The land was barely settled when a group of people met to discuss plans to establish a school. In order to educate the increasing population of Lancaster County, rural pioneer schools were organized. Many one room building were built so that hopefully, no child had to walk more than 3 miles to school.
Schools were financed by local districts, because states didn't levy taxes. In the early days of settlements, schools were financed by individual subscription. A family might pay $1 to $1.50 per month for a five month school year. A teacher who was fortunate might get a dollar a day. By 1900, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa had the highest literacy rate in the nation.
Many of the first teachers were teenage girls, but there were some male teachers. Teachers were often boarded in some of the students homes.
Most of the materials were provided by the parents, often these were a black board and books. Books often were a Bible, hymnal, almanac, and a dictionary. Subjects stressed were reading, writing, arithmetic, U.S. history and geography.
The number of Class 1 (country schools) has been steadily dropping since the early 1900s, due in part to fewer farmers and smaller districts. The numbers dropped from 142 districts in 1914 to 1919 to 17 in 1991. The majority of the districts dissolved to join with K-12 districts and those still in operation have gone from K-8 system to K-6 grade school.