From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
Feb. 5, 1868: “Visited School in Dist. 12. School in good condition. 22 pupils present out of an enrolled list of 32, although the day was cold & windy. Suffered considerably on the home ride. One day.”
Mar. 18, 1868: “Visited school in Dist. 12. Teacher Mr. Hull, after starting out excellently, toward close of term became very careless and indifferent, not to say lazy. Average attendance has fallen off from 25 to 4. Should have urged his removal had this not been the last week of school. District not entirely blameless, for although the house is comfortable, the seats are rough boards in some cases, supported at the ends & center by irregular stones.”
June 10, 1868: “Visited schools in district 11 & 12. Susie Norris in 12 teaching an excellent school. Jennie (?) in 11 quite deficient in education but controlling the school very well.”
June 22, 1868: “Visited school in district no. 13, Miss Starr, teacher. Rode over territory at corners of 13, 12, 32 & 38 to examine into propriety of organizing new district in forks of Ottawa and Wolf Creeks. Also wrote orders for first meeting in district 51.”
Jan 8, 1869: “Visited school in Dist. 12. L.M. Brown giving entire satisfaction to the district. His general management & discipline good, and considerably above his scholarship.”
Dec. 29, 1869: “Miss M.M. Noss, teacher. Term started Dec. 6. Visited Dec. 29. Full school. Revisited Feb. 23. Miss Brown, teacher. Qualifications very moderate. Teaching out balance of Miss Noss’ term. [Franklin Co. Marriage #442, W.D. Thayer to M.M. Noss, 17 Mar. 1870.]
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. (No date given)
New Hope School, District 12, was located approximately three miles west and four miles south of Wellsville, on the west side of the road. The deed shows that on March 30, 1871, John Baker and J.S. Cloud sold one acre to the district for $1 “to have and to hold, so long as it shall be used for school purposes, after which to revert to the original tract as part thereof.”
Nearly 91 years later, Jan. 27, 1962, the acre was deeded back to Percy Van Horn, who owned the original tract, for $1.
The first school house was constructed in 1887. It was destroyed by fire in 1904, and rebuilt the same year. An article in The Ottawa Herald April 13, 1957 declared, “The country school in District 12 is named ‘New Hope,’ but it is doubtful if there has ever been less hope in the school’s long life then there is today. Unless a half dozen more boys and girls suddenly show up in the district, then New Hope’s doors won’t be open next fall.
“According to Kansas law, no district having an enrollment of less than 10 pupils in the elementary school shall receive financial aid unless the State Board of Education approves the district as being unable to provide for the attendance of its pupils in another district.”
Only a month or so later, New Hope closed for good, its last teacher being Arlene Warren. The last pupils to attend were Richard Lee Lister, Willard N. Lister Jr., Dee Ellen Lister, Charles E. Fiehler, Donna Rae Clark, Lois Mildred Ware, Jerry Carpenter, John Stephens, Judith Stephens and Marvin Shoemaker.
Members of the last school board were Richard H. Ware, Charles Stephens and Lindell Fiehler.
Willard Lister, Williamsburg RFD 1, said getting the raccoons out of the attic at New Hope was a yearly occurrence. “When school started (each fall) they made such a racket that some of the fathers would have to crawl up and get them out.”
There was no lack of wildlife at the school. Mark Todd, 310 W. 15th, said skunks would get under the schoolhouse, causing “quite a stink.”
He also reported that there were only mud roads to the school until about 1947, the same year the school was wired for electricity.
Among teachers who worked at New Hope were Eleanor Loyd, Dolly Williams, Nellie Nordyke, Esther Moser, Verna (Williams) Blunk, Laura Jean Baker, Maurice Ponton, Edna (Vandyke) Moherman and Marie Armstrong.
Former students still living in Franklin County include Dorothy (Scott) Warren, Charles Stephens, Allen DeGarmo, Willard Lister, Bob Lister, Richard Lister, Dee Ellen (Lister) Kruzel, Willard Lister, Jr., Robert Fiehler, Sandra (Fiehler) Jones, Mark, Wayne and Leroy Todd and Raymond Brady.