Reprinted from 17 September 1983 “Smoky Valley Roots”, by Judy Lilly (Salina Journal) with permission.

School District 59 was a place of learning for Saline County children for more than 80 years. Wheeler School, as it was called, was formed November 27, 1875, and teachers there educated the children living in the southeast corner of Liberty township until the district was disorganized in April of 1957.

The register containing these records is falling apart and some of the writing is rather faded. However, much of the script is readable and reveals not only the names of students and their ages, but also gives clues to the nature of the “good old school days” our ancestors enjoyed.

In 1883, the school year in Saline County began on October 1 and ended April 1. Of the 30 students who arrived off and on at Wheeler School, the oldest was 18 year old Charles Carlson; the youngest was Carl Wheeler, 6. All ages of students ranged between, and all levels were instructed by one teacher in reading, arithmetic, U.S. History, grammar, geography and spelling.

Typical of country schools that drew students from farm families, daily attendance appears to have been unpredictable. When everyone in the district came to school, the classroom was overflowing. But cold weather, illness and work schedules could cut class size by a third or more.

On a page at the back of the small school register, O.D. Hough, the teacher for the 1883-84 term, penned laconic impressions of a day here and there, and in doing so, gives us glimpse at one-room school experiences 100 years ago.

The log reads:

2nd Term Com. Dec. 31st, 1883. Very cold windy day, only 20 present. One frozen finger.

Jan. 1st – Very cold and blustering. Only five present. Cold week. No school on Friday. Sickness.

Jan. 8th – Fine weather. School house running over, 31 in 14 seats.

Jan. 9th – Warm cloudy toward evening. Mrs. Wheeler was part of the forenoon and afternoon.

Jan. 10th – Windy day.

Feb. 4th – Turned cold and that with 1 or 2 cases of sickness cut down the school from 33 or 4 to about 2/3 of that size.

Feb. 11th – Cold blustery day all day. 22 present and they appear to be improving in most of their studies but not as fast as I could wish or as fast as they would if they gave an undivided mind to them.

Feb. 13th – Cleared off but still cold. School elected to debate Friday afternoon. Question resolved: that city life is preferable to country life.

Feb. 17th – Mumps keeping some of them out so that there is room enough now.

Feb. 28th – Mumps keeping some out. Some have hired out and commenced to work.

March 4th – School work and mumps to many.

March 12th – Spelling school. Mr. Wheaton favored us with a reading well rendered. Mr. P. Sargeant gave us a declaration in good style.”

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE of Class A, B, C, D, Grade 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

Study, Reading; Text Books used, Independent

Month commencing Oct. 1st, 1883, O.D. Hough, teacher.

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Vernon A. Mapes,14; Clinton Vermillion,15; Libbie Wheaton,13; Autie Sargent,17; Ida Wheeler,15; Grace Manning,11; Nellie Wheeler,13; Mark Wheeler,11; Walter Mapes, 9.

NAMES OF PUPILS

Floyd Manning, Grace Manning, Nellie Wheeler, Mark Wheeler, Charles Carlson, C.D. Vermillion Study, Geography, grade, not given, Oct. 1st, 1883, textbooks used Montuk’s

NAMES OF PUPILS

Charles Carlson, V.A. Mapes, Mark Wheeler, C.C. Vermillion, Thomas Gallagher, Charles Carlson, Peter Gallagher, Floyd Manning, Ida Wheeler, Grace Manning, Nellie Wheeler, Jessie Wheeler, Mark Wheeler, Thomas Gallagher, Autie Sargent, Peter Gallagher, Libbie Wheaton

Study, Watson’s textbooks used, Spelling, Dec. 31, 1883

NAMES OF PUPILS

Ida Wheeler, Rosy Kiel, Nellie Wheeler, Freddie Kiel, Mark Wheeler, Thomas Gallagher, Autie Sargent, Peter Gallagher, Libbie Wheaton, Ida Kiel, Vernon A. Mapes, May Sargent, C.D. Vermillion, Charlie Johnson, Charles Carlson, Gustave E. Fagerberg, Grace Manning, Amanda O. Fagerberg, Jessie Wheeler, Eddie Carlson, Birdie Wheeler, Carl Wheeler, Freddie Vermillion, Nellie Vermillion, Ida M. Vermillion, Olof Linnfoss, Anna Daniels, Floyd Manning, Geo. Wheaton, Ernest Sargent, August Keil

