St. Lawrence School
St. Lawrence, Hand County, South Dakota
Built 1884 ~ Burned 1912
The first school in St. Lawrence was above the C.E. Courts drug store, with his daughter acting as the first instructor.
In 1884, a school house was built on the hill east of St. Lawrence, since it was presumed at the time that the town would expand in that direction. (It didn't!) In 1912 it was burned to the ground by a disgruntled student named Cousins. (More of "the story" below.) (See bottom of page - apparently burned in 1913!)
The photo below appears to include many of the towns-folk, along with students. Noting the bunting above the door, it must have been a day of special celebration. Perhaps it was the opening of this new school in 1884..or another event in later years. If anyone "knows", please advise. CSR
Day Of The Fire
Told by former student to Carolyn S. Rosemore in 1980
by Mae McCarthy Magness - class of 1916
Mrs. Ray (Mae McCarthy) Magness, Miller, South Dakota related to me that she and her friend, Alma Flint (1916) sat nearby and watched as the school burned to the ground that fateful day. Mae was clapping her hands and cheering, thinking she wouldn't have to go to school anymore. Beside her sat her friend, crying her eyes out because she loved school and was afraid she couldn't go anymore.
Mae could not recall the first name of the student who was guilty of starting the fire.
More of the.....
Day Of The Fire
Told to Wilmar Fritts (SLHS 1931)
by Eva Sedam Fritts Lanz (SLHS 1910)
and Leah McCormack Thompson (SLHS 1915)(?)
Eva recalled starting school when she was 7 years old and went to the Old School through graduation, which was the 10th grade at that time. Later, 11th & 12th grades were added at St.Lawrence. (The first 4-yrear graduating class was 1912.) Harry Cross was one of the teachers in the school at that time, until he became County Superintendent of Schools.
In the spring, when the water was high in Turtlecreek, they had to walk the railroad tracks to get to school. She remembered the boys playing tricks on the girls and making them scream. An end of the school year picnic was always held in the St. Lawrence Park. She remembers Ike and Howard Carl being there.
Leah told that her parents came to St. Lawrence in 1910. She was about to graduate from the 8th grade when the Cousins boy burned down the school in April of 1912. She also remembered his name as Cousins, but couldn't recall his first name.
Eva, along with the Postmistress, Faye Thompson, had to play and sing for a funeral one day (probably in the early 50's-csr). Faye had left her husband, Mel, in charge of the post office. A man walked in and asked Mel if he knew him. Mel replied that he didn't. The man said, "Well, I'm the "kid" who burned down the school."
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Now, some more of the story.....
For twenty-five years I've tried to determine what this "kid's" name was. Quite by accident, I recently located someone else researching the Cousins name. This is what I have learned:
James Harold Cousins, grandson of Dr. James Bemas Taylor, St. Lawrence, and son of Charles H. and [Abba M.??] Abbey Mae (Taylor) Cousins, was born August 16, 1900 in St. Lawrence, Hand County, South Dakota. In 1900, when James Harold was born, the family was living in Chamberlain, Brule Co., South Dakota, but the baby was born in St. Lawrence. It may be that Abbey Mae went home so her doctor father could deliver the baby. In the 1910 census Charles is gone and Abbey Mae and two kids, Harold J. and Eugene R., are living in St. Lawrence with her mother and father.
About 1938 James Harold Cousins came to the town of Castle Gate, Carbon Co., Utah on a freight train. He was married on March 10, 1938. James was a cash register repairman so went wherever the work took him. Soon after their marriage they hit the road. They ended up in Watonga, Blaine Co., Oklahoma and a son James Hubert was born to them. It was soon after that his wife and son returned to Castle Gate. They never saw nor heard from James Harold Cousins again.
He died February 3, 1976 in Grand Island, Hall County, Nebraska.
Obituary listed no spouse nor children. He apparently maintained the same occupation of repairman his entire life.
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The questions remain:
WHY did he burn down the school? And, WHAT, if anything was done with or to him for doing so? Perhaps further research will answer at least one of those questions.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Now the SPOOKY part of this story - - -
James Harold Cousin's uncle, by marriage (Ernest Bingham), was my Grandfather's (George Byron Bingham) brother!
So, perhaps now we know The Rest Of The Story...
Carolyn Bingham Rosemore
James Harold Cousins
Circa 1938 ?
Nope, we're not done yet.......
I received the following August 16, 2002 from my *Cousins* research, Kathy Hamaker:
"While on vacation, we stopped at Maxwell, Nebraska at the Fort McPherson Cemetery. It was a beautiful cemetery. I thought you would be interested in these photos."
Note the differences in names: Above as James Harold Cousins; Tombstone as Harold J. Cousins.
Note also different birth dates: August 16, 1899 and August 16, 1900.
Even in death, this guy is driving me nuts! <g>
Thanks, Kathy for the photos! CSR
Carbon County on UTGenWeb
Western Mining and Railroad Museum
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Here We Go Again........
From April 12, 1913 Ree Heights Review
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Professor G. W. Courts was home from St. Lawrence for Sunday. The school building burned there Wednesday evening, but everybody got busy at once, with the result that on Monday of this week, rooms had been secured, desks and books gotten together, and school work resumed. A more convenient site for the school house has been secured, and a special elecction will be called to vote bonds for the new struccture. This speaks well for the people of St. Lawrence and also for Prof. Courts.
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Now that you've read the above, YOU figure out the day/date on which the school actually burned down. If paper published Saturday the 12th, Prof. was home Sunday...the 5th? So did school burn down on Wednesday, April 2, 1913? Perhaps a "belated April Fool's joke"? Apparently the joke is on ME....I was always under the impression the school burned in 1912! Scheeech! CSR 06-23-2003
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