The following information on the History of The De Luz School comes to us from Theodora (Teddie) Garnsey, widow of Felix Garnsey, which she prepared in 1985 and was part of the material that was deposited in the Fallbrook Centennial Time Capsule. We wish to thank her for her generous contribution to our local history and allowing us to reprint this article.
Old-timers say that the first classes were held during the 1880s in a small building on the Day property. (Present Garnsey property)
In 1888 a wood-frame school with bell-tower and front porch was built on the Wilmot acreage, about one-half mile up from the junction of the west and east forks of De Luz Creek. The setting was picturesque, with groves of live oaks and sycamores and wild blackberries and grapes all along the creek. Years later, when the building was torn down, a local resident, John Kuhnis used the lumber to build his house.
In the register for 1890 the district was called the Santa Rosa District. There were 19 pupils enrolled, with these pioneer families represented: Camp 2, Carr 2, Day 3, Heylmann 4, Sherman 1, Moeller 1, Stewart 2, Wilmot 3, and Behre 1.
In 1908 the district was named the Tenaja Joint District with children from both Tenaja and De Luz attending. The 1909 register mentions that Recluse (Tenaja) had classes on Saturdays.
Other families mentioned in more than one register included: Garnsey, Brode, Hill, Tittle, Leslie, Orvis, Ferrero, Stoner, Prahl, Tiffany and Herron. Felix Garnsey graduated from eighth grade in 1922, Ruth Garnsey and Carl Prahl in 1924.
The new school, De Luz Elementary, was built in 1927 on the present De Luz/Murrieta Road. The board members including Louis J. Garnsey argued about architectural style, and the Midwest design, favored by other board members prevailed over the mission one.
One teacher taught all eight grades, and this person usually lived with one of the families, as was the rural custom. Sometimes, to help with family income and also to keep up the enrollment for average daily attendance, families boarded children who needed foster homes. The county inspected the homes and paid for room and board. If teachers had children, that helped the enrollment too.
In 1968 the board and community reluctantly decided to close the school. The building had no bond beams and did not meet the mandatory Field Act Earthquake Protection Standards. Also the enrollment was small with only five or six children. The pupils were transported to Fallbrook schools.
The Fallbrook Union elementary School board brought the building up to code after a year or so, and then the school was used as a community center. The building became known as the De Luz Nature Study Center (later Ecology Center). The Forestry and Soil Conservation volunteers laid out nature trails. Clarence Tedford's family put in a native garden in his memory. Programs, exhibits and films were used part of the time by directors hired to conduct the studies.
In 1985, children from third grade and up are bused from Fallbrook to participate in the day camps guided by a full-time teacher and assistant. Teachers, administrators and parents accept this program enthusiastically.
Remembering the Past Table of Contents
Fallbrook Historical Society
Elizabeth Yamaguchi's Writings On Fallbrook History
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Last update: 23 January 1999.