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

First Bohemian School in Wilson, Kansas, about 1916.

First Bohemian School in Wilson, Kansas, about 1916.

The educational interest among the people of Ellsworth County, Kansas, was an earnest desire to advance education. Whenever and wherever it has been found necessary to build a schoolhouse to accommodate children in the neighborhood. The first school was taught in rented quarters in Ellsworth, Kansas, by a man named Wellington. In 1869, a one-story schoolhouse was erected there, which served until 1873, when the people voted $9,000 in bonds to erect a larger and more modern building. In 1872, a stone schoolhouse was built in Wilson.

In 1876, there were 765 students in 22 school districts in the county, and in 1878, that figure had risen to 1802 students in 45 school districts. Teachers’ Institutes were held regularly. Two of the graded schools were said to compare favorably with any school in the country. One was located in Wilson, and the other in Ellsworth.

Old Highschool in Ellsworth, County, Kansas.

Old High School in Ellsworth, Kansas.

In 1882, there were 66 schoolhouses, of which one was brick, 20 were stone, and 45 were frame. Excepting those at Ellsworth and Wilson, they were all located on the prairie, without a tree to shelter them from the storms of winter or protect the children, in their minutes of amusements, from the burning sun of summer. Naked and exposed, they stood, a great many of them without even as much as a fence. In a country where trees were of such easy growth, there was no excuse for not protecting both the schoolhouses and the children who attended them by sheltering groves.

The number of school children enrolled then was nearly a hundred less than the number enrolled in 1881. This indicated a decrease in population, which was accounted for by the fact that parties coming into the county were desirous of establishing extensive ranches and buying out the settlers who moved away. These transactions chiefly took place in the eastern portion of the county, and in 1881, two school districts, in which there were about 50 school children, were, in this manner, completely wiped out.

The school population of the county in 1882, between the ages of five and twenty-one years, was 2,971, with 1,546 males and 1,425 females. The total number of students enrolled was 2,198, of which 1,116 were males and 1,077 were females. Of this number, the average daily attendance was 1,465, the males and females being about equal, the former being 747, and the latter 718. The total number of teachers required to supply the schools in the county was 82, but only 62 were employed, 40 of whom were females and 22 were males. The average salary paid to teachers was $25.73 for males and $19.72 for females. There were, during the year ending July 31, 1882, seventy-one applicants for teachers’ certificates, none of whom were rejected, their average age being 19 years. Of the 71 certificates granted, six were of the first grade, 40 of the second, and 25 of the third. The receipts for all school purposes during the year, including the balance on hand at the close of the year preceding, was $17,137.82, and the amount expended was $15,878.64, leaving a balance on hand on July 31, 1882, of $1,259.18. The difference between the estimated value of school buildings and grounds in the county and the bonded indebtedness is $14,464, the former being $39,760 and the latter $25,296. The schools, generally, were well furnished with seats, desks, globes, maps, charts, and other apparatus to aid the teacher and students and facilitate the imparting of instruction.

Today, Ellsworth County has two school districts. The Central Plains USD 112 is a public unified school district headquartered in Claflin, Kansas. The district includes the communities of Holyrood, Bushton, Claflin, Dorrance, Frederick, Lorraine, Wilson, Beaver, Dubuque, Odin, Hitschmann, and nearby rural areas. The school district operates the following schools: Central Plains Jr/Sr High School in Claflin, Central Plains Elementary School in Holyrood, and Wilson Elementary School in Wilson. Ellsworth USD 327 is a public unified school district headquartered in Ellsworth. The district includes the communities of Ellsworth, Kanopolis, Geneseo, Carneiro, Yankee Run, Black Wolf, and nearby rural areas. The school district operates the following schools: Ellsworth Junior/Senior High School, Kanopolis Middle School, and Ellsworth Elementary School.

Historic Schools of Ellsworth County
Name District Years of Operation Location & Information
North Blackwolf ?? 1912-1967
Black Wolf School in Ellsworth, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Black Wolf School

This T-shaped vernacular-style one-room school originally stood eight miles northwest of Ellsworth. It was moved from the extinct town of Blackwolf to Ellsworth in 1980.

Black Wolf School Interior in Ellsworth, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Black Wolf School Interior

Items were added after restoration to represent what the school might have looked like when it functioned. It now sits at the Hodgden House Museum Complex at 104 S. Main Street in Ellsworth, Kansas..

Carneiro ?? 1916-1960s
Old school in the ghost town of Carnerio, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Carneiro School

In 1885, the first school building was constructed, and in 1916, a new two-story brick schoolhouse was built. The school initially served all grades until the early 1940s. Afterward, it served only as a grade school until the 1960s, when it was closed. Carneiro is a tiny ghost town halfway between Brookville and Ellsworth, Kansas. The school is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of 26th Road and 4th Street.

Holyrood ?? 1950-??
Hollyrood School

Hollyrood School

This rectangular, blond brick school now serves as a meeting hall. It is located on County Road in Holyrood, Kansas.

Liberty 44 1910-??
Liberty School in Elsworth County, Kansas.

Liberty School

The vernacular brown sandstone schoolhouse has a hip roof and brick chimney. The interior has a wood floor, pressed tin ceiling, and plaster walls. It is currently used for storage. It is located on Avenue K in Wilson, Kansas. It is six miles south of Wilson and 4.5 miles east on Avenue K. It is addressed in Wilson but is closer to Black Wolf.

Lorraine ?? 1950-??
Old Lorraine School in Ellsworth County, Kansas.

Lorraine School

The old Lorraine School is a one-story blond brick rectangular building erected in the Modern Movement style. The central gym originally had a gable roof; now, a metal gable roof has been installed on the front bay and extends from the gym over side bays. The interior features concrete block, glazed block wainscoting, and an acoustic tile ceiling. The building is vacant today. It is located at the 400 Block of Stanley Street, in Lorraine, Kansas.


(Plakey?) Rural School House ?? ??
Plakey School near Holyrood, Kansas.

Plakey School

Native stone schoolhouse with two brick outhouses and a small brick coal shed in the rear. It is one mile east and four miles north of Holyrood at Avenue N and 6th Road.

Unknown ?? ??
Old school near Wilson, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Old school near Wilson, Kansas.

This old stone building near Wilson, Kansas, indicates it was built in 1898. It appears to be a school, but it could have been a church.

Wilson Grade School 1917-1998
Wilson Grade School in Ellsworth County, Kansas by Kathy Alexander.

Wilson Grade School

This school was built by the Board of Education in 1916 and opened in March 1917. The school originally housed the sixth grade down; however, the lower grades were divided, with students living south of the tracks and continuing to attend the south school. The school served the community for nearly 80 years before it closed in 1998 due to school consolidation. Shortly thereafter, the high school south of town was demolished.

The two-and-a-half-story red brick rectangular building with a full basement was designed in the commercial style with a flat roof with a simple brick parapet and a stone cap. The parapet steps up to form a shallow pediment at the center of the front facade. There is a large brick chimney near the center of the east side. The front (south) facade is symmetrical with three bays; twin primary entrances flank the center bay, which projects slightly from the building facade. The facades are simple in design, with subtle ornamentation through smooth stone bands, panels, and window sills. The site has perimeter sidewalks and a paved basketball court on the east side. Playground equipment is in place on the north half of the site. The school was remodeled in 1967 when a gymnasium was constructed at the high school, and the auditorium and gymnasium were converted into classrooms. The Wilson Community Foundation purchased the building and converted it to Czech Apartments for senior housing at 420 24th Street in Wilson, Kansas.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, January 2024.

Also See:

Education in Kansas

Ellsworth County, Kansas

Historic Sites

One-Room, Country, & Historic Schools of Kansas


Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.
Historic Public Schools of Kansas
Kansas Historic Resources Inventory