The spirit of public education ;3 one of the chief characteristics of the people who live in Kansas. The soil of the land may be richer in some places than in others; in matter of rainfall the "short grass" districts of the western part of the State may not compare with the more favored eastern section; but in matters pertaining to the education of their children the people maintain a uniformity of sentiment, and everywhere the same strong enthusiasm uninterruptedly prevails. Persons are sometimes heard complaining of public expenses of various kinds; but there is one item concerning which a murmur is never heard: The public school is absolutely immune; it is not subjected to the ordeal of rigid investigation such as is often made into other matters of public concern. It is the pride of the people.
Cherokee County has 120 public schools, outside of the cities. There are 14 schools in the cities of the county, besides the County High School at Columbus. All told, there are 135 schools in the county, as shown by the county superintendent's report, for the school year 1903-04. These are distributed uniformly over the county, so that not a community within its borders can be found without a school house, well furnished and under the charge of an industrious, well qualified teacher.
Columbus has three school buildings and 13 teachers. O. C. Ecke is the superintendent. The teachers are: R. D. Jones, S. A. Mentzer, Clara Elliott, Hattie Colvin, Bessie Furness, Ruth Kenworthy, F. W. Peterson, Mabel Atkins, Etta Staton, Lizzie G. Adams, Gertrude Lacock and George E. Rogers. Formerly, the city maintained a High School whose graduates were admitted to the State University; but since the establishment of the County High School, the City High School was set aside.
Galena has five school buildings, and the School Board will soon complete a High School building, at a cost of $20,000, which, when completed, will be the second best building in the county, ranking next to the County High School at Columbus. J. A. Higdon is superintendent of the Galena schools, and the following are the teachers: F. H. Barbee, principal of the High School; Rebecca Hunter, Lucile Goodwin, Mattie Burkholder, Lucy Vest, Rhoda Bowers, Emma Shivel, Wilhelmina Scheulin, Clara Crosson, L. J. Pickering, Marguerite Miller, Victoria Bunch, Pearl Garrison, Jessie Ditson, Annetta Beals, Gertrude Anderson, Flora Hubbard, Sarah Walkenshaw, Alma Carpenter, Eva Orr, Juliette Hunter, Elsie Watkins, Lena Bushorr and Laura Person.
Baxter Springs has one large school building and eight teachers. T. B. Mosher is the superintendent, and the teachers are: Daisy Catlett, Cora Tyndall, Nellie Stewart, Pearl Masters, Nellie Williams, Mattie L. Moore and William Martin. The rapid growth of the city will make it necessary, within the coming two years, to provide larger facilities.
Weir City has two buildings and 17 teachers. George B. Deem is the superintendent, and the teachers are: Anna White, Mary Brown, Lizzie Beatty, Martha Bonnett, Anna Fanna, Della French, Luella Gager, Maud Gager, Mamie Rodda, Arthur Clark, Sallie Robertson, Iva Haney, Minnie Anderson, Lizzie Robson and W. P. Cowen.
Scammon has one large building and eight teachers. The principal of the last year was S. N. Montgomery, and the teachers were: M. J. Kane, Nellie Mitchell, Mary Williamson, Libbie Reno, Myrtle Hunsaker, Maggie Dunn and Lulu Newton.
Empire City has one building and five teachers. Clinton Wright is principal, and the teachers are: Lillian Balch, Eura Piper, Myrtle Hickman and Pauline Reeves.
Mineral City has one building and six teachers. J. A. Knox is principal, and he is assisted by the following teachers: Emma Hunker, Ada Kenny, Nellie Gibbs, Pearl M. Wiggins and Lillian White.
The Cherokee County High School building was erected at Columbus, in the year 1900, at a cost of about $18,000. The High School Board recently contracted for the erection of an addition which will cost, when finished and furnished about $13,000. A manual training department will be added when the new building is ready.
The attendance at the County High School, the first year, was more than 200. For the school year 1903-04, the attendance was 260. The school has turned out 102 graduates and a good number of them have entered the State University, being admitted to the sophomore year. It is expected that the County High School, for the coming year, will have 350 students, almost all from Cherokee County. C. S. Bowman has been principal of the school since its founding, and he has been chosen by the board for the year 1904-05. The following are the other teachers: S. W. Black, M. L. Catlett, Catherine Denwith, Albert Mulliken, Ada Baker, Mr. Bordeau and Florence Adams. The arrangement with the Board is for Miss Adams to take charge of the manual training school. The board of directors of the school are: Birdie Adams, county superintendent, ex officio president; Emerson Hull, secretary; J. Shoman, Walter Merrick, D. C. Walker, David Mackie, Jr., and T. J. Vest. The members of the board are elected by the people, for a term of two years.
