Kansas One Room
School House Project

Chestnut Grove -- Franklin County

The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Rod Elliott for contributing this information.

Chesnut Grove was the second school my brother and I attended. We walked to school which was about two miles. I won't forget those days with snow on the ground and the journey to school. Mom or dad would drive us if the weather was too bad.
It was a 1 room school with a basement. Sometimes Mrs. Yerkes our teacher would have all the families get together at the school. Everyone usually brought food for a nice dinner. We always had a Christmas Play  and afterwards a dance. Chesnut Grove was located between Virginia Rd and Virginia Terrace on the south side of John Brown Hwy. Now that school is someone's home. This school went to the eight grade.
The picture I'm sending was taken about 1953 at the side of the front steps to the entry. For reference this school was 3 miles south of Rantoul and 1 1/4 miles east on John Brown Hwy.
Front row from L to R is Rod Elliott, Billy Hiles, Gary Elliott, Martha Ruchko and Lois Dalton.
Back row from L to R is Barbara Hiles, Mrs. Yerkes, Donita Emery and Jim Gregg.
I hope this brings back good memories to others as it does to me.
That's all we remember, but let me know if I forgot any information you might need.

The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Marti Newell (Martha Ruchko) for contributing this information.

Hello from the little girl, Martha Ruchko, second from the right in the front row in the photograph submitted by Rod Elliott. My half-sister, Donnita Emery, is standing behind me. I attended grades 1-6 at Chestnut Grove beginning in 1949. My family moved from the Aubury-Stilwell area to a farm near Chestnut Grove when I was five years old. Kindergarten was optional then and as far as I recall, was not offered in the rural schools.

Mr. Francis Moon was our first and second year teacher. He was a wonderful person with a lot of energy who pushed the merry-go-round during recess and lunch times. He was called away to serve in the Army in Korea, which broke my heart. He returned two years later to visit us children, bringing each of us a small pair of hand-painted wooden Korean dolls. I never knew where he lived after that, or if he continued to teach school.

From third through sixth grade our teacher was Mrs. Yerkes. Sometimes she would work with one group of students while other groups worked together. The older students helped the younger ones. We often worked ahead in arithmetic, challenging ourselves to get all the way through the textbook by the end of the school year. Our school desks were wood and were joined in rows on long rails; I'm not sure if the rails were attached to the floor. We had ink wells and on rare occasions would practice writing with real ink pens. A weekly art class was facilitated by a radio tuned to an Ottawa station. Mrs. Yerkes at times would ask us to draw or color a picture according to the music the radio played. I remember drawing a military parade once when we listened to marching music.

"Steal Sticks" was a very popular game we played at recess. We played jacks on the sidewalk in front of the school, and jumped rope. We usually played softball after lunch, often starting a game on Monday and finishing it Friday afternoon. We called ourselves the Meadowlarks because of the many meadowlarks in nearby fields.

Our school celebrated many holidays and we put on a lot of three-act plays. Our stage was quite small and had a curtain on a line strung from one side of the room to the other. We had many box-suppers with the children decorating boxes with crepe paper and ribbons to be auctioned off to whoever wanted to eat with that person. At Christmas we would sing and toss icicles at a freshly-cut tree. Of course our decorations included handmade paper chains and strings of popcorn and cranberries.

Upon entering the school house the children would hang our coats on hooks along a wall in the "cloak room". There was a very small library whose books seemed quite small and old. The rest of the space was one large class room with the slightly-elevated stage at one end. The restrooms were outdoors, the girls' on one side of the playground area and the boys' on the other. The furnace was located in the basement. I don't believe we had any window fans or desk fans in the school.

The only classmate I've seen since sixth grade is Barbara Hiles. I've visited with her and her parents at Lane High School reunions. My half-sister, Donnita Emery Johnson, passed away in 2001. I have one daughter who lives in NC with her family. I live in Overland Park, KS where I'm Receptionist for an Overland Park law firm. Last June after the reunion I stopped and took a picture of Chestnut Grove. It is in quite a state of disrepair and is much, much smaller and closer to the highway than I remembered. Looking back, being a student a Chestnut Grove was a fine beginning to a lifetime of learning.

Submitted by Marti (Ruchko) Newell, February 7, 2004.

Saturday, February 14, 2004 2:35 PM

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