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Belle Meade - Dist. No. 1

The Belle Meade School district was the first one formed in Meade County and it covered a huge area of 54.5 sections, encompassing most of Range 27 and 28, Township 31. This was whittled down as other school districts were introduced. The schoolhouse was located in the SW corner of the NW/4 Section 28-R31-T27, six or seven miles from Meade Center. The town of Belle Meade was about a mile west and half mile north of the school.

Belle Meade School started in 1886, officially as Dist. #1 in 1890, and continued until June, 1925. As you can see from our list of teachers below, we have some gaps in our records. These will be filled in as we gain information. Our student records are sketchy until 1916. These are some of the surnames of Belle Meade students that we know of: Blair, Blane, Bocook, Brannan, Chrissman, Denslow, DeWitt, Edwards, Eliason, Golobay, Grim, Hamilton, Lockhart, Meyer, Schmoker, Sourbier, Thacker, Wagner and Watson.

Some of the teachers we know of that taught at Belle Meade:

Alice Waite, 1879 (subscription school)
John Innis, 1886
Jessie Bennett, 1887
Mabel Gerow, 1891
Jennie McNamara, 1892
Mabel Casteen, 1893-94
Emma Siebenthaler, 1894-95
Eva Walter, 1904-05
Iva Grim, 1915-18
Ethel Mitchell, 1917-18
Nellie Dalgarn 1918-19
Kitty Ellis, 1919-20
Margaret Dalgarn 19-20
Cecile Blair, 1919-21
Elsie Rossel, 1921-22
Avis Lesher, 1922-24


A group of students in front of Belle Meade School in 1920.

From Pioneer Stories of Meade County:

The first organized church was the First Congregational Church of Crooked Creek in 1879, with S.E. Ayers, W.D. Ayers and U.M. Fordes as trustees. The Pleasant Plains Congregational Church was the first incorporated church in the county at the old Belle Meade school house. This was in March 1881, with John and Christian Schmoker and Peter Blair as Trustees.

From Pioneer Stories of Meade County written by Carrie Schmoker Anshutz:

One of the problems was schooling for their children. The first year we were required to have lessons at home, but the following autumn a small frame building was erected near the Peter Blair home and three months of school was held there. The school was built and maintained by subscription. and when the county was organized it became District No. 1. Our teacher was Miss Alice Waire of what would now be termed Fowler community. Her pay was $15 a month and board. The Schmoker, Blair and Eliason children attended this first school.

From the obituary of Iva Grim Stalder - Student and then teacher of Bell Meade School.

The Belle Meade School was the first school in Meade County, and was built near the John Blair place about seven miles from (now) Meade in the 1880’s. A small frame building, it was maintained by subscription for three months. One of the first teachers was John B. Innis who received $20 a month. When the county was organized it was District No. 1. 

There were other stores, post office and cemetery a half mile north across the railroad tracks. The present schoolhouse was well built of pine wood hauled from Dodge City to seven miles northeast of Meade, nearer by the road along the railroad tracks. We had a large round stove in the center of the room to keep us warm, three windows on the east and west of the room and a “cloak hall” room as we entered. The railroad was a quarter mile from the school so the train gave us competition with the noise. 

Belle Meade closed for several years. When more children moved to the district it was re-opened in 1915, and I came  and taught for two years. I had graduated from Meade High School and had a Normal Training certificate. That year the building was moved one mile west.  

In the spring of 1916, some mothers thought their children should come several months to be ready for the eight month term in the fall. Laurence and Wallace Edwards and two girls came to learn their words, numbers, sing, and to be quiet and listen. 

There were box suppers and literary programs at night for the community to keep us busy. I think there were fifteen of us later who played ball at recess, some liked to sing with the organ and others just play games. The last day of school the mothers came and we had dinner together and a program.  

I drove a horse and buggy to come to school after the building was moved a mile west. The Blair boys and others always had it ready to drive home after I cleaned the building for the next day. We planted trees that spring too. So I enjoyed teaching and married Herbert Stalder, June 1, 1917, in the Methodist parsonage. We lived together over 57 happy years.

From the Meade Globe News, September 1, 1927

An old county land mark was moved to Meade this week when Johnny Jones moved old school district No.1 (Belle Meade) school building to this city and is remodeling it for a residence on north Fowler street.

When district No. 2 consolidated with Meade more than a year ago, and the children brought to Meade to school, there was no further use for the building.

In the early eighties District No. 2 comprised all of Meade county and part of Seward.

The present building was built in the winter of 1887 by al Martin. R.A. Brannan and his father assisted in the work. Mr. Brannan says that he and his father quarried stone from hills in southeastern Meade county and hauled them to the site.

The first teacher for the district was Miss Jessie Bennett, now Mrs. A.B. Russell of Battle Ground, Indiana. Mr. Brannan, Joe Lockhart, Chas. Edwards and Will Sourbier are some of the fellows who attended school in the old building.

The first organized Sunday school of the county was also held in the old building. It was organized in 1879 and continued until in 1909.

It is a coincident that the building is placed by the side of the old frame dwelling which was moved from the court house block a few weeks ago. The house was built by Bill Mounts in 1886, and was one of the largest frame houses in this part of the state at the time.

In the farmer's alliance movement in the latter eighties and early nineties, Senator W. A. Peffer and Jerry Simpson made the welkin ring with speeches for the pee-pul. The building was also the scene of many happy community gatherings in the days when neighbors were a long way apart.



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