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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 1883

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1884

The Kansas State Teachers Association held its 25th session on December 29, 1884, in the Senate Chamber in the Capitol Building.  Topeka hotels offered liberal rates to delegates.  Armourdale, Wyandotte, and old Kansas City, Kansas took a step toward consolidation when they went together to organize a Board of Trade in February 1884.  Their title cleared by the courts, the Presbyterians planned to erect a church on the northeast corner of Huron Place.  The new steam heating plant at Everett, either badly managed or improperly installed, failed to heat the building on cold days.  Then the school would have to be dismissed.

Everett School - Original School in 1886 ConsolidationA touch of the old West lingered in the Wyandotte custom of allowing stock to roam unfenced.  The Herald's editor, having fought the council for years on the subject, was doubly angry when his daughter, Jessie, suffered a sprained ankle on her way home from Everett School.  Her foot had been caught in a hold in the plank sidewalk.  Her indignant father wrote that it all came from allowing stock to run at large.  He said he was only "sorry it wasn't one of the councilmen who voted against the ordinance to restrain stock."

At the April election of 1884, J. H. Gadd of the Third Ward was nominated for the school board without his knowledge or consent.  His name was placed on the ballot anyway and he ran sixty-five votes above the candidate.  James S. Gibson, the clerk of the board, drew the laughter of the townspeople when he was twice besieged by angry teachers, demanding money.  One Friday in October, the sidewalk and stairway to his office were filled with "schoolmams."  According to the paper the clerk was "non est."  With flashing eyes the teachers decided to hold the fort until the clerk's arrival.  The clerk was afraid to face the women and hired a boy to carry a note telling them warrants would be ready as soon as the president signed them.  This Mr. Kreiser would do as soon as he returned home.  The teachers were satisfied and dispersed.

Again in December, "twenty-five or thirty schoolmams surrounded a defenseless man, already prematurely bald, clamoring for "money."  Because of a money scarcity at the time, there were no funds.  Observed the editor, "The women needed floss to work slippers for holiday gifts."

The following headline introduced an article on city schools, which appeared in the "Gazette."

Magnificent School Buildings
Trained and Accomplished Instructors
Education as Free as the Air of Heaven, to All,
Regardless of Color, Race, or Previous Condition.
Array of Education Institutions that Eastern
Culture Would be Proud of.

The outgrowing of facilities was not to be regretted after schools had been established for over fifteen years.  The five substantial brick buildings had a value of $50,000.  An eighth grade, even a high school, education was available, and pupils educated in Wyandotte schools were always in demand, so the article read.  The superintendent, Porter Sherman, was a college graduate.  Of 33 teachers, many were normal and college graduates.  Some had ten to fifteen years of teaching experience.

The story of the schools went on to tell that the curriculum had changed to conform to the development of children.  Reasoning and discussion had a place in the higher grades.  The superintendent had established himself as a leader in education, one to whom others turn at meetings.  At the fall meeting of the Southeast Kansas Teachers Association at Fort Scott, Mr. Sherman had lectured before the assemblage.  Eastern people who desired to locate in the West would find as good educational advantages in "Wyandott City" as in New England.

Wyandotte could be proud of its graded schools, for children advanced more rapidly under a graded school system.  Throughout the state such a plan was used less extensively because of the cost.  Cost per pupil in Wyandotte, however, was only 99 cents per pupil a month, below any other city in the state.  Most cities averaged from $1.21 to $1.38.  Eastern cities paid a higher price for their schools.

Early day students remembered their teachers many years later with affection.  Bridget Cushing's name appears in many stories of the eighties.  In 1884 she seems to have held a position at Everett comparable to that of head teacher today.  Mrs. Kate McDonald Kerr after  seventy-five years remembered Miss Cushing at Everett, and how she would leave for a brief interval to attend to a 90-year old mother at the home.  Kate McDonald at fourteen would be entrusted to look after the class at such times.  Nearly forth years later, in the 1920's, students recalled the plays Bridget Cushing produced at Dunning's Opera House, and how young Dick Speck had performed in the leading role in "Pinafore."

Mrs. H. A. Toler attended school in 1884 at old Central.  For seventy-five years she held in memory a young girl of seventeen who was her teacher.  The young teacher was Miss Stella Reid, who later married Will mcCamish.  W. H. McCamish had taught in Wyandotte County while studying law.  Judge and Mrs. McCamish became prominent citizens of this community.  Mrs. Toler knew Jessie Lane, Lapier Williams, J. J. Maxwell, Fred Haines, and Professor A. A. Brooks, Mrs. C. E. Coburn was a classmate.

Mr. J. J. Lewis, in 1921 the oldest teacher in point of service in the city, came to Wyandotte in 1884 at the age of twenty-three.  He had been a furnace maker in New Orleans, but turned to teaching because he was unable to find other work.  His first year was spent at the colored school under the supervision of Porter Sherman.  Mr. Lewis is probably the only Kansas City teacher ever to have a school named for him.  When a school was built in 1910 or 1911 for the colored children of Hadley's Addition in southwest Argentine, it was named the Lewis School.  In 1927 it was abandoned and the children sent to Lincoln School in Argentine.  For twenty-five years, J. J. Lewis was principal of Douglass School.

Next Section   1885 

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

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