The first building erected for the special purpose of a school for the instruction of youth, was a rude log house, which stood within the limits of what is now Forbes Township, in the northwest quarter of section 7, township 59, range 37, on a farm adjoining the east boundary line of Lewis Township, and now (1882) owned by John Stephenson, and about three miles southeast of the site of the present town of Oregon.
This building was put up in the spring of 1840, by the residents of the neighborhood, and was completed in the course of one day, each man appearing on the appointed morning with his logs and whatever other material he was assigned to bring. The original structure, which was afterwards slightly improved, was necessarily of the rudest description. Benches were extemporized from puncheons split from linden logs; the floor was of similar material and construction. Greased paper, in the long, narrow aperture created by the removal of a log from the wall of the building for the purpose of affording a window, supplied the absence of glass.
The house was eighteen feet square. The first teacher to, exercise his vocation in this primitive temple of the muses was Gilbert Ray; then a man by the name of Scoville. He was shortly after succeeded by another by the name of John Worley, from Indiana.
Among the pupils who first attended this school were Elias and Cassandra Davidson, Henry, Sarah and Milton Russel, children of the pioneer, John Russel, who died in 1861; Henry and Eliza Sterritt, children who died in 1846, and James and Mike Stephenson, children of William Stephenson, Sr., who died in the early part of the winter of 1841. The site of this pioneer structure, which was torn down in 1846, still betrays an unmistakable relic of its existence in the debris of a long-fallen chimney of ponderous stone, as well as the occasional presence of a rock of comparatively larger dimensions which probably served to underpin the corner of this ancient and long extinguished structure, amid whose former area grew, in wild luxuriance, the hazel bush, the tall weeds and wild flowers which, in their rocky neighborhood, blossom and wither in safe exemption from the farmer's plow-share.
Source: "History of Holt and Atchison County, 1882"; Transcribed by Karyn, 2016