Douglas County KS Schools

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Douglas County KS School information provided by Raymond Stone 

Coal Creek School

Coal Creek School District No. 39

This school’s origin of 1859 (two years before Kansas became a state) is believed to be the one of the oldest in Douglas County. It at first was thought to have been a subscription school. These types of schools were funded by the monthly fees paid by the parents to the teacher. In turn, the teachers were responsible for locating the place of study, and paying the rent, from those monthly fees. Typically, the teacher was paid one dollar per student per month.

This first teacher at this school was A.W. Smith. He taught a term of three months. The location was at the foot of what was known as “Simmon’s Hill,’ in a log cabin. A wood frame constructed building was built in 1862, on the north side of Coal Creek. This building continued as a subscription school for five more years. Mary Chapman Roe was the first teacher. Major Clark Reynolds, Dr. J.W. Simmons and William Roe were school board members.

A one acre tract of land was deeded to the School Board of District No. 39 in January of 1867. This would be approximately 3 miles east of Dg. Co. Rte. 1055 on N. 600 Rd. Here a native stone building was constructed by Lewis Swanson for $800.

The school of course, got it’s name from the nearby creek called Coal Creek. Early teachers at Coal Creek were Martha Kelley, Anna Peters and Mr. DeMar. In 1877 the board approved the expenditure of $8.75 to build a coal shed. The building was heated by a coal burning stove, which cost the district $16.00.

A family by the name of O’Brien came from Nova Scotia to settle in Kansas in 1869. Leavenworth was their first home, before settling in Douglas County in 1877. J.J. O’Brien started Coal Creek School at the age of 7. He remained in the Coal Creek area where he raised his family. His eight children all attended Coal Creek School. From “Rural Schools and Schoolhouses of Douglas County, Kansas” by Goldie Piper Daniels, a memory is shared by the oldest daughter Eunice. “Eunice recalls the pride with which she watched her father win an inter-school spelling bee in which both old and young took part.”

Teaching 39 students for the term of 1897-98 was C.L. Rork. P.H. Weeks and C.A. Peairs were the two board members of record.

Teaching the next term of 1899-1900 was Lizzie Williams, followed by J.W. Phelps, J.E. Perry, Clara Bixler, Mildred Junkins, G.N. Nichols, Gussie Reece, Arthur Foster, Arthur Kalb, Bertha Emory and Gussie Reece again. Twenty-three students were enrolled at end of 1910. Recorded school board members were George Sturdy, D.D. Tuttle and E.N. Place.

The next decade was taught by: R.L. Allen, George Nichols, Myrtle Stevenson, Agnes Stanwix, Alma Couchman, Lila Reece (Tudor) and Sena Sutton teaching the term ending in 1920. Samuel Sturdy, George Sturdy and Herman were the board members.

In 1921, folding doors were installed in the middle of the building to divide the one larger room into two smaller rooms. This was to separate the lower grades from the upper.

The 1920’s were taught by: Elizabeth Sturdy Sena Sutton, Pearl Smith, Era Love with Jessie King (2 terms), Elizabeth Sturdy with Amy Baer, Helen and Jessie King, Winifred Stevens with Gertie Deay with Mildred Day and Winifred Stevens with Gertie Deay teaching two terms, ending in 1930. There were now 35 students enrolled. Recorded board members were G.E. Miller, G.F. Kelly and C.A. Hagerman.

Teaching the decade of the 1930’s were: Mr. and Mrs. Harold Smith teaching together for five terms, Lorene Williams with Margaret Everly,Margaret Everley by herself for two terms, and Nora Vitt for two terms ending with the 1940 term. Only one teacher was required for the 14 students of the 1940 term. John Rockhold, George Kelley and Robert Randel were the board members ending the decade.

Nora Vitt taught seven terms in the 1940’s and Ethel Day taught three terms in the 1940’s.John Rockhold, Leroy Olmstead and L.E. Craig served on the school board.

Coal Creek School District No. 39 disorganized in April of 1947 and were absorbed into Vinland School District No. 88, along with Districts 3, 49 and 57.

Photo is artist's rendering from "Rural Schools and Schoolhouses of Douglas County, Kansas" by Goldie Piper Daniels.

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