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Huset School, Boy Lake Township

Cass County Historical Society
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Huset School at its original site

Huset School (the north side and east end) before it was moved from Boy Lake Township to the grounds of the Cass County Museum, ca. 1960s. Used with the permission of the Cass County Historical Society.

Huset School, an example of the kind of one-room log schools once common in northern Minnesota, was built in Boy Lake Township (Cass County) in 1912. Cass County Historical Society restored it in 1968 and opened it to the public as a historic site.

When the Soo Line railroad was completed in the fall of 1910, settler-colonists moved into an area in Cass County known as “the Island." The Island consisted of a few square miles of rather high land between Leech Lake and Big Boy Lake, with the Boy River flowage to the north and a cedar swamp to the south (hence the name “The Island,” which is still used today). The Island was quite isolated, and the settlers had to travel by boat to get the mail. There was no school that first year. Parents taught their children at home using lessons prepared by Stella Good, a carpenter’s wife and mother of three who lived close by.

Ole J. Huset filed a claim to land in Boy Lake Township in about 1909 and received the patent for 160 acres in the northeast quarter of T142N-R28W (Township 143 North, Range 27 East) on February 28, 1914. Even before he received the patent, he realized the need for a local school and donated one acre of land for the Huset School in 1912.

The Huset School was built in the center of the Island in 1912 by settlers Lemon Mix, Dave Clark, Algot Johnson, John Pichotte, Martin Forbord (boss carpenter), Al and John Meyers, Herb Bonick, William Reinke, Nels Granbecker, Benart Engebretson, William Billings, Art and Charley Preble, and R. P. Brown. Frank Anderson had the only horse team in the neighborhood and skidded the logs used in the building.

Guy T. Mix, another local resident, was awarded the first teaching job in 1912. After he found that he could make more money working in the woods than he could teaching at the school for $20 a month, however, he gave up the assignment. Esther Wenholz was then hired as a replacement and became the school’s first teacher. Several single women taught between 1912 and 1929 (it was difficult to retain teachers because it was such an isolated area), including Wenholz’s replacement, Faith Seamans.

When Frida Norman Ecker was hired in 1929, this was highly unusual because she was a married woman with three children. After she left her new baby with relatives, she and her sons lived in the schoolhouse for ten weeks until they moved to a small cabin half a mile from the school.

The school building was last used for its original purpose in 1937. The land then reverted to Virgil Dickson (sometimes incorrectly spelled “Dixon”), a local farmer who owned the property. Dixon donated the school to the Cass County Historical Society and the building was brought by truck to the Cass County Museum Grounds in Walker in 1968. Dedication day was June 9, 1968, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Original to the school are slate boards on two walls, a bookcase, and a forty-eight-star American flag. A pump organ in working condition sits waiting to be used. Original desks from rural schools throughout the county, a suspension world globe, framed pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, teachers’ certificates, end-of-the-year souvenir booklets, kerosene lanterns, and period photographs adorn the walls. Memorabilia such as ink wells, dip pens, slates, textbooks, and historical novels add to the authenticity of the interior.

Restoration of the building was completed in 1968 and included installation of a new foundation, a cedar shake roof, and a bell tower. The interior, which had been covered in the early 1930s with wainscoting, was given a coat of paint. A jacketed woodstove was brought into the back of the classroom and a teacher’s desk was added to the platform at the front of the classroom. A Waterbury seven-day school clock was hung on a nearby wall.

The school was moved once more in 1982 just a few feet west of its original location to allow for construction of the new Cass County Museum.

In 2017, the school was again upgraded when its exterior logs, which had been deteriorating, were restored.

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Cass County Historical Society members. “The Cass County Pioneer School Story,” 1982. Manuscript Collection, Cass County Historical Society and Museum, Walker.

Ecker, Frida Norman. My Fifty Years with the Angels. New York: Vantage Press, 1978.

Ecker, Freda Norman. “Huset School Days.” Manuscript Collection, Cass County Historical Society and Museum, Walker.

Engebretson, George. “Huset School Was Pioneers’ Effort for Educating Their Offspring." Pilot-Independent, September 6, 1984.

“Historical Log School Dedication.” Pilot-Independent, June 7, 1968.

Holmquist, Bill. “Old School is Popular Attraction.” Pilot-Independent, June 21, 1979.

“Huset Pioneer School Gets Facelift.” Pilot-Independent, October 20, 2017.

“Huset School to Celebrate 100th Birthday July 25.” Echo Journal (Pequot Lakes, MN), July 9, 2013.

“Moving Day.” Pilot-Independent, June 3, 1982.

McKeig, Cecelia. History of Boy River. N.p.: N.p., 1998.

Mix, Guy T. The Former Huset School. Manuscript Collection, Cass County Museum, Walker. Manuscript Collection, Cass County Historical Society and Museum, Walker.

Oral history interview with Doris Raboin Larson, August 17, 1986. Oral History Collection, Cass County Historical Society and Museum, Walker.

Oral history interview with George Engebretson, 1982. Oral History Collection, Cass County Historical Society and Museum, Walker.

Related Images

Huset School at its original site
Huset School at its original site
Raising the flag at Huset School
Raising the flag at Huset School
Renee Giving at Huset Pioneer School
Renee Giving at Huset Pioneer School

Turning Point

The Huset School is closed and abandoned in 1937 during a period of school consolidation.



The Soo Line Railroad reaches Boy River.


Settlers build the Huset School on “the Island” near Boy River.


Faith Seamans is hired to teach at the new log school.


The Huset School is closed, and students begin to attend school in Boy River.


The Huset School is moved by truck to the grounds of the Cass County Museum in Walker.

June 9, 1968

The Huset School is dedicated and reopened as a historic site.

May 1982

The Huset School is moved a few feet to allow for new construction nearby.

July 25, 2013:

The Cass County Historical Society celebrates the one-hundredth birthday of the Huset School.