From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Apr 9, 1869: “After several days in investigating territories included within certain petitions for new districts(,) organized district 55, 56, 57 & 58, order dated April 10.”
See Liberty Grade School, District 58 compiled, written and edited by Linda (Kaub) McCreight, Ruth (Kaub) Stude, and illustrations by Jerra L. Stude. 1992, 144 pp.
From “The hitching post. . .” a column in the Ottawa Herald, a series of articles about one-room schools in Franklin County was researched by Bruce Fleming and written by Herald Editor and Publisher Jim Hitch. Liberty School’s article appeared on 28 March, 1991.
Liberty School, District 58, was located three miles north and about 2½ miles west of Ottawa on the south side of the road.
The school was organized Nov. 2, 1878, and a building erected the same year, according to Ruby (Barnhart) Woods, Ottawa RFD 4, Ottawa, who provided most of the school’s history.
It was destroyed by fire sometime after the turn of the century. A second school building burned in January 1948 and was rebuilt by Wayne DeWald, a resident of the community. The last building, which still stands, was made from cement blocks, making it unique in the county.
The first school building also served as a church until 1900, when the congregation voted to build its own building, which it named “New Century.” A large album quilt with a picture of that church and names of members on it is owned by the Franklin County Historical Society.
Right after the Civil War two black families named Bradshaw and King who had been slaves homesteaded on ground northwest of the school.
Emory Deaton, Ottawa RFD 4, and his late sister, Katie (Deaton) Goodman, moved to the school district from Canada in 1926.
Harold Bennett, 32 Rockwood Dr., and Eunice Larkin, 1029 S. Main, were both teachers at Liberty School.
The school was a community center, in reality, and was the scene of many community meetings, penny suppers, box suppers and other social gatherings.
Rachel Corbett of Lawrence, who was the teacher when the second school burned in 1948, taught the children in her home for three months. The Appanoose school district donated desks, books and supplies and other schools in the area also provided supplies.
Liberty School closed in 1966 and the last teacher was Ruby (Hoopes) Storrer. The school was consolidated with Appanoose.
Members of the last school board were Jane Stevenson, Mary Newcomer and Elroy Kaub. The last pupils to attend Liberty were Linda Sue (Kaub) McCreight, Frances (Rose) Kaub, Janice (Foster) Brown, Diane, Victor, Terry and Mike Mitchell, Roy Kaub, David Hutshison, Amanda (Foster) Lucas and Bonnie Allen.
Former pupils still living in Franklin County include: Emory Deaton, Mary (Angleton) Thompson, Linda (Davenport) Woods, Paula (Davenport) Seuker, Rex, Rocky and Ricky Woods, Leland Barnhart, Cal Lantis, Victor Mitchell, John Foster, Amanda (Foster) Lucas, Janice (Foster) Brown, Linda (Kaub) McCreight,
Patsy (King) Kochenower, Loy Hutchison, Pansy Ann (DeWald) Hanson, John Brockway, Howard and Wayne Ledom, Trudy (Soper) Snyder, Francis, Floyd, Frank and Elroy Kaub, Dennis, John and Gary Schulz, Linda Brady, Elizabeth (Fisher) Staadt and Joe and Eric Soper.
District 58 contained within its boundaries the once popular “California Springs,” which was about 1 ¼ miles east of the schoolhouse. The water from the spring won first prize (some say second) at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1903.
The water was prized by Indians and early settlers and was bottled and sold by J.H. Crawford, Mrs. Louis Scott and Lou Evans.
Sales started in the early 1870s and continued into the 1920s. Since the Santa Fe Trail passed nearby, California Springs was a popular stopping place.
Crawford reported that the springs produced seven gallons of water per minute, even during the drought of the 1930s.
A CCC camp was built between the school and the springs in the early 1940s and a large pond was constructed below the springs.
All former pupils, teachers and residents of the old Liberty School District community are invited to a potluck reunion at noon, April 13, at the youth Fellowship Hall of Wesleyan Methodist Church, 933 N. Cherry.