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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Armstrong School

Armstrong - Built 1873One of the 9 original schools when Wyandotte, Kansas City and Armourdale were separate cities; consolidated on March 6, 1886 within the Consolidation Act of 1886.

Picture Gallery
(including blueprints, construction info, avg daily student attendance)

Architectural Blue Prints and/or Plot Plan of School Building

 

Location:

Other Name:  County District No. 9, Garrison

Built: 1873; two-room brick building

Building Demolished: 1956

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In 1923, the family of Cordell D. Meeks (first black District Court Judge of Kansas) moved to Kansas City, Kansas. 

"We settled in a section of Kansas City known as the Armstrong District.  It was roughly bounded by Kansas Avenue on the south, the river and Union Pacific railroad yards on the east, Central Avenue on the north and Tenth Street on the west.

Armstrong was considered a little melting pot for Kansas City, Kansas as it was home for many nationalities.  Although public schools were racially segregated, my playmates included Black, Mexicans, Irish, Chinese, Italians, Croatians, Indians, Germans and Jews.

In the Armstrong District, it was common for the multi-racial and multi-national residents, young and old, to visit in each others homes, play and eat together.  Occasionally there were fights between the children but I do not recall one ever having erupted because of any racial, nationality or religious differences.

Life was simple but interesting and full of fun in Armstrong.  A police officer lived across the street from us.  Another policeman lived two blocks away upon the hill.  A block away lived a woman who bootlegged corn whiskey and home brew.  Just a few blocks down from the bootlegging woman a man ran a gambling game on weekends.  He was the object of occasional raids.

There were five grocery stores in the neighborhood and one drug store. The Union Pacific railroads and the St. Margaret Hospital were no doubt the two largest businesses in the Armstrong district. Both employed many people who for convenience lived nearby.

For its transportation, the district was served by streetcar.  Most of the residents had to walk several blocks to board a streetcar.  Automobiles were scarce."

To Heaven through Hell, Cordell D. Meeks, Corcell Publishers Inc., 1986 [Information furnished by courtesy of Mrs. Josephine Vandiver Boone]  For further excerpts, see Garrison School, Northeast Jr High, and Sumner High School.

Judge Meeks' book is well recommended.  It is an autobiography of the First Black District Court Judge of Kansas, containing information not only about Judge Cordell D. Meeks, but the areas and times in which he lived.

SUMMARY

District Number 9 served Armstrong and what was later Armourdale district. Located on Colorado Avenue and South Eighth in Armstrong. Named for Silas Armstrong (click on newspaper image at left). First a two-story, two-room brick. Cornerstone bore inscription:

School House
District Number 9
Built December 25, 1873
By J. Fitzgerald

1873 - Site on Lots 14-16, Block 3 (8?), Armstrong Addition to Wyandotte, 150 x 150 feet. Ground purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad.

(Officers, Wyandott Gazette, 17 July 1873 - Thos. VickRoy, Chas. B. Derr and August Reaka)

In May, 1880, the trustees of County District No. 9, consisting of Armourdale and Armstrong, divided the district. They transferred to the Board of Education of Wyandott City Lots 14-16, Block 8, the district site and school. The school and grounds lay north of the Union Pacific tracks in the Armstrong settlement. A two-story, two-room brick building, bearing a stone marker dated December 25, 1873, was on the site. On September 6, 1881, Wyandott City limits were extended to include Armstrong, a town of 3200 population.  The children in the Armourdale area had attended Armstrong. When Armourdale was incorporated in 1882, Armstrong School became part of South Wyandott, which left Armourdale without a building. 

In 1886, we see the first mention of Armstrong being used as an African American school. The Board voted on selling the building several times in 1888, but it failed to carry. The suggestion for the building to be used for African American school also failed.

1888 - "At the last annual meeting the voters of District No. 9, voted a tax to establish a school library, the library is now fully organized with 148 volumes representing the best thought of the best authors.  This is good; more districts should do the same.  The K. C. Daily Gazette, February 2, 1888

From the K. C. Gazette, 1 August 1890: "District No. 9 has struck a bonanza. The Union Pacific lands containing their shops and yards which have heretofore been considered a portion of this city, by the recent decision of the supreme court, were declared not to be in the city limits. This leaves them in district No. 9, a small district just west of the city. At the annual school meeting yesterday it was decided to make a 2 per cent levy. From this levy they will realize about $10,000 which will be funds sufficient to run their schools for several years." The building was divided into four rooms, with seventy-five attending. Armstrong became an annex of Riverview School.

In 1893, Armstrong was no longer an Annex with Riverview School. In 1895, London Heights and Armstrong closed because of scarlet fever and diphtheria. 

1897 - Until the schools obtained financial relief, shifts were made in classes. The 8A class at Reynolds and Armstrong moved to Riverview. Morse's 8B transferred to Armourdale School, and the 5B at McAlpine went to Riverview and Central. A committee sent to Topeka was assured of legislative help with money problems. The board first appealed for a $75,000 bond election, but later reduced the sum to $60,000.

1903 - Housed flood victims. On May 30, 1903 the Missouri River had reached 26.3 feet above low water mark. Over 10,000 people homess in KC area. 1903 flood article published by the K C Star.

July, 1907 - Armstrong was considered for an African American school. In September, A. J. Hibbs was awarded a contract for two-room addition.

1910 - Twenty patrons protested use as African American school. Board agreed to let go on as white.

1920 - Grading performed. Walls erected.

1926 - The Armstrong building was no longer needed for white children. African American students from the Garrison School in the Armstrong attendance area were reassigned to the old Armstrong School, and the name then became Garrison School.

1939 - Kansas City Star news article states: "The Garrison Negro school, formerly Armstrong, at Eighth Street and Montana Avenue, is the oldest building in the KCKs system still in use."

1956 - Building demolished to make way for Kansas Turnpike. Used as a practice building in fire fighting by Kansas City Fire Department. The cornerstone of the old building was placed at the Wyandotte Historical Society Museum.

PRINCIPALS

1883 - Miss Deal / 1884-1885 - W. H. Rooney / 1890 - Bridgie Cushing / 1892 - Mrs. Ida Reese (W. H. Rooney, principal of Riverview) / 1893 - Kate O'Brien / 1894 - Frank Colvin / 1895 - C. W. Porter, W. J. Logan / 1896-97 - W. J. Logan / 1898 - A. J. Farley / 1900 - Frank Colvin / 1901-02 - J R Harrison / 1903-04 - George W. McCamish / 1905 - Evelyn Martin / 1906 - Carrie Drisko / 1907-1912 - Ethel Anderson / 1913 - Jessamine Lindsay / 1917 - Ethel Herron / 1924 - Evelyn Martin / 1925 - Ethel Herron / 1926 - See "Garrison"

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17th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1902 and 1903:  p. 98, First five grades, four-room brick, corner of Colorado and Eighth Street.  Boundary - All of that territory north of Union Pacific tracks and south of Riverview and Reynolds districts.  (Note:  boundaries same as in 15th Annual Report of 1901)

Ward Boundaries

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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