District 16 was organized in April 1869 from part the High Prairie district in the Lyons Creek area. In the fall of 1869 classes began. The original school building, like many others, was a frame building. A small notice in the Junction City Tribune March 30, 1893 stated that District 16, “voted $1,200 bonds, with the proceeds of which they intended to build a commodious stone school house.” That native limestone schoolhouse still stands today on West Lyons Creek Road.
They definitely needed a “commodious school house” because in the early years, Rubin School had large classes. The State School Fund Report for 1883 states there were 41 students and a souvenir booklet from 1908 lists 30 students, with a surprising array of last names for a rural school, 15 different ones. The class photo in 1927 show 14 students though 20 were listed in the souvenir book for that year. 1932 had 15 students, and another year in the 1930s shows 18 students.
Rubin School like many others had its boundaries changed several times, shrinking or broadening as needed. What this means is that on occasion children would switch schools midway through their eight grades. The other schools in the Lyons Creek area were High Prairie, Kickapoo, and Hardscrabble, all located several miles from Rubin.
Undoubtedly, Rubin School’s history is similar to that of other schools in the area, but there are some fairly unique things that set it apart.
In the early 20th century, there was a public push for sanitation in cities and schools. Healthcare workers would go to schools and actually wash students’ hair and teach them how to properly bathe, wash their hands, and brush their teeth.
In 1929, and possibly other years as well, the Geary County Health Department, as part of this push for better health, conducted a “Rural Sanitary Survey.” That year Rubin School was “awarded second place on the ‘Rural Sanitary Survey’ they had sent in to the Geary County Health Department. They received a $3 Atlas and a year’s subscription to ‘Hygeia’” (Project Heritage, page 217).
We don’t have a lot of personal stories from the students who attended Rubin but one interesting story we do have comes to us from Sue Ruhnke. Sue wrote us some of her husband Jim’s memories, from attending Rubin School.
One entertaining memory Jim shared was about the Corncob Crib Wars about 1950. “The boys built a fort in the horse barn to the Northwest side of the schoolhouse. Every lunchtime recess found them choosing sides and hurling corncobs at each other. One fateful recess, the teacher walked in just as a corncob hurtled through the air and [it] smashed into his nose. Of course this led to immediate punishment for all the boys…they were lined up and told to bend over thus exposing their backside for the punishment…except for the one [boy] fortunate enough to be roller-skating in the basement with the girls.”
|Corncob Wars and Roller Skating weren’t the only recess activities. Rubin School had play equipment to keep the children entertained. Pictured here are: Betty Zoschke, Lenora Miller, Arlene Kind, Glenn Ruhnke, Edward Smith, and Jack Van Osdol.|
In 1954 five rural districts were consolidated into one and the students attended Rubin until June of 1955 when the Rubin district was annexed in Carry Creek, Dickinson County, concluding 86 years of education at that school. Rubin School became a private residence, and it remains so to this day.
If you have memories of District #16-Rubin School, or any other rural school to share please contact the Museum, GearyHistory@gmail.com or call us 785-238-1666.