The splendid educational system of Wyandotte county, which is the pride of every citizen, had its start with the old Missions among the Delawares, the Shawnees and the Wyandots, long before the white settlers began to establish their homes here. The Indians themselves were progressive, ever striving for that knowledge which, as Spencer suggests, should best fit them for "complete and perfect living."
The first free public school in Wyandotte county, or in the territory of Kansas for that matter, was opened July 1, 1844, and John McIntyre Armstrong was the teacher. The building was frame with double doors, and but a few years since stood on the east side of Fourth street, between State and Nebraska avenues in the Wyandotte part of Kansas City, Kansas. It was sometimes, but erroneously, called the Council House. Mr. Armstrong built it himself and commenced teaching on the date named. The council of the Wyandot Nation met in it during vacations, or at night. The expenses of building the school were met out of the fund secured by the Wyandot treaty of March, 1842. The school was managed by directors appointed by the council, the members of which were elected annually by the people. White children were admitted free. Mr. Armstrong taught until 1845, when he went to Washington as a legal representative of the nation, to prosecute their claims. The Rev. Mr. Cramer, of Indiana, succeeded him; then Robert Robitaille, chief of the nation; next the Rev. R. Parrott of Indiana. Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong taught there from December, 1847, to March, 1848. Afterwards Miss Anna H. Ladd, who came with the Wyandots in 1843, assisted. Mrs. Armstrong was teaching the school at the time of her husband's death, which occurred at Mansfield, Ohio. while on his way to Washington to prosecute Indian claims, in April, 1852. The school was closed in the old building April 16, 1852; resumed in Mrs. Armstrong's dining-room; removed the next winter to the Methodist Episcopal church three quarters of a mile west of her house, and left without a home when that structure was burned by incendiaries April 8, 1856. This is the history of the first free school ever taught in Kansas.
Soon after the first school opened, a school house was built near Mathew Mudeater's farm, and Mr. Armstrong, Mrs. S. R. Ladd and others taught it.
After the Civil war had been brought to a close, the people of the city of Wyandotte began to erect school houses and organize a system of public education. The first public school building was erected in 1867 on the corner of Sixth street and Kansas (now State) avenue. It was afterward used for colored pupils. The Central school building was erected the same year. In 1881 the city voted fifteen thousand dollars to build two new ward school houses, one on the site of the old colored school, and the other on Everett street between Fifth and Sixth streets. In the spring of 1882 the people voted fifteen thousand dollars additional to complete the two buildings mentioned, to build the one on Seventh street in the Fifth Ward and repair the Central school building. In 1872, before what is known as South Wyandotte was annexed to the city, a two story brick edifice was erected there at a cost of five thousand dollars. Wyandotte bad, therefore, five good brick school buildings. It cost at that time twelve thousand dollars to maintain her educational system, which was under the supervision of Prof. Porter Sherman, superintendent of schools. Twenty teachers were employed. The school population of Wyandotte was three thousand, of which a little less than one-half were in actual attendance.
Among the private educational establishments which were liberally patronized was the Wyandotte Academy, founded by Prof. O. C. Palmer, in September, 1878. By the spring of 1879 the attendance had so increased that he found it necessary to abandon temporary for permanent quarters. Accordingly, by the end of the following summer, a large two story brick structure, corner of Ann avenue and Seventh street was erected. There were two courses of study English and Classical - the former including, besides the common branches, bookkeeping, the science of government, critical study of authors, geometry, zoology, etc. Both sexes were admitted. The enrolment in September, 1882, was about one hundred and eighty, many of whom came from localities outside of the city and county. This academy, in which many men and women now living received their educational training above the grades, afterwards became a public high school and is now the Central school of Kansas City, Kansas, the old Central school having been razed to make way for the Carnegie library building.
Under the consolidation act of 1886 by which the cities at the mouth of the Kaw river were formed as one city under the name of Kansas City, Kansas, the schools of the city were organized with an enrolment of 3,643 pupils and a teaching force of 56 teachers. At the close of the school year 1909-10 the enrolment was 13,951. At the time this work goes to press the enrolment is over 14,000. The public schools of that city as they exist today are the result of twenty-five years of growth and development. It would doubtless be a surprise, if not a complete revelation, to the patrons and taxpayers of that city if they would take the opportunity to visit for a day their schools and school buildings.
