In 1971 the Chase County Historical Society published Volume IV of their Chase County History series in which they included information on early schools in Chase County. I am grateful for their permission in providing the following information which they had gathered from people who had attended the schools or lived in the locality of the schools. Many Chase County residents gave valuable help on gathering information for this history. The Chase County Historical Society maintains a file on each school district in their museum in Champion, Nebraska.
School was held in a frame building for around twenty students. Billy Brown served on the school board and his son, Walter, served 24 years as director or treasurer. Minnie Statz walked six miles on some week-ends to teach at the school. Mrs. August Meeske said in November, after harvest and fall work was completed, some students from Dundy County attended the school. She also recalled that their dog followed them to school one day and it was a bitten by a rattlesnake and died, which upset the children terribly. The district merged with District 14 on July 24, 1953.
A July 1910 census report shows four students attending the school: Dorothy Cruise, Donald Cruise, Olie Beard and Orbel Beard. By 1914 records show only the Cruise children: Dorothy, Donald and Catherine. This small school contracted with other districts part of the time. The school closed after 1919.
District 37 (Blanche)
School began in this district in a sod house, but the soddie was replaced by a frame building in 1906. That year Flora Harris (Mrs. Kenny Harris) taught the first half of the school term in the sod school and the remainder of the year in the new building. Iris Fanning said that research showed that parts of the old soddie remained standing east of the 1906 for many years after the frame school was built. A new building was built in 1931 for District 43 and moved to Blanche when the two districts joined.
Local residents believe that this district never had a sod school, that they had a frame building from the beginning. Mrs. Russell Eskew said that there were no more than ten students taught in the school. The District merged with District 14 on July 24, 1953.
District 40 was formerly organized in January 1888. According to the old school records, Miss Iva Loften, who later married Mark W. Bailey, taught at the school from April 9, 1888 to Jun 30, 1888 for $25.00 per month. She was the first teacher in the district. The sod school was 16' X 24' and the cost was around $80.00. The desks and seats were homemade which was not unusual at the time. Mrs. Ethel Bressie Smith told researchers that there was a tree trunk in the soddie to help support the roof. The children stuck the poker in the stove and used it to carve their initials on the trunk of the tree. The sod school house was replaced by a frame building in 1906 or 1905 according to Alta Bailey Lapp, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Bailey. The District merged with District 31 on May 24, 1955.
District 41 (Enders)
School records show that District 41 gained possession of Lots 16,17,Block 3 Old Enders on Oct. 25, 1894, and evidently built a school at that time. Alta Bailey Lapp reported that the old school was dismantled in the fall of 1911. Mrs. Lapp furnished the Chase County Historical Society a photograph of the frame school in New Enders when Seymour Bailey was teacher. The frame school building was replaced by a brick structure in the early 1930's. Resident Rosa Mandel recalled that when she was teaching at Enders she took the passenger train (which also carried freight) which ran from Wauneta to Enders. She told how after a blizzard it took them all day to get to Enders because of snow. A PTA (Parent Teachers' Organization) was organized in 1928 with Alfred Crowell as the first president. The PTA continued until the closing of the school in 1968.
District 42 (Lamar)
Morris Kunkel remembered that the first school house was made of sod. They later moved from the sod school into the Odd Fellow's Hall and held school there. The Dedication Deed to all of Block 9, Second Addition, was dedicated August 25, 1916 for a new school. Loren Colsen reported that Willard Nicholson and Lex Elder built the new stucco building around 1917. In 1958 a new gymnasium and additional school facilities were constructed, but the stucco building was in use until 1969 when it was torn down. At that time an $80,000 addition was added to the 1958 building which provided three new class rooms and an all electric, modern lunchroom.
District 43 (Fairy Dell)
This District never held school in a sod building. Their first school was a small frame building 12' X 14' and painted red. It was located on the SW 1/4 11-8-37. In 1911 it was moved and was purchased by Guy McCoy. Dewey Rowley recalled that Ethey Avise was an early teacher at the school. Frank Harris told that a new school was built in 1931 on NE 1/4 14-8-37. The District joined with Blanche the school building was moved to the Blanche school location. It was in use at the time of the research in 1971.
District 44 (Mount Vernon)
The first school for this District was a frame building built on land owned by John Yost, Sr. It was late removed to land owned by Henry Ackerman about one mile away. Martha Towell taught in the Yost district. During her term she and her daughter stayed in a one room house on property owned by Peter Felt's place. The first frame school building burned to the ground at which time another frame building was built. After school was discontinued in the District the building was moved to the Crete school site and used there along with the existing school building. In the beginning of the district there were more than 20 students attending. The District merged with District 25 on May 23, 1955. Research on this District was provided by Clifford Yost and Lucille Towell Long.
Morris Kunkell recalled that a sod school house stood on the NW 1/4 9-6-41, which was widow Trego's homestead. Resident and author Wayne Lee reported that, "It was a subscription school. Each parent paid the widow Trego, the teacher and also a homesteader, a sum for teaching each child for three months. I remember that my father said he broke sod for Mr.s Trego in return for the schooling of his brother Walter and sister Lillian, who later became Mrs. Art Huffman."
Chase County resident Harry Andrews wrote that, "In the fall of 1887 Walter Dishman and I became excited because our parents and neighbors formed a school district and decided to build a sod school house. The work was donated, also the small amount of money for the roof and floor. They finally decided to go all out and buy four windows which gave a modern structure. The school consisted of nine pupils: Three from Fremont Young family, three from Dishman family, two from widow Lee family and myself. Each family had a few school books, all different. Our black board was two boards nailed together and painted blank and so flawed it was most difficult to write on. Our heating system was an old discarded heater, and our fuel was cow chips we kids gathered at recess and after school, our source of water was from a well more than one-half mile distant. Of side interest was a rattlesnake den we discovered not far from the school house. This afforded s much excitement, our parents mere worry and our teacher an excuse to lay down a set of stringent rules which were broken at every opportunity." Andrew listed Miss Faylor from Iowa as an ealry teacher. When a frame building was constructed it was bult in the center of Section 33-7-41. Mrs. Appleyard provided information that teachers included Mrs. Ellen Bailey, Miss Virgie Fugate, Miss Myrtle Radcliff, Miss Audra Lukheart, Miss Mayme Blanke and William Lee. She also noted that there was a bank of clay north of the school house where the students would get clay to make objects. Mrs. Appleyard furnished photographs for the Chase County Historical Society archives of pictures of the school and students when she taught at the school. The last school was built in 1932 or 1933 and was eventuall used as a church in Imperial by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints - Reformed.
District 46 (Blue Ridge)
The school was located on Section 8-6-36 and was called Blue Ridge. The first school was sod and Frank Fanning was one of the patrons of the district who helped with the construction. Laura Fanning Wheeler told researchers that one of the teachers who taught in the soddie was Minnie Finity. She also said, "Our school house had wide boards so pencils would go down the cracks and the boys would fish them out. Many mornings we sat around the stove until we could get our feet warm. Some years later I taught a four month term in the same sod school house and was paid $25.00 per month. I was married then and bought our first wagon with the money earned." Eva Fanning Maddux said, "I started to school in the sod school, it had the black board made of three wide boards painted black and big pot-bellied stove in which we children used to put our sandwiches on a stick and toast or smoke them." Around 1908 the school children began attending school in a new frame building in the middle of the section. The district merged with District 31 (Wauneta) May 24, 1955.