by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Originally named Latimer School, Murphy School was renamed for the road beside which it was located. John B. Campbell donated the land for the school, located north of Truman Road and east of Buckner Tarsney Road in the late 1800s.
In 1948 when Jackson County schools were reorganized, Murphy School was positioned in the Fort Osage R-1 School District. However, the actual school was within 4 miles of the Grain Valley High School, over 5 miles from the Buckner High School and more than 10 miles from Fort Osage High School. Since many of the students had lived south of the school, they came into Grain Valley for their high school education.
Murphy School was a white frame building with plenty of windows for light. The students shared a cloakroom at the entrance and a big stove with a metal jacket sat in the back of the classroom. A teacher’s platform and chalkboards were in the front. The teacher did most of the janitorial work with help from the older students.
There was a well for drinking water near the entrance, a hitching post for the youngster’s horses, a coal shed for fuel and, of course, outdoor toilets for girls and boys.
The teachers generally followed the state course of study, so four days each week were used for regular classroom work, but on Fridays there were spelling bees, geography matches, and math races. One of the most popular teachers at the school was Mr. Robert Cary who went on to teach at both Buckner and Fort Osage High Schools. Dorothy Stump Wolfe was one of the last teachers at Murphy School (1940-43, 1945-46) prior to reorganization. These were the years of World War II.
In addition to regular classroom activities the children collected old newspapers, had scrap-iron drives and supported wartime conservation in every way possible.
Another special project was the printing of a school newspaper with the aid of a Hectograph kit. Visit the Historical Society Museum, and you can read a copy of one of the Murphy School newspapers.
(Some of the information for this article came from “In the Beginning,” a book complied by members of the Fort Osage Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution)
Next Week: Learn about Round Grove School.
Above: A teacher’s contract for Dorothy Stumpp. Below: An undated photo of the Murphy School. Photos courtesy of the Grain Valley Historical Society Museum, located at 510 Main Street.