In honor of the Celebrating Past Times event at the Spring Valley Historical Site I am sharing a portion of a Museum Musings column from April 26, 1998 by Gaylynn Childs former GCHS Museum Director,. It is an excerpt of the story regarding the restoration and the history of the Spring Valley School House Site.
“The little stone one-room school house, which has stood at that location since 1873, had been painstakingly restored to its turn-of-the-century appearance and was officially opened in 1997. Since then this crew of dedicated Spring Valley Volunteers has turned their efforts to the reconstruction of the little pony barn that once stood on the school grounds. As all that remained of the original structure was the foundation, this project has involved some real detective work, as well as back-breaking labor. To maintain the historic accuracy, the crew dismantled an old barn that stood on the Caspar farm, and used the materials from it to recreate the Spring Valley structure. There is a pioneer hewn log cabin which originally stood on Lyons’s Creek in southern Geary County. As its original location was landlocked and inaccessible, this structure was donated to the Historical Society a number of years ago by Mrs. Elsie Ruhnke. It was dismantled and stored until a suitable use and location could be identified”. It is now situated on the school grounds where visitors and school children can visit to experience pioneer life.
“It is interesting to note that it was 40 years ago almost to the day that the Spring Valley School closing social and annual reunion was held. It was on April 27, 1958, that the friends and former students who had attended the little country school gathered for the traditional end-of-the-year party, but sadness for it had been determined to dissolve the rural district # 21 and distribute the few remaining students among the adjoining Wall, Acker and Brookside schools. Finally, in 1967, all the rural districts were absorbed into Geary County U.S.D. No. 475 and these little country schools were no more.”
“School session in the district was a three-month term which commenced in January of 1872. Miss Emma L. Stephans was employed as the teacher for $20 a month. Josephine Munson’s history notes that “the late Sam Walker, Sr., said that the building in which school was first held was located on the flat just west of the Junction City Stone Company Quarry, north of K-18. When he last remembered seeing the building, it was just four walls and a part of a roof.”
“At the annual meeting held at the schoolhouse in March of 1878, it was voted to erect a new school building on a one-acre site received as a gift to the district from John W. Bailey and his wife Harriet. That same day it was voted to issue bonds in the amount of $500 for the purpose of building this school. In April a contract was awarded to Thomas York, for the stone work at $2.25 per perch (which was the term for a unit of masonry work), as for walls. and C.N. Gray was hired to complete the carpentry work for $224.00. It can be assumed that the school was ready for use in the fall of 1873, when Clairnce D. Greenley was hired to teach the first term in the new building. For the next 85 years school was conducted in the little stone structure with out fail, with the length of these sessions varying from three months in the earliest years to eight months at the end.”
“Jo Munson’s account also notes some interesting statistics that give us insight into both the country school and its neighborhood. “The number of persons between 5 and 21 years of age residing in the district in August of 1872 was 19. Of these eight were enrolled in the school, with an average daily attendance of less that six. The next year there were eleven in school, with an average attendance of ten.”
“Families who moved into the community later and are listed in school records in the 1890’s and early 1900s were Kyner Munson, Tritle, Disberger, White, Froeschler, Meer, Walker, Menzloff, Breeler, McKinney, Stien, Thompson, Peterson, Ritter, Settgst, Schreffler, Parker, Cunninham, Pettit, Upham, and Ramsour.”
“Mrs. Emil Ritter was elected as clerk of the district in 1933 and served for the following 25 years until the dissolution. Carl Munson was elected treasure of District # 21 in August of 1883 and he served until 1886, when he moved to a farm on Clark’s Creek for a few years. He was again elected in 1890 and served until 1902 when his son, Charles O. Munson, was elected. Charles O. Munson was elected. Charles served until his death in 1934 when his son, Gaylord Munson, was appointed to the office of treasure and he served continuously in that capacity until the district was no more.”
The Geary County Historical Society would like to invite you to “Celebrating Past Times” as 10am-2pm at the Spring Valley Historic site. Come experience some good old fashioned fun and historic demonstrations. Also, the St. Joseph’s Church and Cemetery located along McDowell Creek in Wingfield Township will be open from 10am-12pm with a cemetery talk to begin at 10:30am. On Sunday the Starcke House (next door to the museum) will be opened for a special tour and turn of the century games from 1-4pm.