Let’s Talk Clovis: Glenn Reyburns’ Memories of Clovis High, 1899-1904

By Peg Bos | Clovis Museum

Glenn Reyburn (1878-1979) was the third of nine children of Joseph D. and Mary Ellen Reyburn. The family arrived here in 1881 and acquired three sections of land (section=640 acres/1 square mile). Joseph raised wheat for 38 years and was considered a wheat specialist. Joseph would remarry after the death of Mary Ellen (1851-1893). His union with Anna Buckley (1867-1950) produced six additional children.

Bessie Ward (1886-1979) married Walter Reyburn (seventh Reyburn child, brother to Glenn) in 1912. She was the beloved Clovis librarian for many years. In 1956, she gave the Clovis Independent permission to print Glenn’s written history of Clovis. We share some of that information that was published by the Clovis Independent on April 19, 1956.

In 1899, 17 high school students were housed in the two upstair rooms (west side of Pollasky, north of Second Street) that were rented from the Clovis School District for $100 annually. The average daily attendance was 12.

Glenn described Mr. Louis K. Webb (teacher/principal) as: “Webb was an excellent principal, teacher, a very genial, refined gentleman, immaculate in personal appearance, perfect in speech and manner, very tolerant and reasonable; the very man to have at the head when so few of the people knew so little as to what a high school beginning in those days should be.”

Mr. Webb (M.A. degree from Stanford University) taught advanced arithmetic, geometry, English, botany, ancient and Roman history and short courses in parliamentary law and elementary general science. Principal Webb received $120 per month. There were 59 volumes in the library. Total school expenses for the first year was $1,755.32.

A rough board fence secured the school yard. The entrance was over a four-step stile. There was a shed that served as a stable for students who rode their horses to school. Restrooms were two “Doolies” (out house) at the rear of the school. Vacant lots east of the school served as playgrounds.

Expenses for the second school year (1900-1901) accelerated to $2.710.24. Board Clerk J.A. Mills received numerous objections regarding the increase of taxes.

Frank A. Cooley (also a Stanford graduate) served as principal 1902-1903. The school was attended by 17 boys and 18 girls. The average daily attendance was 19. The library boasted 242 volumes. There were two graduates that year: R. Lee Brown and Emory Reyburn (fourth born of Joseph D. and Mary Ellen).

Principal Cooley proved to be a good baseball coach and the high school team played against Fowler High, town teams and farmer boys teams.

Clovis High had assembled a brass band of 14 pieces. They would play at parties or picnics. They were not allowed to play at dances since public opinion did not support “such pastime”.

Mr. Thos. A. Lewis served as principal from 1902 to 1903. A total of 38 students were enrolled with the average daily attendance 22. Four graduated that year: Idyle Mills Stanton, Chester Ray Reyburn (6th child of Joseph D. and Mary Ellen), Glenn W. Reyburn and Beda Parker.

In the fall of 1902, the school board purchased property and built a one story building for $7,481.50. That building housed students until a $50,000 bond was approved for the two story high school that opened in 1920.

Principal G. H. Wilkinson arrived in 1904 and would remain as principal for seven years. There were 19 boys and 28 girls enrolled with an average daily attendance of 37. Seven students would graduate.

Clovis High moved to 1055 Fowler Avenue in 1969. The 1920 building served as a continuation and adult school. The City of Clovis (1973-1974) wanted to demolish the historic school to build a new civic center. Three alumni groups became involved and the City and School Board reached an agreement that saved the historic building. The San Joaquin Law College now occupies that location.

Clovis High provided and remains an important part of our rich heritage.