Looking Back: The Oldest Schools
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
The oldest recorded Grain Valley School was Capelle School so named for the landowners. Britton and his wife, Sarah (Clayton) Capelle immigrated to Jackson County from Simpson County, Kentucky in the fall of 1839.
The Capelle School was built on land leased from the Capelle’s 460-acre farm located in Township 49 N, Range 30 W, section 34 near the present site of the East Kansas City Airport. The second site was on property purchased in 1877 from Mason and Emma Lobb for $75.
The 1904 Atlas shows a school slightly west of the first school, however, it could have been the same building. Unfortunately, the Atlas only identifies the school locations, but no school names are given.
Also, neither school appears on property owned by the Lobbs. Research into previous articles about the Grain Valley Schools states that the Capelle School was later abandoned and the property was sold in 1908. Proceeds were used to build the first brick school building,
When I began this series about the Grain Valley Schools, I thought it would be quite easy. Instead, it has been extremely challenging. By the time I finish, I hope to have the available materials better organized, and hopefully more accurate.
At the time of this writing, I have come to believe that Round Grove School and Round Prairie School might both have been within the bounds of the Grain Valley School District at one time.
In a book titled “Place Names of Five West Central Counties of Missouri” by Anne Atchison, we find the following description: “In central Sni-A-Bar Township. A grove of oak trees in which the school is located is approximately round. The site was located northwest of town on property leased from Jacob and Agnes Crow in 1873. The second site for the school was on property leased from Z. D. and Elva Ketterman in 1883. The 1887 Illustrated Historical Map of Jackson County shows their name in Township 49 N, Range 30 W, section 23. I have concluded that the property was sold but the school remained on the same site. In the 1904 Jackson County map the Ketterman property is shown north of town and adjacent to property on the north owned by Dillinghams and property on the west owned by Slaughters. Interestingly enough, the Round Grove School would have been very near the current North Middle School, Early Childhood Center and Administrative Offices.
Again, referring to Atchison’s book, I found the following description for Round Prairie School: “In southeastern Sni-A-Bar Township. The hills surround the prairie in such a way as to give a round effect to the prairie on which the school is located.”
However, I can find no evidence of where it was located. The 1904 Historical Atlas has numbers by the school, but the online version has no index or legend, so I believe a trip to the Jackson County Historical Society or the Midwest Genealogy Center is in my future.
My reason for thinking it was close by is because I found two photographs of Round Prairie School taken in 1920 by Goldie Russell. Miss Russell was also a teacher at Oak Hill during the same school year. She later taught at the Grain Valley High School.
Above: Photos of students from Round Prairie School, dated 1920. Photos courtesy of the Grain Valley Historical Society Museum, located at 510 Main Street.
Visit the Historical Society’s website, www.grainvalleyhistory.com, and follow
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