‘One Room Life Lessons’


Courtesy photos Director Brooks Mitchell interviews Emerson student Glenna Grinder Johnson. Emerson School teacher Evelyn Evans Lohman, 19, with her students in 1953. Sunday School at the one-room Emerson Schoolhouse in the 1930s.

Emerson School documentary, open house

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Although her late father Brooks “Bubba” Mitchell didn’t get to host the first public showing of the documentary he spent years compiling, his daughter Marcy promised she would do it for him.

The result is a mini-extravaganza centered on one man’s desire to preserve local oral history and a woman’s desire to preserve the building, rancher Claire Faler at the old Zembo Ranch.

Marcy Mitchell said her late father met her mom when they both worked at Jackson Lake Lodge in 1965 and Wyoming became important to the whole family.

“Wyoming has always been a very special place for our family. He loved Pinedale so much! He was really dedicated to making this film happen.”

Mitchell visited with former students in Sublette County and even drove to Kansas and Montana to interview former students, she said. He worked on it for a couple of years, but when he became seriously ill he hired professional editor Tom Nicholson to help finish it.

“I told him I would make sure it got shown here so everyone could see it,” she said. “My dad would be SO happy to know that people were seeing his film, he worked so hard on it and really loved making it.”

Mitchell researched the one-room schoolhouse’s history and former teachers, who could not be married. Thus, many ended up marrying eligible young men from surroundings ranches or the county’s very rural small towns and crossroads.

The half-hour documentary will be shown, free and open to the public, on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. in the Pinedale Library’s Lovatt Room. A panel of people important to the Emerson School and its current status will answer questions.

In conjunction with the showing, the Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS) is hosting an open house on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school itself, many miles out of Boulder.

SCHS President Clint Gilchrist said maps and directions to the 1-acre fenced schoolhouse property will be available at the documentary’s screening. Ranch owner Claire Faler helped preserve the building and donated the property to SCHS, located next to a county road.

This will be a rare opportunity to see the restored interior, he said.

“People are welcome to visit the site and walk around the school on the fenced property but the school is locked and they need to arrange a tour to get in the building,” Gilchrist said.

It is far enough away from the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, of which Gilchrist is director, that the Emerson Schoolhouse is seldom open except for special open houses or for larger group tours.

For more information about arranging a tour, contact Clint Gilchrist at 307-367-4101.

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