The schools, teachers and buildings that are held in fond recollection by the adult population of the city today are no more to be found. Twenty-five years have made a great change in life and the form and manner of living. That period has made even a greater change in the methods of instruction, the course of study and the comfortable housing of the city schools. The schools of a quarter of a century ago were good schools. They were very simple in their course of study, were comparatively inexpensive and in a very large measure fulfilled the needs of the times. At the present time, in all the additional subjects of the course, music, drawing, language, literature, advanced mathematics, natural and physical sciences, commercial branches, manual training, domestic science, domestic art, physical culture, ethical instruction, medical inspection and compulsory attendance, the daily program in a cross section reveals all the important and necessary factors in the social, commercial and industrial life of the city.
A good, modern school system costs a great deal of money. It is a heavy investment by the taxpayers of the city - an investment in the lives of the boys and girls who are to be the men and women of tomorrow. In 1886 the cost per pupil enrolled in the city schools was $11.40 per year. In 1910, the cost per pupil was $24.06. In 1886 the maximum yearly salary paid for grade teachers was $440; the maximum yearly salary in 1910 was $720. The maximum yearly salary for high school teachers, in 1886, was $720; at the present time it is $1,395. In 1886 the expense of operating the schools was $41,533; in 1910, $318,267.71. In 1886 the average number of pupils per teacher, based on enrolment, was 66; at the close of 1910 the average number of pupils per teacher was 40. In 1886, 55 teachers were employed; at the present time, 402.
The first annual report of the schools of Kansas City, Kansas, gives the names of six teachers who at the present time are on the teaching force of the city. They are Lillie Babbitt, Lizzie Collins, Sadie Parsons, Kate Daniels, J. J. Lewis and M. E. Pearson. The only janitor remaining in the service is W. A. Maffitt, now of the Whittier school, then a janitor of the Wood, and now known as the Cooper school. In the twenty-five years, Kansas City, Kansas, has five superintendents of schools - John W. Ferguson, four years; Arvin S. Olin, three years; L. L. Hanks, five years; L. E. Wolfe, four years; M. E. Pearson, the present incumbent, nine years.
The High School was organized in the Riverview school building in 1886. with Dr. John Wherrell, principal. Two years later it was moved to the Palmer Academy building at the corner of Seventh and Ann. This is now known as the Central School building. In the fall of 1899 the High School was taken to its present location, Ninth and Minnesota avenue. The first principal was Dr. John Wherrell, followed in order by Eugene A. Meade, George E. Rose, W. C. McCroskey, J. M. Winslow and H. L. Miller, the present incumbent. In twenty-four years 1,219 have graduated from this school.
Sumner High School (col.) was organized in 1905, with J. E. Patterson. who served three years, as its first principal. J. M. Marquess, the second principal and the present incumbent, is now serving his third year.
Argentine High School, with a very efficient organization, became a part of the Kansas City school system following the annexation of Argentine, January 1, 1910. F. D. Tracy was elected principal to succeed Minnie J. Oliverson, who was transferred to the Kansas City High School.
Kansas City, Kansas, now has forty schools; in 1886 there were only nine. The following have served as presidents of the Board of Education: J. M. Squires, Jos, H. Gadd, Thos. W. Heatley, W. E. Barnhart, Alfred Weston, Thos. J. White, B. A. Spake, Dr. E. D. Williams and Dr. J. A. Fulton, the present incumbent. The first clerk was Jesse D. Jaquith, followed in order by J. P. Root, M. G. Jones, F. G. Horseman and W. A. Seymour, the present incumbent. Those who have served as members of the Board of Education since 1886 are as follows: J. M. Squires, S. W. Day, W. G. Mead, W. J. Brous, Jas. F. Nettleton, J. P. Northrup, E. P. Godsill, Benj. Franklin, Jas. Gibson, W. S. Beard, Chas. Shipley, J. S. Perkins, Joseph Gadd, William Tennell, George Loomis, B. L. Short, E. G. Wright, C. Silene, Milton Underhill, William Smith, C. E. Husted, F. H. Barker, H. M. Bacon, D. W. Austin, Jacob Stevens, William Thompson, W. S. Hanna, H. E. Smith, Thomas W. Heatley, Morrill Wells, Allen Chadwick, Wm. Fletcher, Harry Bell, A. W. Carfrae, Robert Campbell, W. E. Barnhart, Alfred Weston, Ferman Westfall, E. E. Trowbridge, George N. Herron, James Fee, Sr., A. D. Gates, Chas. M. Bowles, George McL. Miller, F. M. Campbell, W. R. Palmer, J. R. Richey, E. F. Taylor, T. J. White, Dr. E. D. Williams, B. A. Spake, David Friedman, W. E. Griffith, Dr. J. A. Fulton, U. A. Screechfield, W. R. Trotter and Grant S. Landrey.
There are now forty school buildings in Kansas City, Kansas, the aggregate value of school property being $1,392,716. The schools, the number of class rooms in each and their location, follows:
|Abbott,||12||Fifteenth St. and Troup Ave.|
|Argentine High,||8||Twenty-second St. and Ruby Ave.|
|Armourdale,||12||Fifth St. and Shawnee Ave.|
|Armstrong,||4||Eighth St. and Colorado Ave.|
|Bancroft,||8||Splitlog Ave., bet. Fifth and Sixth Sts.|
|Bruce,||2||Second St., bet. Ohio and Riverview Ayes.|
|Bryant,||9||Seventeenth St. and Webster Ave.|
|Central,||9||Seventh St. and Ann Ave.|
|Chelsea,||11||Twenty-fifth St. and Wood Ave.|
|Cooper,||6||First St., bet. Central and Lyons Aves.|
|Douglass,||12||Washington Blvd., bet. Ninth and Tenth Sts.|
|Dunbar,||4||Sixth St. and Rowland Ave.|
|Emerson,||8||Twenty-eighth St. and Metropolitan Ave.|
|Eugene Field,||8||Fourth St. and Parallel Ave.|
|Everett,||8||Everett Ave., bet. Fourth and Fifth Sts.|
|Franklin,||8||Holly Street and Metropolitan Ave.|
|Garrison,||1||346 S. Eighth St.|
|Grant,||1||Twenty-ninth St. and Nebraska Ave.|
|Greystone,||4||Hudson St. and Abbie Ave.|
|Hawthorne,||16||Waverly Ave., bet. Eleventh and Twelfth Sts.|
|High,||56||Ninth St. and Minnesota Ave.|
|Horace Mann,||11||State Ave., bet. Eighth and Ninth Sts.|
|Irving,||8||Riverview Ave., bet. Mill and Ninth Sts.|
|John Fiske,||12||Valley St. and Wyoming Ave.|
|Kerr,||4||3650 State Ave.|
|Lincoln,||4||Twenty-fourth St. and Strong Ave.|
|Longfellow,||13||Sixth St. and Waverly Ave.|
|Lowell,||13||Orville Ave., bet. Tenth and Eleventh Sts.|
|Morse,||16||Baltimore St. and Miami Ave.|
|Oakland,||4||Twenty-first St. and Muncie Blvd.|
|Park,||8||Twenty-fourth St. and Ohio Ave.|
|Phillips,||2||Third St. and Delaware Ave.|
|Prescott,||16||Thirteenth St. and Ridge Ave.|
|Quindaro,||6||Twenty-seventh St. and Farrow Ave.|
|Riverview,||12||Seventh St. and Pacific Ave.|
|Stanley,||4||Thirty-eighth St. and Metropolitan Ave,|
|Stowe,||8||Second St. and Virginia Ave.|
|Sumner High,||18||Ninth St. and Washington Blvd.|
|Whittier,||5||Boeke St. and Gilmore Ave.|
|No. 33,||2||Seventh St. and Shawnee Road,|
Three years ago the superintendent of schools was asked to visit the night schools in a number of eastern and middle west cities. The matter was discussed before the women's clubs and the Mercantile Club had a number of patrons' meetings, and strong endorsement given, in pursuance of which steps were at once taken to inaugurate a practical plan. At the beginning of the school year 1909-10, Principal H. C. Miller, of the High School, kindly offered his services without compensation to organize and manage a night school to be held in the Kansas City High School, Ninth and Minnesota avenue. Consent was given by the Board of Education and a school was organized which, during the term, enrolled three hundred pupils. A tuition of two dollars per month was charged, eight teachers were employed who were paid two dollars per night. The success of the school was very gratifying indeed.
At the present time the night school in the Kansas City High School has an enrolment of three hundred and fifty-five and eight teachers are employed. J. M. Marquess, principal of the Sumner High School (col.), early in the present year obtained permission to organize and maintain a night school in the Sumner High School building. The enrolment[sic] at the present time is one hundred and thirty-three, with six teachers employed. Tuition in these night schools is free to pupils under twenty-one years of age; twenty-one years of age and over, one dollar per month is charged. Classes have been organized in arithmetic, English, bookkeeping, penmanship, stenog. raphy, typewriting, Latin, German, French, manual training, sewing, physics and mechanical drawing. A large, enthusiastic class of foreigners has been taught to read and write the English language.
The marked success of the night school work gives rise to the hope that in time it may be extended and schools organized in many different parts of the city. Teachers from day schools have been employed to do the work of instruction.
The city now has three well organized high schools. These schools are located in three well equipped buildings, all comparatively new and entirely modern. The enrolment in the Argentine High School at the close of the year 1909-10 was 174; Sumner High School (col.), 207; Kansas City High School, 1,035. The enrolment at the present time is: Argentine, 181; Sumner, 228; Kansas City, 1,060; total, 1,469. The total number of high school teachers employed at the present time is 60.
On the completion of the south wing of the Kansas City High School and the north wing of the Sumner High School during the year 1909-10 these buildings were made complete high school buildings. In laboratories, gymnasiums, work shops, art departments, libraries, class rooms and office rooms they offer accommodations for all the various departments counted essential to the work of a first class high school and a well rounded modern course of study. An analysis of the enrolment of the three high schools shows the following: English, 1,252; mathematics, 1,037; Latin, 738; history, 401; free-hand drawing, 368: physical training, 318; physiography, 281; sewing, 243; penmanship, 188; German, 187; cooking, 172; public speaking, 172; physiology 158; physics, 138; woodworking, 136; typewriting, 116; chemistry, 104; mechanical drawing, 85; botany, 72; bookkeeping, 64; shorthand, 51; commercial geography, 45; civics, 44; economics, 36; psychology, 35; French, 34; commercial spelling, 32; zoology, 18; metal working, 18; Spanish, 14; Greek, 6.
Manual training is now organized for the sixth, seventh and eighth grades and the first, second, third and fourth years in high school. The high schools are equipped with benches, tools, lathes and forges and machinery for cabinetmaking, wood-turning, pattern-making, forging and lathe and heavy metal working. In the grades are twelve shop center equipments.
There has been a great movement in education during recent years toward a more vital, tangible and practical form of instruction. As an expression of this, manual training is now an important factor in every important school system. At first the sole object of manual training was to teach the child to make something with tools. it is now considered more and more that manual training is designed chiefly to bring the child into sympathy with the industrial side of life. Manual training has now taken its place along with other time-honored branches as being an educative process and includes more than the handling of tools. It is the wakening of the entire industrial side of life.
Industrial and vocational education begins where manual training ends. While manual training should awaken the industrial side, it does not now appear that it should enter the vocational. It is now dawning upon those who are interested in the educational work and the industrial and vocational life in this country that our general school system lacks one school in order to be a complete system. This new school to complete our general system should not be a high school, should not be part of a high school, but should be a new institution into which the elementary schools lead the boys and girls who must enter industrial life. It must also be a real school in which all the educative processes of the mind are just as potent and active as in any other school, and just as the normal school is organized and developed under the care and the sympathies of the teachers, the law school of the lawyers, the medical school of the doctors, so must this new industrial school be organized and breathed into life under the care and the sympathy of those who labor.
Kansas City, Kansas, is a great industrial center. What the city needs at the present time is not a larger number of professional men, but a greater number of industrial institutions and a greater number of skilled workers - workers trained in heart, head and hand for the home, civic and industrial life of that great, growing, manufacturing city. It appears that it is time for the laboring men, the manufacturers, the professional men and the educators of Kansas City to get together in the discussion of the advisability of a great industrial school within its limits.
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