Wyoming's First School



Being an old school teacher, I am always interested in reading about early day schools and especially the schools of Wyoming. Like many of Wyoming’s firsts, the first school was at Fort Laramie in 1852.
On the grounds of Fort Laramie, about 200 yards across the parade grounds west of the school.
The second Wyoming school, although Wyoming was still 30 years away from statehood, was opened in 1860 on the other side of Wyoming but still on the Oregon Trail at Fort Bridger.
Old School Building at Fort Laramie
It’s pretty well known that early schools had little if anything made specifically,  for teaching children. Often students would share one reading book, a few pieces of chalk and some book sized slates.
Those items, along with a few hand-hewn benches and tables, were often the only start-up supplies for a new school. Pencils and paper, when available, were used sparingly, writing fully on both sides of the paper and using pencils down to the smallest of stubs was the norm. Pen and Ink were for older students but was as readily available as paper and pencils at Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger.

The subject matter of all early schools was the, well known, reading, writing and arithmetic. Teachers in early schools were most often volunteers, who may or may not have had the knowledge or ability to teach. Some early frontier teachers beat students who were not prepared, not attentive enough, or did not know their lesson of the day. Student assignments often contained long memorizations of famous speeches, writings or poetry.


In the case of Fort Laramie, soldiers that could read and write were assigned, to teach, and, for the most part, they hated it. Several sources report soldier/teachers who hated it so much they showed up drunk for school and ended up being fined and tossed in the brig. The fine was in the $10 range, a considerable sum for a soldier making $11 a month. That might be the reason that Army Officers sent their children back east to get their schooling.
I would have been the kid with the dunce hat behind the teacher
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