The Sappington group of settlers was known to have an established school by 1811. This was a log cabin Methodist Church next to the Sappington Cemetery. Sappington school moved from there to another small cabin close to Grant's Farm. By the 1840's, a school was built on Baptist Church Road next to the Grateke property.
Concord Village had developed to such an extent that by 1843, they needed a school closer to home than Sappington School. Jack Sappington sold the School Board a half-acre of ground for $1. He said he would have gladly donated the land but felt it was important for the people to feel they owned the land. A small cabin was built west of the road named for the school, Concord School Road.
The Old Rock School
"The Old Rock School" was built on the corner of Gravois Road and Eddie and Park Road to replace the too-small Sappington School. In 1862, the land where Sappington School still is today was bought from Percy Sappington for $150. Before 1864, there had been a school of sorts for families around Weber Hill Road. It met in a cabin on Wenzel Sleisner's property (Kimker Lane). John Steinegger donated an acre of ground on Rott Road (Mrs. J.C. Sampson's) for a school. The 1931, History of Rott School describes it this way:
"In all probability it was built in the manner customary in that day. Houses then were put up in a single day at what was called a "Log Rollin", which, like the public auction, became a community holiday event. At night a dance usually closed pleasantly the day of hard work, providing the German boys and the American boys of the community found no differences of opinion to be decided by means of a fist, a thing that now and then marred such social enjoyment. The house was of the rudest sort, with pioneer style of shingles known as clapboards, split from cuts of an oak tree.
The windows were small and let in little light, The benches and desks were crude, home made and soon became well carved with initials by the boys pocket knives. Three books were in use: Felter's Arithmetic, The Blue Back Speller, and a songbook entitled Tara's Harp. Members of the first board were Jacob Rott and Martin Rott. This school served the district for 20 years. It may be of interest to know who some of the pupils of the log cabin days were: Kate, Mary, John, George, Frances and Sylvia Wahlkenhauser; William Maret; Gus and George Wahlig; Wm. Sappington; Jonas and Mattie Sappington; Ed and John Burgoyne; Mathias Bost; Caroline Brown: Barbara, Dora and Wenzel Sleisner; Philip, Eliza, Amelia and Rosie Maag, Ella, Annie and Charles Hewitt; Phillip, Emma and Louis Rott; Martin, Harry, William and Charles Frederick; Amelia, Louise, Theresa, Henry, Emma, John, Jacob, Fred, Margaret and Annie Rott. At the beginning the school offered such poor accommodations that young Nick Waterhout preferred to walk to Kirkwood where a better school was located".
Oswald Sturdy's children walked from their home on East Watson to the log cabin school. Gus Wahlig remembered with pride having helped raise the white oak logs for the cabin. This was at first a 1-room school and later was divided into 2 rooms and a hall. There was Franklin stove for warmth in the winter. A large key fit the lock on the door. Each evening the school would be locked and the key hung on a nail outside the door. (Nick Waterhout told General Grant using the shelter 1 winter night in 1866. He had been visiting friends in Kirkwood and was on his way back to Colonel Dent's home. His horse couldn't make it through the snowdrifts at the bottom of the steep hill and so he came back up to the school house, unlocked the door, built a fire and spent the night). Speaking of building fires, one of the older boys was paid $0.10 a day to come to school early and build a fire so that the school would be a little warmer for the smaller children. They would be grouped according to age and healthiness; the smaller and sickly 1 got the seats closest to the stove. Since there was no law requiring children to go to school, most of the groups got to go to school only when it was so bad outside that no farm work could be done. This meant you got to go to school 3 or 4 months of the year. You didn't advance by grade, but, by reader. It was a fortunate child that was allowed to continue school after the fourth reader; by that time, boys and girls were big enough to carry their share of the work load for the family. School was from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There was a water bucket with 1 dipper for everyone to share. Some of the children brought molasses buckets and had bread and molasses for lunch. There was a woodshed and outdoor toilet on the property.
Fenton School found its permanent home in 1873, when land was bought from Benjamin and Mary Rudder. Concord School moved across the street on Concord School Road to land purchased from George and Margaretta Glenz in 1873.
St. Louis City separated from St. Louis County in 1875, and our School Districts had to be renamed. Sunset Hills area was district #4.
In 1884, Jonah Sappington, John F. Hewitt and Charles Hewitt directed School District #4. They bought land belonging to John and Annie Burgoyne for $75. This land was at the junction of Rott Road and Watson Road. A 1-room white frame schoolhouse with a bell tower was built on the site and it was named Rott School. In the winter it was heated by a Franklin stove, their was a cistern outside for water (when it was dry someone was sent across the street to the Bost well for a bucket of water), the outside toilet, woodshed and corral were back of the school house.
