Monthly News Article for September 2022
Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
Historical Schools Series, Part One: A Short History of Coffee Creek School District by Sarah Supahan
Coffee Creek, located in Wintu ancestral territory, was said to have received its name from a pack mule loaded with coffee that was swept away by the creek’s high water. Eventually a town was built along the creek and a post office was established there in 1882. The requisite Coffee Creek School was established 14 years later on January 6, 1896. The single-school district is the northern most district in the county. It’s entirely possible it began, like most schools in Trinity County, as a private school, paid for by the parents of the students attending. One clue that it started as a private school is that the first Board of Trustees was not in place until 1899. To be an official public school district, a Board would have to be established.
It’s is difficult to say where the first Coffee Creek School was located as the site moved several times. At one point, the location was at the mouth of Coffee Creek. A “new“ school house was built for use in 1902. It’s not clear what building was used prior to that time. The first eighth grade graduation occurred on May 24-26, 1905.
The first teacher that taught there was said to be Alice R. Powers of San Francisco. By April of 1897, a new teacher, Miss Mabel Bishop, was hired and stayed until Spring of 1898. Five more teachers rotated through the district from then until 1901, with one from as far away as Gilroy. This was a regular occurrence for many of the early districts in Trinity County, the fact that many teachers came and went, never staying very long at any one school. It may be that their experience in Trinity County was not what they expected. As one early teacher in another county school said, “Having in the past taught only certain subjects in large educational institutions”, the teacher, “found that her experience had not fitted her to conduct a school such as ours”.
As is the case with many of the early schools in Trinity County, Coffee Creek eventually absorbed another district. Pinkham School, which no longer exists, was made part of the Coffee Creek School District on September 13, 1919. By July 17, 1926, Coffee Creek District was suspended (temporarily closed) due to a lack of students, but only a year later it was open again. The entire history of this school district has continued this way with families coming and going, filling up the school, and then the school facing suspension with too few students. For instance, there is another record that the school was suspended on July 2, 1928, but was reestablished on July 3, 1929. Today there are nine students enrolled and the school is thriving with a dynamic husband and wife team of very experienced educators. Interestingly, in the current student count there are four sets of brothers and sisters and one student who is an only child. Coffee Creek is still one of the smallest single school districts in the county.
If you have more historical information about the school, please contact Sarah Supahan, County Superintendent of Schools, at 530-623-2862.