The Martin Family at Prairie Belle School

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Written by Gail Martin in the fall of 1985 for the Flinthills’ Folk Life Class at Madison High School taught by Anne Wilson.

One hundred years of memories takes us to the beginning, when Prairie Belle School District of Greenwood County, Kansas was formed as District #102 in the fall of 1885. The new district received state funds of six hundred dollars. Then Isaac Cox, L.T. Grooms, and W.A. Barnes were elected to the school board. They spent every penny of the starting fund to acquire the school site, the school house, furniture, supplies and a teacher to be ready for the spring term of 1886.

The school site was acquired from Isaac Cox and consisted of a one-acre plot in the southwest one-fourth of Section 9; Township 23; Range 12 and eighty rods north of the southwest corner on the west line. This site was chosen by a county-appointed committee.

The school board hired Daniel Focht of Madison, Kansas to build a one-room school house for four hundred and fifty dollars. Focht built the house according to the basic plans put out by the state of Kansas. The building with the door, facing the county road on the west, opened onto a landing and a rough flight of steps. A series of three windows were placed on the north and south sides of the school.

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Prairie Belle School, # 102, in Kansas. Photo taken in April 1943.

School furniture was ordered from Burlington Furniture Company in Burlington, Kansas. It was shipped by railroad to Madison, where it was picked up and delivered by wagon to the school. C.L. Allen agreed to teach but resigned after two and half months and H.G. Porter finished two more months. Both teachers received thirty dollars a month. Thus the new district struggled through their first year.

C.L. Thompson was hired to teach eight months beginning in the fall of 1986. That year the school board clerk, C.T. Grooms, recorded a school census of nineteen school-age children from five to twenty-one years of age. The students, that first full year of school, were all from farming families in the district.

The 1886 census included John Thomas Martin, twenty years old; John’s brother, eighteen-year-old Frank Marian and their ten-year-old sister, Cora Gazena. The Martin children’s father, Charles Coleman Martin died that fall on August 16th and their mother, Sarah Ann (Ellison) Martin died the following year, December¬†27, 1887. Both were buried at No 8 Cemetery.

Those three children were the first of the four generation of Martins to attend Prairie Belle. All five of John Thomas Martin’s children, Archie Lloyd, Charles Lorenzo, Robert Cecil, Roy, and Anna Faye attended through the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. John’s sister Cora’s children, Forrest Edgar, William Vernon and Glen Thomas attended around 1909-1913, making up the second generation.

Dorothy Mae, the oldest of ‘Ren’ Martin’s family, started to school in the 1921-1922 school year. Followed by Helen Elizabeth, Vivian Ruth, Zella Irene, Ralph Edward, Clyde Owen, and Howard Raymond, who attended last in 1943.

Lloyd’s three children, Mildred Maxine, Laverna Elnor, and Leonard John were attending during the same time as Ren’s family, completing the third generation.

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Some of the last students at Prairie Belle School.

Some of the fourth generation attended until the school district closed in 1951 and sent them by to Madison Grade School. They were Dorothy’s two children, Kenneth Orville and Donna Carolyn Stafford and Zella’s four children, Barbara June, Thomas Eugene, Sharon Marie, and Marilyn Grace.

Some of the other farming families attending during those years were the Barne, Groom, Long, Overholt, Wolford, Cox and McClinic families.

(This essay was retrieved with the Wayback Machine from the My History Is America’s History website which no longer exists.)