The Keith County Historical Society
School District #7
School District # 7 was located five miles south of Roscoe, Nebraska. A county school that had its beginning in a soddy in the early 1880's. The sod school house was not only used for school but other gatherings in the community. St. John's Lutheran Church held some of their services, in fact, it was the only meeting place in the community.
This community consisted of the following families, Rinehart, and August Geisert, John Reidel, Fred Hansmeier, Barton Allen, John Stander, Will Most, Conrad and Theodore Elmshaeuser.
In 1902, a new school house was built, as the old soddy was damaged by cattle, who gored holes in the walls so that snakes got into the room, and also was not weather proof. Many programs were held in the new building-box socials and patriotic plays and elections, especially during the First World War, which were the highlights.
Many changes have taken place since then. This frame school house was replaced by a larger building, which was a Mennonite Church located about six miles southeast of District 7. This move was the result of an increase in student, and other community improvements.Also two teachers were employed to take care of the overflow of students.
In 1916 this old frame school house was put up for auction and sold to Emil Elmshaeuser who bought it for historical keepsake and records. It was then purchased by The Keith County Historical Society and placed next to the Mansion on the Hill with funding provided by Clarice Goodall.
Mrs. Clarice Goodall was interested in preserving a country school and wondered about getting hold of the oldest country school house, and it became known that District #7 was that one. Most of the original furnishings and school accessories are still in the school. Early teachers were usually single women, although a few men also taught at District 7. During the school year they boarded with district families , frequently with the Elmshaeuser family.
Student's duties included bringing in coal for the stove from the barn located behind the school. They would also dust chalkboard erasers on an outside wall. The first stove was located up by the teacher's desk. Later the stove was moved to the center of the school building.
Classes were held 9:00- 12:00 and 1:00- 4:00 with a fifteen minute recess both morning and afternoon. Lessons included arithmetic, geography, history, reading, physiology, and penmanship. A pen dipped in ink was used for writing.
During its its earliest years District 7 taxpayers would pay only seven months salary to their school teachers. Therefore the students had less schooling. When Ann Gabel was hired in the fall of 1917, Leonard Elmhaeuser's father asked for and was granted permission to use the school books and building for an additional month if he paid Miss Gabel's extra wages himself.
If students misbehaved, sometimes as punishment they would be asked to draw a chalk circle on the blackboard and then stand with their nose pressed in that circle. Students had an annual Christmas Program, and other programs weather spring or fall. A black curtain was hung on a wire across the front of the room. Students recited and sang for parents and neighbors.
Often box suppers were held after the programs. The ladies decorated a box which they filled with such delicacies as fried chicken and pie. These were auctioned with the gentleman paying $3 to $10 per box. Monies raised were use to buy items for the school such as a wall clock or a globe. During the First World War there was some criticism because there was no American flag flying outside the school. Money was raised and a flagpole was put up in 1919.
District # 7 continued for many years as a school for country kids. It closed its doors in 2003 ending over 100 years of education at this location.