Emerald Union District #29

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

Nov. 4, 1868:  “Also consultation with Ness of Union dist. 29 & Mason Esq as to difficulties between Director on the one side, Clerk & Treasurer on the other.”

Dec. 23, 1868:  “Visited school in Irish Settlement.  School large & well managed by Miss Kennedy of Coffee County.  Settlement could well afford a better building.”

Jan 19, 1869:   “[Talked to?]  [Heard from?] O’Sullivan for the fourth or fifth time in regard to suit against former treasurer of the Irish Settlement.”

Apr 14, 1869:  “Appoint Thomas Dee clerk of school dist. 29.”

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 21 February, 1991.

 Emerald School, District 29, was organized in the early 1860s to serve portions of Franklin, Anderson and Coffey counties.

The school, a half mile east of Williamsburg and six miles south  along the south side of K-31, is located on Emerald Hill near St. Patrick’s Catholic church, which can be seen for miles.

Charles Collins, who lives a quarter mile south of the school and collected much of its history, said the first building was a large log house located on the Hugo McEvoy farm, later owned by William Doolin.

According to Catherine Wilper, a teacher, writing in “Anderson County Histories” published in 1977: “After the arrival of more pioneers, the district was divided into two districts, No. 26 in Anderson County and No. 29 in Franklin County.

“The new school houses were built about 1870, one on Daniel Doolin’s farm and the other across the road from the McGlinn House. The old log school house was sold to Hugh McGlinchey for $22.

“In 1876, the two districts were formed into a joint district. The schoolhouses were moved to the Emerald Hill and joined into one building of two rooms, with the boys in one room and the girls in the other.”

The new joint district hired H.L. Forest and Sadie O’Neill as the first teachers. As new districts were founded in the area, they annexed portions of Joint District 29, reducing its size.

The stone school house was erected in 1899, and the first teacher in this building was Anna McCool of Garnett, who is buried at the Emerald Cemetery.

This district numbered among its graduates two doctors, four lawyers, many high school graduates and a large number of teachers and nurses.

Emerald School was closed in 1960 and the district was dissolved in 1964. The last teacher was Amanda Cain, who, in 1976, described the school as “the most enjoyable place I ever taught.” The last school board members were Harold McDonald, Charles “Louie” Collins and Edward Collins.

According to the St. Patrick’s 1960 Centennial Book, during the pastorate of Rev. M.P. Curran, in the 1890s, three sisters of St. Joseph of Abilene were put in charge of the school.

Attendance averaged between 80 and 90 pupils during the five years the sisters were in charge. The sisters lived in a two-story frame house northeast of the school.

The Leavenworth diocese donated the stone from its first church building for the construction of the stone school building.

Other teachers who taught at Emerald were Genevieve Richardson and Josephine Crawford. The last pupils to attend there were Duane Campbell, Diane and Michael McDonald; Betty Lutz; James Robert Stinebaugh, Cathy, Marie, Regina, John and Thomas Collins.

Former pupils still living in Franklin County are Mike Collins, John Lawrence O’Neill, Marjory Hogan, Florence (Harrington) Cade and Martha (Johannes) Christian.

In early times, when there was sufficient snow, hundreds gathered at the school to ride their sleds on Emerald Hill.

There were five joint school districts involving Franklin County and Emerald was the last joint district to operate.

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