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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Melville School

Location: 

Other Names:  Eby, Sauer

Architectural Blue Prints and/or Plot Plan of School Building
Architectural plans of 1913 show Melville to be a two-room school house, a type of "L" shape.

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History of Mellville School
(As recorded in the Kansas City Kansan, December 3, 1940)

"Embers of Past Stirred by School Board"

The winds of circumstance stirred the embers of Kansas City, Kansas' past last night in a meeting of the board of education.

Routine discussion of a piece of property owned by the board fanned a spark of remembrance.  The reminiscence of board members kindled a flame which revealed vanished personalities and historical incident.

Evoked was the vision of old Mellville school, a two-room frame building still standing on a tract of land 225 x 200 feet fronting on Shawnee Road at Ruby Drive, just west of what now is Seventh Street Trafficway.  No one knows for sure just when the school was built or what children studied there.   (Note:  see "Forerunner of the 7th Street Trafficway.)

Land where the school stands was a colorful part of a region for which the original patent was granted by the United States of America, "for that and adjoining properties," by President James Buchanan in 1859.  One Joseph Parks received the land designated as "Shawnee patent No. 2".

After Parks' death the land went to heirs of his only two children, Sally Rogers and Mary Donnelson.  In 1887 in a council of Shawnee chiefs at Vinita, Cherokee Nation, Indian territory (Oklahoma) mention was made, by petition, of the lands belonging to the estate of Rebecca Fitzgerald, deceased, and Catherine Swartzel, heirs of Joseph Parks.

At that meeting were Charles Tucker and Dudley Tucker, "head chiefs of the Shawnee tribe of Indians, and Charles Bluejacket, Henry F. Rogers, members of the council."

In 1871 the land was transferred from John R. Balis to rural school district 33.

At the time that Argentine came in Kansas City, Kansas in 1910, school district No. 33 was included in the land lying between the city of Argentine and the city of Kansas City.  It came into the city by annexation in the ordinance dated December 3, 1910 ... just thirty years ago today.

Mexican families who lived in Rosedale were clustered in an area called "La Colonia," and their fathers worked for the Saint Louis and San Francisco Railroad. It was a small community and the children of these families presumably attended the Melville School with Anglo children before 1924. (The Education of Mexican-Americans in Kansas City, Kansas , 1916-1951, Robert Martin Cleary, 2002, Book found in the KCMO PUblic Library)

Since then the land has been a part of the property owned by the board of education.  Records of the old school district No. 33 go back to 1887.  The building was operated as Mellville School by Kansas City, Kansas until 1924 when the board acquired a large tract of ground about a block west and erected the present Major Hudson school.

From 1924 until June, 1939, the board operated the old Mellville school as an annex of the new Major Hudson building.  Since September 1940, when the need for the annex ceased, the building has stood idle.

Consequently, the board has considered the sale of the property.  Principal difficulty in the matter of sale was clear legal description of property, which all these years has been hard to find.  The board's ownership of the property is not in question in the least, and patience and a certified abstract will make the tract available for sale, at the discretion of the board.  Records in the board of education vault extend back beyond the transfer to the school district in 1871, according to Lewis H. Brotherson, business manager.

Names of early families are threaded thru the records.  The Hollingsworth family was one recollected by board members in discussion last night.  In the records, when the tract was half again as large as now, there were various transfers in which those names were recorded.

In the records the school is called by three different but similar names.  On December 23, 1886, 1/2 of the property of the "Nellville" school was deeded by sale to Franklin and Elwood Hollingsworth, "both single and unmarried."  In a mortgage transaction on July 8, 1886, the school is mentioned as "Neuville" school.  From 1913 records when a corner of the land where the school stands was condemned for the building of Ruby Drive, to the present time the little building has been called Mellville.

Tempestuous times and colorful, the little school undoubtedly has seen, standing in the region that was traversed by the old Santa Fe trail, once the unquestionable lifeline of the middle and southwest.

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A Trail School Located

Mellville Tract in Center Addition the Object of Search
The Kansas City Times, December 3, 1940

Board has sought exact limits of property on Shawnee Road since deciding to sell.

Abandoned for almost a decade, the Mellville school, once an institution of learning for children of Indians and wagon freighters along the Santa Fe trail, has been "found" by the Kansas City, Kansas board of education after a search of several weeks.

The school never was actually lost.  Officials of the board knew its approximate location in the Center addition.  Even at the beginning of the search, several of the older members recalled the 2-room structure which is still standing on a tract fronting Shawnee Road at Ruby Drive and just west of the Seventh Street Trafficway.

