Early District Schools
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.
This school district was organized by Otto Scheck, father of Bill Schultz, grandfather of Frank Schultz, and Eli Maranville. The first school was sod. After the soddie deteriorated to the extent it was not usable, a frame building was constructed. The district merged with District 25 on May 23, 1955. Frank Schultz provided this information to the Chase County Historical Society.
District 49 had a sod school house in the northwest part of the Jamestown precinct. Resident George Smith recalled that in 1900 an election was held in the school and the school board of five members were all that voted. The school was discontinued until 1903 when it combined with District 16 and a frame building 16 x 20 was built on the east side of Section 21-8-41. In 1909 the District was divided and the north half was put into District 29, according to Mr. Smith. Records show that school was not always held in this District. The 1950 reports show only 4 students and the 1950-1951 year as the last year of school. At that time they contracted with Venango and became a part of School District 65, Venango.
District 50 (Prairie Rose)
In 1892 the earliest school in this area of the county (12 miles south of Imperial) was held in an abandoned sod house that stood on SE corner of SE 1/4 of 35-7-38, according to the Mrs. Fern Tibbetts Pribbeno. Charlie Calvin was the teacher of a 3-month term. In the late '90's the school was held in a sod house abandoned by Andrew Munson. By 1902 a small frame building with the sides made of perpendicularly placed siding with batting over the cracks was located on the SW corner of SE 1/4 26-5-38 on the Tibbetts property. Mrs. Willis Tibbetts gave the name "Prairie Rose" to the school. By 1906 families to the west had enough children to request that the school be moved nearer the center of population. After some exciting and heated school board meetings they moved the little small two-windowed building to Section 27-5-38. Teachers who taught in the district are Eunice Graham, Minnie Weiler, Mrs. Will Cooley, Mrs. Samuel Ludkeart and Hettie Litton. Mr. Roy Handel taught in 1910, the last year the little 2-window school building was used. In 1911 Edith Delaney began teaching in the new school, followed by Ruth Blakeslee, Rosa Mandel and Mayme Blanke. There is additional information on teachers in the file on the school held by the Chase County Historical Society. When school in the District was discontinued, children attended school in District 41. Research on this District was done by Audra Appleyard, a former teacher in the district.
School for this District began in a 12' x 15' building constructed in 1892 on Section 36-5-41. It was built by using 1 x 12 board on a 2 x 4 frame. Sod was laid against the wood shell to make it warmer. The roof was also wood with a layer of tar paper covered with sod. Students sat on boards, while the teacher sat on a chair donated by one of the student's families. They did not have many books to use. A used heating stove furnished heat for the school. Former student Mr. Martin told that a fuel nicknamed "grassoline" consisting of cow chips was used as fuel. The teacher taught 3 months for $25.00 per month. When the District was short of funds it cost $2.50 to $3.00 to get the order cashed. Games played outside by the children were pump-pump-pullaway, dare base. Inside they played blind man's bluff and button, button. At some point a frame school building was built in the G. F. Blocker pasture near the center of the District. The school was also used for Sunday School and Church. Information for this District was provided by Charles Martin.
District 53 (Prairie Gem)
This District was organized in 1997 or 1888. Eva Long Ree said that her mother, Jesse Long, named the school Prairie Gem. Jesse Long served for many years on the school board, and also taught two terms in the old sod school house. Pearl Long Erdman taught one term in the first frame school building. Anna Daschofsky Sweeney reported that when there were more pupils than could be accommodated, the old frame building was torn down and a larger building was built. She remembered that playing ball was the main game played by the students. They also played Ante Over the school house. Water for the school was carried from the neighbors well until a well was dug on the premises. Eva Roe told that her two children, Faye and Joe Roe attended school in the new school. The school was discontinued and students attend school at nearby Lamar.
District 55 (Pleasant Valley)
Bill Harmon was one of the organizers of this district, which never had a sod school house. Dorothy Smith Harmon told that in 1971 Bessie Riggins was the teacher, Edson Smith was the Treasurer, and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Harmon were school board members. Addie Spangler was County Supertendant at the time. All the children who attended the school were from the Bill Harmon and Edson Smith families and were Roy, Ora, Fred, Lou, Pearl Ethel and George Harmon and Everett, Dorothy and Dudley Smith. Lou Harmon Percy said that one of the games they played was Volley Ball. Ora Harmon lost his life at Nolon Dam on a last day of school picnic. He was a good swimmer, but his boots filled with water and he drowned. District 55 merged with District 25 on May 23, 1955.
(Also Known as Manderson and White Lily)
Roy Eskew reported that the school for this district was never sod. School was first held in the rock house built by Henry Carpenter, later called the Cook Rock House. Charlie Hoffmeister told researchers that Kin Fisher, an adopted boy of John Furr, used to walk to school a couple of miles over the prairie southwest of the school, and when he arrived at the school his pockets would be full of Indian artifacts. In 1897 Martha Towell taught in the District and she used one corner of the school for living quarters. Casper Cook told researchers that he remembered the following teachers: Edith and Elsie Tallman, Fannie Hoffmeister, Frank Brythup, Fred Eggart, Mammie Richards and Mary Banks Reichardt. Mrs. Samuel (Almeda) Lukeart taught in 1911 and 1912, driving a one-horse top buggy from Imperial to the school. Casper also recalled that when he started to school they had three months of school and that Julia Tripplet was the teacher. The District paid Frank Brythup $35.00 per month. He held a third grade certificate. Some of the teachers were high school graduates. Mamie Richards had five children. She built a one-room house near the school house and carried water from a neighbor's well. Other teachers were Grace Mower of Wauneta, Janie Spangler, Mildred Mead, Merle Clements and Louis Perks. Casper also said that, "Grace Mower had us build her a one-room house in my folks' farmyard. Her mother lived with her." The school was opened each day with singing. Some of the teachers read scriptures and said a prayer. There were Christmas programs and plays, box suppers and pie socials at the school, with the money raised being used to purchase items for the school. Names of some students who attended this District School are on file with the Chase County Historical Society.
District 60 (Empire)
The first school in this district was made of sod and located on Section 22-6-36. The sod school had a black board made from three wide boards painted black, benches for the students to sit on that were homemade, and a table. A frame school building was built in 1904 or 1905 on Section 15-6-36.
Bill Hill told researchers that the District had three school buildings throughout the years, including one building which burned down and was replaced. Mrs. Charlotte Wine, who served as County Superintendent in Chase County, mentioned that when the school building was eventually sold to District 16 in 1953 or 1954, ashes were found below the building. District 61 held school for the last time in 1942 - 1943.
School in this District began in a sod house in the late 1890's. The first teacher was Harry Andrews. A frame building was built later, and Carl Schultz served as the first teacher. The school averaged 14 pupils. Paul Arnold, former students, told that games they played were Dare Base, Steal Sticks, Fox and Goose, Last Couple Out and Ante Over. They also played ball with a ball made of grocery string, and a small board used for a bat. In cold weather they built forts in the snow and have snow ball fights. They also chased tumbleweeds on windy days. Research on District 62 was provided by Pearl E. Arnold.