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School History

Lowell Brune Elementary School was completed and opened in 2020. It consolidates the areas once served by Bethel Elementary School and White Church Elementary School. Here is a some historical backgrounds on both schools:

Bethel Elementary

Bethel was started by the White Church Town Company in 1887 (approximately 1/4 mile south of Leavenworth Road and 1/4 mile east of White Church).  The center of old Bethel was what we know today as 8st and Roswell.  Bethel was bounded on the North by Roswell Avenue, on the west by 83rd Street (formerly known as White Church Rd. and Gerding Rd.), on the east by 80th Street, and on the south by Georgia.  The train station was located at 81st and Leavenworth Road.  In the 1880’s there was a railroad, town hall, general store, blacksmith shop, wagon works, terra cotta works and residents.  The train station was at 81st and Leavenworth Rd.  (Mr. William Gregg and Mr. Donald Jones, Local Historians)

1931:  Bethel school district became a part of Washington Rural High School District #2 (Later Washington District #201).

1956:  Construction of new elementary school.  “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987

1964:  Addition of Kindergarten, library.  “Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987

1967:  Part of Unified School District #201 attached to Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools in January.

2001:  Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. Bethel was part of Phase I, which was completed in the summer of 2001.

2020: Bethel is closed, and student population area now goes to Lowell Brune Elementary School.

White Church Elementary

White Church Elementary is part of a Historical Site, which includes a church (just south or to the left of the school) built in the 1830s and a cemetery where a Delaware Chief Ketchum and family members are buried.  The pictures at your left are from 1906 and 1908.

“White Church, one of the earliest settlements in Wyandotte county, is located in the central portion on the Missouri Pacific R. R. 14 miles west of Kansas City. A Methodist mission was established on the present town site among the Delaware Indians in 1832 by Thomas Johnson. After Kansas was thrown open to white settlement a village sprang up at “the white church,” which has continued to be a prosperous community. It is the supplyand shipping point for a rich agricultural district by which it is surrounded, has general stores, express and telegraph facilities and rural free delivery from Bethel. The population in 1910 was 152.   (Page 905 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc…. / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub.Co. Chicago: 1912. 3 v. in 4.: front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.”)

Online Information – KC Planning & Zoning

History and Growth of Wyandotte County Educational System, Lewis D. Wiard, County Supt. of School Offices, 19 Sept 1963…” The first public school in rural Wyandotte County was White Church.  The building was an Indian Church and in 1869 it was converted into a school.  The first teacher was S. F. Bigham.  The pupils did not have desks, they sat on logs.  In 1887 or 1888 a two-story building was erected on the present site.  The first floor was for white children, the second floor for Negroes.” (Delaware Missions in Kansas)

Settlements

By general consent, Moses Grinter is awarded the priority among the early settlers of Wyandotte County. He located near where the station of Secundine afterward stood, in 1831. and lived there up to the time of his death, which occurred June 1, 1878.

The next white man to stop within the limits of Wyandotte County was Rev. Thomas Johnson, a Methodist minister. who established a mission school among the Delaware Indians, near “the white church.”

In April, 1837, Rev. John G. Pratt located upon Section 10, Town 30. Range 23. about sixteen miles west of Wyandotte City, where he still resides. He established a Baptist mission among the Delawares, published several hymn hooks in their language. and one of his sons married a daughter of Charles Journeycake’s, a well-known chief. He is now-the oldest settler in the county and the following account which he gives of the tribe is therefore of more than usual interest and value:

