NEW LOOK AT OLD MIDDLETON – Old Canyon County Schools

As this valley was settled, pioneer families worked together to create schools for their children. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the area around Middleton was dotted with small, individual school districts. Last month we talked about Canyon School on Highway 44. This month, we are remembering another small district nearby.

Two miles south of Middleton on Middleton Road is Marble Front Road, now closed to through traffic. But if you turn west just before that on Lincoln Road, follow it to Wells Road and turn south, then east on Marble Front and finally south on Ware, you will come to WICAP Head Start and Child Care, a location with a long history of educating children.

Marble Front, District #12, was founded in 1870, with its original school located close to the Old Oregon Trail. There was a spot cleared of sagebrush in front of the school where the children played marbles. Covered wagons coming by on the Oregon Trail called the school “Marble Front”.

Children listed in the 1893 attendance log included forty-five children from seventeen families. J. H. Whitson, County Superintendent, visited in 1873 and gave a rather dismal report of the facility. According to him, the  building was about 10’x12’, made of cottonwood trees from along the nearby Boise River, covered with mud, “primeval in all its parts,” with two windows and one door, an indifferent blackboard, and seats as “wrongly constructed as one could imagine.” Benches were made of split cottonwood logs. The desks were homemade and large enough to accommodate an entire family. The district reported it was planning a new schoolhouse that would equal that of Franklin School (about three miles to the east).

A frame building replaced the original log school. It and a second building of the same pioneer construction burned on Halloween, 1911. The school term was finished in a tent, reminding us of the Middleton High School fire in 2007, when the term was finished in a nearby church and community building.

A two-room building replaced that school in 1912 and stood in the center of the Marble Front community. An Oregon Trail marker was placed in front of the building, and any information about that marker would be appreciated by the Historical Society.

Marble Front was one of the small independent schools which were reorganized into Vallivue School District in 1960.  Third and fourth-grade classes were held in the building until 1970. The school was sold by Vallivue School Board in 1971 to a church. Today it is home to WICAP Head Start, continuing the site’s long tradition of nurturing area children.

Historical information taken from Old Country Schools of Canyon County, by Corinne Moyers.

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