Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm. Scanned from a copy held by the State Library of Kansas.
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Prairie Gem School House.

The illustration shown on the opposite page, is the handsome school building that the citizens of district No. 34 are so justly proud of. The first school in the district held forth in a little stone building with a dirt floor, situated on the Will Grayburn homestead and formerly occupied by him as a dwelling. A Miss Martha J. Wilford was the first teacher. She taught a three months term for ten dollars per month. Mr. Wilford was director and Lewis Gray, clerk. The first tax levied was in August, 1875; out of this tax were paid a teacher's salary of one per cent, and an incidental fund of one-half per cent. In 1877 the tax for teacher's wages was reduced to one-half per cent, and the incidental fund to one-fourth per cent. Lewis Gray was the treasurer, and his bond, dated March 27, 1873, was filed for five thousand dollars. Mr. Peterson, one of the members of the present board, recalls attending a school meeting in his house when Henry Gray and himself were the only persons in attendance to transact business.

District No. 34 covers an area of three by three and a half miles. There was considerable discussion over the location of the site for the building, as the many emigrants locating in their midst were dissatisfied with a location. So remote from the center of the district, and the site across the creek was very inconvenient. There was a movement on to divide the territory, but as an agreement for division lines could not be reached they consolidated and still remain one large district. The school house was placed near the center and peace and harmony have reigned ever since. The fund was secured by voting bonds. There were several meetings held at private residences, usually at the home of Frank A. Lane. Almost everyone was enthusiastically in favor of the bonds and those who were not, remained away. Hence, when the time came there was not a dissenting vote. The late Mrs. Frank A. Lane worked hard for the new school house and her characteristic determination did much towards securing it.

A good story is told on Mr. F.A. Lane. On the day of the election, he with other interested parties were rustling votes all day, and when the polls were closed in the evening it was found in his enthusiasm to make the votes poll as large as possible, he had forgotten to cast his own ballot. The first contract was for six hundred and forty dollars. The house was erected in 1882. Howard Huston, James Kingsley, and O.W. Peterson constituted the board at this time. They were director, clerk, and treasurer, respectively. The present house is practically a new one, as it has been remodeled and enlarged, making it eight feet wider. The dimensions as it stands are 32x4O feet. In 1902 a tower 8x10 feet was erected, and a bell placed, in the autumn of the same year. To obtain funds for improvements in this district has never been a hardship, as the people all contribute liberally and take an earnest pride in the advancement of the school interests. A library of one hundred and twenty-five books has been provided and by giving box suppers an organ was supplied. These entertainments are well patronized, ninety-two dollars being the proceeds of the evening. The board has at all times endeavored to carry out the wishes of the people of the district by employing the best talent. Miss Bertha Marlatt taught one term. The first teacher in the new building was John Coffin. The present teacher is James Daniels. The enrollment is thirty-eight. At one time sixty pupils answered to the roll call.

The ground of this fine building site was broken by Mr. Huston and Mr. Peterson, and about one hundred trees were planted. The people of this locality have been agitating the subject of centralizing and building a high school, on the plans of the Dickinson county high school.

This handsome school building does double duty, for here the Methodist Episcopal minister of the Jamestown congregation holds divine service each alternate Sunday. There is also a well attended Sunday-school.