Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918


William Aaron Brandenburg

WILLIAM AARON BRANDENBURG as president of the Pittsburg Manual Training Normal School, has one of the most important positions in the Kansas educational field. While he has been identified with educational affairs in this state only a few years, that time has sufficed to indicate his broad qualifications and his unusual ability as a teacher and administrator. Mr. Brandenburg was formerly superintendent of schools of Oklahoma City and was also well known as a leader in school work in his native state of Iowa.

He was born in Clayton County, Iowa, October 10, 1869. His ancestry originally had its seat in Berlin, Germany. His great-great-grandfather emigrated in colonial days from Germany and settled in Maryland. Mr. Brandenburg's father Francis Marion Brandenburg was born in the State of Ohio, October 6, 1846. He was reared in McLean County, Illinois, followed farming all his life, and in 1906 retired from the farm and lived at Des Moines, Iowa. He was never a resident of Kansas, but died while on a visit to his son in Pittsburg on April 2, 1916. Politically he was a democrat. He belonged to the Grangers' organization and for many years was an elder in the Christian Church. He was married in Clayton County, Iowa, to Enfield Maxwell, who was born in Clayton County, Iowa, in June, 1844, and is now living at Des Moines. Their children were: William A.; Walter E., who is pastor of the First Christian Church at Parsons, Kansas; A. W., a farmer in Clayton County, Iowa; Dr. George C., who is a member of the faculty of Purdue University, at Lafayette, Indiana; Amy, wife of Henry Carmichael, a farmer in Clayton County; Mrs. Laura Christensen, whose husband is foreman in the Newbury Nursery at Mitchell, South Dakota.

William A. Brandenburg grew up on a farm in Clayton County, Iowa, attended the public schools there and the high school at Volga, and for a year and a half taught in the rural schools of his native county and for two and a half years was assistant superintendent at Volga. His ambition from the start was to get a higher education, and in 1895 he entered Drake University at Des Moines, where he completed the course leading to the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. On graduating in 1900 he accepted the position of superintendent of the Park Avenue School of Des Moines, where he remained two years. He was then superintendent for three years of the Capital Park School in Des Moines, and from 1905 to 1910 was superintendent of the public school system of Mason City, Iowa.

Since then his active work in the educational field has been in the Southwest. In January, 1910, he was unanimously elected superintendent of the public schools of Oklahoma City, which position he held until August, 1913, when without formal application he was called to the presidency of the State Manual Training Normal at Pittsburg, Kansas, and has since been its able executive.

From 1911 to 1913 Mr. Brandenburg was a member of the State Board of Education in Oklahoma. During the summers of 1903-04-05 he taught in the department of education in the Drake University at Des Moines. He is a member of the National Educational Association, the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial and Vocational Education, and a member of the National Educational Council. Politically Mr. Brandenburg is an independent. When only twenty-two years of age he was elected justice of the peace in Sperry Township in his native county in Iowa on the democratic ticket. He is an elder in the Christian Church and fraternally is a member of Pittsburg Lodge, No. 187 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Pittsburg Chapter, No. 58, Royal Arch Masons, Pittsburg Commandery, No. 29, Knights Templar, Mirza Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Pittsburg, belongs to the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America at Mason City, Iowa, and the Brotherhood of American Yeomen at Des Moines.

On June 22, 1893, at Volga, Iowa, he married Miss Alta Penfield, a daughter of William A. and Lucy A. (Chapman) Penfield. Both her parents are now deceased. Her father was a merchant. Lola, the oldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Brandenburg, is a graduate of the Pittsburg Manual Training Normal School with the degree Bachelor of Science and is now a teacher in the Pittsburg High School. Amy is a sophomore in the Manual Training Normal School. Merrill is in the senior class of the Normal High School, while Harold is a high school freshman, Helen is in the third grade of the grammar school, and William A. Jr., in the first grade.


Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1989-1990 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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