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barber school district no. 82

Barber School District No. 82

Location Class:
Built: 1871 | Abandoned: 1949
Status: AbandonedEndangeredPrivate Property
Photojournalist: Raymond L. Stone

Barber School District No. 82 was formed in July of 1871 by the county superintendent. It was comprised of portions of Districts 15, 40 and 8. Citizens quickly got to work on issuing bonds for a stone schoolhouse of ‘comfort and convenience’ to be completed by the end of the year. One and a half acres of land in Kanwaka was purchased from Katie Gillispie on November 13 of 1871 for the building to sit on.

The first school board consisted of S.E. Ray, David Thomas and John Lohr. They hired Solomon Geary to construct the 24’x36’ native stone building for $600. The walls and foundation were to be 18 inches thick and have a brick chimney. Arches over the windows and front door were to be trimmed with brick. The one-room schoolhouse for the 82nd district would come to be known as Barber School. The board had decided on this name for the influence of an early settler in the area, Thomas W. Barber. Barber, his brother Robert, and brother-in-law Thomas Pierson were heavily involved in the struggle between the free-state and proslavery conflict prevalent in the area at the time.

barber school district no. 82
Barber School Students ca. Unknown Credit Unknown

An excerpt from a newspaper note Miss Richardson as being the teacher of one of the pleasantest and best-conducted schools in the county in 1875. That school was none other than Barber School District No. 82. It’s not often that we have a decent record of teachers and board members from these tiny schools but to my shocking surprise this one has been well documented. Some early board members, teachers and students are listed below:

1888-94 Teachers; 1888 Miss Wood, 1889 Miss Nettie Tenbrook, 1890 M. Saunders, 1894 Mrs. Lenora Coleman. Board; 1889 William Messenheimer Treasurer, 1891 William T. Barber Treasurer
Board 1898; Albert Schellhorn, M.B. Ray and M. Doran. Teachers; W.J Parnell Students; Earl, Ernest, Edger and Elsie Cline; Charles Herschel; Minnie, Lucy, Edward, Albert Dodson; Frank, George and Effie Dornan; Richard, Millie and Thomas Harris; Ennis and Elmer Irwin; Lilly, Izetta and Jennie Patterson; Nellie, Ernest and Elmer Ray; Herman, Carl, Albert and Hugo Schellhorn; Ada Scheere; Edward and William Slusser.
Teachers 1899-1920; Minnie Tracy, Bessie Richardson, Carrie Cothlin, Anna Becket, Minnie Gant, Alice Cooper, Eda Louis Stella Cressman, Iva Mitchell and Ethel Ward, Iva Mitchell, Eva Schrader, Ollie Ryan, Ella Scott, Florence Havekotte, Lois Volyer, Helen Johns, Elnora Anderson, Winnie Beck, Alta Murray, Helen Brown, Evelyn Strimple, Louise Freeze, Elaine Winkleman and George Coffman.
Teachers 1930-1949; Nora Vitt, Marian Grist, Argel Rasmussen, Mary Ross F.E. Ross, Elizabeth Bunton, Martha Albaugh, Isabel Rasmussen, Mrs. Coffman, Shelley Urton, Mabel McNees and Mary Dews.

In 1891 a piece was published in The Weekly Record about the school. The Record Boy, James Mithcell, had passed by the Barber Schoolhouse and it occurred to him to ask whose duty it was to take care of the district building. The windows were open and the door was slamming in the wind. While the piece aimed no disrespect at the caretaker of the building it did seem to bring awareness to a lack of security towards the building. In February 1895 a ‘miscreant’ attempted to burn down the Barber School. Placing a shovel of hot coals in the middle of the floor which burned a hole in the floor and then fizzled out. Coals were also put inside some of the books as well making it very likely to have been a student.

Over the years the school district also adopted another name the Barker School. Not on purpose but because it was oftentimes misspelled in the local newspapers and continued to spread. When people look at these schools compared to the ones in today’s society it’s easy to think they’re nothing special. But to these small communities, these one-room schoolhouses were some of the most prideful buildings in all of the town.

Many events and gatherings were held here over the many years. In 1904 an ice cream supper paired with entertainment was held with a 15-cent admission fee to go towards the purchase of an organ. Many box suppers were held with programs put on by the students. But with these small rural schools the attendance was never more than a few dozen. And Barber in particular was hovering around 8 students in 1917. All of these schoolhouses were put to death by the consolidation of schools and lack of funding for schools with lower attendance. The last year for the schoolhouse to be used as a school was 1946. The district was disorganized January 3, 1949, and consolidated with Yarnold District No. 40. Its uncertain if this building was used for community activities after but eventually it would be completely abandoned. The ruins of the school are now owned by the United States government and part of the Kansas State Park system. Even with a modern metal roof put on it to help keep the elements out the backside continues to fall apart putting the building in danger of total collapse.

















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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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