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Mertilla School - Dist. #34 & #78 & #74 - Mertilla Township

District # 34 was organized in 1886. It was disorganized in 1946, and consolidated and annexed to #78. In 1958, the patrons of the school voted to consolidate the district with Plains Joint #74 for the fall term. Eventually it became part of District 483 and 226.

At one time the Mertilla school was located in section 6-T31-R29, about a

mile and a half south and east of the town. Sullivan in his Meade County History states that there was a school near the town site but that sometime after 1887, it burned down. The last location of the school was in Section 28-T30-R29. We think this one was built in 1909. On a modern-day map that school would be at the intersection of Roads E & 9... across the road east of present-day Plains View Mennonite Church.

This cut from the "1909 Meade County Plat Book," which was made by splicing three township/ranges together, shows the location of Mertilla, the first school (to the south and east of the town) and the location of the last school which was built after the town was gone.

Surnames of Mertilla students were: Anderson, Bland, Blosser, Chappell, Craycraft, Davis, Dierking, Ebersole, Eck, Elliott, Enlow, Fisher, Gardner, Gillick, Ginter, Greer, Griffin, Gum, Hantla, Hatfield, Hentz, Hudgens, Jinkinson, Kile, Montgomery, Moore, Pennington, Pippitt, Rexford, Schmidt, Scott, Sneath, Summer, Svobida, Sweany, Thompson, Updike, Vangilder, Waters, Whan.

This great old photo was labeled "Mertilla School House, 1916 (Last Day of School)" If you read all of the stories below you will find that Mertilla School was also used for Church and Sunday School, which might better explain this group of well-dressed adults as well as children.
Mertilla School 1932-1933: back row: Evelyn Elliott, Zelma Rexford (Cook), Mrs. Helen Tubbs (teacher), Edna Elliott, Lois Rexfored (Boyd).  front row: Vada Elliott, Bobby Pippitt, Wanda Sneath (Hutchinson), Phyllis Rexford (Collins), June Pipitt (Golliher), Alberta Smith (Redger.)                    Photo courtesy of Pat Smith
TEACHERS    
LAST FIRST YEARS
Pane Dave 1885-86
Ellis,  E. C.  1886-87
Newby,  Mattie   1891-92
Wells,  Walter   1892-93
White,  Bertha   1892-93
Bonham,  Winnie  1893-94
Aker,  Marie   1913-14
Hudgens,  Lee R.  1914-15
Ebersole,  Vernon    1915-17
Weaver  Raydie M.  1917-18
Wilson   Ethel  1918-19
Davis  Fern E  1919-20
Padgett  Elizabeth  1919-20
Hentz  Alma  1920-21
Hickey  Joseph 1921-22
Kinnamon  Floy  1922-23
Small  Ruth B.  1923-24
McCreight H. M.  1924-25
Haigh  Mattie J.  1925-27
Hickey  Ed  1927-29
Moler  Gladys  1928-29
Kuntz  James E.  1929-30
Wilson  Allen  1930-32
Tubbs  Helen  1932-33
Garten  Faye  1933-34
Lawson  Stella  1934-35
Unruh  Evelyn  1935-37
Hooper  Vera  1937-39
Gullick  Roberta  1939-40
Fast  Mathilda  1940-41
Johnson Lucille   1941-42
Salmon  Alice  1942-43
Deaver   Juanita  1943-44

from "Plains KS, 100 Years"

Mertilia School District No.34 was organized October 11, 1886, and it was located out in the middle of many families in the rural area. The first Mertilla School, no one seems to remember just where it stood, but the second one was built in 1909, and was a landmark for many travelers. The location was 19 miles from Meade, 15 miles from Plains and 15 miles from Montezuma. This was the centrally located meeting place for the whole community. At this time, many students rode a horse to school or walked and until the last few years, the old hitching rail was still standing.

School was important and the earliest teacher anyone was able to recollect was Mattie Hague. One of the teachers curtained off one corner of the schoolhouse and lived right there. Teachers did their own janitor work, building of the fires, hauled the drinking water and planned a lot of the activities for the community. Children and adults alike participated in literary, (which was a program held once a month for entertainment), box suppers, Halloween parties and the Christmas program was a big annual event. These gatherings helped keep neighbors in touch with each other, as telephones were pretty scarce.

The country schools took turns hosting Spring Fun Days. At this event, we had ciphering matches, spelling bees, races, high and broad jumps and always a basket dinner at the noon hour. These usually consisted of three or four schools and children made many friendships at this event.

Mertilla Schoolhouse was used for Sunday School and Church. Mrs. Hessie Fisher and Mae Rexford organized this Country Sunday School, and we had a part-time clergyman, but Sunday School was held there for 60 years. We had many dedicated teachers and some good training helped the

youngsters in growing up and learning the Bible. The yearly affair was the big basket dinner on Easter Sunday and our attendance was the largest on this Sunday. Children enjoyed Easter egg hunts and the adults caught up on their visiting and there was some horseshoe playing in the evening.

When the country schools consolidated and many of the homesteads were bought up by big landowners, the Sunday School was disbanded. Where we had houses almost every mile, now there is one every three or four miles, plus there were larger families in those days. Thus ending an era of religion, good fellowship, neighborliness and marching into the past.

Memories of Jim Gillick from the "1985 Meade County" History book

"In the fall of 1886 the town of Mertilla began. A small one room house, in which Sam High started the first grocery store, was moved in by the power of four oxen. "Soon there were other stores. Some were sod and some frame buildings. Goods and lumber were sent by freight from Dodge City.

"Later, a school house 12 by 24 feet was built. Fully equipped this building cost $76 and stood one mile south of what used to be Bill Ginter's place, but is now the home of Al Dierking.

"There was no floor in the school and only one chair. That was for the teacher, Dave Pane. There were many pupils that year, and sometimes the younger students had to wait.

"Lunches were packed in buckets and sometimes traded for something one liked better. School lasted only eight months at that time..... (Jim then goes on to tell of the hardships of the late 1880's that caused many settlers to move on...)

For a short time after the people left, Jim Gillick was the only remaining one to attend school. "There was one thing I had in advantage and that was a man teacher. We would sit till he saw me getting tired then he would say, 'Well, Jimmy, let's go chase rabbits. Get your dogsl' I'd get my hounds and we'd chase rabbits awhile, then go back to school." ....

There was a class for four boys that winter (1890-91) when Dame Ellis began teaching: Jim Gillick, Ira Scott, Arthur Strohl and Ira Stoltz. "Scott and I put in most every Saturday chasing rabbits and picking cow-chips over in Hayden's pasture." In later years, as a young man, Jim Gillick operated the Mertilla Post Office in his home at the farm. Later, others took the responsibility. Sometimes it would be at the Ellis home, the Stoats, or at the Jim Clemens farm, where Mrs. Gillick took over as substitute until it was moved to another farm.

 

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