|San Luis Stake Academy abt 1900
Alamosa Public Library
Initially, as I perused the meager contents of Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus’ little suitcase, I was somewhat disappointed that it had little to aid me in my efforts to take my Ganus family line back any further. Recently I revisited that little suitcase with an eye for what it does have instead of what it does not have and discovered that a few items give me a glimpse into my Grandma Hazel Mickelsen Ganus’s life.
Among the items in the suitcase was a rather large certificate measuring 14″ x 17″ issued for completion of the high school course of study at the San Luis Stake Academy. I assumed that it was a school there in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, but I didn’t know much about it, so I did a little digging to see what I could learn about the high school that Grandma attended.
I learned from an article in the LDS Church News entitled “Academy era short-lived, but impact long lasting,” written by Kevin Stoker in 1988, that from 1888 to 1909, the LDS church started 35 academies in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Mexico, and Canada. These schools provided spiritual education as well as secular. The San Luis Academy that my grandma attended began in 1909, but by 1922 the academies were closed and the education process was turned over to the local government.
Grandma did not write very much about her time at the academy but rather focused more on her education afterward. But here is what she did share about her experience:
“My eighth grade teacher, as well as my first two years of high school was Mr. Frank Soule, a very good teacher and a well liked person. In our graduating class there were (no number indicated). Our colors were purple and gold. Sanford only had a two year high school at that time. Students wanting to attend further had to go somewhere else. Of all that big graduating class very few went on to high school and less to college. I was the only girl that finished college of the group. While attending class high school in Sanford the school building caught on fire and burned down, we then attended class in the old church house.
“After finishing my two years here I attended school in Manassa where there was a church school, called the San Luis Academy. The first year a bad epidemic of small pox broke out among the students as well as town people, so school was closed, consequently no credits were issued. I went back the next year and it was here that I finished my high school education. Luckily, while I was attending school in Sanford, I was able to carry sufficient credits, added to what I now had I was able to graduate in three years with the class of 1919.
“How did we get to Manassa to school? Well, we rode in a bus, a lot like the ones we have now, but smaller.”
Grandma pursued more education and eventually graduated from college and taught elementary school both in Colorado and Oklahoma where they moved in the later years of my grandfather’s life. I have to appreciate her determination to learn and gain an education.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved