In Osage County: Rapp School, District No. 50, 1871-1962

The old Rapp schoolhouse is one of the few if not the only one-room eight-grade schoolhouses in Kansas that still has its original desk and textbooks. Because of its uniqueness, its location on the Santa Fe Trail, and the special place it has in the hearts of its neighbors and former students, it has been made a National and State Historic Site to be used as an education center where urban and suburban elementary classes can come to spend a day, where families can hold reunions, and where visitors can go beyond the nostalgia of the period 1929-1959 to experience the contributions made by one-room schools in our rural communities and to our society as a whole.

Graphic showing Osage County's location in northeast Kansas.The beautiful brick building and playground adjoins Rapp Cemetery, where many early family names may be found. During its early years, the schoolhouse, located five miles west of Osage City on U.S. Highway 56, was an integral part of the Rapp village, which was located along the Missouri Pacific railroad a couple miles east and south of the schoolhouse. The rural Rapp community consisted of about a dozen homes, railroad crossing, produce station, general store, lumberyard, blacksmith ship and stockyard. Only four of the former homes remain.

The community and the schoolhouse was named after C. J. Rapp who owned a large amount of land in the area.

Classes at Rapp School District No. 50 commenced in 1871 though the first teacher was hired in 1872. The last year classes were held in the schoolhouse was 1962.

The building is unique not only because of its straight and true red brick exterior but also because it has a full basement with windows, electricity pre-dating Rural Electrification, and a pump and sink.

The two-story bell tower is firm and the bell rings crystal clear. The building still has all of its original furnishings, including a teacher’s recitation, and student desks, cloak hooks and bucket-lunch cupboards, wall maps, counting sticks and books, dual-purpose sand table and piano.

A visit to the school and its south lawn playground is like taking a walk back to the first day of school in the early 1900s.

– Information from the Osage County Historical Society.


Memories of Rapp School

Torsten E. Isaacson – Attended 1944-1952

  • On nice days we ate lunch east of school under a couple of big trees south of driveway next to county road.
  • During bad weather we roller skated in the basement. We went around in a counter-clockwise direction. We all replaced the steel wheels quite often.
  • Dick, Lowell and Gary Lindbloom rode a horse to school during good weather, 3 miles.
  • We played a lot of softball. Duane Fredrickson knew the rules and was the organizer.
  • Paul, Jimmy, Janice and Tommy Colstrom walked to school in all types of weather. Most of the kids walked to school most of the time.
  • We were playing football and Duane Fredrickson broke his leg.
  • We played marbles just west of the front steps.
  • Marlene Fredrickson cut her right hip severely on a broken slipper slide.
  • Two basketball goals were added during my time in Rapp.
  • My teachers were Wilma Culver and Mabel Benton. Teachers were required to do all janitorial work in addition to teaching eight grades. Sometimes we were asked to add coal or carry out ashes. Somewhere I heard in the early 1950s teachers received a salary of $375-$400 per month.

The Rapp School Preservation Association oversees the country school. To schedule a class or an event at the school, call 785-528-3445. If you attended or taught at this school and have memories of it that you would like to share, e-mail them to  [email protected].

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This information was formerly published on Blue Skyways, a Web service of the Kansas State Library, by Kansas on the Net and John and Susan Howell. The Blue Skyways network was retired in 2014. Photo by Wayne White.


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