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

District 43 School in Franklin County, Kansas, 1893.

District 43 School students in Franklin County, Kansas, 1893.

In 1882, there were 90 school districts in Franklin County, Kansas, and 89 schoolhouses. According to the census of 1881, there were 6,025 children between the ages of five and twenty-one, 4,543 enrolled, and 2,934 in average daily attendance. The number of teachers employed, excluding the Ottawa public schools, was 95; the average wages paid to male teachers was $32.60, and to females, $21.45. An advance in wages was made the following year, and a higher standard of qualification was required in the teachers. The value of school sites and houses was $88,830; furniture, $7,265; apparatus, $1,537; and books, $420; the total value of school property was $98,052.

Kaub School in Franklin County, Kansas.

Kaub School in Franklin County, Kansas.

In 1881, the Franklin County Teachers’ Association adopted an eight-year course of study for district schools. The highest studies for the eighth year are history, geography, bookkeeping, grammar, and arithmetic. The first class to graduate in this course in Franklin County graduated July 7, 1882, in district No. 41, W. A. Altman, teacher.

The first normal institute was held in 1874 by Professor William Wheeler at the public school building in Ottawa. There were about 40 teachers in attendance. In 1875 and 1876, Professor Wheeler conducted similar institutes. In 1877, the first one was held under the present law, and each year, there have been in attendance about 150 teachers.

Today, there are four school districts in Franklin County, Kansas.

Central Heights USD 288 is a public unified school district headquartered in Richmond, Kansas. It operates the Central Heights High School, the Central Heights Middle School, and the Central Heights Elementary.

Ottawa USD 290 is a public unified school district headquartered in Ottawa, Kansas. The district includes the city of Ottawa and nearby rural areas. The district operates in the Ottawa High School, Ottawa Middle School, Sunflower Elementary School, Garfield Elementary School, and Lincoln Elementary School.

Wellsville USD 289 is a public unified school district headquartered in Wellsville, Kansas. It operates the Wellsville High School, Wellsville Middle School, and the Wellsville Elementary School.

West Franklin USD 287 is a public unified school district headquartered in Pomona, Kansas. The district operates the West Franklin High School in Pamona, The West Franklin Middle School in Pamona, and elementary schools in Williamsburg and Appanoose, Kansas.

Historic Schools of Franklin County
Name District Years of Operation Location & Information
Acorn 74 1900-1959
Acorn School near Princeton, Kansas in Franklin County by Kathy Alexander.

Acorn School

The Acorn Schoolhouse is on the old John Brown Highway, intersecting with Iowa Road. The white wooden clapboard school was built in 1900, replacing an earlier structure built in the 1870s. The school closed in 1959 and is preserved by the Acorn Ladies Club and local landowners.

Briles 48 1868-1961
Briles School, Franklin County, Kansas.

Briles School

The Briles one-room school is located east of Ottawa in Franklin County, Kansas. It was built in 1868 and was last used in 1961. When Highway 68 was widened in 1980, the school had to be moved 100 feet to save it. At that time, the Full-O-Pep 4H club helped with the restoration. Since then, it has been used for the 4-H club, Peoria Township meeting hall, a voting precinct, and as a community center.

Cargy 52 1897-1955 The Cargy School was located on the Douglas and Franklin County lines, only one mile east of the Osage County line. The earliest records from the 1897-98 school year indicate 52 students enrolled. In August 1955, the district was divided into two other districts — District 112 in Osage County and District 101 in Franklin County. After the school closed, it was used as a community center and voting precinct. The building is now a private residence. The site is located at the intersection of N.1 Road and E. 100 Road in Franklin County.
District #8  8 1914-??
District #8 near Junction City, Kansas, courtesy Google Maps.

District #8

The District 8 Schoolhouse was built of native stone in the Italian Renaissance style. The entry tower has an arched opening. The tower is topped by a metal tile that looks like clay. There are porthole windows in three visible gables. It is located at 2505 S. Spring Valley Road, just southwest of Junction City, Kansas.

Homewood 99 1906-??
Homewood School in Franklin County, Kansas courtesy Google Maps.

Homewood School

This one-room school is located at the south edge of Homewood. It was built in 1906. The school is well cared for today.

Ottawa High School & Junior High School ?? 1909
Old Ottawa High School & Junior High

Old Ottawa High School & Junior High

The old Ottawa High School & Junior High School has been converted into apartments for senior citizens. The three-story red brick building with stone courses above the first and second stories was built in the Collegiate Gothic style with crenelated towers and east entrances. The South portion, built in 1909, served as a High School and a Junior High School. The North portion was built in 1919 as a separate Junior High. In the 1960s, it served as a Junior High only. The central cafeteria was built in the mid-1970s. The building was condemned by the school board in 1998. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October 2000. It was sold in 2004, and rehabilitation was completed in 2007 to convert the former school into apartments for senior citizens. It is located at 5506 South Main Street in Ottawa, Kansas.

Ottawa University – Tauy Jones Hall NA 1866-Present
Tauy Jones Hall at Ottawa University , Kansas.

Tauy Jones Hall at Ottawa University.

The Tauy Jones House is a massively constructed two-story, twelve-room stone structure built in the Italianate style with Georgian details and a gable roof. The walls are of cut stone 34 inches thick. The sandstone house was built from 1863 to 1867 on the site of Tauy Jones’ 1843 log trading post and hotel, which pro-slavery arsonists destroyed in 1856 who were attempting to kill Jones. The stone was quarried near Fort Scott, Kansas, and transported by wagon. John Brown often stayed nearby in the grove on the other side of the creek. There were unverified legends that the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad and that Abraham Lincoln slept at it; however, it is verified that Horace Greeley did visit the Jones family.

It was the home of John Tecumseh “Tauy” Jones, who was of half-Chippewa heritage and served as an interpreter for the Pottawatomie, a leader and minister for the Ottawa tribe, a friend of John Brown, and a co-founder of Ottawa University. In 1875, the building burned and was rehabilitated.

The oldest building on campus, Tauy Jones Hall, houses various administrative offices, including the Chancellor’s Office, Human Resources Department, Finance Department, Marketing Department, and the Office of University Advancement. The copper dome on the top of the building is a distinct feature of this historic building. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June 1982. It is on the Ottawa University campus at 1001 South Cedar Street in Ottawa, Kansas.

Pleasant Valley 2 1889-1954
Pleasant Valley School, Franklin County, Kansas courtesy Wikiwand.

Pleasant Valley School

This one-story building has a front-faced gable roof. The interior space of the building is comprised of a large central classroom, with one small coatroom on the west wall. The stage stands at the north end of the classroom. The school served rural Wellsville, Franklin County, Kansas, from its completion in 1889 until 1954, when consolidation forced its closure. It is located at 2905 Thomas Rd., Wellsville.

Silkville  ??  ??
Silkville, Kansas old school by Kathy Alexander.

Silkville School

The native limestone one-room school is all that is left of the hopeful Utopian community of Silkville. This one-story rectangular building with a gable-front roof was built in the vernacular style. The exterior walls are rough-cut stone blocks with semi-finished mortar joints. Wooden shutter doors over window openings. It is located about two miles southwest of Williamsburg at the U.S. 50 highway and Arkansas Road intersection three miles southwest of Williamsburg.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, January 2024.

Also See:

Franklin County, Kansas

Education in 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