Last updated: Unknown
Niobrara Historical Brevity
July 1, 1986
From "Niobrara Historical Brevity" published by the
Niobrara Historical Society, in observance of the Lusk Centennial 1886-1986
Jireh was a small Christian college town located on the prairie between Manville and Keeline, Wyoming on Highway 20. Reverend George Dalzell, a First Christian minister of the Congregational Church in Lusk saw the need for more higher education. A Christian school for young people as well as a Christian community to support the town and college. John Breese Day told him of a piece of deeded land and Rev. Dalzell homesteaded on the west side of this land. Jessie A Dalzell and R. G. Coffin bought the deeded land and they deeded the land to the Jireh Land Company in1909.
The non-profit Jireh Land Company was organized to deal in real estate in the interest of Jireh. They made a plat and dedicated the town in1909 with a warranty deed to Jireh College. Twenty acres were set aside for the campus. The trustees took over all property and assumed all obligations in 1916.
A college experimental farm was started in 1909. It was rented to area farmers and college boys helped with the crops. An area for crops was farmed on the Cheyenne River. They successfully grew sugar beets, wheat, potatoes, alfalfa and sunflowers.
Jireh College was a three story building with a large basement. The bell sent for the bell tower was too heavy so was removed. The basement contained the kitchen and dining room. The third floor was used for the boy's dorm and the second floor for the girl's and a housemother. The president's family lived in the college. Later a two and a half story building was built for the girl's dorm. The superintendent, Reverend and Mrs. Atkinson and their family lived on the first floor and there were rooms for the girls and their housemother on the second floor.
The college offered four years of high school and the first two years of college. Tuition per child was $65.00 a year. This covered room, board and books. A liberal education was offered to all. High education and ethical standards were maintained. Both summer and night school were offered.
Jireh had a lumber yard, two banks, one of which, Addison A. Spaugh bought and moved to Keeline, the Modern Model Store was built in 1908, the express office was on the second floor. There was a post office; mail routes that served 80 people were established. A one room meeting hall and school room (later replaced by a two room grade school with 1st - 8th grades). There was a depot, doctor, jewelry store, three general stores, the college building know as Wilkinson Hall, two hotels (one was replaced by a two story building), telephone, grist mill, hardware store, real estate office, garage, newspaper-The Jireh Record, print shop, notary public and insurance agent, auctioneer, blacksmith who did wagon work and auto repair, building contractor and tonsorial parlor.
The trustees handled the necessary business until the Christian College organization in Ohio withdrew their support in 1919. The college ran one more year and closed its doors in 1920 after ten years of continuous operation. The College turned over all its real estate to the Jireh Farmer's Assn. in 1922. The Assn. was formed to buy and sell the farmer's produce. It helped lessen the hardships of Jireh's settlers. When the college was torn down, the cornerstone was saved and placed on the south side of Highway 20 as a monument to Jireh. Many settlers rest in the five acre cemetery donated by Reverend George Dalzell.
More information about Jireh, including pictures, may be found in the book The Ghost Towns of Wyoming by Mary Lou Pence and Lola M. Homsher.
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