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Dusting Off the Old Ones
Originally published 1961, W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana

19. Miles City High School Graduates

It is not long until commencement time at Custer High and it should be interesting to most of the Star readers to learn something of the graduates from Miles City High School, which preceded Custer High. The first class graduated from Custer High in 1904, but the first graduate from a high school in Miles City was 1893. For the first time, in this column, the Miles City public will be given an accurate account of the graduates from the high school prior to 1904. Before the establishment of the county high school, all school activities and classes were held in the old Washington School building, which stood on the southerly half of the block which the present Washington School occupies, which the exception that the Lincoln Building was built around the turn of the century and some of the overflow was taken care of there. The old Washington School was a two story brick building built in 1884, and had four class rooms on each floor -- there was an addition built in later years, practically doubling the capacity. That still did not provide sufficient until the completion of the Lincoln building. This old Washington was surrounded by a fence constructed of iron pipes running through wooden posts, with stiles instead of gates. And most any frosty morning, passersby would note youngsters testing the temperature of the pipe with their tongues. You know the result -- tongues with very little skin left on them. There were eleven grades in the Miles City school at the time, and the last three were termed the "high school". The first graduation exercises were held in the Presbyterian Church on June, 1893, when Sallie R. Holt, who later became Mrs. Thomas A. Mapes, was the first graduate from the Miles City School system.

In 1894, there were five graduates in the class: Verna Hinds, Milo T. Harmon, Edward B. Holt, Paul W. Milburn and Charles E. Haynes. Three of these folks are still living -- Ed Holt lives here in Miles City; Paul Milburn lives in California, and Charlie Haynes is a retired Methodist minister. In 1895, a class of six graduated: Bessie Howard, Jessie Thorpe, Robert N. Davidson, Alfred R. Clarke, Herbert Steadman and Emily Ireland. We know that three of these have passed on, but do not know the present whereabouts of the others. In 1896, the number was not so large -- only four: Allie Holt, Harry Wright, Grace Ireland and Mildred Meyers. Of these two are still living in Miles City -- Allie Holt, who is now Mrs. Tom Butler, and Mildred Meyers, who is now Mrs. Harry Schlosser, the Childrens' Librarian at the Carnegie Library; Grace Ireland lives in Missoula; Harry Wright passed on to his reward several years ago. The class of 1897 consisted of only four also: Edna M. Brown, Gertrude Miner, Flora Brown, and Harry L. Wilson. Forla Brown is now Mrs. Flora Stein and resides in Miles City. Harry Wilson became a prominent attorney in Billings, but did a number of years ago. He was an uncle of Richard and Randolph Diebel, residents of this community.

There is no record available as to any graduates in the spring of 1898. We contacted "Shade Tree Bill" who is a source of considerable information published by us, and he tells us that he has searched the school records and the files of the "Yellowstone Journal" and has come to the conclusion that there was no class that year. If you will remember, 1898 was the year of the outbreak of the Spanish-American War -- that might have had something to do with it. In 1899, Raymond Warner, James Ulio, Elmer Holt and Cecil Bowden comprised the graduating class. Two of these folks later became prominent. Elmer Holt became Governor of our fair state and James Ulio became Adjutant General of the United States Army, holding this rank all during World War II. Ray Warner was also prominent in a way, inasmuch as he is really the "daddy" of the rodeo in Eastern Montana. Ray held his "bucking horse show and wild horse races" for several years in the old ball park on Fourth Street. The last we hard of Cecil Bowden, she was in Seattle.

The first record of any class day exercises was for the class of 1900. These exercises were held in the old Opera House, at the corner of Fifth and Bridge on May 24, and the graduating exercises were held the next evening in the Presbyterian Church, when Edgar B. Merrill, Kirtlye, Rena M. Wilson, Joseph Bateman, Allan C. Ireland and Louis Gaylord graduated. As far as we know, Kirtlye Hill, who is now the wife of Judge Sydney Sanner, is the only one of this class living. She lives in Los Angeles. Louise Gaylord afterwards married Fred W. Woolsey and was one of the victims in the train wreck on the Milwaukee when the Custer Creek bridge gave away in a flash flood some years ago.

1901 boasted of the largest class from High School comprising ten members: Oscar Lindeberg, Sadie B. Lindeberg, Myrtle Johnson, Tommy Thompson, Carter Snell, Louise Lower, William Clarke, Ray McAllister, Io Remington, and Ernest Sorenson. The graduating exercises were held in the Opera House on May 24th. Three members of this class still reside in Miles City. Louise Lower resides in Bozeman, Io Remington in Salt Lake City, and Ray McAllister in California. Oscar Lindeberg, Myrtle Johnson, Tommy Thompson and Ernest Sorenson have passed on to their reward.

The final graduating class was that in 1902, when Julia Dunnigan, J. W. Evans, Anna Hurley, Mary Carter, May Myers, Emily Clarke and Nettie Kimes graduated on May 23rd, 1902. Two of this class still reside in Miles City. Nettie Kimes and Anna Hurley have passed on, and May Myers was a teacher in this vicinity recently and was a candidate in the primaries last July.

This completes the roster of the graduates from the High School before Custer High took over. Somewhere, in one of those graduating classes, is "Shade Tree Bill", the authority for most of the stories published by us for your edification and pleasure. There was no graduating class in 1903, as that was the year in which the switch was made from eleven to twelve grades and from the old Miles City High School to Custer County High.

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