Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stevens County Roots

August 18, I published a first trip into the lands of my father and mother, with emphasis on Mom's teaching career. As usual when doing research, one uncovers just as many errors as good information . We now have a mostly positive record of where she taught and when.

Her first School was Lead Point, the school year of 1929-30. Lead point just a couple of miles east of Deep Lake, was once a vibrant mining town, as the name implies. It was her first opportunity to  teach right out of school. Hired by the Hartbauers, she reported that the community adopted this rookie with assistance and affection that lasted the lifetimes of those then involved.

Her second year puzzled us. Well, I'm getting ahead of myself as I often do. It was at the Aladdin School which absorbed the Meadow Creek School where my Dad and sisters attended and was located where Rocky Creek intersected Deep Creek at the Aladdin Road. That was the next year, 1930-31. There she met a single farm boy with an unusual amount of enthusiasm for the new teacher. They were soon engaged to be married which took place December 30, 1931, during that 1930-31 school year. They were hitched in Seattle, undoubtedly due to the fact that all of Mom's family were there.

Scooting back to Aladdin, they got back in time to resume the school year, after Christmas vacation. The mystery that plagued Brian, brother Stan and I was why, after a successful year at Lead Point, another at Aladdin, did she teach her third year back at Lead Point. One small sentence in a family letter, of which Nina Huseland was a prolific writer solved the mystery. She remarked while at Aladdin that," this was my second year in the district." Apparently due to the shifting in school student populations in those years, the two schools formed a district, whether formally or adhoc. She was still at home after the trifecta of Lead point, Aladdin then Lead Point again. Another puzzle was what happened in the school year of 32-33.

Her maiden name was Nina Barton, soon to be Nina Huseland, sister of Nellie Barton who became Nellie Sweat of the Chewelah Sweats who still run a cattle ranch up Sand canyon past the airport and golf course on the north fork  of Chewelah Creek, and who taught school in the Valley schools, (6th) grade for many years. She once retired, then upon her husband Elmer catching Rheumatic Fever, which takes months or more to recover from, went back to teaching at her old school.

The year of 1932-33 was still up in the air when my older brother reminded me that Mom had a miscarriage before he was born in October of 1935. We know for certain that she taught at Onion Creek the following year, causing husband, Amos to trek miles up over the hill to visit his newly wed wife.

Most of her teaching career was in the Aladdin Valley with the exception of Onion Creek. We finally realized that by taking 1932-33 off from teaching, she had been replaced at both schools. The opening at Onion Creek being the only opening she had, even though it was so far from home. We think she only taught there one year, but the references to close friendships to the Lotzes, (Helen, Sadie and others,) and that she took in two young ladies from the same family as boarders during her years teaching, not necessarily at the same time or even the same schools, the Bjornstad sisters, Lillian and Alma. Lillian later married Allen Duncan, but Mom never mentioned whether Alma married, just that she had moved to Winchester, Idaho. It also remains possible that she taught at Onion Creek during that missing year. The Isabel Wright- Nelson was also mentioned as her only 8th grade student at Onion creek. She later lived in with Nina &Amos to take care of newly born Stanley Huseland, while Nina resumed teaching at the Spirit School. Her last year was 1937, from which the family leased the Grace ranch to the Fredericksons and migrated to the Seattle area, relocating to Renton, Washington during the majority of the years there.

The last two or three years she taught, prior to retiring as a teacher to take on a more daunting job, that of mother, was at the Spirit School just south of the Spirit junction of Aladdin Road and Deep Lake Road. Dad, you see, had inherited the Pat Grace Ranch from his mother, having been widowed seven years earlier from Gunder Huseland, a Meadow Creek Homesteader. Spirit School was only about 3 or 4 miles from the ranch, where Amos also discovered several lead/Zinc claims on the hill side known as Blue Ridge for it's many lead deposits. It was sold in 1940 and was mined and milled there for many years. The name changed, but it was on what is now called goldfield Road. The Pat Grace homestead is where the current junk yard sits at the intersection of Gold field and Aladdin Road.

What we are looking for now, and it is a tough job, since most have past on, are older people that may have been Nina Barton-Huseland's students, or members of those families that have either memories or knowledge of those years from the four schools she taught at. Lead Point, Aladdin, Onion Creek and Spirit school between the years of 1929 and 1937. If you belong to this group please write either to Herb Huseland, PO Box 884, Bayview, Idaho, or e-mail me at

Eventually, I hope to write a book consisting of the second wave of immigrants from the turn of the century in 1900 to about 1930 when timber claims were allowed in Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to form free homesteads. Prominent names of that era were the Loiselles, Hartbauers, Hiatts, Doc Parsons The Phillips family and many others. That area consisted of Loggers, Miners, farmers, ranchers and such. After about 1960 or so, the back to the land craze hit, peaking about 1970, where disenchanted Vietnam Vets coming home to a hostile nation, sought isolation and moved as far into the hinterlands as they could. The area around Northport and Onion Creek was the destination of many. That they moved back into the wilds for the reason they did is a national shame. That they did well, formed a cohesive comunity, is a credit to their grit, survival skills, and a gift for dificult horticulture. Some raised gardens, others livestock and who knows what others did. They just survived and what started out in the early years as a logging camp, after that generation retired became gradually what it is now. Onion Creek School district will not merge with others. Joel Anderson explained. "This school is what keeps us a community instead of a scattered few farms without any connection with each other." I agree.

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