Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, July 31, 1930
Old Records Recall Pioneer Days
While looking through some old records at the Evergreen Farm Miss Clarissa Greene of Miami Beach, Fla., who is spending the summer here with the R.W. Greene family, found some very interesting facts concerning the organization of the Rocky Hill school, district 3. The following article was written by Miss Greene for the Sentinel-Republican and will no doubt be much enjoyed by our readers.
From the grass clad hills of Kansas more than half a century ago, there rose small cities which have again sunk beneath the fields of waving grain, hiding the place of their existence. Their streets are roamed by passing feet of wild creatures whose nocturnal wanderings are undisturbed by memories of other days.
Less than three miles from the present county court house, such a city had its beginning long before the town of Lincoln was even contemplated. Today there remains but a few scattered stones from the foundations of pioneer homes, and a grass covered ridge where once a sod fence outlined a sheep fold in the outskirts of the city.
The town of Abram occupied the elevation in the pasture and fields of the D.B. Day farm, now owned by Mrs. Ethel Day Rasmussen, and lying just across the road south from the home of Alfred Medcraft.
When the city was abandoned, following a bitter fight which moved the county seat from Abram to Lincoln, the original courthouse, occupying the highest point of the hill on which the town stood, was torn down and the building stone used in the erection of the John Ryan home, near Beaver Creek, on the farm now owned by Fred Walters.
Recently discovered records of the organization of District No. 3, Rocky Hill School, have disclosed some interesting facts of pioneer days. The records, deemed worthless and ordered destroyed many years ago, were rescued by O.N. Greene and are today in possession of his son, R.W. Greene, who occupied Evergreen Farm, homestead of the Greene family.
The first school to be organized in Lincoln County was at Beverly and that at Madison soon followed. District 3 was organized in 1871 at Abram and early meetings were held in the courthouse and in the upper story of the first store at Abram operated by M.D. Greene.
At that time Kansas law required that before a school tax could be levied, one term, financed by subscription, must have been held in the district. Precious dollars were subscribed and pupils were registered from a number of families where no children existed. It is told that Dan Day and Frank Priest, both bachelors, registered and paid for one pupil each that the requirements might be met.
Nine cents balance was turned over to his successor when Frank Priest retired as treasurer of the district, and what he said about how fortunate they were to have the nine cents would be interesting to those who knew him.
A bond for $500, bearing the signature of O.N. Green, together with coupons therefrom, are among the records. According to the clerk’s report the contract for erection of a school house was postponed for a year because the bond could not be sold for more than 83 cents on the dollar and rent was paid to M. D. Greene for use of the upper floor of the store building. The monthly rent was $7. It was later voted to pay rent for one room in the courthouse, but the county commissioners donated use of the room. The bond was finally sold, at a little more than 85 cents, with interest at 10 percent.
A revenue stamp of $1 denomination affixed to the bond of the district treasurer, E.B. Bishop, bears the cancellation date of Christmas Day, 1871, and the books list that entry as the first expenditure of the regularly organized district.
Receipts from subscriptions came in at intervals and teachers were paid when money was available, some of them as late as four years after the teacher’s contract had expired.
Among the earliest officials of the district appear the names of J.D. Gilpin, C.C. Page, O.N. Greene, R.S. Wilmarth, John Medcraft, Michael Soldner, though names of those who served in the promotion of the education step are lost since none of those who participated are left to tell the tale. R.W. Greene, Alfred Medcraft and William Hendrickson occupy the homesteads on which their respective fathers lived.
In 1872 a contract for the building of the schoolhouse was let to O.N. Greene, but the low price of the bid for the bond resulted in postponement and Mrs. Jennie Peer was hired for the winter term at $30 per month, "she to furnish a room for the school at her home."
On Aug. 7, 1873, "It was agreed to build a school house 18 by 2 feet, studding to be 10 feet, to be of pine lumber except sheeting. Agreed to hire Ogden N. Greene at $2 per day to do the carpenter work." The treasurer’s report shows that lumber was hauled from Salina by residents of the district at prices which ranged from $3.85 to $6.75, with the possibility that the lower price was part of a load. "Labor on the school house" entries are made in the name of both Mr. Greene and Mr. Day whose devotion to each other was well known and lasted as long as life itself.
The school house location was selected in three different places, the first in Abram with final agreement on the northeast corner of the Rocky Hill townsite from which location the building was moved to its present location in 1910 when the district was divided and a new schoolhouse built at Red Rock.
In 1873 it was voted to adopt a uniform set of school books, and scholars from other districts were required to pay "a proportionate share of the expense of running the school." A few years later a tax of $1 per pupil was levied to provide for an extra month of school. Wages have ranged from $20 per month, "The teacher to board himself," upward to $95 and terms have been from three months to nine.
E.C. Walters, at present a member of the board of trustees, has a record of 30 years service, the longest in the history of the district.
The first term of school was taught by James H. Barnum, whose homestead was later taken into the Lincoln district. Mr. Barnum was followed by Miss Laura W. Page (Mrs. J.J. Peate); Mrs. Peer; J.K. Thompson; William E. Bishop, later county surveyor; Miss Julia Crowe (Mrs. D.B. Day); her sister, Miss Minnie Crowe (Mrs. Allen Elgin), Kansas City; Charles Price; Edward A. Moody; A.M. Carpenter; Anna C. Wait; Mrs. M. Randall; Frank Lennan, Lyons, Kan.; Sarah A. Cole, Lincoln physician; Sally A. Goff; Ed Tenney; J.S. Beck; M.P. King, Tampa, Fla.; Josie Morton (Mrs. E.M. Allison), Culver; Meta Baker (Mrs. Charles Watson), Osborne; Eli Dale, Kansas City; John Parks, Salina; William G. Medcraft, Tucson, Ariz.; G.M. Anderson, Lincoln physician; Molly Medcraft; Emory C. Meek, Jacksonville, Fla.; Cora Perkins; Arthur Artman, Probate judge, Lincoln; John Wright; W.H. Anderson; Arthur J. Stanley, Kansas City; Hannah A. Moss, Siloam Springs, Ark.; O. Viola Whitaker; Burton Doolittle, Kansas City; Al Songer; Susie Cruson; Charles E. Booz, McPherson; Addie Hill; John Hutchinson, Paradise; Flossie Woody Jackson, Salina; Leola Gard; Grace Parker; Minnie Metz; and a most recent list during the past 15 years whose rolls of pupils have been much shorter than in the ‘90s when records show that there were 52 and 54 pupils enrolled.
Possibility of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the district’s formation is being discussed.
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