Lanesfield School

Lanesfield School is a one-room schoolhouse near Edgerton Kansas that was established in 1869. The school is representative of the one-room schoolhouse that was most popular in rural America during the 19th century and is considered the last standing building from the now non-existent town of Lanesfield which served as a mail stop for the Santa Fe Trail.

James Lane was an abolitionst Union Army general in the Civil War and founder of the town of Lanesfield [source](https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/frontier-guard/16898)

James Lane was an abolitionst Union Army general in the Civil War and founder of the town of Lanesfield source

James Lane and the Town of Lanesfield

The town was founded by James Lanein 1858 1 and he began construction of the town very quickly. Lane served as a United States Senator and a Union Army general during the Civil War. He was an outspoken abolitionist who worked to abolish slavery in Kansas. [^nyt1] Lane began the construction of a hotel, three stores, a blacksmith shop, three churches, residential houses and a one-room schoolhouse in the town 2, even though he never saw the school opened as he committed suicide in 1866 3.

Lanesfield Along the Santa Fe Trail

Lanesfield served as a rest stop for travelers along the Santa Fe Trail and as a mail stop which was even along the route of the Pony Express, a transcontinental mail route that was in operation for only 18 months. Students from the school noted that they could see travelers on the trail from their schoolhouse window 4. The developement of a railroad station in 1870 in the nearby town of Edgerton diminished Lanesfield’s population as many people moved closer to the train station. Many buildings were left unused but the schoolhouse remained an important part of Lanesfield as it served all the children in the area.

The One-Room Schoolhouse in America

The one-room schoolhouse was an institution that had its heyday in America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and played a large role in rural communities. These schools were often the lifeblood and central building of small rural towns and were directed by local entities which meant that education varied greatly from one school to the next. Supplies were often limited and students and teachers had to make do with what they had. At one time a schoolteacher would be responsible for teaching eight different grades in one small room, many children missing multiple lessons to help out at their homes 5.

Lanesfield School is the last standing building in Lanesfield, Kansas, a mail stop along the Santa Fe Trail [source](http://freedomsfrontier.org/Visitors/Sites/Comments/aspx?id=70)

Lanesfield School is the last standing building in Lanesfield, Kansas, a mail stop along the Santa Fe Trail source

The Lanesfield School as Representative of One-Room Schoolhouses

The Lanesfield School also suffered from many of the same issues that other one-room schoolhouses faced. In 1870 the school had 69 students enrolled ages 5 to 20 but only had an average attendance of 51. In 1897, the county superintendent stated that the schoolhouse was in disrepair which sparked a major cleanup effort by the town 6. Despite difficulties, the school played an essential role in the community. In addition to being a school, the building also served as a community meeting place, pollint station, a venue for school reunions, and a meeting place for many community groups 7.

Lightning Strikes in 1903

In a dramatic turn of events, the school building burned down in 1903 due to a strike of lightning. Only the stone foundation of the building was left intact. The town of Lanesfield suffered because of the building’s destruction and quickly underwent reconstruction efforts and it was largely in use again by 1904. 8

The End of the One-Room Schoolhouse

Following an increasingly frequent trend of one-room schoolhouses being consolidated in rural areas, the Lanesfield School was combined with Round Oak and Splinterville School in 1950 9. In the 1940s and 1950s many Kansas rural schools were closing their doors. Less and less children were enrolling and it made more financial sense to send children to larger schools with better managed facilities. A major loss of students was also caused by families moving away from rural towns into larger cities (Closing Kansas Rural Schools in 1940s, gov. doc). Lanesfield School fell to the same fate as the town of Lanesfield began to decline in the late 1950s and early 1960s and the school eventual closed its doors in 1963 after being in use for 93 years 10.

Visiting children learn about life in one-room schoolhouse at Lanesfield School [source](https://www.jcprd.com/435/Lanesfield-Historic-Site)

Visiting children learn about life in one-room schoolhouse at Lanesfield School source

Lanesfield School is Now a Public Museum

The school was turned into a museum in 1967 and it is still open to the public today. Visitors can visit the school and experience writing on slates, cleaning the blackboard, and what general life in a one-room schoolhouse was like during the late 19th and early 20th centuries along the Santa Fe Trail.

Bibliography

  1. National Registration Form, statement of significance 

  2. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 1 

  3. New York Times, 1866 

  4. Feldman 2001, 83 

  5. Jenner 2018, 2 

  6. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 1 

  7. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 1 

  8. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 3 

  9. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 3 

  10. National Registration Form, sec. 8 pg. 3