by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
According to the early history of Grain Valley High School, athletics were introduced in 1914 with the first men’s basketball team. However, football was not introduced until 1923. This week’s photograph is of the 1923-24 football team, presumably the first.
The photograph was found in a scrapbook kept by Goldie (Russell) Montgomery. Goldie was the only child of Andrew and Ida (Shippy) Russell. Her father died in 1906 when Goldie was only 4 years old. She and her mother left the farm and moved to a house on Walnut Street.
Goldie graduated from Grain Valley High School in 1919. Over the next few years she both taught and attended classes at Central Missouri Normal School (UCM.) Her teaching assignments included Round Prairie and Oak Hill rural schools. By 1923 she was teaching at the Grain Valley School and she would eventually complete three years of college.
She married Dow J. Montgomery, also a graduate of GVHS and he farmed south of town with his father Roy. In the late 1940s Goldie and Dow bought land on Missouri 7 Highway, about 3 miles south of Blue Springs. There they established Montgomery’s Orchard which they ran for more than 30 years.
Mrs. Montgomery was a beloved teacher. I remember my mother and my aunts would tell stories about the opportunities she gave her students. In addition to being a good teacher, she also encouraged book clubs and social gathering like teas and dinner parties. They remembered the great fun they all had!
But, back to the photograph…
During the years 1924 through 1927 there were only 22 boys that graduated from the high school; three seniors, five juniors, eight sophomores, and six freshmen. Not all of the football players in the photo were ever recorded to have completed high school.
Back Row: Ernest Dobson, junior ; Tom Heidelberger; Spurgeon Duncan; Lawrence Cannon, senior; (unknown first name) Medcalf, and (unknown).
Front Row: H. O. Tate, sophomore; Theodore Holman; Herman Stokes, senior; Harry Herrington; Byrl Ellis and Lawrence Williamson, junior . The coach was Mr. Holman, also the history teacher and the superintendent.
He left Grain Valley that spring and is presumable that is why Theodore Holman is not listed among the graduates.
Because a yearbook was not printed at Grain Valley High School until 1936, I can find no further information about this team. I do not know what other school they might have played and I don’t have any knowledge of their win-loss record. I really wish I knew “the rest of the story!”
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society at 506 S. Main on Wednesdays from 10am—3pm and Saturdays from 11am—3pm, or online at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.