It has been a long journey, but the physical restoration of the Oak Grove one-room schoolhouse in southeast Neosho county is now complete. Oak Grove is located about 7-1/2 miles northeast of the city of Parsons.
Research has revealed that Oak Grove was more than the average one-room schoolhouse. Due to its historic past, Oak Grove has been listed on both the Kansas and National Historic Sites Registers. Oak Grove was built out of local sandstone in 1877 – but it was first established as a log structure in 1867. No, the school is not a large fort, nor the site of an old battlefield. Rather, it is something more significant. Oak Grove stands as a symbol of the mortar of American courage and independence. Oak Grove was built on the Osage Trail, the route that thousands of migrating settlers followed into Kansas after the Civil War. When you stand in front of the Oak Grove schoolhouse, you stand upon the same route traveled and frequented by these determined pioneers.
This October 14th and 15th we will hold an open house at Oak Grove for the SE Kansas community to come and take a look at this restored gem of Kansas history. The available open house dates and times are:
Friday evening, Oct. 14, 5-7pm
Saturday morning, Oct. 15, 9-11am
Saturday afternoon, Oct. 15, 1-3pm
The go-forward plan for Oak Grove is to offer a program to local area elementary schools where children can learn about Kansas history by stepping back in time to 1877.
For those familiar with Little House on the Prairie, Oak Grove has a unique connection to the Ingalls family and their travels to Kansas during the years of 1869-1871. Extensive research has established a great likelihood that the event described in chapter two (“Crossing the Creek”) of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s third novel took place on the Neosho River just a short distance east of Oak Grove – and the Ingalls family would have passed the front door of the original log cabin school on their way down to the river.
As a highlight to that connection, actress Wendi Lou Lee (Baby Grace) from the Little House on the Prairie TV series will be in attendance at the Oak Grove open house sessions and will re-tell the story of the family crossing the river. We will also have drawings for FREE copies of Little House on the Prairie (vol. 3) autographed by Wendi!
So if you happen to be in the area, come visit and help us celebrate the restoration of this wonderful landmark of SE Kansas history!
(Sponsored by the Oak Grove School Historical Society, a 501-c3 charity organization, a member of the Parsons Area Community Foundation.)