Oak Ridge, Kansas

Governor Charles Robinson Farm in Douglas County, Kansas called Oak Ridge. By Everts & Co., 1887.

Governor Charles Robinson Farm in Douglas County, Kansas, called Oak Ridge. By Everts & Co., 1887.

Oak Ridge, Kansas, is an extinct town in Douglas County. It was located in Grant Township, about five miles northeast of Lawrence.

After William Quantrill raided Lawrence in 1863, Jonathan F. Morgan and his family were the first to settle in Oak Ridge. Morgan was one of the earliest settlers in Kansas Territory, coming with the first group of the New England Emigrant Aid Company in August 1854. Morgan, along with Charles Robinson, were founders of the city of Lawrence and acted within the first municipal government. When a full city government was set up, Dr. Charles Robinson was chosen president, and J.F. Morgan was made a councilman.

After moving, Morgan built a new home and worked as a farmer. In 1866, he established a subscription school, to which the families paid $8.00 per student to attend. Augusta Hunt taught the first term of 12 students.

Governor Charles Robinson

Governor Charles Robinson

Morgan was followed by Governor Charles Robinson and his family, who settled on land across from the Morgan’s, where he eventually built a stately mansion. School District No. 63 was officially organized here in April 1867, with J.F. Morgan as director, E.W. Morgan, clerk, and Dr. Charles Robinson, treasurer. The district’s first building was leased from Charles Robinson, and his niece, Emily Robinson, was the teacher.

A native stone structure was built in the fall of 1870 on the Morgan property. The building was known as “Robinson School” in the early days. However, Mrs. Robinson later began calling it “Oak Ridge,” which was also the name of their estate. During the early years, the district had enrollments of 50-60 students.

The first grange of the township was established here in 1871, as well as a vigilante committee, which later became the Central Protective Agency. The first officers were Joe Blakley, president, G.H. Morgan secretary; and Charles Robinson, treasurer.

In the meantime, Charles Robinson remained an active and influential force in Kansas affairs. Though he actively managed a large acreage of farmland, he practiced medicine, served in the Kansas Legislature in 1874 and 1876, and was also was a member of the first Board of Regents of Kansas University, in which capacity he served until his death. He died on August 17, 1894, at the age of 76. His wife, Sarah T. Robinson, lived in the farm home across the road from the Oak Ridge School until she died in 1911. The Robinsons had no children and eventually contributed much of their estate to the University of Kansas, including most of the land where the main campus is now and a building that was named in his honor.

The first native stone Oak Ridge school building served the district for 46 years. It was replaced in 1917 by a second native stone structure with Emma Hartley as the first teacher. In January 1933, the school burned down, and classes were held in the former Robinson home. The next school was built of brick and was dedicated in August 1933. In 1961 the school consolidated with White District No. 61, Bismarck District No. 79, and Burnette District No. 62 to form Grant District No. 100. The school was sold at auction in July 1962 and became a private residence. It continues to stand at 1924 E 1600 Rd about five miles northeast of Lawrence. It is all that is left of the old town today.

Oak Ridge, Kansas School in Douglas County, Kansas, courtesy Google Maps.

Oak Ridge, Kansas School in Douglas County, Kansas, courtesy of Google Maps.

Unfortunately, Robinson’s Oak Ridge home burned down in 1992.

©Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated April 2022.

Also See:

Douglas County, Kansas

Douglas County Photo Gallery

Kansas History

Kansas Main Page

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