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From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Apr. 8, 1868: “On Petition from Dea Kelsey, Ed. Mith & others, surveyed the ground, examined plat, organized school Dist No. 49 & called first meeting.”
May 28, 1868: “Visited School in dist. 49, Luna Kelsey, teacher. New district, 11 pupils present.”
Nov. 11, 1868: “Detached from dist 49 all that territory lying east of 8 Mile Creek and temporarily attached to it. Reason people on the east side factious and disposed to rule or ruin. Organized the part cut off into a new district (55) and called first meeting. It is understood that next summer territory to some extent will be added thereto from adjoining districts. But it did not seem best to make further changes at present. Also administered oath to Robt Reed, chairman of committee appointed to appraise school lands in Peoria township.”
June 22, 1869: “No. 49. Commenced April 3rd. Attendance 25. Miss Luna Kelsey. Government rather loose.”
Dec. 24th, 1869: “[Term began] Dec. 6. Madison Over, Teacher. Visited Dec. 24th. Teacher well qualified but rather moderate. Uses tobacco offensively.”
Baxter School, District 49, was located three miles west and a quarter north of the north edge of Ottawa, on the east side of the road.
It was, according to Olive Staadt, who now lives at Ottawa Retirement Village, “a typical old time country schoolhouse. It had one room with a centrally located Round Oak heating stove.
“A good supply of wood and a load of corncobs were stored in a small building, the woodshed, just back of the school building. The corncobs were used as kindling to start the fire each morning, a duty that fell to the teacher. There was a water bucket on a small table at the back of the room with a dipper that was used by all. Kansas was the first state in the union to make illegal the common drinking cup in schools.”
In 1906, Staadt recalled, two pupils sat in each seat and shared the desk. Small double seats were located at the front of the schoolroom and the large ones at the back. Since we were in the first grade, my seatmate, Opal Wheeler, and I occupied a front seat. This made it easy to hear the upper classes recite and we gained a considerable amount of knowledge in this fashion. “The ninth grade ‘Classics’ class recitation was the high point of the day to us and we learned to look ahead to the time when we, too, would be in the ninth grade.”
The school yard had several large maple trees in the northwest corner and that’s where the smaller pupils usually played. All students took part in such games as “blackman,””hide and seek” and anti-over.”
It is believed the Baxter School was built in 1870s, but no one knows, apparently, the origin of the name.
The last teacher at the school, which was closed in 1962, was Grace (Price) Hoobing. Among the last pupils in attendance were Bill and Judy DeVore, Lynda and Jan Page, John and Lola May Sink, Lucky Klink, Terry Shoemaker, Randy, Berty and Vicki Page.
Some former pupils who still live in Franklin County are Lloyd Hotaling, Mrs. Clarence Keith and Staadt.
The Baxter Social Club met for a time in the building. When the district unified with Ottawa, U.S.D. 290, in 1962, the land reverted to the original owners.