Country school was located in Western Township in Otter Tail County

Contributed photo
District 56 school, front, left to right, Ray Munson, Dick Munson, Paula Stock, Bruce Ewert, Mark Stock and David Stock. Back, left to right, teacher Dorothy Bergerud, Byron Stock, Wayne Stock, Kathy Jorgenson, Mary Stock, Norma Stock, Dennis Ewert, Diane Stock and Linda Jorgenson.

By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The Stock families had several social outlets in Western Township southwest of Fergus Falls, mainly the District 56 country school that housed first through eighth grades. 

“It was much like a home school today,” said Dave Stock, Fergus Falls High School Class of 1966. “When I was in second grade, 8 of the 14 students at the District 56 school were Stocks, and the teacher was my father’s sister.”

The other kids, the Ewerts and Jorgensons, have been life-long friends of Stock. The Munsons moved to California and he never saw the kids again. 

Stock says that the biggest school event was the annual Christmas program. 

“The excitement of memorizing for the plays and your single recitation for the community event staged shortly before Christmas brought butterflies to your stomach,” he said. 

“We also had a spring field day where we hosted two adjoining country schools, District 49 and District 252. We knew some of the kids from these schools, but none very well unless they attended Western Presbyterian Church, a small community congregation.”

  Western Presbyterian didn’t have the social network of District 56; mainly just church and Sunday School. 

“We also had a Christmas program at the church, but nothing like the pageantry of the school program,” Ssai tock. “The church was a place where you got to know some of the older folks from Western.”

David Stock’s parents were Henry T. and Marie Stock. He has four siblings.

“Our farm was 12 miles southwest of Fergus Falls and 12 miles northwest of Wendell,” Dave said. “In Wendell my father banked, sold cream, delivered grain, bought insurance and occasionally had farm repairs done at the International dealer, Aamot Implement.”

As a youngster Dave could purchase an ice cream cone at the Wendell pool hall and bought candy at Erickson’s hardware store. 

“But Wendell wasn’t our town,” he said. “We had an RFD #4, Fergus Falls address, and our sports loyalty was with the Fergus Falls Otters. A trip to Fergus Falls was an organized endeavor, and with three uncles who also lived and farmed in Western Township, these outings were often structured to meet the needs of many families.”

People move and times change. Today there are no Stock families residing in Western Township.