Friday, May 31, 2013

Memories of Rapp Schoolhouse, a One-Room Kansas School Part I
Oil Painting of Rapp Schoolhouse, a One-Room School in Kansas

I received an amazing gift in the mail from my cousin Annmarie.  She sent me a 6" x 6" oil painting she painted of the one-room schoolhouse that both of our mothers (along with two other sisters) attended.  Rapp Schoolhouse is located in Osage County, Kansas near the Santa Fe Trail.  It is a Kansas State Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Remarkably, Rapp School still has its original student desks, blackboard, library of books, piano, recitation bench, and teacher desk.  It is now an educational site where school children can come to spend a day.  Read more about it here.

In 1992, my mother wrote about her experiences at Rapp School:

"I began school in September 1933.  It was a one-room school in the country, built in 1929 and about two miles from our house.  It was quite a nice building for the times and is still standing in good condition.  It was red brick with a bell in a steeple.  There was room for over 50 pupils.  A few years before I started school, there had been at least that many pupils, but people were leaving farms, and I believe there were 22 pupils in eight grades when I was in the first grade.  There were three in my first grade.  We had a room for a little library in the back.  There was a big basement with windows all around, so it was a great place to play or roller skate around and around on cold days.  I also remember a very large sandbox on a table in the back where many of us could play at a time.

Rapp School when my mother was in 1st grade.  She is the last one on the right in the front row.
The last girl on the right in the second row is Dorothy Morehead Chisham
who was very instrumental in the formation of the Rapp School Preservation Association.  

My mother is second from the left in the back row. 
Annmarie's mother is second from the right in the front row. 
One of our aunts is the first one on the right in the middle row.
"You may think it would be very confusing to have eight grades in one room, but we all had to be very quiet and pay attention to our own work.  Each class would be called to the front by the teacher saying, 'First grade reading,' and we would go very quietly to the recitation bench in the front facing the teacher and read, spell, or whatever class we were reciting.  We often worked arithmetic problems on the blackboard, which ran the entire length of the room at the front.  If I had my work done, I often listened to the other classes so by the time I was in the upper grades, I knew most of it already!

"There were no school buses in those day, so my mother drove me there and came to get me every day.  My parents did not want me to walk as part of the road was a highway.  Neighbor boys did walk.  One of the boys rode a horse to school, which he put in a small shed on the school yard.  He brought hay for him to eat and carried water to him.  Another family drove a horse and buggy to and from school.  This was unusual at that time, however.  Most people had cars. 

School Girl's Puzzle Quilt Block

"My teacher's name was Ilene Engelson, and I was lucky to have her for six years.  She was an excellent and strict teacher, and when I went to high school in town, I found I had a better education than most of the 'town kids!'  We studied reading, penmanship, arithmetic, geography, and something new called social studies.  I don't remember studying any science, but we may have.  We played learning games like spelling baseball, a game in which you spelled a word 'pitched' to you by the teacher.  If you spelled it correctly, you advanced to first base, etc.  We all looked forward to 7th grade when we studied Evangeline by Longfellow and made a book of pictures cut out and pasted in to illustrate various passages."

To be continued . . . here


  1. I too had the experience of going to a one room school house in Alberta Canada. We too had horse and buckboards that drove us to school and all the things you described were at Rapp school. It was a different time and age. The boys kept the fire going in the winter. I wasn't there for long but had fun while I attended. So different from a big city. hugs

  2. My first daughter went to a school very like that. They had hung drapes to divide the room into three but each day I got a report not only of her class but also what went on in the other two. It would have been the end of me. I could hardly concentrate on the lessons with the forsythia buches waving to me outside the classroom windows.

  3. Very cool!! When my mother first started teaching in the late 1930's she taught in a one-room school house in northern Nevada! Great memories!!! Thank you :)

  4. I got to be a chaperone when my oldest son visited the 1910 Rose Hill school in OK. All 3rd graders across the state had a chance to learn about the school and do projects all year long. They had to dress like it was 1910, and bring lunches like the kids would have then (no plastic bags, etc). The kids got to make a mini 9patch quilt as a cover on their lunch pails. We still have that 9 patch somewhere.

  5. My mother-in-law taught in a one room school in Kansas too. Being a retired teacher, I am amazed at how things have changed! Maybe someday quilters will think how quaint it was to take classes online!

  6. I love the School Girls' Puzzle quilt block and your mothers' memories that inspired it.

  7. I went to a one-room school house in Vermont in the '70's. The pictures of the kids brought back memories of my two years there!

    1. Susan, you're a no reply commenter, so I'll reply to you this way instead of through email. I didn't realize that one-room school houses still existed in the '70's! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.


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