History of Prairie Chapel School�

and Community

The Prairie Chapel School is the lone landmark that bears the name of this community, settled by German and Austrian immigrants in the late 1800’s.Its white wood frame, which sits atop a windswept hill in the center of the community, serves as a reminder of the past, when society and its people moved at a slower, simpler pace.As the world seems to spin faster each day in its technological whirlwind of cellular phones, pagers, and Internet access, this old school building reminds one of a time when horses and wagons, wood stoves, apples and oranges for Christmas, one good pair of shoes, going to church on Sunday morning and taking an afternoon nap, and visiting with neighbors on the front porch were the foundations of this rural community.So strong are the ties that descendants of the original immigrants still live today on many of the farms and ranchers in the community.

Records indicate that interest in local, public education in this community began as early as 1879.Although the school was originally located about one-fourth mile south of the present building, the present site was selected in 1908.For the next 31 years, the school served as the focal point for this close-knit community.At its peak, the school enrolled approximately 70 students per year.

Some teachers who taught at Prairie Chapel were Carl Niehbur, Lydia Schraeder, Clara Muhlhause, Hugh Blaylock, Cora Blaylock, Earl Culp, Pearl Culp, Alvin Bennett, Ethridge Place, Elbert Sills, Dora Frances Hodges, Frieda Britain, Edna Nunley, Verna Nunley, Emma Sawyer, Lottie Travis, Alice Kelly, Elga Kelly, Vela Homan, and Agnes Foster.

Among the families whose children attended Prairie Chapel were Bartels, Buck, Bohne, Campbell, Christ, Cooper, Crawford, Engelbrecht, Freyer, Garcia, Gauer, Griffith, Gonzales, Gossen, Haferkamp, Helm, Hoppe, Jacobs, Jaeckle, Johnson, Kasting, Kellerman, Koehler, Krempin, Lander, Lehrmann, Luning Massirer, Mattlage, Meyer, Mueller, Newumann, Patrick, Patterson, Pomerenke, Rabbe, Reich, Reinhardt, Roholff, Reuter, Sanders, Sandhoff, Schmalriede, Schraeder, Sless, Spross, Struempler, Symank, Walters, Weber, Wehmeyer, Weiss, Weschke, Westerfeld, Williams, Willmann, and Witt.

Today, the school appears as if it had originally been a one-room building, but actually it had three rooms with three grades taught in each room. In 1944, the east end room was torn down, and the lumber was used in the construction of the Crawford School’s new cafeteria.A wood burning stove, which remains in the building, was used to heat the structure, and lanterns were used for night programs.

For many years, a teacher’s house was located behind the school in the northwest corner of the lot.Two outhouses, one for girls and one for boys, were located in opposite corners of the schoolyard.A well with a hand pump in the south corner of the lot furnished water for the teachers and students.

Since there were no buses during the early years, children either walked to school or rode a horse or mule.Many of them carried their lunches in a one-gallon metal bucket that originally contained syrup.A typical lunch might consist of a syrup or peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a boiled egg.�� An occasional treat was a cookie or a piece of cake.

Discipline was much more strict in the early years than it is now.Corporal punishment was the order of the day, and it was not unusual for the teacher to require a troublesome student to cut the tree sapling or small limb that would be used to administer the whipping, as it was called.But there were also fun times during recess, when the children played andy-over, hop-scotch, jump rope, red rover, basketball, and baseball.

The Prairie Chapel School continued in operation until 1939, when it consolidated with the Crawford School.However, the School building remained in intermittent use as the Democratic voting box until the early 1970’s and as the annual meeting place for the local chapter of the Germania Farm Mutual Aid Association until the early 1990’s.

After sitting vacant and idle for a few years, the old school building came to life again in December 1993, with the first community Christmas party.Seventy-two people filled the benches and chairs as they sang carols and ate holiday foods.A huge cedar tree, decorated with Western ornaments and illuminated by lights connected to an outside generator, took up on corner by the wood stove.A tradition was begun in 1993 that continues today.

As interest in the school began to flourish with the first Christmas party, several community members organized an effort to obtain a historical marker.This goal became a reality in 1995 when the marker was erected near the front of the school, solidifying the school’s presence in history.

Today, interest in the school continues to grow as more former school students, descendants of former school students and teachers, and interested community and civic members express a desire to restore the building and preserve the memories it contains.To this end, The Prairie Chapel School Association was formed.

The officers and members of the school association and indeed the entire community extend a cordial welcome to visit our school and our community.Experience the “gemutelichkeit