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Schools were established early in Dry Creek Valley, because most of the farm families had young children. The Manzanita School was evidently the first to be erected in the valley, when,  in January of 1855, the commissioners hired a teacher at the District #2 (the southern part of Mendocino Township) school for three months at a rate of $4.00 per pupil per month. Located a few hundred yards north of the present Manzanita schoolhouse, it was built at a cost of $200, with donated labor (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:1).

The 1861 Report of the School Marshals noted a total of 249 children in Dry Creek, 55 under four years of age, 104 between four and 18, four between 18 and 21; 86 had been born in California. By 1863 four schools had been established in the valley: Dry Creek, Lafayette, Mill Creek, and Manzanita (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:2,9).

Soon thereafter state law encouraged building school houses three miles apart to accommodate horse and buggy transportation, and so that children would not have to walk so far to attend. Schools established on the east side (within present Dry Creek Valley) included:

  • Manzanita, one-half mile west of the freeway on Dry Creek Road, 1855, extant as a residence
  • Lambert School, located one-half mile below the Dry Creek Store, built 1857, site was at 3001 Dry Creek Road
  • Dry Creek School, on the Kelly property and later moved onto the hill on the Reiners property, now 5129 Dry Creek Road
  • Upper Dry Creek School, built 1866, later called Hamilton School, near Bridge Road (now under Warm Springs Dam), with a new school completed in 1874 (Figure 3)
  • Lincoln District School, built on Dutcher Creek in 1909, merged into Geyserville District in the early 1930s
  • Canyon School, on Canyon Road, just east of Dry Creek Road, built 1912 West Dry Creek Road schools:
  • Pena School on upper Dry Creek Road, in 1889 on land purchased from G.K. Bell, demolished (Figure 4)
  • Grape School, first built on Wine Creek Road and later moved down to West Dry Creek Road on Jules Auradou property
  • Pine Ridge School, built ca. 1900, unionized and joined the Healdsburg Elementary School District in 1936, now a private home at 2065 West Dry Creek Road (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:2-5).

Invariably with one room and one teacher, grades were one through eight, and students studied during class and played at recess. Games played at the Dry Creek School included over-the- school-house, tag, run-sheep-run, hide-and-go-seek, marbles, baseball, and red-line (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:13).

As the closest high school was in Healdsburg, students either had to walk or go by horseback or horse and buggy, or stay in Healdsburg during the week. In 1917, however, Frederick Patronak, one of the school trustees, felt so strongly that all the children should have the opportunity of an education that he furnished a bus to take them to school The bus, driven by his granddaughter Elizabeth Allman St. Clair, was a hand-cranked Ford. It was driven for two or three years, and then the children were chauffeured by car (Dry Creek Neighbors Club 1979:34).