Study Arithmetic, textbooks used, Davis and Pecks, Dec. 31, 1883

NAMES OF PUPILS

Ida Wheeler, Mark Wheeler, Libbie Wheaton, Autie Sargent, V.A. Mapes, C.C. Vermillion, Floyd Manning, Charles Carlson, Nellie Wheeler, Grace Manning, Freddie Vermillion, Nella Vermillion, Jessie Wheeler, Oloff Linnfoss, Thomas Gallagher, Peter Gallagher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Freddie Vermillion, 6; Jessie (?) Wheeler, 9; Ida Vermillion, 8; Ella Vermillion, 10; Birdie Wheeler, 7; George Wheaton, 8; Ernest Sargent, 9; May Sargent, 7; Carl (?) Wheeler, 6; Anna Daniels, 12; (this entry in blue ink over an entry in brown ink) Charles Carlson, (?) 18; Peter Gallagher, 13; Fritz Keil, no age given; Thomas Gallagher, 16; August Kiel, 16; Ida Kiel, 17; Olof Linnfoss (Sinfoss), 14; Rosy Keil, 14; John Carlson, 16; Anna Daniels, no age given.

Spelling, Oct. 1st, 1883, textbooks used, Watsons. No student names written, but page turned back to reveal above names. Study, Oct. 1, 1883, textbooks used, Davis & Pecks. Students named repeat the above list and add Nellie Vermillion (may be Ella from first list), Freddie Keil (may be Fritz from first list.) Study, Grammar, grade, mixed, Dec. 31st, textbooks used, Clarkes Norm.

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Wheeler, no age given; Nellie Wheeler; Mark Wheeler; V.A. Mapes; C.D. Vermillion; Charles Carlson; Floyd Manning; Grace Manning; Autie Sargent; Libbie Wheaton

Study, U.S. History, grade mixed, Oct. 1, 1883, textbooks used, Barnes, S.H.

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Wheeler, (no age given for this class), Charles Carlson, Mark Wheeler, (month com. Dec. 31, 1883); Ida Wheeler, Autie Sargent, Libbie Wheaton, V.A. Mapes

NAMES OF PUPILS

Birdie Wheeler, Ida M. Vermillion, May Sargent, Ernest Sargent, Geo. Wheaton, Anna Daniels, Charles Johnson, Eddie Carlson, A.E. Fagerberg, Amanda Fagerberg, Carl Wheeler, Charles Polehammer, John Carlson, August Keil

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

C.F. Polehammer, 11; Ester Polehammer, 8; John Polehammer, 7; John Carlson, no age given; Walter Mapes; Jessie Wheeler; May Sargent; Clara Vermillion; Birdie Wheeler; May Gallagher; Chas. Johnson; Frederic Ebinger; Lena Ebinger; Wm. Ebinger; Mary Ebinger

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Entire school, September 13, 1884, Emmett McCarty, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

May Sargent, 8; Ida Vermillion, 9; Clara Vermillion, 11; Birdie Wheeler, 8; Jessie Wheeler, 10; Grace Manning, 12; Clarence Vermillion, 5; Carl Wheeler, 6; Ernest Sargent, 10; Walter Mapes, 10; Edward Carlson, 12; Clinton Vermillion, 16; Floyd Manning, 16; Mary Galagher, 10; Winnie (?) Galagher, 8; George Wheaton, 9; Mark Wheeler, 5; Delbert Wheaton, 5; Eda Wheeler, 16; Nellie Wheeler, 14; Fred Vermillion, 13; Peter Gallagher, 14; Thomas Gallagher, 17; Rosy Keil, 15; Ida Keil, 12; Anna (?) Keil, 10; Anna Daniels, 16; Fritz Keil, 8.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Entire School, Dec. 8, 1884, Emmett McCarty, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Vermillion, no age given; Clara Vermillion; Grace Manning; Mary Gallagher; Winnie Gallagher; Clarence Vermillion; Walter Mapes; Clinton Vermillion; Floyd Manning; Fred Vermillion; Peter Gallagher; Willie Ebinger, 14; Annie Daniels; Mary Ebinger, 13; Lena Ebinger, 12; Frederick Ebinger, 15; Ida (sic), no age given; Annie Keil; Rosy Keil; Fritzy Keil; Ernest Sargent; May Sargent; Chas. Johnson, 12; Amanda Fagenberg, 12.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Entire school, Mar 16, 1885, Emmett McCarty, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS

Ida Vermillion, Clara Vermillion, Grace Manning, Mary Ebenger, Lena Ebenger, Frederic Ebenger, Rosy Keil, Ida Keil, Annie Keil, Fritzy Keil, Chas. Johnson, Walter Mapes, Clinton Vermillion, Fred Vermillion, Clarence Vermillion, Wm. Ebenger

