John Byers Heffelfinger

JOHN BYERS HEFFELFINGER, superintendent of city schools at Arkansas City, is a Kansas educator of wide and diversified experience and exceptional attainments. He began teaching in country schools when a boy and since completing his college course has given his best thought and practically all his time to the profession. Mr. Heffelfinger was vice president of the Kansas State Teachers' Association in 1912, and in 1916 was president of the Southern Kansas Teachers' Association.

The Heffelfinger family in America produced a number of noteworthy men. Mr. Heffelfinger is of German origin, though his people came to Pennsylvania about the middle of the seventeenth century. The grandfather spent his life as a farmer in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.

It was in Cumberland County, at Newburgh, that John Byers Heffelfinger was born July 25, 1882. His father, W. P. Heffelfinger, who now resides at Effingham, Kansas, was born in the same county March 3, 1841, grew up and married there, and was also a school teacher for a number of years. He taught at Newville, Pennsylvania, and at other localities in Cumberland County, and after removing to Effingham, Kansas, in 1886 he continued his professional work for a few years. He subsequently took up farming, served for a number of years as police judge at Effingham and is now retired. He is a democrat, has been almost a lifelong member of the Methodist Church, and has served as steward. For twenty years he has been clerk of the local camp of the Modern Woodmen of America. W. P. Heffelfinger married Elizabeth Anna Byers. She was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, March 4, 1841, and died at Effingham, Kansas, February 2, 1914. There were nine children: Agnew, a farmer at Texarkana, Arkansas; Harry, a farmer at Effingham, Kansas; Clara, wife of C. O. Smith, a grain, feed and coal merchant at St. Joseph, Missouri; Nora, unmarried and living at Kirkwood, Illinois; Mabel, who lives at Effingham, Kansas; Stewart, a farmer and present county commissioner at Effingham; Blanche, wife of J. R. Snyder, a farmer at Farmington, Kansas; John B., who was the eighth in this large family; and Elva, wife of T. R. Hickerson, a resident of Kansas City, Missouri.

Mr. Heffelfinger was four years of age when brought to Kansas, attended the local schools at Effingham, and in 1899 graduated from the Atchison County High School. The following four years he spent as a teacher in the rural districts of Atchison County. Entering Baker University in 1903 he continued his course there until graduating A. B. in 1907. While at Baker he became a member of the Kappa Sigma college fraternity. Mr. Heffelfinger has been a constant student, both in technical and special subjects and on all matters pertaining to the advancement and progress of his profession. By summer work in the University of Wisconsin he has been preparing as a candidate for the Master of Arts degree, which in regular course will be given him in 1918. Besides other professional associations he is a member of the National Education Association.

In 1907 Mr. Heffelfinger became assistant principal of the Chase County High School at Cottonwood Falls. After two years there he was made principal of the high school at El Dorado, and served three years as principal and three years as superintendent of schools. He took charge of the public school system of Arkansas City as superintendent in 1915. This is one of the large school districts of the state. Under his supervision are seven schools, a staff of sixty-three teachers, and an enrollment of 2,100 scholars.

Mr. Heffelfinger is an independent republican in politics. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, belongs to Effingham Camp No. 706, Modern Woodmen of America; Knights and Ladies of Security at Effingham, and Zeredatha Lodge No. 80, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Cottonwood Falls. Besides his home at 501 North Second Street he has a half interest in a farm of 251 acres in Franklin County, Kansas.

Mr. Heffelfinger was married at Baldwin, Kansas, in 1908, to Miss Lucile Williams Parmenter, a native of Kansas and a daughter of Dr. C. S. and Anna (Williams) Parmenter. Dr. C. S. Parmenter, Ph. D., is vice president of Baker University. Mr. and Mrs. Heffelfinger have one daughter, Elizabeth Lucile, born January 7, 1912.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Donny Elkins & Adrienne Kress, students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 15, 1999

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