Photo Friday

Photo Friday: School District No. 20, The Cousins School

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Students and instructors from District No. 20, the “Cousins School” pose in front of the schoolhouse in this view from the late 1870s. Photo courtesy Steve Schwarting

District 20 is a very early school district in Wabaunsee County, organized in 1867-1868.  It is likely that the first school building was constructed of logs.  In September of 1874 the school district held a successful bond election in the amount of $900 to construct this fine stone school building.  The date-stone on this building says: Dist. School No. 20 1874, denoting date of the building’s construction.  This photo could possibly be from the first year’s class, or perhaps from the next two or three years.  By 1880 the school’s enrollment had grown substantially from the 37 students seen in this early view.  Published records indicate that the school had 56 students in 1882. When the town of Eskridge was founded in 1880, its south boundary was platted less than a mile from the District 20 school, increasing the school’s enrollment dramatically.

The school building had no electricity; the two wires that are seen along the side of the building lead to lightning rods on the roof. There is a wood shed attached to the rear of the school. There may be two rooms inside the school house, as there are two chimneys in the 24×38-foot building.

In 1916 the stone building was demolished and a new, modern, frame school building was constructed on the site.  The school was always known as the Cousins School, named after a prominent Wilmington Township resident, John Cousins who owned the property across the road from the school.

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Students from the Cousins School District No. 20 pose in front of the “new” schoolhouse in this view dated 1923. Back row, left to right, Ralph Tucker, Charley Jones, Alice Bennett, Hazel Grimm, Neola Wheat, and Mabel Tucker. Front row, left to right, Virgie Wheat, Phil Bennett, Jim Bennett, Margaret Schwarting, and Pearl Tucker.

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