Mt. Carmel, Baker County, Oregon
Historian Note: Located on North Powder between the Anthony Lakes road and the river, Mt Carmel was an early and isolated stage and freight stop on the road from Auburn to Umatilla. It was a day’s ride from Auburn, had an overnight home and an informal post office. It developed as No. 6 among the communities of the gold country. (JRE) (James R. Evens).
in the present makes remembering facts and events that happened as long as
eighty-five years ago rather difficult. However, since I have been asked
to report on Mt. Carmel School, I will write what I recall.
Beginning when I was four years old, I used to look forward to the social events, school and church at an old clapboard building, finally named Mt. Carmel School. Not only the students, but talented people of the community, would give plays and musical entertainments. Dick Williams, from England, was always eager to be in the limelight. Box socials were also popular. The revenues from these socials were used to help support the school.
The first time that I remember hearing about the school was when my grandfather, William Belle Powers, told me that my mother’s three sister’s, Mary Powers (Hutchinson) Ada Belle Powers (Turner), Ellen Powers (Mann) and later my mother, Laura Powers (Dodson), attended the school before 1875.
My grandfather and his family crossed the plains to the area in 1864 and was one of the earliest settlers.
Requirements to be eligible to teach them, were “to be able to read and to cipher”. The teacher received only donation pay and did “boarding around”, which meant that he was supposed to stay for a week at one patron’s home and then transfer to another home. My grandfather owned one of the larger homes. He thought that the association with the teacher was beneficial for his children; consequently, the teachers usually became permanent residents at the Power’s.
Since there was no mountain or no Carmel at the location of the Mt. Carmel School, one may wonder why it received its name. There was a highly religious widower, Mr. May, who had a family of five children, who attended the school. I was told that he proposed the name. This may have been at the time the second building was erected.
Recently, I recalled seeing the name, Mt. Carmel, in the Bible. I called a local minister, Reverend Charles Poling of Newport, Oregon to ask about the name. He gave the following reference: “First Book of Kings, Chapter 18, Verse 20.” Reverend Poling volunteered that, Mr. May, in naming the school, was probably thinking of the importance of faith in our lives and that the wisdom comes from God.
The second building was the one in which I attended school during part of the spring and fall. In the winter month’s, my mother, sister and I lived in San Francisco, Portland, La Grande or North Powder where school terms were nine months long. At Mt. Carmel, there were only six months of school, September, October, November---- March, April and May.
Before the well was drilled, in about 1904, drinking water was carried in a bucket from an irrigation ditch. We had one tin dipper which was left in the bucket and everyone drank from the dipper. Later, it was necessary for every pupil to have his own cup. I remember the pupils were never cautious about whose cup they used.
The Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward Catalogues provided the toilet tissue for the two outhouses, which were generously covered inside with names and risqué rhymes. ( I might pep this article up by quoting some of the rhymes.)
The teacher whom I remember was Mrs. Dryborough. She, her husband and daughter, Blanch, owned a small acreage a few miles west of the school. Mrs. Dryborough was a highly intelligent and dedicated to her work as a teacher.
Another teacher who taught there after my family moved to Baker, Oregon, was Rose Mulvahill. She had 26 pupils. Rose later married Alva Peters and had two children who, I understand, still operate the Peters farm.
One outstanding memory of 1911 was my parents impressing my sister and me about the privilege of seeing Halley’s comet. I know we were in Baker City at that time.
Some pupils who attended Mt. Carmel when I was there were Paul and George Gardner; Tom Mayes; Warren, Ernest, Ethelene, and Euceba May; Blanch Dryborough; Percy, Mattie and Elias Smith; and my sister, Jacqueline Dodson (McClain).
Some of the other family names of the community were Daugherty, Miller, Pilcher, Davis and Hutchinson. All these families had children, so I am confident that their children attended Mt. Carmel School.
I am not sure when the second buildings age necessitated the building of the third school on the site. My father, James L. Dodson, owned the land on which the earlier building had stood until he deeded the land to the school for the third building.
That building was razed a number of years ago, and now, Mt. Carmel School is just a memory.