As we approach the 114th anniversary of the town site of Kuna, which will happen on Nov. 3, we look back at Fremont H. Teed and D.R. Hubbard who were instrumental in not only creating the town but also its schools.
In 1904, Boise, the capital of Idaho, was already a bustling city with industrial buildings and passenger trains coming and going into the heart of downtown. Trolley cars whizzed by taking people to the Natatorium and Idanha Hotel and out to the new Hyde Park in the North End. Travelers to the town remarked how modern the town was, and all the trees making it feel like an eastern park.
But just 15 miles south over the rolling hills of sagebrush laid the new town site of Kuna. The then 80 acres of land owned by F.H. Teed, was partially sold to D.R. Hubbard under the name of Hubbard and Teed and platted by C.C. Stevenson and party and placed on record as the original town site of Kuna.
This area early on was considered a waste land of sagebrush desert full of jack rabbits, rattle snakes and bands of wild horses. The only thing of significance was the main Oregon Short Line Railroad and the Silver Stage Line running from Boise to Silver City.
The land around the newly platted town was up for grabs under the Homestead Act. Any person at least 21 years or older could acquire 160 acres of designated land. The requirements were that you had to build a home, make improvements, and farm it for a minimum of five years and then it would be yours to keep. It sounded easy enough but many did not survive and ended up leaving and going were money could be made.
Water came to the land, which would become valuable as the dry hard desert dirt turned into lush crops of alfalfa and corn.
With the coming of the crops so did the people.
In early 1908, F.B. Fiss, purchased a site in the new town of Kuna and erected a two-story frame building and put in the first stock of general merchandise. Mr. Fiss also built a feed and livery barn in town.
The F.B. Fiss building was upgraded by the spring of 1910 and would become the first brick building in town. It had a double store room with an assembly hall, office and living quarters above, and was completed by J. H. Neglay and sons and Ed Fiss. The Kuna Mercantile was then organized with F. H. Teed, president, F. B. Fiss, manager and Ed Fiss, secretary-treasurer.
The building is still standing on the Main Street and is one of Kuna landmark buildings, along with the Arlene and old movie house. Most of the residents in Kuna know the building for Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant, which has just moved to a new location. The building has been home to many different businesses over the years and some older residents can remember the soda fountain where Enrique’s was located.
By the fall of 1908, the community of Kuna had enough school-age children to open its first school.
The community pulled its students from the Highline School District and elected its own trustees. In September of that year school opened in a 16 x 24-foot tent located where the Route 69 carwash now stands. There were 14 pupils enrolled, with Mr. Gaylord Greene as the first teacher.
In January the school moved from the tent into F.H. Teed’s home, which they vacated during the holiday season. The Teed’s home was located where the Kuna Grange Hall now stands.
In 1910 the Kuna Joint School District purchased an irregularly shaped tract of land containing several acres. The first school building was built on that land at a cost $7,000. The new school would have four-rooms but only two of its rooms were ready for the beginning of school that year. Six years later, a $9,000 addition was completed, containing six more rooms and was fitted with steam heat and plumbing.
The two-story white brick school was constructed on a hill west of town along Indian Creek. Back in the day the hill was referred to as “Rattlesnake Hill” and you can imagine how the name came to be. The first principal of the school was Mr. S. W. Conover, who was also the village mail carrier. The two-story school on the hill unfortunately succumbed to fire on Jan. 8, 1925 and was a total loss. The building was valued at $25,000 but was only insured for $14,000.
Two more schools would follow on Rattlesnake Hill, a modest one-level school house with a full basement was constructed for $17,000 immediately following the destruction of the first one. This building would stand until once again a fire ignited the building in 1954 destroying the school.
By 1957 another school was built on the hill and was named Indian Creek Elementary which still stands today although no rattlesnakes call the hill home anymore.
Another fascinating piece of history took place during the school year of 1911-1912. Miss Marion Peterson and Arlene Hale were the oldest students and in the 10th grade, also the only students in the 10th grade. Marion dropped out of school after a bout with typhoid fever leaving Miss Hale alone to represent the whole class of just herself.
Arlene Hale became the first Kuna high school graduate in 1914.
Also during the 1911 school year the first clubs were formed. The older pupils were divided into two clubs, the Alpha and Forum.
Kuna history keeps evolving as time marches on. In our next article we will continue on with the development from a village in the desert to a thriving farming community.