The little school became useless with the erection of the Major Hudson School.  The new building is located farther west on Shawnee Road which was the first link in the old trail leading down the Great Plains.

When the board reached a conclusion to sell the property, no one knew what part of the old tract could be included.  It was recalled that part of it was disposed at one time.  But where was the other half?  Lewis H. Brotherson, business manager, went through records in the office.  He searched documents of Rosedale and Argentine.  There were references to the school showing that it had come to the board of education when part of the district, No. 33, was outside the city limits.  Records of the district board's annual meetings showed that a balance in its funds had gone to purchase playground equipment after the property had passed to the Kansas City, Kansas board.

Nowhere was found a legal description of the plot until Brotherson sent an inquiry to an abstracter.  In his records was a history of the tract dating back beyond its transfer to the school district in 1871 from John R. Balis.  With a certified abstract, the board can sell the property with a 225-foot frontage on Shawnee and a depth of about 200 feet.  The discussion of the old school by the board brought out family names of historical importance such as Hollingsworth, Ely and Sauer.

History of Wyandotte County, Kansas and It's People by Perl W. Morgan, 1911.

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The following are notes compiled by Anna Erickson (principal of Major Hudson School, Mar 24, 1920)

"50 years ago - about which would be around 1890 - there was a brick school called Ely, located near Mellville School, now Major Hudson Annex."

By Nellie McGuinn:  "Melville School, District 33, at Seventh and Shawnee Road, is listed in 1911 as part of the system.  It was located on land lying between Argentine and Kansas City, a portion of which was attached to the city many years before.  Records of 1886-1887 refer to Melville as Ely School, which housed Columbian pupils before that school was built.  All school property in annexed districts belonged to the board.  Residents had the privilege of voting at elections for school purposes."

SUMMARY

1859 - Old Melville Land original patent granted by US Government, James Buchanan, President, to Joseph Parks, Shawnee, patent #2.

1868 - Major J K Hudson led the petition for what is now 7th Street Trafficway. However, in 1868 it was a proposed road to replace the trail leading through the hills from the Kansas River to Southwest Boulevard. The proposed road, called J. K. Hudson Road, would start from Mackajack on the Shawneetown and Westport Road - North and West thru the Turkey Creek Valley - Across the tracks of the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad - Across Turkey Creek - Over the bluff crossing the Kansas City and Shawneetown Road to the Kansas River Bottoms.

1869 - Called J K Hudson Road

1871 - Land transferred from John R Balis to rural school district No. 33. District #33 was part of land lying between Argentine and Kansas City.

1883 - July: Description by Clarence J. Smith, County Superintendent. On State Line between Kansas and Missouri, south along bend of river, north Kansas River.

August 9: Spelled Nellville or Nelville at times. L L Ely, Director. To employ male teacher and assistant.

President to appoint committee - propriety of selling schoolhouse and lots. To buy other lot near Center district and build other schoolhouse.

Among purchases were "recitation seats" construction of "recitation room" and erection of foot bridge across Turkey Creek.

1884 - September 8: To buy eight-day clock, two dippers, box cube root blocks.

Resolution: That teachers require excuse for absence and tardies.

1885 - August 13: Urged district (Mr. Hollingsworth) to vote against county uniformity in texts. To make sink for water buckets.

1886 - Want to condemn old school and to build new on north half of lot. To erect frame building, 2 rooms, 1 library room, 2 entrances. Building strong and substantial at a cost not over $1500. To sell old schoolhouse and one-half of school lot.

June: Hollingsworth Brothers to buy old schoolhouse and half lot for $1200.

July 8: Mentioned as "Neuville" School.

December 23, 1886: 1/2 of "Nellville" school property deeded to Franklin and Elwood Hollingsworth, "single and unmarried."

August: Annual meeting. New seats in front of school room and old seats in assistant's room. First meeting to be held in new schoolhouse. Call it Nelville.

Hired assistant for only six months - $35 per month. Later $45 to one with certificate - Miss H Lees.

1887 - June 27: County records say that in June of 1887, part of Melville School District No. 33 was detached and joined the City of Rosedale. District 15, began at southeast line of Southwest Boulevard where Minnie crosses. S B Bell's 2nd and 3rd subdivision, Marty's 3rd addition and Glen Park. (Information from Nellie McGuinn, May 22, 1966)

1888 - May 29: F M Slossom, County Superintendent. Lies south of Kansas River, west to Missouri line. Has 1 1/8 sections.

July: Pump to be bought for cistern.

