Upper Paw Paw School District
Elk County, Kansas

Jerry Jackson, a former student and Elk county resident is compiling a history of the Upper Paw Paw School District and has made information available for posting here. If you are aware of any information or pictures concerning former students, teachers and school board members please contact Jerry at his email address.



Upper Paw Paw was a one room country school located in the northern part of Elk County Kansas on one acre in the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of section 26, township 28, range 10 east. From Severy, Kansas it was located three miles west and two and one half miles south on the east side of the road. From Howard, Kansas it was six miles north on highway 99 to Cresco Cemetery, two miles west and one and one half miles north.

Some of the owners of the farm that Upper Paw Paw was built on were as follows: A. H. Sours, Charley and Stella Hubbell, Glenn and Viola Chamberlain, Robert Thompson, and Donald Marrs {purchased in 2007}


From the County Superintendent’s records now kept in the office of the Register of Deeds of Elk County
the following information was found.

On November 29, 1872, Mr. Henry E. Hubbell, a voter of Paw Paw Township visited in the office of County Superintendent, Mr. A. Ellis, of the then Howard County with a request that a school district be organized in the northern part of Paw Paw Township.

From records which were found by Mrs. Chole Copeland Hubbell, the daughter of Henry E. Hubbell. Henry lived on the farm in the northeast quarter of Section 34, Township 28, Range 10 which he took claim on in 1870. His farm was located about three quarters of a mile south of the school site on the west side of the road. This is the farm that was owned and occupied by Leonard and Clara Roper from the 1950’s to the early 1990’s.

On December 9, 1872 a meeting was held at the home of Mr. Henry E. Hubbell and at that time the organization was planned, boundaries were set and the district was completely organized. This statement was signed by A. Ellis County Superintendent of then Howard County.

Howard County was divided in 1875. The north half was called Elk County and the south half was called Chautauqua County. All records of school districts within the boundaries of Elk County were transferred to Elk County, to be kept of the County Superintendent. In 1908, when Fletcher Biddinger was county superintendent, the court house at Howard was destroyed by fire and most of the county records were burned. For this reason we have been unable to get the records telling of the building of the school house of Upper Paw Paw. From records of former pupils the building now standing was the one used in 1890.

Since the early records were lost we do not have the names of the first fourteen years as to who the teachers were which was from 1873 through 1887. We believe we have the complete records of those from 1888 to 1963. The records of those from 1888 to 1906 were supplied by older teachers, pupils and parents who lived in the district.


It is interesting to note that Mrs. Ethel Yantis who served as the last County Superintendent of Elk County was the great grand-daughter of Elk County’s first County Superintendent, James Newton Young. Mr. Young was superintendent of Howard County when the county was divided in 1875 and he automatically became superintendent of Elk County since that was his place of residence. Mrs. Yantis was a conscientious official but her task in many ways was a sad one. Ethel was a farm girl, the product of a rural school, and she had the duty of closing the last rural school in Elk County.

When Howard County was organized in 1870, elections were held on May 10 for the purpose of choosing officers for the county. On that day R. S. Catlin became the first County Superintendent.


R. S. Catlin................... 1870-72 Elected May 10, 1870

Mr. A. Ellis................... 1872-74
James Newton Young............. October 26, 1874-75 Became superintendent
                                of Elk County


James Newton Young............. 1875-76

E. G. Dewey.................... 1876-78

Mrs. M. E. Nichols............. 1878-80

Mr. A. W. Kirby................ 1880-84

W. F. Oliver................... 1884-88

E. G. Dewey.................... 1888-90

D. M. Barkley.................. 1890-94

J. P. Barackman................ 1894-96

B. B. Bone..................... 1896-1900

Mr. A. L. Brown................ 1900-04

W. F. Biddinger................ 1904-07 Deceased March 18, 1907

Ed Adams....................... 1907-12 Appointed April 14, 1907

Austin Kimzey.................. 1912-16

H. A. Gilmore.................. 1916-22

Mrs. Nettie H. Miller Morss.... 1922-31

Cecil Green.................... 1931-32 Deceased 1932

Opal Green..................... 1932-40 Appointed 1932

Harold Anderson................ 1940-44

Elizabeth S. Muilenburg........ 1944-52

Ruth Flory Sexton.............. 1952-56

Ethel Yantis................... 1956-68 Last County Superintendent
                                of Elk County


