The first school established in Russell County, was a private school in the town of Russell, in July 1871. It was supported by the colonists who located at Russell in April of that year. This school was kept in a small frame building, erected by the colonists for school purposes. It was large enough to accommodate all the pupils there were to attend, because, while the colony numbered about seventy souls, only five families came with it, and only two of these had children of school age. Of this little school Mrs. Annas, wife of Rev. A. H. Annas, was the first teacher. Shortly after this, the colony that had located at Bunker Hill, opened a school, and from this small beginning the school interests of the county have developed until now, 1883, there are sixty-two organized school districts in the county. The report of the County Superintendent, made to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, for the year ending July 31, 1882, shows the school population of the county to have been 2,132. In this number are included all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years. These were divided according to sex into 1,106 males, and 1,026 females. The total number of pupils enrolled was 1,186, of which 626 were males and 560 females. Of these, the average daily attendance at school was 680, the male average being 331, and the female 349. The average salary paid male teachers was $29 per month, and female $23. The number of persons examined during the year was 57, and a corresponding number of certificates were granted, classified as follows: First Class, 2; Second Class, 31; Third Class, 24. Scarcely any of the school grounds are enclosed, but the schools are, mostly, well supplied with globes, maps and charts, and well seated and furnished. There is nothing that commands more attention than the school interests, and while the schools are generally small, teachers are reasonably well compensated for their labor. Besides the public schools in the county, there are three private schools that have an average attendance of fifty-three pupils. The total school bonded indebtedness of the county is $13,469.87, and the school property is valued at $40,000.
The receipts from all sources, during the year, including the balance on hand July 31, 1881, was $12,946.67, and the expenditures amounted to $11,425.61, leaving a balance in the hands of district treasurers on July 31, 1882, of $1,521.06.
While there are sixty-two organized school districts in the county, there are only fifty-four school buildings, of which twenty-seven are stone, eighteen frame and [nine?] are set as temporary. Some of the latter are log, some sod, and some, part stone and part sod.
There are, virtually, no manufacturing establishments in the county except flouring-mills. Of these there are five, one at Russell, built by Ames, Chisholm & King in 1875. It is quite a large stone mill and is operated by steam-power. The mill is valued at $25,000.
The next mill was erected in the county in 1878, by Edgar Nichols, and is located on the Smoky, about five miles south of Bunker Hill. It is a small water mill, and was put up at a cost of about $6,000.
The Fairport Mills were the next erected, and these were built in 1879, by Knight & Bradshaw. The mills are operated by both steam and waterpower. They are located on the Saline River, about twelve miles northwest of Russell. The building is of stone, three stories high, with a basement, and was put up at a cost of about $12,000.
In 1882 Moore & Sons put up a fine stone flouring-mill at Bunker Hill, at a cost of $18,000. It is operated by steam-power. The Farmers’ Mill was also built in 1882, by L. D. Smith & Son. It is three stories high, the two lower ones being stone and the upper one frame. This mill is located on the Smoky, about three-fourths of a mile from the mouth of Big Creek, and ten miles southwest of Russell.
The only other manufacturing establishment of any kind in the county is Hilder’s Broom Factory at Russell. It is not very extensive, but gives employment to three or four hands, and besides supplying the Russell market, ships a great many brooms to other portions of the county and adjoining counties.
Source: Russell County, History of the State of Kansas, 1883.