One-Room, Country, & Historic Schools of Elk County

Students and teachers at a public school in Moline, Kansas, 1927.

Students and teachers at a public school in Moline, Kansas, 1927.

Elk County Kansas by L.H. Everts & Co, 1887

Elk County Kansas by L.H. Everts & Co, 1887.

The matter of the education of the youth received early and liberal attention from the settlers of Old Howard County. No sooner were there sufficient children within easy distance of each other than there were means provided for their instruction. Districts became organized as the necessities required so that as early as October 1872, there were 118 organized districts in the county, 113 schools, and 1,069 students enrolled.

Howard County was divided in 1875. The north half was called Elk County, and the south half was called Chautauqua County. All records of school districts within the boundaries of Elk County were transferred to Elk County to be kept by the County Superintendent. In 1879, Elk County alone numbered 74 organized school districts with an enrollment of 2,181, requiring the employment of 88 teachers.

In 1882, the report of the County Superintendent stated that the number of school-age children was 4,150. Of these, 2,025 were male, and 2,125 were female. There were 75 schoolhouses in the county, and four districts had no schoolhouses. The county had three grade schools: Longton, Grenola, and Howard City. There were 82 certificates issued during the last school year.

The endeavor of the citizens of the county to add to the efficiency of the schools is zealous and unremitting. Greater care is now being taken, year after year, to have none but competent teachers employed, and incompetent men are now excluded from the office of County Superintendent, the aim being to elect only such as are properly qualified for the discharge of this, the most important of official positions. The standard for the qualification of teachers is being gradually promoted, with County Institutes being held annually for the drill and preparation of teachers in the latest and most improved methods of school work.

In 1908, when Fletcher Biddinger was county superintendent, the courthouse at Howard was destroyed by fire, and most of the county records were burned. For this reason, some records are unavailable.

Today, there are only two school districts in Elk County – Elk Valley USD 283, headquartered in Longton, Kansas, and West Elk USD 282, headquartered in Howard, Kansas, includes the communities of Elk Falls, Howard, Moline, Severy, and nearby rural areas.

Name District Years of Operation Location & Information
Busby 8 1873-??
Busby School in Elk County, Kansas.

Busby School

Dating before 1877, this school preceded the town of Busby. The building also served as a community center. The stone school has an outhouse and merry-go-round. Busby was located about 12 miles east of Howard on 23 Road. The school is on Limestone Road.

Elk Falls Gym 15 ??
Elk Falls High School Gym in Elk County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Elk Falls High School Gym

Though an old High School no longer stands in Elk Falls, Kansas, its gymnasium remains.

Fairview ? 1900?-??
Fairview School in Elk County, Kansas.

Fairview School

This gable-front wood frame rectangular building is located at 1547 Road 17, Howard, Kansas.

Independent 73 1882-1946
Independent School in Grenola, Kansas.

Independent School

The small towns of Canola and Greenfield in Greenfield Township combined with Grenola, Kansas, after the railroad arrived in 1879. The school opened on January 1, 1882. The rectangular wood-frame building now serves as a museum operated by the Grenola Historical Society. Independent School is located on South Walnut Street in Grenola, Kansas.

Lower Paw Paw 6 1906-1950
Lower Paw Paw School in Elk County, Kansas.

Lower Paw Paw School

The Lower Paw Paw one-room school is a Vernacular-style T-shaped wood-frame building. It is located at 1336 Quail Road, at the intersection with Road 14 north of Howard, Kansas.

Oak Valley 43 1882-??
Oak Valley School in Elk County, Kansas.

Oak Valley School

This stone schoolhouse, a gable-front wood-frame entry vestibule, is located on Union Road, also called Road 29A.

Pleasant Valley 127 1900-??
Pleasant Valley School in Grenola, Kansas.

Pleasant Valley School

This school was initially located on Road 8 in Chautauqua County, about eight miles south of Grenola. Today, it is located at 109 Railroad Avenue at the Grenola Museum, Grenola, Kansas. It contains the original furnishings of a one-room school, including wooden desks, a blackboard, old maps, and a potbelly stove.

