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 10 October, 1991.
Rantoul, on the eastern edge of Franklin County, is one of its oldest settlements.
Early day pupils attended a school that was located about a half mile southeast of the present-day community. The name of that school, which also served the settlement of Reedsville, a mile southeast of Rantoul, is unknown.
The Rantoul School District, No. 92, was organized in 1882, and it is believed a one-room school was build in the site where the old high school building now stands.
Later, a larger schoolhouse was built. It had two rooms and a basement, where classes also were held. It was closed in 1965 and that year there were four teachers and 47 students.
Beginning in the fall of 1965, those students attended school in Princeton.
In the 1860s, as Rantoul began to develop, a postmaster was needed and Daniel Cutler received the appointment from President James Buchanan. Cutler’s wife had just read a fourth of July speech by Sen. Rantoul from Massachusetts, and it impressed her so much that she succeeded in getting the post office named for him.
The post office was established on the Cutler farm and the mail brought from Paola on horseback until the railroad came through from Osawatomie.
The railroad was completed to Ottawa in 1870, with stations at Reedsville, southeast of Rantoul, and Imes, four miles northwest.
In 1904, oil was discovered on a farm just east of Rantoul and the population soon grew to three or four hundred people, many of whom lived in tents. That oil boom lasted about six years and other booms occurred in 1912 and 1914 when more oil was discovered.
In its heyday, Rantoul had four doctors, two garages, a blacksmith shop, a barber shop, two restaurants, a cream station, hotel, grain elevator, depot, bank, meat market, three mercantile stores, ice cream parlor, lumber and grain company and telephone company.
The last schoolhouse now serves as a home for Helen Kirkland.