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History of Plainsburg and Plainsburg School

Plainsburg School around 1930

Photo Provided By Merced County Historical Society

Please help. We need your pictures of the Plainsburg Community and original school to post on this web site.

Merced county was part of Mariposa county until a bill was passed in 1855.  The southern part of Merced county was used for grazing, and the government held the title to the land, which let the people who were involved in cattle-raising to graze without any hindrance over a vast territory covered with the best grasses. Until the middle of the 1860's people thought that this part of the country was unfit for agriculture. As you found out they were wrong. People started testing the capacity of the soil and climate and soon demonstrated beyond all doubt that cereals of all kinds could be raised with profit. This area started to grow after they discovered it was highly fertile farm land.

Not a lot is known about Plainsburg history. It was known originally as Welch's store on Mariposa Creek.  According to an article from a old newspaper a school and church building was built in this location in the year of 1858.

In the herald of September 19, 1868, is a article about "improved mail facilities." It stated that the congress has established a new mail route from Stockton to Millerton, by the way of French camp, Tuolumne City, Paradise, Empire City, Hopetown, Snelling, P. Y. Welch's Store on Mariposa Creek, Appling's Store on the Chowchilla, and so to Millerton.

The name Plainsburg did not appear until July 6, 1869 when a U.S. post office was established.

Already with lots of established ranches and farms, the town of Plainsburg began to grow in late 1869 and the early 1870's. There was two hotels, two blacksmith shops, two mercantile stores, a large billiard saloon, a barber shop, one good doctor and a number of other professionals. And also a newspaper was being published.

The one room school belonged to the Vasehe family. They did not accept payment for the school but instead asked the school district to give a donation to the polio fund.

The Athlone building was used all the way up to 1953 when the first wing of the present school was built. The  Athlone building was forced  to move because of the new construction and it has since burned. In 1958 the second part of the school was completed.

The school that was built in 1920-21 is now used as the auditorium and cafeteria and addition added on in 1939 is used for cooking the school lunches.

There were 85 students attending Plainsburg school at that time. Mrs. Storey  has a special class that has a additional 10 students.

Here are some of the teachers of that time:                                  

 

                            Mrs. Mary Spaulding    -    kindergarten

                            Mrs. Sandra Andreessen    -   1st & 2nd

                            Miss Martha Galvin    -    3rd & 4th

                            Mrs. Margaret Tesone    -    5th & 6th

                            Mr. Richard Solis, Principal -  7th & 8th

The early schools of Merced County had a lot of trouble along the very difficult circumstances.

In 1858 a building was built at Welsh's Store ( Plainsburg ) by Welsh and Trin to be jointly used as a school house and a church. Merced County had four school districts in the year of 1863: Jefferson, Pioneer, Jackson and Merced Falls. Plainsburg was part of the Pioneer school district until the year of 1872 when it became a separate district.

Another school was built in the early 1870's. this one-room school house was attended by many people who were still living in the community and their pioneer settler fathers. There even used to be a windmill in front of the school and a barn and corrals for the horses. Many of the students that attended Plainsburg school had to ride there horses a long distance to get to school so they would tie on tumble weeds to the tails of there horses to make them go faster.

In the year of 1881 Plainsburg school had an enrolment of only 38 students, then in the late 1890's and early 1900's the school dwindled down to only about 15-20 students. The students attended the school from the first through the eighth grades.

In the year of 1921 a new school was built and the old one-room school was torn down. The lumber from the old school was used for buildings on their ranch. There were two new classrooms in the new Building. The school had grades from 1st to 8th until 1925 when the 7th and 8th graders started to attend Le Grand high. A bell tower was built in the two room school house with the Kahl family loaning the bell that had been purchased by Mrs. Adam Kahl in the 1870's.The school continued to grow and they added another 1939. The Athlone School was moved to Plainsburg around 1945. This Plainsburg had a well established commercial and Chinatown with a population said to be only four hundred.

Plainsburg had a well established commercial center and a Chinatown with a said population of four hundred. The farmers did not want the railroad to go through their fertile lands and when it was bypassed in 1871-1872 with the central Pacific (along hwy. 99)and the Santa Fe railroad in 1896 (in Le Grand), the commercial center slowly disappeared.

By the 1900's most of the old stores and commercial buildings were either moved to Le Grand or torn down and the lumber used in building some other structures that need building.

The  Methodist Church was moved to Le Grand and is still being used for the Le Grand Methodist Sunday School classes. The Presbyterian Church purchased and then torn down by D. A. Patton for the lumber. The old jail is stored and can be seen on the co. Road Dept. lot in in Le Grand. The Plainsburg post Office was not transferred to Le Grand until December 15, 1907.Although the commercial town of Plainsburg has disappeared, the school district has maintained to be strong thanks to the rich farm lands.

The town of Plainsburg was first recognized as a separate school district in the year of 1872. Before that, however, an old newspaper article dated the year 1858 tells of a building being constructed in Plainsburg to be used as a school and a church.

In the year of 1881 Plainsburg school had an enrollment of 38 pupils. This level was not maintained and by 1900 there was only about 15-20 students.

The original one room was replaced in the year of 1920 by a modern building. As the numbers of pupils in the school continued to grow a second room was added in 1942.

A little while later the Athlone District lapsed and that building was moved to the school site at Plainsburg, serving as the third classroom for the school. This old building was remodeled in the year of 1953, thus making room for a new one containing a office and three classrooms.

A second classroom became necessary soon, because the population of the are kept on increasing.

In the year of 1976 there was over one hundred pupils enrolled at Plainsburg school. The old building, constructed in 1992, is now used as a auditorium and cafeteria.

The last day of school picnics have been a tradition for Plainsburg. Old timers recall these festive times when most of the neighborhood took part by bringing contributions of luscious picnic fare complete with freezers of ice cream. It was customary for the for the school children to take the trip to the picnic site enmasse with teachers in charge. The means of transportation back then was the local farmer's hay wagon, a comfortable amount of hay and a team of sturdy farm stock for motive power.

Among the teachers of those olden days were four recalled by a old timer. They were a Miss Cook, a Mr. Ogden, Miss Mordecai and Miss Baxter. The given names are no longer remembered.

A modern version of the old time picnic of happy memory has of late become a picnic on the school grounds so that all of the parents might attend.

In June of 1974 our competent teachers and helpers presented at picnic time a celebration entitled "Centennial Plus Two". Our school was then one hundred and two years of age. Past teachers and Pupils of the district were in attendance along with parents and school patrons. In addition to the picnic, there were displays of historical antiques and documents as well as fine examples of pupils' work. Senior Citizens were welcomed and honored. At this time an historical bell was given a permanent place of recognition. The bell came from the original old Presbyterian Church in Plainsburg. The occasion was voted by all to have been instructive and enjoyable.                

This document was prepared with information provided by Elvina Wilson, Howard Egling, Gladys Kahl, and James Tesone.  Elvina Wilson,  Howard Egling, and Judy Kahl provided the history through 1951. Mr. Tesone provided the history from 1951 to the present time.