One of the students remembered that if a boy could get to school early enough to not get caught, he would climb to the bell tower and hide until school started. Then he would ring the bell off and on all day. The teacher couldn't climb up after him so he just had to hide all day until the teacher left. The same student also remembered that there were willow trees along the Brush Creek; the boys would be sent to bring back the branches to be used to apply disciplinary action to the seat of the pants. All students had to watch the whipping. A boy got whipped for chewing tobacco in class, sticking girls with pins, dipping pigtails into ink wells, or anything else the teacher considered rude.
Grant School was formed in 1890, when Peter Gormely and William Sturdy, directors of District #2 bought an acre of land from Wm. and Josephine Kely on Grant Road and the Watson Road.
By the 1890's, there was quite a group of students at Rott School. Mr. John Berthold was the teacher in the late 1800's, and early 1900's. He lived in Kirkwood and would walk on good days, ride his horse on bad ones. In 1900, the Board of Directors were Gust Meyer, President, George Wahlig and Charles Rott, Directors. The County Superintendent was Will Andrea.
The students listed as attending the school session held from September 10, 1900 to April 30, 1901 are: Mr. John Berthold, Teacher, Abbie, Ethel, Mary, Nellie, and Roy Bacon, Peter Barton, Emelia and Rosie Becker, Annie and Maggie Bost, Eddie Bushmiller, John and Mabel Dowling, Harry, Louise and Willie Degrendele, Henry, Minnie and Yetta Frederick, Henry and Maggie Heidel, Sophie Helfert, Dora, George, Josephine and Lulu Hunckler, Willie Johnston, Emelia and Lulu Koch, Christie, Eveline, Freddie and Willie Koehler, Annie, Clara and Walter Longheinrich, Etta, James, Mamie and Mollie Meyer, John and Nellie Milne, John Nickels, Helen and Walter Rott, Clarence Sampson, Clara and Rose Schleisner, Louis Schulz, Eddie Schwentker, Charles and George Stethen, Charles and Freddie Wahlig, Mamie and Tillie Hunckler, Aggie, Annie, George and Louis Johnston, Katie Wahlig, Emelie and Laura Waterhout, Carl and Martin Weber. Directors of Rott School, District #4, 1906 were Gust Meyer, George Wahlig and Gust Wahlig. These men and the clerk for the district, Joseph Becker, ordered the building of another room to the school. In this new room they put a long stove that burned bigger, longer logs making the whole school much warmer. This was the first year that Miss Selma Kruse, daughter of the minister at St. Lucas Evangelical and Reformed Church, came to teach.
Miss Kruse taught at Rott School from 1906 to1916 when she married Mr. John Dressel. Their family has been active in education all these years. Mr. and Mrs. Dressel visited with the third class of Rott School in 1971; they remembered many things for them to record in their booklet. Selma Kruse started teaching with a course from the County Superintendent, Dr. Russell. Her salary was $43 a month. She taught English but spoke German. She lived with her parents in the parsonage of St. Lucas, Denny Road. From there she would walk to Rott School each pretty day. There were 2 ways to go. If she walked Denny to Robyn Road to Watson she would have to make stops along the way because of the very steep winding paths along Robyn Road. She said she would stop at Richards', Johns', Hunklers', or Landfathers' house on Robyn. This route was shorter but took as long because of the hill and poor trail. The other route took her along Watson Road past Rott's home. On baking day she would stop at the Rott home long enough to have a slice of freshly baked bread. The aroma would have told her way ahead of the house that they were baking because the Rott home had an outside oven. On bad days she would ride a horse or drive a buggy. It was the duty of the bigger boys at school to care for the horses. They would unsaddle them, feed and water them and put them in the corral for the day; when school was over they would saddle or hitch it up for the teacher. One thing both Mrs. Dressel and her students remembered was that someone on the board thought it was a good idea to cut a hole in the floor for ventilation. It was screened over. They all agreed that it made it hotter in the summer and much colder in the winter.
William Kraemer was on the Board of Directors in 1914, and through his efforts, every child had his own book. Other principals were Mr. Stanley Wallach, Mr. William Hilgert and Mrs. Roux.
In the summer of 1925, the third room or gymnasium was added to Rott School. The Directors were James Meyer, William DeGrendele and Louis Schulz. On August 24, 1929, the board purchased 2 additional acres from the ValHaus Realty Company for the site of the present school - just west of the white frame school house. A Bond Issue was voted to build a new school. The vote was for-50 against-0.
