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History of the Olive Springs Schoolhouse

As the very early settlers were homesteading in the neighborhood west of what is now Roxbury, the question arose as how they were going to educate their children.

Mrs. Mary Stockwell, who lived in a very small house across the road west of where the G. A. Reese family lived was qualified to undertake the position of teacher. In 1871 she sent word out for the settlers to send their children to school at her home. Since there was no organized district, children came for several miles around in each direction. Mrs. Stockwell was paid by subscription, just what the patrons felt they could pay. 

A school board was not elected that first year, so all pitched in and helped with everything; with the most lovable teacher, they had a very successful term of school. The following year, 1872, a small schoolhouse was built on the Hodge place. During the first part of the year, while it was being erected and equipped, school was held on what was then the James Lawson place, with C. W. Banks serving as teacher. The last part of the term was held in the new schoolhouse, with Mary Stockwell teaching. School went along very nicely in this schoolhouse for five years. Then one morning in 1877 when the teacher arrived at school, she discovered the schoolhouse was gone! The patrons south of Gypsum Greek had decided that they wanted the schoolhouse closer to them. Accordingly, in the middle of one night, they raised the building, put skids under it, hitched onto it, and drove off. Everything went well for them until they reached the creek, across which there was no bridge. The movers got on the dirt fill with their schoolhouse and there they stayed. After pulling and tugging with no results they found it necessary to secure the services of some men with house moving equipment, who were doing some moving in the community at that time, to carry the schoolhouse to its destination. Through this episode, the schoolhouse received the title, "Moonlight Traveler." It was moved to the site where the Enterprise school stood.

The patrons north of the creek, desiring a school closer to them, voted bonds for a new schoolhouse in 1879. They immediately set to work building the new Olive Springs schoolhouse where it now stands. In 1885 this building burned down, and the district erected the building that now stands the same year. Olive Springs School District #2 was built in 1885 and is now the oldest country schoolhouse on its original location in McPherson County.


The building was last used as a school in 1946. From then until the Forsbergs restored it in 1977, it was used as a storage building for grain, hay, and machinery. It is now an art gallery displaying the paintings and prints of Maleta Forsberg. Exhibited also are memorabilia of the country school era. The school and farm around it were named for natural springs located on the hillside.

History authored by Edith Messenger Houghton, who was the last person to teach at Olive Springs when the school closed in 1946.

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