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The History of the 1883 Clarksburg Schoolhouse

A little south of Sacramento, the Plains Miwok Tribe inhabited swamp land for centuries, followed in the early 1800s by European settlers searching for a new life. In 1856, Kentucky attorney Robert Christopher Clark brought his family to Sacramento, where he was soon appointed to a judgeship. He began purchasing land in and around what is today his namesake, Clarksburg. The Holland Land Company furthered settlement and farmland development by creating reclamation projects that drained more land and offered irrigation. Many early farm families began their legacies at this time and their descendants continue to make a living from this land today.


As Clarksburg grew, a school was constructed. This first school was erected on property donated by the Joshua Curtis family at the confluence of the Sacramento River and Elk Slough. The Merritt School, so named for the Merritt Township of which Clarksburg was a part, was replaced by a second two-story brick building in 1870 at the same site.


Thirteen years later (1883) a new school of redwood with a tin roof was constructed at the same site but closer to the river. Not only was this building used for educational purposes, it also served as a gathering place and sometimes even a church for the community. Subsequent levee and road expansion in 1915-1920 caused it to be moved to its current location.

By 1923, the greatly expanded population built the larger and more modern Clarksburg Union Grammar School. Thereafter, the building found use as part of the Noah Adams Lumber Company. Knowing of its significance and inspired to retain its history, Danny and Judy Serpa generously donated the Schoolhouse to the Friends of the Clarksburg Schoolhouse in 2015.


Information courtesy of Clarksburg: the Water, the Land, and its People by local historian Ted Smith

About our Oral History Project

Clarksburg’s uniqueness is reflected in the community cultural diversity that has existed since the founding of the town. We have always appreciated our differences, lived peacefully and enjoyed the company of our neighbors. This unique and interesting history is slipping away.

DIY Resources and Forms

Few treasures are more precious to the greater Clarksburg community than the rich tapestry of cultures and the fascinating stories of our residents.  While the Friends will systematically collect information, we encourage families to begin capturing the stories of long-time local residents.  To assist, we have assembled documents, required forms, tips and sample questions.

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