The Building Committee of W.A. Rowe, Andrew Waterhout and William Greenwald had to be changed when Mr. Waterhout and Mr. Greenwald resigned from the committee so they could personally oversee the building. New members were W.J. Flood and John Heutel. Board of Directors for 1930 were Harry D. Ford, Louis Schulz and Wenzel Sleisner. They appointed Don Russell Attorney, Robert F. Denny and Marcel Boulicault were named architects for the new school.
November 1, 1931 the new Rott School building was dedicated. Board members that year were Louis Schulz, Harry Ford and Wenzel Sleisner. PTA officers were Mrs. W. J. Flood, Mrs. Harry Menaugh, Miss Cora Meyer, Mr. Harry Menaugh, Mrs. J. Meyer and Mrs. H.D. Ford. This was a brick building with 3 rooms, an office and long hall upstairs, downstairs was an auditorium, kitchen, boiler room and inside rest rooms. Rott School was then District #68 of St. Louis County. Mrs Harrel was principal from 1928 to 1943. Mrs. Hilda Trautwein (Mrs. Erwin) was principal from 1943 to 1949.
The children of Rott School did not have public transportation until the late 1930's. There had to be a certain number of students in the district before we could receive state aid for transportation. Carrie Morris spear headed a campaign for a school bus, not just for Rott Elementary School but for our parochial students attending St. Peter's Catholic School and the high school students attending Kirkwood High School. There was some opposition to a bus. Mr. Kimker bragged about his mule being so smart that the children could ride it to school. Turn it around give it a swat and it would head back for the Kimker barn. Many of the students rode their family mule or horse to school even in the late 30's but many more had to walk from the far ends of the district. The question of the school bus had to be brought to a vote of the District. It passed and the first bus driver was the same bus driver that ran the bus route between Kirkwood and Jefferson Barracks every day, Everett Hagerdorn. Clarence Eime was one of the later drivers.
Rott School never had a kindergarten. The High School students of district #68 were sent to Kirkwood High School by the district; they paid all tuition for the students.
The school was becoming over crowded with children following World War II. The people of the District voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding Rott School and in 1948 there was an addition of a gymnasium and 2 rooms upstairs, 1 room downstairs. The addition was done so skillfully your have to look hard to see where the old and new bricks join.
The State of Missouri ordered a reorganization of school districts in 1949. At that time the elementary schools of Sappington, Concord, Fenton, Grant, Rott and Washington talked of forming a district. Washington decided to go with Mehlville and the other 5 schools formed District R-8. The 5 schools housed 850 students in 25 classrooms. The district covers and area of 23 square miles and lies in the 3 townships of Gravois, Bonhomme and Concord. There has been 31 Board members from 1949 to 1976. The first president of the Board was John Dressel. For 26 years at least 1 Board member has been from the Rott School area.
High School students had to use the basement and gymnasium of Sappington School for classrooms until Lindbergh High School was completed in 1952. Additions have been made in 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1960, and 1966 to the complex at 4900 South Lindbergh Boulevard. New elementary schools and additions to old buildings were necessary in the 50's and 60's as the school population exploded upward. Watson School, 1954, relieved crowding at Rott and Grant Schools. Dressel School, 1958; Crestwood School, 1959; Long School, 1960; Kennerly, 1961; the Middle School, 1963; and the Robert Sperreng Middle School in 1970 were added to the district. The School population dropped radically in the 70's; Grant School closed in 1972 and Rott School has been ordered closed by the end of the school year 1976.
When District R-8 was formed in 1949, Rott School had 6 teachers. The classes soon grew so large that the 8th grade class was sent to Sappington School. In 1966, with the concept of Middle School being tried for the first time in the state, Rott sent her 6th graders away. The 5th graders had to be sent to Fenton in 1967, 45 students were to many for 1 room, not to return until 1973.
Principals Over the Years
Principals serving Rott School from 1949-1976 were Mr. Erwin Trautwein 1949-1954; Mrs Elma Armistead 1955; Mr. Lowell Nelson; Mr. Carl Sartorius; Mr. Glenn Koehrer 1961-1963; Mr. Ned Day 1964-1965; Mrs. Mary Clayburn 1965-1974 and Mr. Arthur Huskey 1975-1976.
In September, 1976 all Rott School students will be transferred to Watson School, East Watson Road.
Other schools within Sunset Hills are Thomas Jefferson School, a college prep school founded in 1946 by Robin McCoy, Charles Merrill and Mr. Spring. It is located on the Meyer Estate at Lindbergh and Robyn Roads. The South County Technical High School, West Watson Road, and the General Motors Training Center on Lindbergh Boulevard.