by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
If you travel south from Grain Valley on Buckner Tarsney Road, just past Ryan Road there is a long hill, known to “old-timers” as Ashcroft Hill. At the apex you can make a left turn onto Oak Hill School Road.
The road goes east for a short distance before curving south to end at Nebgen Road. After the Civil War, residents returned to Stony Point only to find most of the village has been destroyed.
The school house remained, however it was being used as a temporary home by the Gregg family. The town was relocated about one-half mile west of the original site.
Stony Point continued to prosper, and the residents decided a larger school was needed. The district was divided; Stony Point remained on the west side and the Oak Hill District was established on the east side.
No records have been found to establish the exact dates for the Oak Hill School, however it seems likely it was begun just prior to 1870. We have a certificate of Approval from the State of Missouri dated April 22, 1924, as well as many photographs.
I have not found documentation for when the school closed, however we do have a poster advertising the auction for Oak Hill School along with Stony Point and Round Grove on February 25, 1939.
What we do know is the Oak Hill School, located at the curve in the road, provided quality education to students attending there in 1913 and 1914. The following excerpts are taken from an article by John Case, editor of the Missouri Ruralist, dated February 20, 1915.
School fairs were held in five Jackson County townships in 1913, and 68 schools took part. Although the season was unfavorable and the agricultural exhibits not nearly so good as they would be ordinarily, seven township fairs were held in 1914, and 77 schools had exhibits entered. Many schools from neighboring counties visited the fairs, and the total attendance was estimated at 9,000.
At Oak Grove the first prize for a rural school exhibit was won by Oak Hill School District. Oak Hill had won in 1913 and perhaps the small chaps had crowed about it just a bit more than they really should. Anyway, a winner always has to keep going to repeat, so Oak Hill was warned that it would take some tall hustling to carry off the blue ribbon the second time. They won, but it was no walkaway for other one-room schools had exhibits almost as good.
Oak Hill is a typical little school, “out in the sticks” as one of the directors assured me, but it is different. Fewer than twenty pupils are in the district and the oldest is only 15, but every boy and girl had helped in making and gathering the school display.
A beautiful quilt, the work of the children, was shown. Boys and girls took part in making that quilt and the blocks bore the names of the makers.
Almost every grain and grass that grew in the district was exhibited. A model farm, just little ahead of anything I had ever seen was a feature. A business-like Missouri mule looked through the stable window while nearby the family touring car was entering the garage.
The children had made a district census. The acreage of every farm was given; the production of corn and small grain; all the livestock, and even the tabby cats, barring the prowling population) were enumerated. Oak Hill’s population was tabulated, and I will guarantee that here was one census that was accurate.
It should not be difficult to convince any person that the rural school children learned many valuable lessons not found in books while they were collecting census data, and growing and selecting things for the township fair.
And the love for school and home instilled into the hearts and minds of those youthful citizens is worth most of all. No one could look into the happy faces of those small Oak Hill chaps led by Miss Ona Stephenson, only a girl herself, as they sang the school songs and gave the school yells without catching the spirit and enthusiasm in the air. It was a red-letter day!
Visit the Grain Valley Historical Society to see the quilt, the Certificate of Approval, photos and other memorabilia from the Oak Hill School,
Next Week: Learn about Murphy School
Information on the back of the photos above state “Oak Hill School, 1919”. The photos were taken by the teacher, Goldie Russell. Photos courtesy of the Grain Valley Historical Society Museum, located at 510 Main Street.