April 2021 Hands On History SVHS

In their first in-person event in over a year, Geary County Historical Society is holding an open house for members of the public at the Spring Valley Historic Site on Tuesday, April 7 from 2-4 p.m. with Hands On History programs for school-aged children at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The historic site includes a one-room school, two log cabins, a pony barn, and outhouses, and it is located at the intersection of K-18 and Spring Valley Road.

The museum’s first in-person event in over a year will be held Wednesday, April 7, when the Spring Valley Historic Site will be open to the public. Spring Valley Historic Site is located at the junction of K-18 and Spring Valley Road.

An open house will be held from 2-4 p.m. Members of the public are invited to tour the site’s historic buildings and enjoy outdoor activities (no RSVP required).

Hands On History programs for homeschool and after-school families will be held at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. This will include special presentations by volunteers in the various buildings, pioneer games on the lawn, and (if weather permits it) some hot dog roasting over the fire pit!

Hands On History participants are asked to RSVP to let us know which program you will be attending. Please call us at 785-238-1666 or email us at GearyHistory@gmail.com to RSVP.

While we will be able to socially distance and spend time outside, some of the programming will be inside historic buildings. For the safety of our volunteers and each other, we ask that you wear a mask while attending this program.

Located at the junction of K-18 and Spring Valley Road, the site includes several historic buildings: the one-room Spring Valley school; outhouses and a pony barn; the Little Cabin; and the larger Wetzel Cabin.

Spring Valley School, District #21, was legally begun on November 27, 1871. The first school building was a small frame building located north of Highway 18 on the flat just west of the junction City Stone Company. On March 27, 1873 the annual meeting was held in the schoolhouse. At that time John W. Bailey, and his wife Harriet, gave an acre of land for the location of a new structure south of K-18, on the present site. The date is marked in stone over the doorway to the school. The district operated for 87 years.

The school did not have its own water supply in the beginning. Water had to be obtained either south at a spring or across the highway north to another spring.

Boys were assigned the task of bringing in the water and coal each day. The coal was used in the stove for heat. The coal shed had been a small barn for shelter of the ponies ridden to school by some of the students. The stone foundation and cement floor is still on the southeast portion of the grounds. A pony barn has once again been erected over the foundation.

There was no electricity to the school in the early days so illumination was provided by oil lamps and lanterns.

In 1908 screens were added to the outside of all windows to protect them from being broken. (Recess seemed to be hard on windows.) A fence was built around two sides of the school grounds in 1934. It was left up to the board to determine the type of fence. An original stone fence to the east can still be seen.

Playground equipment didn’t appear on the school grounds until 1929. That summer the school board installed swings, a merry-go-round and a teeter-totter. The equipment is no longer on-site.

School was discontinued here at the end of the school year in 1958. There were 8 pupils enrolled that year. In 1957 it was the only rural school in Geary County without water and indoor toilets.

For more information or to RSVP for the 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. Hands On History session, please call us at 785-238-1666 or email us at GearyHistory@gmail.com.

KATIE GOERL is the Executive Director of the Geary County Historical Society in Junction City.

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