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El Capitan School


El Capitan School opened in 1889 with Emma Field being the first teacher. Mrs. Letha Duncan (Delores Melville’s mother-in-law), Albert Nelson and A. C. Brown were the trustees. The first semester enrollment was nine pupils.

The names of families that homesteaded in the Capitan Grande area included Henderson, Kuhner, Alford, Head, Swycaffer, Mossholder, Blattner, and Hensley, among others. Some of the families had children to send to the new school. A single track road had been built by Jonathan Perkins and Arthur Head up Chocolate Canyon to the upper elevation of Flinn Springs, and the children walked or rode horses to reach school. It was a steep incline and whether on foot or horseback, it must have been an arduous trek even in fair weather.

Possibly among its first students was Verna Carson, a granddaughter of the original Flinn family who settled Flinn Springs. She was born in the Flinn ranch house in 1882, about three weeks after Joe Head was born down on the Chocolate ranch, and both went to school at El Capitan. Verna went on to earn a teaching credential at the San Diego Normal School, then taught for many years in Fresno, eventually becoming the principal of her school. At the end of her career she came back to southern California and spent her retirement years in Alpine.

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