Country Schools of USD 291, Grinnell, Kansas


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Did you know that:

…… Gove County, Kansas, once had 64 school districts?

…… in 2007, Gove, County, Kansas, has 3 school districts, with students in grades Kindergarten to 12th Grade?

……. USD 291, Grinnell Public Schools has three school buildings, Grinnell Elementary School, Grinnell Middle School, and Grinnell High School?

…….. at least all or part of 17 Gove County country school districts are now part of USD 291?

a.      # 52 – Antelope Ridge

b.     # 3 –   Grinnell

c.     # 60 – Wilson

d.     # 49 – North Hackberry

e.      # 33 – Liberty Star

f.       # 32 – Union

g.     # 22 – Orion

h.     # 44 – Sleep Hollow

i.        # 50 – Glendale

j.        # 45  & 64 – Coin

k.     # 25 – Plum Creek

l.        # 11 – West Sunny Slope

m.   # 62 – East Sunny Slope

n.     # 61 – West Big Creek

o.     # 28 –  (2 locations) Pleasant View

p.     # 20 – Pleasant Valley

q.     # 30 – Star

* Each of the featured fourteen schools has a link.  Click on it to find out more about this school, where it was located, pictures, and other interesting information.


USD 291 is a consolidated school district that covers territory in Gove, Sheridan, and Thomas Counties in Northwest Kansas.  The district’s website can be found at   The Seventh Grade Kansas History Classes of Grinnell Middle School researched the country schools that once operated in our district’s borders.  The first year’s class of six students concentrated on six schools in Gove County:  # 11 – West Sunny Slope, #22 – Orion, #32 – Union, # 28 – Pleasant View, # 49 – North Hackberry, and #61 – West Big Creek.  The second year’s class researched the other 11 schools in Gove County although only eight schools are linked.  The map shows the locations of all 17 schools in Gove County.  Grinnell is located on Interstate 70 at mile marker 85.


This site was researched and written by the students in the spring of 2006 & 2007 as a cross curriculum assignment in their Kansas History and Keyboarding classes. 


The Freshman Classes of Grinnell High School in 2006 & 2007 designed the Web Site in their computer class.


Project Advisors:

Lynette Wolf – Grinnell Public Schools Media Specialist, Web Coordinator, and Gove County Genweb Co-coordinator

Cheryl Huelsman – Grinnell Public Schools Computer Instructor and Web Coordinator

Les Barnhart – Grinnell Public Schools Technology Specialist and Video Producer

Judy Hart – Grinnell Public Schools Kansas History Instructor and Research Coordinator


Research included a trip to the Gove County Courthouse in Gove, Kansas, to view the records of the schools that are accessible at the Register of Deeds’ office.  The Register of Deeds’ vault contains brown packets for all of the historical schools in the county.  Students were able to view teachers’ reports, student records, financial reports, and other information for their specific school.  Christy Tuttle, the Register of Deeds, is a super resource for Gove County information.  These records are open to people interested in researching during regular office hours.  More information on Gove County can be found at the website

Guest speakers were invited to speak to the students about the country schools they attended.  Robert Waldman (short video clip) spoke on District # 11 – West Sunny Slope.    He shared his experiences about the five years he attended there and brought his Karo Syrup can lunch bucket to show the students along with other artifacts.  Jeannie Gormley (link to clip) attended District # 49 – North Hackberry for all eight grades before coming in to Grinnell High School.  She brought old school records and textbooks so the students could see what Seventh graders learned years ago.  She also drew a floor plan of her school. 


 Bob Abell (link to clip) who attended District # 22 – Orion for six years brought numerous pictures and lots of stories to share.  His mother Virgie Scott Abell taught there in 1920. 

Mrs. Gormley’s father Robert Stephens was on the Board of Education for North Hackberry.  In the record books we found a schedule for the day.  Look how many different classes and subjects that one teacher had each day!  These records are for the school years 1926 – 1931.


Each of our speakers spoke about the games they got to play.  In the record book, the teacher had to check them off.  Special activities are there too.  There is even a listing of what a rural school needed.

In the school year 1979 – 80, the staff of the Grinnell High School Warrior Yearbook researched the history of the Grinnell and Angelus communities under the direction of Lynette Wolf, the sponsor.  That yearbook was an invaluable resource for this project.  Many pictures used for this project came from those collected for the yearbook.  We also used written interview materials from Charles Johnson, a long-time Gove County School Superintendent, and teacher Matilda (Tillie) Purma Sites that were given to the yearbook staff.

Mrs. Sites was a teacher in two country schools, West Big Creek and West Sunny Slope.  (She is included in the picture of West Sunny Slope students.)  In her information for the 1980 Warrior Yearbook about West Big Creek, she wrote of an incident that she said, “Will remain foremost in all of ours minds,” when writing of the March 26 and 27, 1931, blizzard that struck western Kansas.

Mrs. Sites wrote:  Link


          Another valuable resource was the book History and Heritage of Gove County, Kansas, edited and compiled by Albert B. and Mary T. Tuttle.  This book was published by the Gove County Historical Association in 1979 as a Bicentennial Project of the Gove County Bicentennial Commission.


When speaking on this year’s project, Bob Abell brought us a picture of the store and school in Orion, Kansas, a village in southwest Gove County.


The store in the background which closed down about the time this picture was taken in 1963 was the site of Saturday night dances and was a general store for patrons of the area.  The school in the foreground was moved to the Cass Ranch south of Orion.

          One old-time Gove County teacher was Benjamin B. (B.B.) Bacon (1876 – 1958).  (link to picture)  In 1920 – 21, Ben and his wife Helen Bacon were teachers at the Grinnell Grade School, and the picture of Ben comes from the 1980 Warrior Yearbook, p. 158.


Related Sites: 


1.)  To access genealogical information about Gove County, visit this site:

          2.)  Another site you might find interesting is a Virtual Tour of the Gove County Cemeteries that was produced by the 7th Grade Kansas History Class and Freshman Computer Class of 2004 – 05.  This site will enable you to tour all 16 cemeteries of Gove County, driving directions included.


We hope you enjoyed assessing our site about the country schools of USD 291.