John Marsh opened the first school in what is now Minnesota at Ft. Snelling, high atop the cliffs along the Mississippi River. This view was created by 19th Century painter John Caspar Wild.
the other firsts accomplished by John Marsh was establishing the first school in the Northwest Territory. Opened in 1825 at Ft. Snelling on the Mississippi River on what was then the raw, American frontier, the school was established to educate the children of the Army officers stationed there.
Now, with the help of the Brentwood Union School District, the John Marsh Historic Trust is harkening back to the past, working to bring the history of California alive for local 4th graders.
Executive Director Rick Lemyre and former teacher Charlene Margesson met this week with Michael Bowen, the BUSD’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and Julie Dooley, Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, to begin fleshing out an instruction plan taking advantage of the historic Stone House and Marsh Creek State Park. Currently, BUSD students make costly field trips to Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento for hands-on California history.
Marsh’s presence in California predates Sutter’s, and he had a huge impact not only the settlement of the West, but California’s quest to join the United States.
“The history right outside the Brentwood and Antioch city limits is rich and diverse,” said Lemyre. “By bringing classes there instead of having them travel for hours up and back to Sacramento not only saves money, but exposes the kids to the culture of the Mexican vaqueros and Native Americans who lived and worked with Marsh right here where they live.”
Plans are being developed for providing experiential learning through activities designed to impart a little of what it was like to live in California during the mid-19th Century. Activities may include making adobe bricks, grinding acorns, dipping candles, throwing a lasso and handling skins and pelts of the animals with which pioneers made their living.
Part of the planning includes taking the show on the road. The Trust is looking into purchasing and outfitting a traveling trailer that can be used both in the park and at local schools and events.
“There are a lot of ways we’d like to tell the story of Marsh and the park,” said Lemyre.”We’d like to set up not only at schools, but at community events, Farmers Markets, and anywhere people gather.”
As the particulars are worked out, the Trust is seeking donations to help put it all together. You can make a tax-deductible contribution by using the Donate button at the top of this page.