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, September 14, 1885, Freeman Holm, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Charles Swenson, 5; Thomas Swanson, 10; Clarence Vermillion, 6; Clinton D. Vermillion, 17; Fred Vermillion, 14; Clara E. Vermillion, 12; Ida Vermillion, 10; Walter Mapes, 11; Grace Manning, 13; Hanna Olson, 9; Annie Keil, 10; Fred Keil, 8; Charley Keil, 6; George Wheaton, 10; Delbert Wheaton, 6; Libbie Wheaton, 15; Winnie Gallagher, 8; Annie Daniels, 17; Tom Galagher, 18; Floyd Manning, 17; Emily Peterson(?) (very faded), 8; Helena (?) Ebinger (very faded), 12; Mary Ebinger, 14; Frederike Ebinger, 16; Willie Ebinger, 15; Ida Keil, 13; Charles Carlson (?)(very faded), 20; John Carlson, 16.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, December 13, 1885, Freeman Holm, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Charles Swanson, 5; Thomas Swanson, 11; Clinton Vermillion, 17; Fred Vermillion, 15; Clara Vermillion, 12; Ida Vermillion, 10; Clarence Vermillion, 6; Walter Mapes, 12; Grace Manning, 13; Floyd Manning, 17; Winnie Gallgher, 8; Tom Gallagher, 18; Charles Olson Carlson, 20 (Olson was written in, scratched out, and Carls written in over); John Carlson, 16; Friederike Ebinger, 16; Willie Ebinger, 15; Mary Ebinger, 14; Helena Ebinger, 13; Idie Keil, 14; Annie Keil, 11; Fred Keil, 8; Charles Keil, 6; Emily Peterson, 8; Rosie Keil, 16; Charles Johnson, (?)(very faded)13; Hanna Olson, 9.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Entire School, September 13, 1886, Eva Wells, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Vermillion, 11; Clara E. Vermillion, 13; Grace Manning, 14; Walter Mapes, 12; Tommy Swanson, 11; Charlie Swanson, 6; Clarence Vermillion, 7; Clyde Gomer (?)(very faded), 6; Mathilda Carlson, 9; Charlie Keil, 6; Fred Keil, 9; Ed Carlson, 14; Clara Johnson, 9; Fred Vermillion, 16; Mary Gallgher, 9; Emma Peterson, 9; Elof Peterson, 7; Bessie Olson, 8; Hannah Olson, 11; Lena Ebinger, 13; Annie Keil, 12; Ida Keil, 14; Peter Gallagher, 17; Thomas Gallagher, 19.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Entire School, December 6, 1886 Eva Wells, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Vermillion, 11; Clara Vermillion, 13; Grace Manning, 14; Walter Mapes, 12; Tommy Swanson, 11; Charlie Swanson, 6; Clarence Vermillion, 7; Clyde Gaumer, 6; Mathilda Carlson, 9; Charlie Keil, 6; Freddy Keil, 9; Ed Carlson (ink smudge), 14; Clara Johnson, 9; Fred Vermillion, 16; Mary Gallagher, 9; Emily Peterson, 7; Elof Peterson, 7; Bessie Olson, 8; Hanna Olson, 11; Lena Ebinger, 13; Annie Keil, 12; Ida Keil, 14; Peter Gallagher, 17; Thomas Gallagher, 19; Floyd Manning, 18; Swan T. Olson(?)(very faded), 12;(?) Charlie Johnson, 14.

RECORD OF ATTENDANCE, Mar. 7, 1887 Eva Wells, teacher

NAMES OF PUPILS & AGE

Ida Vermillion, 11; (penmanship styles changes this year); Ella Vermillion, 13; Walter Mapes, 14; Tommy Swanson, 11; Charles Swanson, 6; Clarence Vermillion, 7; Clyde Gaumer, 6; Mathida Carlson, 9; Charlie Keil, 6; Freddy Keil, 9; Ed Carlson, 14; Clara Johson, 9; Fred Vermillion, 16; Mary Gallagher, 13; Winnie Gallagher, 9; Emily Peterson, 9; Elof Peterson, 7; Bessie Olson, 8; Hannah Olson, 11; Lena Ebinger, 14; Annie Keil, 12; Ida Keil, 15; Peter Gallagher, 17; Thomas Gallagher, 19; Swan T. Olson, 12; Charley Johnson, 14; Otto Keil, 6; Oscar Keil, 6.

Following the above pages are several pages of “teacher’s term registers” listing the textbooks used for the various subjects. Six pages of examination records follow, containing six monthly exams.

