White Sands School near Sun City, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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White Sands School

White Sands School, just south and west of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo by Bonnie Garten Shaffer.
White Sands School, just south and west of Sun City, Kansas.
Photo by Bonnie (Garten) Shaffer, May 2006.

Here's a picture of the White Sands one-room school house near Sun City. With the assistance of Nate Massey, who told my brother and me how to get to it, we were able to locate it while at the Sun City reunion on the 27th.of May. I am amazed that it's still standing and in as good shape as it is after all these years!

I don't know just when the school closed - probably Nate will. At any rate, I remembered the school, which is just south and west of Sun City, from my childhood. My Aunt Mary Trotter taught school there at least one year while Uncle Frank was overseas in the war. I remember going to visit one day; I was no more than 4, as I started first grade when I was 5, so I don't recall much about it, only that I was thrilled to be able to "go to school" with Aunt Mary! By the way, she is still alive and turns either 89 or 90 this year! She lives in Wichita.

I spoke with Mary Ann Fittro Rose at the reunion in Sun City, and she told me that Aunt Mary had stayed with them while teaching at White Sands -- I never knew where she stayed!

According to what Nate told me Saturday, the original school was blown down in '28 or '29 and the kids who normally went to school there went into Sun City while the White Sands school was rebuilt.

- Email from Bonnie (Garten) Shaffer to Kim Fowles and Jerry Ferrin, 01 June 2006.

Email from Nate Massey to Kim Fowles:

The old White sand school house was located on the Wilmore road about a mile or so west of the Gyp Mine location. It got its name from the soil in that particular spot which is white silica sand and one time or another was considered for commercial development for processing into glass by the makers of either Mason or Ball glassworks.

I know of several authentic "dinosaur" bones that were unearthed in that area by people digging for fill sand.

The people I knew of in that area were Anderson Helton, his wife Lizzie and their two children that lived in a dug out cave about 300 or so yards norteast of the school house, Anderson made his living by trapping and a little wine making from the wild grapes and sand hill plums in that area, the children had to walk the 5 miles to Sun to school when White Sands didn't have a teacher.

August Kaminski lived in the first dwelling west of there, and Sylvester Wards, Wright West and whoever might have lived on the Delman Shaw place south of there are about the only ones I recall.

Grandad Joe Massey and Bill Shutts lived in a dugout cave southwest of the school location when they first came into the country and were cowboying, that would have been in the 1880's I think, Dad took J.R. and me to where his old cave was one time when we were about 7 to 10 years old.

Liecester King's wife taught there in 1942 while he was coach at Sun. I think there were only 3 or 4 students there then, possibly Arby Kellers had kids there as he eventually bought the property.

Dave or Lee might have more data on it, and know that Hope or Mim would.

Email from David Massey to Kim Fowles:

It's still standing, Kim. Just down the road west of the Gyp Co. entrance. It is on land that used to belong to Arby Keller. I suppose one of the kids has it now. That is the second White Sands building, the first one blew down or away in 36 or 37 and the Fittro, Melvin Keller kids and perhaps other families went to school in Sun while they were building the new building. The Hart kids: Velma (Basnett), Jim and Kent, the Melvin Keller kids Ernest, Elma, Emma, Everett, Esther, Eva, Ervin, Edith and perhaps some of the younger ones. Claude and Marion Freeman both went there. I don't remember just when it closed but noticed in some of the old school pictures that Mary Ann Fittro (Rose) was going to school at Sun in elementary school at least, perhaps earlier. David

Thanks to Bonnie (Garten) Shaffer for contributing the above information and photo to this web site!

Thanks to David Massey and Nate Massey for their comments, and to Kim Fowles for passing along their remarks.

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