The Severyrite – October 21, 1965

Over 100 former pupils, teachers and residents of the Upper Paw Paw School met on Sunday, October 17, 1965 for a reunion at the school house. The district was consolidated in 1963, but the building has been retained as a community center. This ws the first reunion. Mrs. Nettie Morss was master of ceremonies and kept things moving.

The festivities started with a covered dish dinner at 12:30 with such quantities of delicious food one could hardly imagine.

Six former teachers were present, Maude Lorance (McBride) taught the term starting in September 1909; Nettie Miller (Morss), 1916-1919; Neva Simmons (McLean), 1926; Margaret Jacobs (Allison), 1931; Juanita Anderson, 1950-1962; Emaline Andrews (Leonard), 1962.

Coming the farthest were Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Dennison from Pleasant Hope, Missouri. Many others came from Eureka, Wichita, Arkansas City, Council Grove, Osawatomie, Piedmont, Severy, and other Kansas towns.

Many pictures of former groups pupils and family and friends were displayed – some as early as 1888; also pictures of six Sunday School classes of the Salem Church taken in 1911 created a lot of interest.

Several pictures were taken with the teachers and pupils present at the time and some family groups. Families with the largest representatives were the Hi Miller family, the Copeland family, McCoskey family, Simmons family and others.

A short program was given after many informal talks by different ones reminiscing of school days. It was a most enjoyable occasion, so it was voted hold another reunion on the third Sunday in October 1966, being October 16, 1966. It is hoped many more will come next year and bring any pictures they have of school days.

Those present this year will long remember this happy occasion and look forward to the one next year.


SOURCE: Newspaper article.

Sunday, October 21, 1973 was a big day in the history of the Upper Paw Paw community for 105 persons came to celebrate the centennial of the establishing of a school in the district. They included seven former teachers, many former pupils with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, residents of the district today and yesterday. It was a time of visiting, recalling things of the past and renewing friendships formed as long as 65 years ago.

Three long tables were loaded with food fit for a king’s table and all did justice to it.

Minard Monical was Master of Ceremonies and at 2:25 he called the meeting to order, seated the seven teachers at the front of the house, told several clever stories and welcomed everyone. He mentioned that research had been in progress during the year and he called on Mrs. Nettie Morss to give the information she had accumulated regarding the district.

She gave the following information: H. E. Hubble, a resident on the farm now owned by Leonard Roper, visited the county superintendent of the then Howard county on November 29, 1972 with the request that school district be established in the north half of Paw Paw Township. This request was taken under advisement on December 9, 1972, a meeting was called at the home of H. E. Hubble and that evening the boundaries were set for this district and complete organization took place. Here the early records stopped for in 1906 when Fletcher Biddinger was county superintendent of Elk County the court house burned and nearly all the records were destroyed, the above record came from a badly charred old record book. However, we did learn, we did learn that in 1875 Howard county was divided the north was called Elk County and the south half was designated as Chautauqua County. By making a trip to the Chautauqua court house she learned that all records pertaining to territory in Elk County were transferred to the Elk County court house at that time. So the first 34 years of records of Paw Paw were lost, however by consulting older residents, pupils and some teachers the Teachers Record has been completed back to 1886, and then on through 1963-64. The district was disorganized in 1964-65. School terms were taught here for 90 years.

