Centropolis #5/ #6

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

Nov.1, 1867: “Visited school in Dist. No. 6.  Found it somewhat disorganized by reason of sickness of teacher.  Four weeks of present term remaining.  School house comfortable, but seats ill arranged, & house too small for the number in attendance–about sixty.  Teacher Mr. Miracle.”

May 19, 1868:  “School in Centropolis in a disorganized state under bad management of district and former teachers.  But the present teacher–Miss Kelsey seems to be correcting matters somewhat.”

Dec. 3, 1868:  “Visited School in district No. 6.  School noisy & not under good discipline.  49 pupils present.  Third week of the session.”

Jan 23, 1869:   “Application from Clerk of dist. No. 6 for interpretation of school law and written reply to same by letter.”

Feb 17, 1869:   “Revisited schools in district 5 & 6.  Teachers not up to the mark.  Multiplicity of text books also a serious drawback.”

Oct 15, 1869 & Nov 24, 1869, revisited Jan 27, 1870 & lectured in the evening to a full house:  “Commenced in Aug.  P.M. Wright teacher.  Attendance irregular.  School too small, but no fault of teacher.  Order good, Readers Wilsons, six.  School in excellent condition & making excellent progress.”

link to locator map

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 –date not found.

Centropolis had the first “public school” in Franklin County in 1855, which was taught by a man whose last name was Cator, for a period of approximately four months.

The first schoolhouse for what became Centropolis School, District 5, was believed built of rock, in 1857, and used until 1877, when it was replaced with a frame building that could accommodate 80 students.

Area church congregations also met in that schoolhouse until they could erect their own buildings. Centropolis was settled in 1855 and aspired to be the capitol of Kansas Territory. It prospered for about five years.

Perry Fuller established a store in 1855, to trade with the Indians. A town company was formed in 1856, and several businesses and homes built. In 1857, a large, steam-powered sawmill began operation.

The decline of Centropolis began in 1858 with the organization of a nearby community known as Minneola.

This bit of Centropolis history was excerpted from the Kansas State Gazeteer of 1882-83:

 “Centropolis, a village on Eight Mile Creek…11 miles northwest of Ottawa, it being the the nearest bank location, and six miles west of Norwood, its nearest shipping point for grain and livestock. Methodist, Episcopal, Dunkard (presently Old German Baptist) , Christian and Baptist Churches and a district school are sustained by a population of 110. Improved land commands from $15 to $30 per acre. A tri-weekly mail stage from Ottawa to Burlingame passes through here.”

Centropolis was surrounded with settlement in the early days: Coburn, four miles west; Minneola, a mile east; St. Bernard to the east, and Hackett to the southeast

Velma (Clark) McMaster of Soquel, Calif., writes, My great grandfather homesteaded in Centropolis in 1854. The Clark family always had a great interest in education and my father had 60 pupils when he taught Centropolis in 1903.

Mabel (Robbins) Gilliland of Centropolis, is a former Centropolis teacher. Her husband, Bud, attended all eight years of school at Centropolis.   On the last day of school, one year, Gilliland came down with the mumps and had to spend the day in the teacher’s car so other students would not be exposed.

There was a succession of at least three schoolhouses at Centropolis, and possibly four. Mrs. Lucille Carpenter was the teacher when the Centropolis School was closed in the spring of 1966. The following year the schoolhouse was auctioned off by Claud Myers.

Today the last school building, since remodeled, is located on the west side of town and is the home of  Paul and Claudia Williamson.

The last students to attend the school were Steve Clark, Alan Myers, Everett Wray, Mike Lanier, Bonnie Steward and Nancy Newman.

Other known teachers include Julia (McFadden) Heidner, Wayne McMasters, Beth (Briles) Gentry, Richard Powers, Agnes Waterbury, Lucille Carpenter and Ike Cearfoss.

Former students known still living in Franklin County are Birdie (Stewart) Dyer, Lourine (Stewart) Waterbury, Florence (Stewart) Valentine,

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