva McCoy was settled in her homestead shack. When the school board learned she was a teacher, she was immediately hired. The school building was a sod walled shanty which had been abandoned by some previous hopeful who could not make it. The board members fixed it up and readied it for classes. The location was only about two miles northwest of Eva McCoy's claim and not far from the home of Alex Bergeron whose three children would be students there. Eva McCoy, tender young woman of Byron, Minnesota, didn't know it when she stepped off a stagecoach at Zahl, but she was about to begin a rugged pioneer life that would include teaching in a sod school, freighting dynamite and groceries across the rocky prairie and bringing up a family of four under what would today be described as "primitive conditions." In her wildest dreams she had not thought that some day her picture would hang in a prominent place int he North Dakota Historical Society's research room in Bismarck, N.D. Although the graduate of a teachers college, she had not been entirely sure that life as a "school-mum" would be all that meaningful. She was impressed when she read the literature of the Great Northern Railway, telling the advantages of homesteading in North Dakota. The though of owning her own place was most appealing....Byron was a small town nine miles west of Rochester and in 1907 rail travel was easy as far as Williston. After that, her jouney took her 30 miles north by 4-horse stage to the Zahl ranch. Here, pretty much in the fashion of the old frontier, a pony was saddled, she was given a lift up and some general insturcitons as to the location of her land. Then she was on her the time Eva McCoy arrived on her claim, much of the land had been taken up and the new settlers had already organized a school district.
Bibliographic ReferenceDescription by William E. Shemorry in his book: More Lost Tales of Old Dakota, pgs. 121-123.
Repository InstitutionState Historical Society of North Dakota
Repository CollectionWilliam E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection Mss 10958
Credit LineState Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection (1-1-33-1)
Rights ManagementPermission to reproduce this image must be requested from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Ordering InformationTo order a reproduction, inquire about the collection, or provide information about an image, please email Emily E. Schultz at
Digital IDws11331
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