From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales:
June 9, 1868: “Visited schools in district 24 & 41, First school in 41, Miss Daniels, teacher. 12 pupils present. Small, neat frame house. District feeble, quite a portion being College lands and unsettled & untaxable.”
Feb 12, 1869: “Revisited schools in district 33 & 41–Coe and Kibbe teachers. I deem them the two most successful teachers in the public schools of Franklin County this winter.”
June 21, 1869: “Visited school in Dist. 41, Mrs. Bullock teacher. School in session five weeks. Attendance twenty five. Fair teacher. Neither blackboard nor school register. Outline maps.”
Jan 12, 1870: “[Term began] Dec. 6. J.T. Detwiler, Teacher. Visited Jan. 12. Moderate every way.”
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 26 July, 1990.
Rock Creek School, District 41, was located three miles south of the intersection of 15th and Main in Ottawa on the east side of US-59.
The first building was constructed in 1869 and replaced, in 1894, with the building which still stands and has been remodeled into the attractive home of Bill and Janet Kneller.
Dorothy (Gillette) Mohr was the last teacher, when Rock Creek school was closed in 1952. Among former pupils still living in Franklin County are Zol Mae (Foushee) Sand, Lela (Foushee) Webster, Max Foushee, Dale Foushee, Rex Foushee, Lew Stratton, Eunice (Gillette) Hoover, Genevieve Gillette, Raymond Gillette, Charles Gillette (current Ottawa Mayor), Dorothy (Gillette) Mohr, Alice (Fabert) Stewart, Betty (Foushee) Shaffer, Bonnie (Anderson) Gibbons, Duane Anderson, David Anderson, Dale Denniston, Treva (Maxwell) Larkin, Imogene (Smith) Droddy and Glenn Gilliland.
Esther Hegberg, who is retired and lives in Kensington Apartments, 8th and Cedar, taught at Rock Creek for 16 years, from 1931 through 1947, and tells this story:
“Donald Fabert (a student in the 1930s) had a dog that would always come to school with him. The dog would lie in the back of the room and sleep. He never bothered any of the children.
“The seventh and eighth graders in the one-room schools had to take examinations that the State Department of Education sent to the county superintendent’s office at the end of the year. These were given at Ottawa High School.
“I always had school on Saturdays for about three weeks before to help the students study for the examinations. Donald was in the seventh grade when this happened. Believe it or not, Donald’s dog would never come to school with him on these Saturdays. He seemed to know they were not regular school days.”
Rock Creek was formed in June 1867 and a school site was chosen a half mile south of the site that ultimately was used.
School was held in a rented building in 1868, for three months only, and an average of 16 pupils were taught by a Miss Daniels, who was paid $25 per month.
In an 1883 Ottawa Republican article, it was reported that a Mr. Mackey taught two months in the winter in 1878, and was remembered, principally, for chewing tobacco and spitting it all over the floor.
According to the article, “In the fall of 1881, the school won three prizes in the fair. The school’s prizes were a ‘MaCaulay’s History of England.’ in five volumes. “At the commencement of the winter term of 1881, the school board adopted a course of study from which a class of six graduated. This class was the first in a district school to graduate in the whole state of Kansas. This was an honor of which nothing can rob the Rock Creek School.
In 1915, Rock Creek was the only school in the county furnishing all school books, according to the “County Superintendant’s Review.” It also reported that Rock Creek offered one year of high school study which would be recognized by other schools in the county.
Those who attended in the early years recall the pot-bellied coal heater, water brought in from the well by bucket and occasional lessons under the shade trees. There was a time, too, when students from Rock Creek and Latimer schools walked back and forth for spelling and ciphering matches. After Rock Creek was closed, the building was maintained by the Rock Creek Community Club as a community center until it was put up for sale in 1965.