That part of the country on the north side of the Kansas River was first settled by the Delawares in 1829. They came from Ohio, and brought with them a knowledge of agriculture, and many of them habits of industry. They opened farms, built houses and cut out roads along the ridges and divides, also erecting a frame church at what is now the village of White Church. The population of the Delaware tribe when it first settled in Kansas, was 1,000. It was afterward reduced to 800. This was in consequence of contact with the wilder tribes, who were as hostile to the short-haired Indians as they were to the whites. Still the Delawares would venture out hunting buffalo and beaver, to be inevitably overcome and destroyed. Government finally forbade their leaving the reservation. The effect of this order was soon apparent in the steady increase of the tribe, so that when they removed in 1867, they numbered 1,160. The ruling chiefs from 1829 to 1867, were Ne-con-he-con, Qui-sha-to-what (Capt. John Ketchum), Nah-ko-mund (Capt. Anderson), Kock-a-to-wha (Sar-cox-ie), Charles Journeycake, Qua-con-now-ha (James Sacondine or Secundine), Ah-cah-chick (James Connor) and Capt. John Connor.”

(Officers, Wyandott Gazette, 17 July 1873 – David Taylor, S. F. Bigham and W. J. Reams)

Capt. John Ketchum, one of the most noted chiefs of the Delawares, died in August, 1857. He lived near White Church on the Lawrence road, and at the time of his death, which occurred at an advanced age, he was almost helpless. His funeral was attended by a large number of Indians, who came in their colored blankets and painted faces, carrying their guns. They were mounted on horseback, and as the procession slowly followed the remains of their chief along the windings of the forest road, they seemed truly the sorrowful survivors of a once powerful race.

Summary

“The first public school in rural Wyandotte County was White Church. The building was an Indian Church and in 1869 it was converted into a school. The first teacher was S. F. Bigham. The pupils did not have desks, they sat on logs. In 1887 or 1888 a two-story building was erected on the present site. The first floor was for white children, the second floor for Negroes.” (History and Growth of Wyandotte County Educational System , Lewis D. Wiard, County Supt. of School Offices, 19 Sept 1963″ – A 14-page document from the County Superintendent when the office was abolished.)

Larry Hancks, local Historian, suggests that the first White Church School was possibly begun in the early to mid-1840s.

Organization into school districts was begun by the Territorial Legislature in approximately 1858/59. One of the first County Superintendents was E. F. Heisler. Wyandott City (later Kansas City , Kansas) was organized as District #1; White Church was organized possibly around 1870 and was District #14. Please remember that school districts were not numbered by when the first begin but in the order they were organized by the County Superintendent. (Note: “The system of common school districts that county superintendents began organizing in 1858 did not long remain uniform as provided in the Constitution.  Weakness of the school district structure became evident as early as 1895, in which year there were 390 districts that did not maintain school.  In 1876, the Legislature authorized the organization of school districts by cities of the first and second class.   These districts were governed by boards of education who did share authority with an annual meeting, were highly autonomous, and operated outside the jurisdiction of county superintendents.” Kansas Educational Progress, 1858-1967,” by Adel Throckmorton, published by the Kansas State Dept of Instruction, June, 1967)

1873: (Officers, Wyandott Gazette , 17 July 1873 – David Taylor, S. F. Bigham and W. J. Reams)

June 1930:  White Church became a part of Rural High School District #2 when Welborn, Hazel Grove, White Church , Vance, Nearman and Pomeroy districts voted to consolidate for a rural high school geographically centrally located within a new rural consolidated district. This rural high school became known as Washington High School , located at 7340 Leavenworth Road , Kansas City , Kansas (still in operation in 2003). At a later date this district became USD 201 (Unified School District #201) and was consolidated with USD 500 (Kansas City , Kansas Public Schools) in January of 1967.

“Schools in KCKs in Years of Change, 1964-86,” by O. L. Plucker, Superintendent Emeritus, June, 1987 – 1950: Addition of classrooms; 1953: Classroom addition; 1964: Addition of multi-purpose room.

2001: Voters approved a proposed $120 million bond issue at the Municipal Election Tuesday (April 3, 2001) to air-condition schools, improve technology, and make other upgrades to schools and public libraries. White Church was part of Phase I, which was completed in the summer of 2001.

2020: White Church is closed, and student population area now goes to Lowell Brune Elementary School.