Homesteaders Need A School

School Board of Directors Want Their Children to Speak, Read and Write in English. ~1889




School Planning

As the community developed, more and more people were moving into the farming area. Those who had been here earlier, now had large families. Swiss, German, Danish, Norwegian, Irish, and Swedish people wanted their children to speak, read and write in English. Getting an education for their children was very important. The need for a school was evident. A committee was formed which became the Board of Directors for the newly proposed school. School Board Directors: Peter Nelson—Norway, sawmill man; Nels Johnson—Denmark, farmer; William Keehn—German, farmer; with Ephraim Wells as clerk. In 1889 they purchased an acre of land for the school property from Edith Monroe for $65.

Site Location    

Julius Foege and Albert Keehn were given the task of finding a site on the acre of land.   People on the North half of the district wanted the school located on Cornell Road. People in the South half wanted it on Walker Road.  School County superintendent Clark Smith, suggested the halfway point as a compromise between the two locations.  Albert Keehn and Julius Foege paced off the distance locating the school site halfway between Cornell and Walker Roads, facing [185th.] It was Berger Road—Wheeler Avenue—Bumpus Blvd. (because it wasn’t repaired) finally today, 185th. Esther Stucki. [See photo of Keehn & Foege at the McKinley 60 year celebration in 1949.]

Taxation for the School

The district was taxed to raise money for the school building and clearing the land. Records show $150 collected to pay for the building and $250 being borrowed to clear the land. Clara B. Meurer, “McKinley School Patrons Note Changes over Years.”

In the very early years, the clerk had the list of legal voters in the district, the evaluation of their property, and the tax levied to be collected. Then it was up to him to collect the tax. The clerk was allowed 5% for his labor. It was not always possible to collect the taxes from each person. Often a more prosperous neighbor would help out for someone who could not pay.

While the building was being constructed, 19 children were being taught in the home of Ephraim Wells with Fannie Sappington as first teacher. She was paid $30 a month for three months.

McKinley—School Name —1889

McKinley School might have been named for William McKinley of Ohio who had been teaching at a country school when the Civil War broke out. Enlisting as a private in the Union Army he was mustered out as a brevet major of volunteers. He studied law and at 34 won a seat in Congress. He was elected Governor of Ohio for two terms. Many of the local residents were from the Ohio area. McKinley went on to become the 25th President of the United States. The first meeting of the board of directors refers to the school as district #81 of Washington County. Perhaps the McKinley school name came in the later years?

However, if the school name was chosen prior to McKinley’s election, the most likely source could have been for local farmers, Isaac and Enoch McKinley. Robert Benson

Two old bachelors named McKinley lived in a shack 10’ x 20’ and had about 10 acres of holly.”  It was  across the road from where McKinley School was built. Richard Scruggs, grandson of George Foege

[What might have seemed a shack to Richard was probably a very typical simple dwelling built in those early years. There is now a “Holly Street” located off 185th on the road to the Primate Center.]