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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Barnett School

One 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.

Location: 11th and Barnett (Hoyles 1892 City Directory:  Barnett Ave se corner 11th) (1893 Rascher Insurance Map - s.e. corner Barnett Ave and 11th Street)

Other Names: Lowell

Built: 1886 (Wyandotte County and KCKs Historical and Biographical, Goodspeed, 1890)

Building Closed: 1898 - Lowell Built

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It is believed that there may have been an original Barnett School built prior to Consolidation of Wyandott City, Kansas City, and Armourdale 1886, as patrons felt the schoolhouse was "old" and "badly maintained" in the 1890's. Research is still ongoing on this theory.

In 1893 a three-room, gray frame schoolhouse stood on the corner of what is today Eleventh Street and Barnett Avenue. According to an 1893 atlas of Wyandotte County, the school sat on the s.e. corner of 11th and Barnett. (Atlas of Kansas City, Kansas, formerly Wyandotte, Kansas City, Kansas and Armourdale Including Argentine, Rosedale, etc. Chicago: Rascher Insurance Map Publishing Co., ca. 1893)

Teachers in the old building have recalled that the three rooms were on one floor. The westward spread of the city was shown in the crowded classrooms, with 75 and 80 children to a room. The early day teachers taught in rooms heated by stoves, with the water pail and dipper still in evidence from morning until dusk, for a salary of fifty dollars a month.

To add to discomfort and inconvenience, the city was cutting new streets along the boundaries of the school grounds, destroying the play space of the children. Barnett School had either been built on piling or had been bolstered by piles driven into the ground. Presently it was perched about twenty feet above the street on an embankment. The roof leaked when spring and fall rains came, while the mud from the yard oozed into the street below. Teachers had constant ground duty when they were not adjusting and emptying pans filled with rain water.

When conditions became intolerable and the school board took no steps to correct the situation, the faculty took the children into their confidence and planned their own campaign.  It was a practice then to hold a teachers' institute to discuss courses of study and other problems, at the various school buildings.  Entertainment was provided by the school in which the meeting was held.  In the Barnett School district were many of the prominent families of the city, homeowners recognized for their cooperation.  To the meeting and entertainment were invited school patrons and board members when the Barnett teachers were hosts.  After the children had presented their various numbers, they gathered in a large group for a final chorus.  Teachers and pupils had pledged themselves to secrecy concerning this last song.  It was, therefore, a complete surprise to the audience, when the pupils, with great enthusiasm made a plea for a new schoolhouse.

There were several stanzas, sung to the tune of "Yankee Doodle," two of which are still remembered by some of the participants.

What if some day those pegs of wood
Now far decayed and crumbling
On which these three rooms long have stood,
Should take a turn at tumbling?
Then out to Eleventh Street we'd roll
Into that excavation.
'Twould be the last of Barnett School
We'd have to have vacation!

Chorus:
Want a schoolhouse, yes, we do,
Handsome, large, and handy.
Barnett's waited long enough
We want it worse than candy.

The rains in spring descend out there
With just the same old notion
To seek the holes in that old roof
Then inside!  Land o'Goshen!
You'd think 'twas Lake Superior
or the Atlantic Ocean.
Our teachers teach us rules of health
Now isn't that devotion?

Before many years, they got the school.

In order to send mounted specimens of the work of city school children to the World's Fair in 1893 in Chicago, one of the teachers, Miss Josie Eaton, wrote a pageant, "Columbia and Uncle Sam," which was given in the old hall on State near Fifth or Sixth Street.  Mabel Wallin, later well known in dramatics, and Frank Schuback had leading parts. 

KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961 by Nellie McGuinn,
copyright USD 500 Feb, 1966

On August 20, 1886, P. H. Knoblock contracted to erect another building, although the deed to the land had not yet been signed.  H. A. Curdy and husband, W. W. Curdy, deeded to the board eight lots in Block 162 of old Wyandotte on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Barnett Avenue.  Some accounts list a four-room frame built on pilings there; however, at no time were there more than three teachers at the school, even when it was most crowded.

The school was named Barnett because of its location.  The Barnetts were an early Wyandot family; one of whom married Hannah Armstrong.  Her daughter, Eliza Barnett, became the wife of Matthias Splitlog, a well-to-do Wyandot.  Splitlog Avenue was named for him, Barnett for his wife's people.

SUMMARY

1886 - August 2: Board member Northrup given $20 to select school sites and bind bargains.  (Board member Northrup - Northrup married into the tribe in 1845, to Margaret Clark, daughter of Thomas Clark, one of the chiefs of the Canada branch of the Wyandot Nation. Hiram owned the land surrounding the Huron Indian Cemetery, and in 1911, Milton Northrup willed $3500 to the maintenance and beautification of the cemetery.)

August 25: H. A. and W. W. Curdy deeded to the Board, Lots 24-31, Block 162, Old Wyandotte. Contract already awarded on August 20 to P. H. Knoblock. School to be three-room frame on southeast corner, 11th and Barnett, to be ready by September 10th. J. H. Fleming, architect.

Named Barnett because of location on Barnett Avenue, which was named for early Wyandot family (KANSAN news article). One of nine original schools. Eliza Barnett (Wyandot), married Mathias Splitlog (Canadian Mohawk), an Indian millionaire and mechanical genius who built a steamboat. The Splitlog home was between Barnett and Tauromee Avenue and 4th and 5th streets, known as "Splitlog Hill", today known as "Strawberry Hill."

1889 - April 3: School crowded 60-75 in a room. Need four rooms.

September 19: Older children to Central.

1893 - Street newly graded. School on 20-foot embankment. Children and patrons begged for new building or enlargement of old.

"Lady patrons" of Barnett and J. W. Tarwater, a colored man, testified before the board that two boys attending the school were colored. The "Rhodes boys" were immediately excluded. The History of the KCKs Public Schools by Nellie McGuin.

1895 - The board signed a petition to grade Eleventh Street from Minnesota to Sandusky because grading would benefit Barnett School. 

1897 - The principal at Barnett complained of the unfit water in the cistern there. The fire department used city water to fill it, but would have to get spring water for the second filling.

1898 - February: Board promised patrons a new school to be built during the summer.

Five patrons helped select site. First chose northwest corner of Tenth and Orville. Another site decided upon less cost on north side of Orville between Tenth and Eleventh. The new school for the children would be Lowell.

Site owned by Northrup Estate. 200 feet, Block 2, Northrup Park Addition. Patrons agreed.

April: Deed from Northrup Estate to Board for west 16 feet, Lot 19; all of Lots 20-27, Block 2, Northrup Park. Frontage 216 feet. Three lots were donated on March 18.

May: Contract to Frederick W. Soper.

August: Barnett site and building sold to John Hurne.

PRINCIPALS

1886-87 / 1888 - A. L. Rust / 1890 - J. L. Howard elected / 1891 - W. J. Pearson / 1892 - J. W. Pearson to London Heights; T. C. Swearingen / 1893-96 - W. J. Pearson (resigned Dec 3, 1896); C. N. Walker / 1897-98 - C. N. Walker

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

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