It is probable that no other county in the State of Kansas shows more enthusiasm in the support and maintenance of its high schools than in Cherokee County; and, indeed, this may be said of the schools of the country districts, as is shown in the fact that for the school year 1903-04 the country schools had 6,062 pupils, an average of more than 53 pupils to the school. Some of the country schools have more than one teacher in each of them. Union District, No. 18, has two; Sherman District. No. 21, has two; Coal Valley District, No. 59, has three; Roseland District, No. 70, has two; Hallowell District, No. 76, has two; Crestline District, No. 78, has two: Union District No. 91, has two; Melrose District, No. 96, has two; Stipville District, No. 102, has two: Stone City District, No. 105, has two.
The excellent standard of the public schools of Cherokee County is due, mainly, to the uniformly strong interest which the people have taken in them, and to the watchful care of the school directors in the employment of teachers. As a rule, the moral and intellectual fitness of the teachers has been such as could not be called in question. Within recent years the teachers have beeen[sic] selected from among those educated in the county; and among them there has been maintained a spirit of hearty co-operation which can come only from a feeling of high, common interest in a cause which affects every condition of society. For the closer guarding of this interest. and for the maintenance of an effective standard of mental and moral fitness for the work, the county provides a normal school, held during the month of June, each year, which every teacher in the county is required to attend. In addition to this, and for the purpose of providing a sufficient number of teachers for the schools, a normal course is maintained in the County High School.
The uniformly good condition of the schoo ls of the county is also largely due to the fact that, as a rule, the county superintendents have been of good selection. A superintendent is chosen at the general election, every two years, and the salary of the office is such as to lead well qualified persons to seek it. The first county superintendent, elected in 1868, was D. R. Martin. Dr. Martin was one of the first settlers of the county. He was a physician, and lived in Lola township, where he died in 1902. T. S. Stockslager was elected superintendent in 1870. J. A. Murray was elected in 1872. H. W. Sandusky was elected superintendent in 1874. He was a teacher, and a man of scholarly attainments. E. M. Mason was elected in 1876, and as county superintendent he was succeeded by J. H. Baxter, now a resident of Columbus and one of the leading physicians of the county. Dr Baxter was elected superintendent in 1878. E. J. Leggett was elected superintendent in 1880. Sallie Hutsell, now Mrs. Sallie Hutsell Crane, was elected county superintendent in 1882, and again in 1884. She was the first woman that held the office, and the impress of her good work in the interest of public education has not ceased being felt in the county. M. F. Jarrett, then a prominent teacher in the county, was elected to the office in 1886, and again in 1888. He was thorough in his work, and during the four years of his service the condition of the schools throughout the county was constantly advanced. He is now living at Fort Scott, Kansas, and is one of the leading physicians of the State. In 1890 Anna Widman was chosen to discharge the duties of the office, and in 1892 she was re-elected. She put her best energies into the work, and at the end of her last term left the schools in increased favor among the people. E. O. Herod, then superintendent of the city schools of Galena, was elected superintendent in 1894. C. F. Cool was elected to the office in 1896, and again in 1898. In 1900 he was given a place on the faculty of the County High School, where he remained three years. In 1902, S. N. Montgomery, then superintendent of the city schools of Scammon, was elected county superintendent. He now has a position in the city schools of Los Angeles, California. Birdie Adams, who had been a prominent teacher in the county for many years, was elected superintendent in 1902. Under her management of the office the schools of the county have been improved, and she has done much toward bringing them to the high standard which they have attained.
Of Cherokee County are about such as may be found in any other part of the country where social conditions are the same. It is an age characterized by a tendency to join something. Few people now live apart from all social relationships. The scripture, "No man liveth to himself," is about literally fulfilled. Society is wonderfully "chopped up" in these days of hurry and feverish anxiety for reaching supposedly advantageous ends. Never was there a time when the great, middle classes of the people were so intermingled, in a social way, and so tempered through business considerations. The social feature in all these interminglings is merely incidental. It grows out of the business element, which has the controlling, directing influence. It is now rare for one to seek affiliation with a lodge or a society other than through the prompting of an ulterior motive for gaining some material advantage. Business interests go a long way in matters of this kind; but whether this may be said in a commendatory way or not, is questionable. It is no doubt true that the merging of classes, whether through selfish or unselfish motives, tends to emphasize the sentiment of brotherhood, for it broadens the views of the individual, and it enables him to note the measure of his influence among his fellows and thereby to determine his importance in the community where he lives. Anyhow, the tendency toward improved social conditions is manifest; it could scarcely be otherwise, for the mo ral fiber in society yet prevails, and there are few, if any, indications that it will not continue so.
