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Publish Date: 6/16/2005

Carlos Alvarez, head custodian of Longmont High School, holds gradebooks Tuesday from 1886 and 1887 that he found in March, packed in a box. Alvarez said the boxes were moved back and forth between the boiler room and the broom closet numerous times before he looked to see what was in them. Times-Call/Rebecca M. Stumpf

Janitor finds long-lost ledgers
Books hold attendance records, teachers’ salaries

LONGMONT — In the fall of 1886, 17-year-old John Rothrock was late to school eight times; his older brother, William, 18, was tardy five times.

Their teacher, Mary Killgore, earned $65 a month; her male counterpart earned $111.

And between January and May 1887, there were several incidents of corporal punishment in Miss E.B. White’s secondary class in Longmont.

For years, the documents that hold that mundane record of school life sat in a box, often shuffled between the boiler room and storage closets at Longmont High School, which was moved from Main Street to its current location at Sunset Street and 11th Avenue in 1964.

“I wondered why we were keeping all of this,” head custodian Carlos Alvarez said of the box that held a handful of teachers’ old record books. “And I got tired of moving it around. I know I moved that box five or six times,” he added, chuckling.

So in March, Alvarez showed the record books to school athletic director Patty Puzo, who said she flipped through them with excitement after noticing they were logged during the 1886-87 school year.

According to Longmont Museum research curator Erik Mason, the catalogs likely came from Franklin School, which is now Central School.

After more than a century in storage, the books are still in excellent condition. Although the lines on the pages have faded slightly, the writing from Killgore, White and at least one male teacher is still clearly legible.

The logs describe mostly student attendance, including tardiness, and in some cases list when a student left school to attend college.

The record books also catalog visitors to classes, indicate what books were used in the curriculums, list teacher salaries, document the number of student punishments, list the gender of teachers and students and describe the construction of the buildings used for teaching.

“I can’t believe such (pretty books) were sitting in a cardboard box all those years,” Puzo noted. “They are all handwritten in perfect cursive.”

Alvarez, too, was fascinated by the teachers’ script on the pages of the books he’d hauled around.

“This is too much,” he said of the writing. “Mine looks like scribbles.”

Alvarez said he wonders what happened to all of the students listed in the books.

“Most of the kids I went to school with still live in town,” he noted.

For those wondering, John Rothrock married and moved to Lake City in southwest Colorado, where he owned a dry goods store, according to St. Vrain Valley Historical Society records.

William attended a Presbyterian academy and took a business class in Greeley. He married and had six children.

William and John died within two months of each other, in November 1955 and January 1956, respectively. Their family’s 40-acre homestead is now a part of east Longmont; Rothrock Place is just north of Third Avenue and west of Lashley Street.

St. Vrain Valley School District student data secretary Pam Adler said the books will probably be given to the Longmont Museum for safekeeping.

“They have a climate-controlled area where they are keeping lots of our old things,” she said.

Mason said if the museum gets the books, they’ll be the oldest school attendance books in its collection.

“We have some from the 1890s and 1900s, but nothing that old,” he said. “That’s exciting.”

Amanda Arthur can be reached at 303-684-5215, or by e-mail at aarthur@times-call.com.

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