“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Colton in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Colton Public Schools


Colton Public Schools Marker image. Click for full size.
August 27, 2022
1. Colton Public Schools Marker
Inscription.  Town founder John E. Colton is generally recognized as the driving force behind the establishment of a school district and three of a series of four public schools which met the educational needs of local children for 87 years. Colton was an educator, the town's namesake, and an aggressive booster of the belief that all area children were entitled to a public school education. He was a long-time member of the township school board and served two terms as Minnehaha County Superintendent of Schools. Several members of his extended family served as teachers in Colton schools. After arriving in 1878, he was active in organizing Taopi Township School District No. 62 and a year later was elected chairman of its school board.

In 1880 the school district acquired a sod house for use as a rural school. John Colton's sister-in-law, Ellen Colton, was the first teacher. She assigned students a grade level depending upon their scholastic background and taught all Grades from 1 through 8. The sod school, the first of three schools located in this block, did not have a stove; therefore classes were held only during the summer months. Older boys
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were sent each day to a nearby well to carry a pail of drinking water to the school.

Four years later, a wooden frame schoolhouse was built on Main Street, two blocks west and one block north of this site. With rapidly increasing enrollment, as many as 65 students annually attended classes in the small building. This second school was the only one of the four town schools that was not located in the "school block," as this block is sometimes called.

John Colton was a director of the Colton Land and Investment Company in 1904 when it donated the school block to School District No. 62. The same year, a third school opened at this site, a wooden frame two-story building, complete with a bell tower. Grades 1 through 8 were taught, and a two-year high school curriculum also was attempted but was discontinued as few pupils attended. Before long the school district assigned three teachers to begin a four-year high school. In 1917 seven senior girls became Colton High School's first graduating class.

On Armistice Day 1924, students hand-carried their text books and personal belongings next door to a fourth school, a modern brick building. A special election in 1966 created Tri-Valley Independent School District No. 153. The last Colton High School senior class graduated one year later, ending an 87-year public school era for the town. The old 1924 brick
Colton Public Schools Marker <i>(Side two)</i> image. Click for full size.
August 27, 2022
2. Colton Public Schools Marker (Side two)
school was demolished in 2008.
Erected 2009 by the Minnehaha County Historical Society and Colton Alumni. Text authors were Donald S. Whealy (Class of 1941) and Loren H. Amundson (Class of 1949).
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1880.
Location. 43° 47.289′ N, 96° 55.661′ W. Marker is in Colton, South Dakota, in Minnehaha County. Marker is at the intersection of East 3rd Street and South Sherman Avenue, on the right when traveling west on East 3rd Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 302 E 3rd St, Colton SD 57018, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. South Dakota Central (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); John Edmund Colton / Founding of Colton (approx. 0.2 miles away); Taopi (approx. 3.1 miles away); Huntimer (approx. 3.2 miles away); Willow Creek Lutheran Church (approx. 5.8 miles away); Hartman, 1899-1916 (approx. 7.2 miles away); To God Be The Glory! (approx. 9 miles away); Old Nidaros Church Replica (approx. 9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Colton.
Colton Public Schools Marker image. Click for full size.
August 27, 2022
3. Colton Public Schools Marker
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 3, 2022. This page has been viewed 119 times since then and 68 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 3, 2022.

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Nov. 28, 2023