Meeting of Board of Education brought memories. Melville School, 2-room frame, standing (1940) on tract fronting Shawnee Road at Ruby Drive just west of 7th Street Trafficway.

Sally Rogers and Mary Donnelson, children. Land to heirs of these. Council of Shawnee chiefs at Vinita, Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma (Indian Territory) mention made by petition of lands belonging to estate of Rebecca Fitzgerald and Catherine Swartzel, heirs of Parks. At meeting were Charles and Dudley Tucker, "head chiefs of Shawnees," and Charles Bluejacket, Henry F. Rogers, members of council.

1895 - Special meeting at clerk's residence. Occupants of school basement told to vacate. To employ suitable janitor.

1897 - July: Board to vote on sex of teacher. District to purchase and own textbooks used in school. Eight months school.

August: Two-thirds majority of legal voters not present at annual meeting. Had not voted to own texts.

1902 - Piano purchased by board to be retained for pupils.

1903 - To tear out partition to make room larger. Furnace installed.

1905 - January: Sunday school to be held in schoolhouse.

July: Want territory limits extended.

1910 - Argentine annexed into KCKs. District #33 was part of land lying between Argentine and Kansas City annexed Dec 3, 1910. Known as Melville by KCKs Board of Education until 1924 when Major Hudson was created.   (By Nellie McGuinn:  The school, sometimes known as Ely, had a long and colorful history.  It was said to have first housed pupils who later went to Columbian School.)

1911 - April: New meeting time for board as district school property had become part of KCKs.

Board of Education has owned land since 1888. Records of school No. 33 go back to 1887. Called Melville by KCKs Board of Education until 1924 when large tract about a block west acquired. Erected Major Hudson.

Corner of land condemned to building of Ruby Drive. Since called Melville. Region crossed by Santa Fe Trail, lifeline of middle and southwest. Must have had colorful and tempestuous times.

1912 - No taxes for district.

1913 - Annual meeting. Mentions north portion being taken into KCKs.

April: To have sanitary drinking fountain installed at Melville. To equipment playground for athletic sports not to exceed $100 out of school fund if KCKs board will install and keep in order. Vote of thanks to retiring president.

1914 - April: Annual meeting of Rosedale board. KCKs board furnishing athletic equipment - $86.50. $180 for colored attending Rosedale. No school tax to be levied.

1915 - July: Melville $1467.46 in Wyandotte County School Treasury. To turn over to Mr. Hershberger, receiver of Melville School #33.

1920 - Plans were made in March for elementary sites and schools to replace Oakland, Melville, and Greystone.  The last two would be combined to form one eight-room building.

1921 - Greystone patrons accused the board in March, 1921, of lack of consideration for their interests, when old Greystone was condemned and a new site chosen for Melville and Greystone.  Children would have to walk over two miles to a new school.  The City Planning Commission and board members had promised to meet with the parents, but failed to appear.  Both Greystone and Melville wanted the school.  The latter was chosen because it seemed close to the center of the school population.  County Superintendent Charles E. Thompson in November got out an injunction on behalf of Melville patrons against a school on Turkey Creek.  The site "was better for mountain goats than for children," it was asserted.  In October the Melville site was listed as the 1000 block of the Industrial Addition, Lots 8-20, and the west half of 21.  The colored school was at 22nd and Douglass.

1924 - Large tract about a block west acquired at what is today 7th Street and Shawnee Road. Created Major Hudson School. When Major Hudson was dedicated, Melville used for Mexican pupils.  Clara Barton School was built later for Mexican Pupils.  Principal in 1924 was Mrs. Margaret Jones, who was principal of new Major Hudson, 1924-1929

1939 - No longer needed. Board considering sale. Hard to find clear legal description of property. No question about board's ownership. Need patience and a certified abstract. Records in Board of Education vault extend back beyond transfer to school district in 1871.

1940 - Melville was annex to Major Hudson. Idle since September, 1940.

PRINCIPALS/Staff

1883 - Henry Chase and B. T. Chase, Miss Morris/ 1884 - B. T. Chase, Miss Katie Lane / 1885 - L. H. Rose - Ada Hollingsworth / 1886 - L. H. Rose - Hattie N. Lee / 1887 - B. T. Chase - Nettie Cunningham / 1888 - Committee to settle with District #33 / 1888-1910 - Information not found / 1910-11 - Alice Porter / 1911-12 - Mary DeJarnette / 1912-13 - Flora Terry / 1913-14 - Alice Talley / 1914-15 - Mamie Parisa / 1915-16 - Ethel Boyce / 1916-18 - Hester May Carter / 1918-19 - Ethel Pickett / No further records.

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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