Baker #21

Section 25, Township 18S, Range 20E. Deed 37-118, from Daniel R. Watkins, 15 Dec 1869, for consideration of $1, 1 1/2 acres in SE1/4 of S25 T18 R20.

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From the “Scratcher” or notebook of Superintendent of Public Instruction Philetus Fales.

June 24, 1868:  “In the afternoon, visited school in 21.  Mrs. Seward, teacher.  Only 14 pupils enrolled.”

Jan. 28,1869:   “Visited District 21,. 20 pupils enrolled. Teacher getting along tolerably.”

Feb 4th, 1870:  “[Term began] Dec. 225.  J.W. Harrison, Teacher.  Visited Feb. 4th/70.  New frame school house 22 x 34 ft. sheathed up entire inside & supplied with blinds outside, but not furnished.  School small.  Doing average.  Lectured in the evening to a small audience.  House on S.E. cor. Sec. 25, 18, 20.”

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 August 29, 1991.

 Baker School, District 21, was located a half mile north and three west of Lane on the north side of the road.

The district was organized in the early 1860s and the last classes were taught at Baker School in the spring of 1940. The last teacher was Elizabeth Whitaker and her students  that year were Katherine LaFollette, Everett Gilbert, Joan Hendricks and Marlene Jordan.

The last Baker schoolhouse was built in 1928, by Lee Cornelius, at a cost of $3,400. It had a full basement, coal furnace and well water.

After the school was closed, it was bought by Charled T. Roseberry and moved five miles north to become the Roseberry family home.

Elizabeth (Whitaker) Hall, the last teacher, now lives at Ellis. She recalls that after her one year at Baker, “with enough money saved from teaching, I went back to school to finish my last year of college.”

When she was at Baker, she recalled, “The schoolhouse was eleven  years old, which was considered modern.”

Her four students appeared in the 1939 Ottawa Christmas parade, which was held at night, “Katherine , as Mary, rode Melody, my family’s burro, and Everett, as Joseph, led the burro, which balked occasionally. Joan and Marlene, walking ahead, carried the Baker School banner. Even though we were small, we still won a first prize.”

Martha Crouch, 701 S. Poplar, recalls that the school board obtained permission to use the Baker Church,, located on the corner east of the school, for school plays.

Others known to have taught at Baker were Lucille Murphy, Lloyd Crowl, Ida Winkler, Pauline Adams, Allie Hilton, Florence Dobbins and Mrs. C.J. McCarthy.

Former Baker pupils known still to be living in Franklin County include Betty (Burkdoll) Kimball, Jim Burkdoll, Gail Nitcher, Eugene Anderson, Katherine (LaFollette) Alexander, Martha Crouch, Margaret (Crouch) Stipp, Everett Gilbert and Eula Montgomery.

Members of one longtime school board were Robert Sturgeon, William “Biz” Mills and Earnest Crouch.

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