1860s ledger retells how Lake Oswego [OR] School District began

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Three years after the Civil War ended and Lake Oswego, Ore., was simply Oswego, and the lake was Sucker Lake, folks here decided to start a school district.

Like all law-abiding school boards, they kept notes, but nobody knew the 140-year-old records existed until a school custodian found them tucked deep inside the school district's underground vault. The faded, cursive script written with an ink-dipped pen and occasional misspelled words stick to the highlights, but they reveal the struggles of an infant school district, including a clerk caught fudging records to mask his taking $126.

Lake Oswego historians were amazed at the find, which provides a detailed account of life in the 1800s. The records, dated 1868-1885, are believed to be the oldest Lake Oswego historical documents, said Clair Kellogg, Lake Oswego librarian, who oversees the local historical collection.

"Oh, my gosh," Kellogg exclaimed as she leafed though the worn ledger Wednesday. Also in the forgotten box were school registers listing students, their grades, attendance and financial information from the 1890s and early 1900s.

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