Tapley School #70

Deed 75-296 from Charles Putnam to school district #70, 18 Feb 1899, 1 acre in NW/ of S10-T19S-R19E

link to locator map


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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 27 December, 1990.

Tapley School located a mile north of Richmond and 2 ½ miles west on the south side of the road (see locator map).

Classes were first held in 1871 and the school closed after the 1956-57 school year, taught by Pat (Burgoon) Gorton.

According to the board clerk’s records for 1870, furnished by Donald Prather of rural Richmond, “Bonds were voted for the sum of $600 for a new school house of pine lumber to be 20 by 26 feet.”

In 1873, the board let the contract for walling the water well at a $1.25 per foot. School records for Aug. 14, 1873 declared , “We have a new privy, 6 by 12 feet high and built of the best materials.”

In 1875, the board voted to get a pump for the well. Members also voted to charge pupils moving into the community from another district two dollars each.

The following year the school board voted to lathe and plaster the walls above the window sills and the job went to a Mr. Murphy at 12 cents a yard.

A motion was passed that the wall be taken out of the old well and replaced. The contractor was “to find living water or get no pay.”

District 70 grew from five taxpayers in 1870 to 23 in 1880. The school house was surrounded by prairie on three sides and the need for a fire break around the building was discussed on several occasions.

Bob Messenger and his sister Eula (Messenger) Taylor, 1122 W. 7th, who provided the accompanying 1921-22 student body picture, are the grandchildren of the Bob Messenger who served on the Tapley School Board in 1870.

According to the 1870 clerk’s book, the Kansas Legislature had passed a law requiring each county superintendent to furnish a set of record books for the district’s clerk and treasurer and a teacher’s daily register. The cost was not to exceed $7 per school.

In the back of the 1870 book were four sets of plans for school houses and their estimated costs. Even the cheapest cost more than most Franklin County school districts were spending on buildings.

Another former pupil, Ruth (Hougland) Lancaster, 1519 S. Elm, recalls that she, her brother Jim and sister Evelyn all rode on one horse to and from Tapley School.

The Tapley district has probably changed more than any other in the county. In its geographic area, where many homes were located, there are almost none today.

The last students to attend the school were Bob Rossman, Jim Wall, Esther Jackson, Phyllis (Jackson) Brown, Billy Falls, Hazel and Arthur Walters and Larry Fox.

Former students still living in Franklin County, not previously mentioned, include: Earl Rossman, Geraldine Wall, Laura (Hetzel) Sutton, Margaret Hadsell, Lloyd Peters, Bob Cooper, Rob and David Heckman, Donald Prather, Agnes Rossman, Hazel (Lyons) Stevenson, George (Gifford) Jockman, Warner Gifford, Dorothy (Rossman) Shields, Don, Art and Virgil Rossman, Don Deniston and Don Lehman.

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