Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sunnyside School - Readin', 'Ritin', and Romance

Sunnyside School, about 1920
Little Sunnyside School.1  If it wasn’t for that little rural schoolhouse, I wouldn’t be here.  And if you’re one of my cousins, you wouldn’t be here either.  It was where my grandparents, Bill and Lillian Knutz, met and fell in love - and the rest is history.  Not only did Bill and Lillian (and their siblings) attend here, but their children did as well.  It was right here, in this little schoolhouse, here where Bill and Lillian “laid claim to each other” in the 3rd grade, according to Bill.
The white X at the top of the map shows the location of Sunnyside School; the turquoise X below sits just to the left of the Christensen farm; the yellow X is just above the Will Knutz farm; the pink X is just above the farm where Bill and Lillian Knutz raised their family 20 years later.

When Bill and his brother Howard went to school, they went past the Christensen farm.  One morning, Bill and Howard, in their horse-drawn buggy, ran into Lillian and Raymond Christensen, also in a horse-drawn buggy.  A race ensued, but unfortunately, the wheels of the two buggies became entangled and locked together.  Needless to say, the next day (and every day thereafter), Bill and Howard could be seen riding a single horse to school.  The same thing held true for Lillian and Ray.  But down the road a distance from the Christensen farm, out of sight of everyone else, they would do a switch; Ray and Howard would end up on one horse, and Bill and Lillian on the other.

Interior of Sunnyside School, 1997

On one occasion, when the kids were in third grade, Bill got sick and missed a few days of school.  The teacher asked Lillian to sit next to him and show him the lesson.  Bill said, “I got a feeling all through my body, like I wanted to put my arm around her waist and give her a hug.”  That pretty much sealed the deal.

Lillian is the dark haired girl at the end of the row, and Bill is 3 kids to the left.

Years later, Bill and Lillian purchased a farm just one mile east of where Bill’s family had lived.  Their children also attended Sunnyside school.

The whole student body in the Young Citizens' League Parade -
four of the five students were from the same family. 
From left, Teacher Mrs. Tanger, Betty Knutz, Wilma Knutz,
Billy Knutz, Don Knutz, and other unknown girl.

After the kids were grown, P. C. and Ella Christensen sold the farm to Paul Meyer and moved to California.  By this time, the school had been known more widely as the Meyer School.  When the school was no longer used, it was purchased, presumably by Paul Meyer, and moved to that property, where we saw it in 1997.


©Karen Seeman, 2018.  For personal use only.  Do not republish or post elsewhere without permission.

1This school was also known as Meyer School and was located in Clyde Township, not to be confused with another rural school known as Sunnyside, in neighboring Dearborn Township.

Personal Photos
Google Earth
Interviews with Bill and Lillian Knutz
Interviews with Betty Hammer
A People’s History of Beadle County, SD, 1986
A Place-Name Study of Beadle County, South Dakota (Leta May Janes), 1929

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