Presumably, in a chapter dealing with matters of the kind now under consideration, the churches ought to have first mention, at least in a general way; for religion, professedly, has to do with thought of "the life that now is, and of that which is to come." But churches, lodges and societies, in the aspects which they all present to the unprejudiced observer, in these days of "the open door," have many things in common, and to some they "all look alike." It may not be said that there is less of spiritual-mindedness, nor that there is a want of positive power and influence for good; but it cannot be denied that, with some persons of a certain mental type, membership in a church or in a society is held as equivalent to so much capital stock in trade.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, in its numerical strength, is the leading denomination in Cherokee County, as well as in the whole State of Kansas. The influence which this denomination lent toward the movement for the emancipation of slavery in the United States, coupled with the political trend of public affairs since 1856, has led to a large gathering into its fold. In a state like Kansas it occupies practically every township, and it has a membership organization in every hamlet, village, town and city. Its oligarchial form of government, while not favorable to strict, republican principles, is found to be wonderfully efficient and generally satisfactory to the membership. Its zeal for progress in numerical force never lags, while the spiritual impulse cannot be surpassed by any other denomination. As has been noted elsewhere, the first Methodist Church organized in Cherokee County was effected through the efforts of Dr. C. C. McDowell and a few others, at his house in Shawnee township, about the year 1867. There were 19 members in the original organization, some of whom are yet living. From this small beginning the denomination has grown so rapidly that, at the present, it probably outnumbers all other religious denominations in the county, taken as a whole. In every hamlet, village, town and city of the conuty[sic] it has the strongest organization, and every organization has its regular minister constantly in superintendence of its affairs. There are no vacancies, as under its form of government none can exist for more than the shortest time.
The other denominations, in the order of their numerical strength, are about as follows: Christian, Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Brethren, Seventh-Day Adventists, Episcopalians, the Latter-Day Saints and the Quakers. Of each of these there are several church organizations in the county, some strong, others weak. All the denominations agree upon certain cardinal or fundamental principles of religion; but they are kept separate in their organizations and in their work mainly through difference of belief as to forms of doctrine on rites and ceremonies and in views concerning ecclesiastical government. An old settler, recently speaking of the difference in views and practices, between those of the present day and those of the pioneer times, said that much of the "old-time religion" felt and practiced by the people when the country was new, and when there was not so much strife for room and supremacy in denominational influence has died out and given place to the lifeless formalism characteristic of this lighter-minded age; that the people now go more for display and curiosity, when there is to be an assembly for public worship. Materialism, he claims, has taken large hold upon the minds and hearts of the people, due, it is perhaps safe to say, to the supposed prosperity in worldly things that is now pointed out with so much pride. The church organization is not now so reverentially regarded as formerly. Mental training has been pursued, too often to the neglect of the moral forces, and conviction does not rest so heavily upon the mind, as tou ching any particular religious obligation, for the widening of the intellectual range often prompts one to believe that he is able to "explain away" some of the teachings which formerly gave religious dogmas the force and terror of a supposed, immediate revelation. There is so much to detract the mind from the consideration of what are sometimes termed serious matters, and in the rush and hurry of our fresh, free and frightful civilization there is so little leisure and opportunity for giving attention to "weightier matters," that what might be called intentional neglect is due to the stress of the times in which we live. It is perhaps safe to say that the people, while apparently not so, are just as deeply religious as the generations which have gone on; the difference being that people now see things, from a different view-point; reading is more general and there is a wider and speedier exchange of thought upon any and all subjects of interest, mentally, morally and materially.
The work and influence which the religious denominations have done and exerted in Cherokee County cannot be gainsaid; and the importance of their work and influence, as now going on and yet to go on, cannot be set aside and treated as a matter of light concern; for while there remains a spiritual element in human nature, and there are doubts and questionings as to the purpose and destiny of our living, there will be some form of recognition of the relation which we sustain to the present life and to that which is yet to come.
The lodges or secret orders and institutions in Cherokee County are such as may be found elsewhere in the country. These may be divided into two classes. First, those which are designed exclusively for the exemplification of certain principles and virtues, the teachings of which are associated with events lying far back in the history of the world, and which have come down to us through the legendary lore of "ancient crafts," here and there leaving their "landmarks," recorded by the wayside of the historic path. The second class includes such lodges and orders as have their primary purpose in seeking out ways and means for maintaining a closer compact of mutual dependence, whereby, in case of the death of a member, the survivors will extend to the relatives of the deceased a kind of protection and support, in lieu of what the deceased would do, if yet living. This is broadly known as the practical principles of fraternity. These orders also have their social features which can scarcely be other than helpful, in many ways. They take the forms of amusement, afford opportunities for pleasant, restful recreation, give relief from the tedium of life, broaden acquaintance and serve in many other ways to brighten what might otherwise be a gloomy, cheerless existence.