ANNUAL RECORD OF SCHOOL NO. 59 X GRADE

Names of PupilsAgeParentResidenceDate of Entry
Ida Wheeler15R. WheelerLibertyOct. 8, 1883
Nellie Wheeler13R. WheelerLibertyOct. 8, 1883
Mark Wheeler11R. WheelerLibertyNov. 5
Autie Sargent17D. SargentLibertyOct. 1st
Libbie Wheaton13C.O. WheatonLibertyOct. 1st
Grace Manning11M.M. ManningLibertyOct. 1st
Floyd Manning15M.M. ManningLibertyOct. 1st
C.D. Vermillion15C.W. VermillionLibertyOct. 1st
Freddie Vermillion12C.W. VermillionLibertyOct. 1st
Nellie Vermillion10C.W. VermillionLibertyOct. 1st
Ida M. Vermillion8C.W. VermillionLibertyOct. 1st
Jessie (?) Wheeler9R. WheelerLibertyOct. 1st
Birdie Wheeler7R. WheelerLibertyOct. 1st
Carl Wheeler5R. WheelerLibertyOct. 1st
V.A. Mapes14L. MapesLibertyOct. 1st
Walter Mapes9L. MapesLibertyOct. 1st
Geo. Wheaton8C.O. WheatonLibertyOct. 1st
Ernest Sargent9D. SargentLibertyOct. 1st
P.(?) May Sargent7D. SargentLibertyOct. 1st
Charles Carlson18LibertyOct. 15th
Peter Gallagher13LibertyOct. 22nd
Anna Daniels14LibertyDec. 18th
Freddie Keil8KeilLibertyNov. 12th
August Keil16KeilLibertyDec. 11th
Rosa Keil14KeilLibertyDec. 11th
Ida Keil11KeilLibertyDec. 11th
Thomas Gallagher18T. GallagherLibertyNov. 19th
Olof Linnfoss14unknownLibertyDec. 13th
John Carlson16J. CarlsonLibertyDec. 15th
G.E. Fagenberg15? FagenbergLibertyJan. 7, 1884
A.E. Fagenberg10? FagenbergLibertyJan. 7, 1884
E. Carlson14J. CarlsonLibertyJan. 8, 1884
C. Polehammer
Esther Polehammer
John Polehammer

VISITORS REGISTER

1885 Sep. 29 -Ada Vondy, Liberty Twp

Sep. 30 -Libbie Wheaton, Liberty Twp

Oct. 1 -Maggie Johnston, Liberty Twp

Nov. 11 -Alida Mapes, Liberty Twp

1886 Feb. 8 – Mrs. L. Mapes & L. Mapes, Liberty Twp

Feb. 9 – A.J. Carruthers, Saline County Superintendent

Feb. 22 – Miss Stevens, Saline County teacher

Feb. 22 – Miss Julia Lerter, Liberty twp

Feb. 22 – Miss Libbie Wheaton, Liberty Twp

Feb. 22 – Miss Lulu Moore, Liberty Twp

Feb. 22 – Miss Zulu Moor, Liberty Twp

Feb. 22 – Miss Gertie Moor, Liberty Twp

Mar. 5 – Mrs. L. Mapes, Liberty Twp

Mar. 5 – Jennie Swanson

Mar. 5 – Alida Mapes & Vernon A. Mapes, Liberty Twp

Mar. 17 -Alida Mapes, Liberty Twp

Next page 1886 and 1887 Sept. 14 – Miss Ada Vondy, Liberty twp., teacher

Sept. 28 -Miss Libbie Wheaton

Sept. 29 -Mrs. L. Mapes

Nov. 12 -J.C. Dana

Dec. 20 – Grace Manning

Dec. 24 -M.M. Manning, Liberty, Saline Co. Ks.

Jan. 19 -A.J. Carruthers, Saline Co. Supt.

Feb. 28 -Gertie Moor

March 7 – Maggie Johnston Bonnavill, McPherson Co.

March 7 – Grace Manning, Liberty

Mar. 4 -Lizzie Vondy

Mar. 17 – Emma Strohg, Salina

Mar. 17 -Jennie Swanson, Liberty

Mar. 17 -Alida Mapes & Vernon A. Mapes

April 1- P. Sargeant, Liberty Clerk

April 25 -Zulu Moore

The reader may wonder why we have repeated the same names so many times. By comparing the names and especially the ages of the children, the reader may deduce a birthday year or month. It is also interesting to see the older students leave and their younger siblings take their places in school.