The seven former teachers who were present were: Maude Lorance McBride who was the oldest in tenure of service since she taught there in 1909. Nettie Miller Morss was next since she taught there in 1916-17-18. The others were: Neva Simmons McLean, Nellie McNeal, Opal Criger Sheel, Coral Criger Mowry and Pearl Neese McCoskey. Each teacher told some of the happenings of their years of service. Eleven persons were present when Nettie Miller was the teacher.

As we checked the attendance we found that many who were here were descendants of residents who lived in the district in the early nineties. The Sam Mason family was represented by a grandson, Virgil Mason and wife of Wichita; from the Ezra Criger family the three daughters came: Mrs. Opal Sheel and husband of Moline, Mrs. Clarice Lillie, husband, several children and grandchildren of Eureka; and Mrs. Coral Criger Mowry of Little Rock, Arkansas. The McCoskey family had several representatives: Mrs. Sophia, Roy’s wife, with two grandchildren; Lewis and wife Pearl, a daughter and several grandchildren of Wichita; the Greenwood twins: Mrs. Hazel Preston and husband, Mrs. Stella DeWitt and husband. The Charley Hubbell family by a daughter: Mrs. Violet Johnson of Eureka. The Copeland family by four daughters and a granddaughter: Mrs. Chloe Hubble of Eureka, Mrs. Louise Grimes and husband of Arkansas City, Kansas, Mrs. Beulah Ferguson of Council Grove, Kansas, Mrs. Mildred Strode and husband of Augusta, Kansas, and Mrs. Madge Hebb and husband of Howard, Kansas. Four of the Robert Simmons family came: Mr. and Mrs. Russell Simmons of Severy, Kansas, Mrs. Neva McLain of Piedmont, Kansas, Mrs. Helen Seimears, a daughter and several grandchildren of Eureka and Mrs. Catherine Berry and husband of Eureka, Kansas. The High Miller family was represented by: Mrs. Nettie Morss and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Miller and Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Miller of Howard, Kansas. The Levi Knapp family had a granddaughter and twin-great-grandsons: Mrs. McCollum and sons.

Prizes were awarded as follows: to the teacher with the oldest year of service, Mrs. Maude Lorance McBride; to the person with the earliest year of attendance, Mr. Roy Miller; to the person who came the farthest, Mrs. Pearl Lewis, Tucson, Arizona. The two most authentic costumes of 100 years ago: Mr. Roy Miller and his sister, Mrs. Nettie Morss.

We found that the oldest person living in the county that had attended this school is Mrs. Gertie Simpson Criger who is 88 years of age and her years of attendance were 1890-1896. She is now living at Twilight Manor.

Mr. Minard Monical was reelected as general chairman for 1974 with Mrs. Don Jackson as secretary treasurer.

The names listed below are links to obituaries of former associates of the Paw Paw School District, click on the name to read the obituary.

ALLISON, Carl Edwin (Student)

ARMSTRONG, Mabel Alvira (nee Miller)(Student)

BARRIER, Catherine (nee Simmons)(Student)

BAUGHMAN, Robert G. "Bob" (Student)

BUFFALOW, Gordon R. (Student)

CARTER, James A. (School Board)

COPELAND, Horace M. (Student)

FOX, John Charles (School Board)

FOX, Melvin Gene (Student)

HOSKINSON, Joan (nee Smith)(Student)

HUBBELL, Rosa E. (nee Sours)(Student)

JACKSON, Donald (School Board)

JACOBS, Richard Paul (Student and School Board)

KNAPP, Darrell E. (Student)

LUKE, Robert E. (Student)

MCCOSKEY, Pearl (nee Reese)(Teacher)

MCCOY, Phyllis May (nee McCoskey)(Student)

MONICAL, Calvin (School Board)

MONICAL, Minard Wayne (Student)

MURPHY, Johnnie Emerald (School Board)

MURPHY, Robert Dean (Student)

MYERS, Dorothy (nee Sims)(Student)

PETERSON, Dennis M. (Student)

PRESTON, Orvan Edward(Student)

SHEEL, Eldon L.(Student)

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