Prairie/Gem 26 1879-1944
Prairie-Gem School in Elk Falls, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Prairie-Gem School

This one-room schoolhouse originally stood two miles west of Elk Falls. It was moved to Elk Falls in 2001 and now functions as a museum.

Upper Paw Paw 107 1886-1964
Upper Paw Paw School, Elk County, Kansas.

Upper Paw Paw School

Upper Paw Paw was a one-room country school located in the northern part of Elk County, Kansas. On November 29, 1872, Henry E. Hubbell, a voter of Paw Paw Township, visited the office of County Superintendent Mr. A. Ellis to request that a school district be organized in the northern part of Paw Paw Township. On December 9, 1872, a meeting was held at Hubbell’s home, and the organization was planned, boundaries were set, and the district was organized. This one-story wood frame vernacular-style building has a gable roof. From Severy, Kansas, it was located three miles west and two and one-half miles south on the east side of the road. From Howard, Kansas, it was six miles north on Highway 99 to the Cresco Cemetery, two miles west and one and one-half miles north. It is at 2072 14 Road.

Union Center 2 ??
Union Center School in Ellk County, Kansas.

Union Center School

The Union Center one-room school originally stood six miles northwest of Howard. It was moved to a site on North Wabash Street in Howard, Kansas.

Union Valley 1924-??
Union Valley School in Elk County, Kansas.

Union Valley School

This one-story rectangular school was designed in the vernacular style with a gable-on-hip roof and a square entry tower at the northwest corner. It is located at 2301 Quail Road, northeast of Howard.

Elk County Historic School Districts

School District Post Office   School District Post Office
Antioch 110 Howard Independence 133 Piedmont
Baner 3 Howard Independent 73 Grenola
Border 141 Longton Latham 50 Latham
Boston 18 Moline Lima 70 Howard
Bellview 37 Moline Lone Star 29 Longton
Bunker Hill 49 Howard Longton 11 Longton
Busby 8 Howard Lower Paw Paw 6 Howard
Canola 22 Grenola Marion 11 Longton
Cave Springs 67 Fall River Merry Bell 136 Howard
Cedar Summit 35 Howard Moline 7 Moline
Chaplin 145 Moline Moline 144 Moline
Clear Creek 1 Howard Mound Branch 105 Moline
Clear Creek 13 Longton North Pole 150 Fall River
Cove 34 Longton Oak Ridge 81 Longton
Cresco 148 Howard Oak Ridge 68A Longton
Dinger 20 Grenola Oak Valley 45 Oak Valley
Elk Falls 15 Elk Falls Ohio 10 Longton
Elk Valley 12 Longton Pearl 154 Piedmont
Elk Valley 118 Piedmont Pleasant Hill 19 Howard
Excelsior 117 Howard Pleasant Hill 63 Moline
Fairview 78 Grenola Pleasant Hill 36 Elk City
Fairview 4 Howard Pleasant Hill 149 Howard
Fairview 16 Howard Pleasant Plains 68B Severy
Fall River 66 Rule Pleasant Valley 65 Fall River
Forest 134 Howard Prairie Gem 26 Elk Falls
Frog Hollow 119 Longton Rock Creek 77 Howard
Greenfield 21 Grenola Rural Vale 112 Howard
Green Valley 106 Severy Star 139 Moline
Grace Hill 33 Severy Star 28 Piedmont
Grenola 27 Grenola Stone 14 Elk Falls
Hard Pan 142 Grenola Stony Point 115 Howard
Harmony 17 Moline Union Center 2 Howard
Hartford 9 Longton Upper Paw Paw 107 Howard
Hickory Creek 41 Oak Valley Victor 64 Fall River
Hide Out 32 Fall River Victory 109 Piedmont
High Hill 147 Howard Viola 40 Elk City
Highland 24 Howard Wild Cat 76 Moline
Howard 5 Howard Wilson 160 Moline
Illinois 161 Longton

Jack & Janet Book.

Jack & Janet Book.

Chief Tablet

Chief Tablet

Mother Goose Book

Mother Goose Book

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, December 2023.

Also See:

Elk County, Kansas

Elk County Photo Gallery

Kansas Destinations

One-Room, Country, & Historic Schools of Kansas


Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.
Genealogy Trails
Kansas Historic Resources Inventory