On January 25, 1954, Payne School opened its doors to students for the first time. The school sat on the corner of Wheeler (now Harry Street) and Edwards. It was named for David L. Payne, a member of the Kansas Legislature and one of the figures in the opening of the Oklahoma Territory.
David Lewis Payne was born on December 30, 1836, in Fairmount, Indiana. His mother, who was a first cousin of Davy Crockett, named her newborn son, Davy.
He is considered to be the “Father of Oklahoma” for his work in opening the state to settlement.
In 1859, David Payne ventured west alongside his brother Jack and found a new home in Brown County, Kansas. Soon, Captain Payne found himself caught up in the war that unfolded in Kansas and Missouri between 1859 and 1860.
Then, in 1861, as the Civil War broke out, Payne joined the 4th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. He served from August 1861 to August 1864 as a private in Company F. The 4th Infantry was consolidated with the 3rd Kansas Infantry into the 10th infantry. Payne would later be Captain and commanding officer of Company F, 10th Kansas Infantry.
After the war, David Payne spent an additional four years under the command of Gen. George Custer, fighting his way through Kansas and Colorado. Just before he left the military, Gen. Custer offered him a raise to aid the fight in Montana.
But David turned it down and went back to Wichita, where he crossed paths with Rachel Anna Haines. They hit it off and became common law partners. According to findagrave.com, “they decided to postpone their marriage until after they both had made homestead claims in Oklahoma—so they could obtain twice the amount of land that a married couple was allowed to settle.”
In 1870, Payne once again secured a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. Along with his legislative duties, he served as Postmaster of Fort Leavenworth and served two terms as Sergeant-at-Arms in the Kansas Senate. Additionally, Payne worked as an assistant to the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives in 1875 and 1879.
Sadly, on November 28, 1884, Payne passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 47.
Less than five years after his death, the territory he fought so hard for finally opened.
Interesting side note, his family decided to relocate his remains to Stillwater, Oklahoma, in Payne County (which was named after him). They erected a monument in his honor, paying tribute to his legacy, a whole 110 years later.
Rachel, his common law wife died on May 12, 1912. She is buried in Portland Oregon.
A major addition in 1961 added seven classrooms to the school, a multipurpose room, library, special activities room, office area and kitchen.
Somewhere in the school’s history, my husband, Jeremy, attended Payne Elementary.
The 2000 bond issues brought four new classrooms and a student support area, and expanded library. The dedication was held April 11, 2006.