Masonry is perhaps the oldest institution known to what are called the enlightened peoples of the earth. In some form. and always preserving certain traditions and enforcing certain virtues, it is known wherever the habitations of man have been pitched; and in whatever quarter of the globe it may be found, whether with the cultured and refined in the great cities of the world, or among those who dwell in tents on the sands of the desert, its life-roots may be traced back through the mists of antiquity to events which gave it character and purpose and a growth which seems to know no decay. Wherever man has gone to make his home on the frontier and to gather to him the conditions of intelligent, social life. thus forming communities and States, the principles of the institution find formal expression and lodges are formed. So it was in Cherokee County.
The first Masonic lodge chartered in Cherokee County was Baxter Springs Lodge. No. 71, chartered October 21, 1868. L. D. Brewster was the Master for the year 1903.
The second Masonic lodge chartered in the county was Prudence Lodge, No. 100, at Columbus, October 19, 1871. Elmer R. Pattyson was master f or the year 1903.
Galena Lodge, No. 194, was the third lodge chartered in the county, February 17, 1881. William A. Stone was master last year.
Black Diamond Lodge, No. 274, was chartered at Weir City, February 16, 1887. David B. White was master last year.
Scammon Lodge, No. 351, was chartered February 15, 1903. Ivan B. Grant was master for the year 1903.
There is a chapter of the Royal Arch Masons at Columbus, one at Galena and one at Baxter Springs.
The Order of the Eastern Star, an auxiliary to the institution of Masonry, has a lodge at each of the five places in the county where there is a Masonic lodge. It will be seen that the Odd Fellows have 12 lodges in the county, while the Masons have but five.
As to the time of the organization or chartering of the lodges of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in Cherokee County, I have no information at hand. The following lodges of the order, by numbers, are now in the county: Columbus, No. 387; Baxter Springs, No. 235; Galena, No. 195; Weir City, No. 183; Hallowell, No. 205; Crestline, No. 476; Skidmore, No. 552; Scammon, No. 397; Melrose, No. 408; Empire City, No. 148; Sherwin Junction, No. 411. The Order of Rebekah, woman's auxiliary to the Odd Fellows order, has two lodges at Columbus, and one each at the other places in the county where there is an Odd Fellows' lodge.
The Improved Order of Red Men have a few lodges in the county; but the information at hand enables me to give no particulars. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has but one lodge in the conuty[sic], and that at Galena. It has members living in different parts of the county.
The Knights of Pythias have lodges in the county at the following places: Columbus, Galena, Baxter Springs, Weir City, Scammon and Mineral City. Tancred Division, No. 3, Uniform Rank of the Knights of Pythias, was organized January 27, 1883. It was one of the best drilled divisions in the United States, and under the command of Capt. J. H. Abbott, now dead, it took first prize at a drill exhibit at New Orleans, a few years after the organization. It also took first prize at Louisville, Kentucky, Carthage, Missouri, and at Emporia, Kansas. The division has since discontinued its organization. The Rathbone Sisters is the woman's auxiliary to the Knight of Pythias; there are several lodges of the auxiliary in the county.
The Ancient Order of United Workmen is perhaps the oldest fraternal order in the county; and it has lodges as follows: Columbus. Galena, Baxter Springs, Weir City, Scammon and Mineral City. The Degree of Honor is the woman's auxiliary to the A. O. U. W.
The Modern Woodmen of America and the Woodmen of the World have lodges at the principal places in the county, and they have grown to be numerically strong.
Some of the other fraternal orders in the county are: Knights and Ladies of Security, Sons and Daughters of Justice and the Fraternal Aid. All of these orders or societies have done much good; and the home of many a deceased member, with the comforts needed for the family, has been made cheerful, as far as might be. through the thoughtful providence of the deceased, while yet living.
Within recent years literary clubs, composed solely of women, have been organized all over the country, and they have done much, in many ways, for the mental and social improvement of those who have entered them. Among these clubs we may mention the Shakespeare Club, the Home Culture Club and the Clio Club. These are all represented in Cherokee County. The general plan is to hold weekly meetings, through the fall, winter and spring months; and at these meetings a range of subjects is gone over, according to the literary purpose of the club and a specially prepared program for the year. These clubs have a State federation, whose meetings are held annually: and there are certain district federations which meet oftener. Literary clubs, such as are mentioned here, have organizations in Columbus, Galena, Baxter Springs, Weir City and Scammon. The Century Club has a strong organization at Galena, and the Sunshine Club is represented at several places.
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