Kansas One Room
School House Project

Ellet School -- Butler County

The Kansas Heritage Server would like to thank Gary Presson (g_presson@juno.com) for contributing this material.

Ellet School

Originally the school was located 8 miles west of Latham. In 1980 the Latham Lions Club had it moved to town.

The Ellet school was built in 1880 it was then named the Centerville school. Ellet was the name everyone knew it by, possibly because the school house was located near Colonel Bill Ellet's land and his hand in forming District seven. W.H. Ellet served on the board as director from 1880 to 1895.

When the school was first built the chimney was in the center, later it was moved because the teacher couldn't see the children behind the stove. In 1931 the Ante room was built on.

Nell Hawley was Centerville's first teacher, teaching 1881, 1882, for 4 months and in 1883 for 8 months. Her salary was $40 a month.

During the 1914 school year discipline problems caused Myrth Mohler to resign after teaching 16 weeks.

Due to declining enrollment the Centerville school closed in 1942.

The one room school house was a very important part of the community it served as not only a school but a gathering place for programs, suppers, and Sunday services.

Everyone has worked real hard to keep this history alive we thank you for your support.


From the Latham Centennial book, 1985


Ellet school was built in 1880 on the southwest corner of the Ellet homestead. It stands as one of the vanishing generation of one-room schools. It was in these buildings that much of the future culture and higher education had its beginnings.

The one-room school was also the center of community life and spirit, where neighbors and friends gathered for their social life. In some cases, the school building served as a church, where people gathered for worship services. The "Community Spirit" that constructed and maintained these one-room buildings will be preserved in our memory.

Ref. Winfield Courier
Submitted by Erma Ellis.

{Two pictures...
"District Seven School House in 1896" with chimney in center.
"District Seven School House--July 21, 1941" with ante-room/vestibule and chimney at "door end" of building.}

{Erma Ellis was a teacher in the Latham schools in the 30's and 40's. She died June 22, 1994, at age 89.} g.p.

Also from the Latham Centennial book:
"As far as I can learn, the first rural school near Latham was built soon after the first settlers came and was located about 2 miles west of Latham. It was known as Old Union.

Some of the one-room buildings near Latham were Bryant, Tolle, Box, Hickory Center, Brownlow, Lone Star, and Ellet. Ellet has been moved to Latham to be used as a museum."

Submitted by Erma Ellis

From The History of District 7, Butler Co., KS
A thesis submitted to the Dept. of Education and Graduate Council of the Kansas State Teacher's College of Emporia, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science, by E.L. Haring, August, 1941:

Page 26

"...December 5, 1898, a sheriff's notice was issued on the land and February 21, 1899, it was declared forfeited.

The remaining one hundred sixty acres, the southwest quarter of Section Thirty-six, was sold to Stephen Abell on October 13, 1883. He paid forty-eight dollars down and the balance July 15, 1889.

In 1887, the land in School District Seven, was the property of sixty land owners. The largest land owner, T.A. Word, had five hundred twenty acres, and the smallest landowner, Frederick Nelson, had forty acres. The district, at that time, covered eight thousand acres and the average land owner had 133 acres of land.

Settlers who should be mentioned were William Widner, who was elected as clerk of the first district board; the Fergusons, who remained in the school district as pupils, board members, and social leaders for years {My g2 Grandparents, and descendants. g.p.}; William Blair, father of H.H. Blair, who owns 560 acres in the district today (1941) and is president of the `Lazy B' Investment Corporation which owns an additional 560 acres; and James Price, an uncle of C.B. Price, who owns 1,920 acres in the district today.

The William Shervington family, on whose land the school house is located, came to Clay Township from Missouri in 1876 by covered wagon. They built their home, a twelve-by-fourteen dugout with an eight- by-ten lean-to shed room of native limestone. Mr. Shervington quarried and laid out the walls himself. Although it is abandoned today,...."

{Also a drawing of the plats of District Seven "MAP SHOWING ORIGINAL HOMESTEADERS AND WHEN THEY RECEIVED THE PATENT TO THE LAND OF DIST. 7. Compiled from abstract of lands entered in Butler County, Kansas. Book A, pp. 246-314. Section 36 recorded from record of school land sales, County Clerk, Butler Co., pp. 71-146"}

Snippet from "An Autobiography (of sorts)" by Fred C. Ferguson, 1964:
"...One of our status symbols was that sparkling, spanking new two- seated surrey--the kind with the fringe on top! With its two burnished brass oil burning headlamps (seldom used, but more impressive by daylight drawn by a good-looking team of horses in new harness....well, I guess we must have compared favorably with present day folks in their Cadillacs as we drove to or from Sunday School, church services, literature society, or other functions at Ellet school house!

Speaking of Ellet school; that was the center of community interest, rivaled only slightly by the "grove" along Rock Creek south of the school house where picnics---especially Fourth of July picnics---were held. My had is off to Harvey Blair, member of the younger generation, who came along after my time and who purchased the house and grounds and is preserving the spot much in its original form as a matter of sentiment.

It was at Ellet that we three boys first attended public school---where Roland {my grandfather. g.p.} `learned his BVD's,' according to Junior! So did I, for that matter, and many facets of the lessons learned there still remain indelibly impressed upon my memory---including recess and noon hour playground activities, where string balls and tin cans for "shinny" games were our most expensive equipment...

Only a few hundred yards north and west of Ellet school, in a "dugout" in the side of a hill, dwelt an elderly woman, a sort of semi-recluse, who was held pretty much in awe by most of the youngsters of the community. She was known as grandma Shervington, and when she sat out on her little front porch smoking her old clay pipe and yelling at us as we passed by on our way to or from school, we made haste to get out of voice range..."

Fred Colbert Ferguson was born in 1889 west of Latham. He variously was publisher of the Latham Advertiser, The Attica Independent, The Oconto (Neb) Register, and finally, the Longmont (Colo) Ledger. He also served a couple of terms as mayor of Longmont, and was Secretary of the Colorado Senate for a short while. He died in Longmont, in 1977. There is no indication that he ever finished high school, much less any other formal education. He was the oldest of a family of 4 boys and 2 girls. He was a staunch Republican, and a faithful member of the Christian Church.

Saturday, May 17, 2003 8:42 PM

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