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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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

Return to Previous Section 1882

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1883 

Industries, especially the packing houses and allied businesses, were bringing new people to Wyandotte, old Kansas City, Kansas, and the new town of Armourdale.  At meetings and discussions, talk went on of uniting the three small cities into a larger unit.  Wyandotte's population by 1883 had increased to 12,000.  Between 1883 and 1885 the city extended its limits to Ninth Street, taking in the old Cobb or Stewart School at Ninth and Quindaro.

The post office moved to a new location next door to 522 Minnesota, and the city council planned to extend the paving on Minnesota west from Sixth Street.  Along the principal streets workmen were laying water, gas, and sewer pipes.  Residents were suggesting to the city fathers that houses needed numbers to identify occupants.  Strange names, such as Dear Depot, Trotting Park, and Chance Park appeared in the news.

Example of an 1883 "standpipe" in Wichita, KansasOn Seventh Street, near Huron Place, a standpipe between eighty and one hundred feet high was erected to store the water pumped from the Missouri River.  Solid masonry, ten feet above ground and twenty-five below, supported the pipe.  It stood for sixteen years, until 1899, a landmark visible from the old Union Depot on Union Avenue in the "Bottoms".  [Annotation:  The "Bottoms" is what many Kansan Citian's refer to as the "west bottoms" - the land area between the Kaw River and the Missouri state line - the original Kansas City, Kansas. --- "During the late 1800's, the need for a new railroad depot in Kansas City became obvious. The city of 200,000 citizens had outgrown the old Union Depot, built in the West Bottoms for a population of only 60,000. As the community explored new sites and considered the possible expansion, the second great flood of Kansas City struck in 1903, nearly destroying the Depot and deeming that the constricted site had no future."  Kansas City Union Station Trains]  In the background were tall walnut trees and the Indian Cemetery.  The standpipe attracted the small boys of the neighborhood.  When an eight-year old climbed to the narrow top of the pipe and had to be rescued, parents were warned to supervise their children's activities more carefully. 

For almost twenty-five years Wyandotte County had no suitable courthouse.  Judges held sessions in the old converted store building near Third and Nebraska and in the Methodist Church South on the northwest corner of Huron Square.  In 1874 the records were removed to Dunning's Hall [4th & State] for storage.  When the old Central School was built in Huron Place in 1868, the county purchased the northeast corner of the square from the trustees of the old Town Company.  Nothing was done with the plat until 1880, when the county commissioners ordered it surveyed and fenced.  They leased the ground to the Wyandotte Lumber Company in 1881 for a period of five years at $100 a year.

It had been the plan at the purchase time in 1868 to erect a courthouse and jail on the corner.  When the county at last got around to it in 1882, the Presbyterian Church brought a restraining action.  The pastor had lately discovered that one of the early plats had awarded the land to the church.  This claim was later recognized by the courts.  A site for the courthouse was obtained on the northwest corner of Minnesota Avenue where Montgomery Ward's stands today.  Court was held at the church across the street until the building was completed in June, 1883.

At a council meeting on May 17, 1883 Mayor Hains suggested that the city build a market house on Huron Place instead of at Sixth and Armstrong as planned earlier.  A 150-foot square west of the lumber company was available, he said.  Protests were raised that a market house would interfere with the school, to which the proponents of the plan answered that the school had no business there, as Huron Place belonged to the city.  The plan was dropped, though, and the market house built at another location.

Clarence J. Smith, county superintendent, in the year 1883, listed about fouty school districts and their exact boundaries.  These listings, with additions and changes, are preserved with other records in the office of the present county superintendent at the Courthouse.  Several districts no longer maintain schools, as they have been attached to sections of the city and are part of the Kansas City school system.  One of the schools absorbed by the city about 1884 or 1885, old Number 7 District School near the Cobb farm, was damaged by a cyclone one Sunday in early May, 1883.

The Wyandotte Teachers Literary Society continued to broaden the monthly institute programs.  The April meeting included music, recitations, and discussions.  Everyone brought a copy of Shakespeare and participated in a group reading of "Hamlet."

The six wards of Wyandotte included a school population of 923 colored and 2453 white children.  Less than 1/2 attended school.  The twelve board members held monthly meetings at the schoolhouse instead of in a member's office.  At one of the meetings, someone, possible the superintendent, suggested fitting up a room for an "infant" class, or kindergarten.  The board considered the matter, but decided against it.  People complained about the uncomfortable crowded rooms of early fall, due to the heat and the increase in population.

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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