From “The hitching post…” column in the Ottawa Herald, a series of articles about early Franklin County schools researched by Bruce Fleming and written by Herald Editor and Publisher Jim Hitch. This article appeared 13 December, 1990.
Elm Grove School, District 84, was located 3 ½ miles east of 15th and Main in Ottawa, on the northeast corner of the intersection. The school was built prior to 1878 and was closed at the end of the school year in 1958. In its earliest history, enrollment peaked at 50 pupils.
The entrance to this school was unlike any other in Franklin County and may have been added after the original construction. It featured a large porch clear across the front.
Robert S. Dunn, 1342 S. Poplar, a former pupil, said recently, “I especially remember the wonderful times we had ice skating on the creek across the road and all the winter games we played, such as ‘fox and geese.’
“Every fall we walked one mile north to Fort Scott Crossing, and then east, to have a weiner roast, and then walked back.
“I walked a half mile to school in the mornings before school and built a fire in the furnace and then returned home to do chores. Then I walked back to school. I don’t remember the pay, but it sure seemed like a lot to a seventh grade farm boy in 1946.”
In the summer of 1957, after a tornado passed through the area, causing extensive damage to private residences, the Ernest Lowrance family moved into the schoolhouse and lived there until school started in September.
Though the school was a community center, not all community activities were held there. When the Elm Grove Methodist Church was closed, it became a community building.
The church was a half mile south of the schoolhouse, on the northeast corner of the intersection. A community club was formed and staged plays and other forms of entertainment there.
The last teacher at Elm Grove School was Sylvia Fogle, 1747 Princeton Rd., and the last pupils were Gail McFadden, Sandy Shade, Sharon Pope, Connie Pope, Ray Pope, Kenneth Harrington Jr. Becky Lowrance, Jill Lowrance, Vickie Higbie and Paula Higbie.
Members of the last school board were Earl Pope, Eldon Turner and Ernest Lowrance.
Among other teachers who taught there were Clara Davis, Mrs. Roy Gould, Florence Gammet, Beth (Briles) Gentry, Josephine Strafuss, Gertrude Phillips, a Mrs, Jones and a Mrs. Steele.
Some former pupils still living in Franklin County are Elbert, Wayne and Robert Swank, Cora (Dunn) Kunard, Ed Sites, Daisy (Fisher) Porter, Leonard Hoopes, Bob Dunn, Harlan and Glen McFadden, Eloise (McFadden) Mathias, Eldon Turner, Jim and Donny Peterson and Paula (Higbie) Schulz.
The building and its contents were sold at auction by Claude Myers Dec. 29, 1959.