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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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

Return to Previous Section 1884

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When outsiders began to complain about live stock roaming the streets, the city council listened.  Early in March, 1885, a county farmer left his team and wagon outside a business establishment.  While he was inside, a mule got at a sack of flour in the back of the wagon and tore it to pieces.  The farmer angrily declared that he frequently made the longer trip to Kansas City to do his trading because he could leave his wagon unattended there.  He vowed to do no more trading until the cows and horses were penned up.  A lot of ill feeling was caused, though, among residents when the council finally enforced the ordinance preventing stock running loose.  The same thing had happened years ago when hogs were forbidden the streets.

A young graduate of the state university in Lawrence in the spring of 1885 obtained a teaching position at Wallula, District Number 12, fifteen miles west of Wyandotte.  He remained one year there, then began a long and distinguished teaching career in the newly consolidated city of Kansas City, Kansas.  The young man was Matthew E. Pearson, later superintendent of Kansas City schools for thirty years.

Wyandotte city and county teachers met in a joint session in February, at which a "coalition" was served by the local group.  The paper listed a large group of teachers in attendance at an institute for four weeks in August.  A Dr. Williams from Lawrence conducted classes, assisted by G. W. Rose and J. J. Maxwell.

The 1884-1885 school year extended to June 1, which pleased the Herald's editor.  There was a moral, if not a legal obligation on the board to have a nine months' session, he wrote.

A full house attended an entertainment presented on February 18 by Everett School.  For twenty-five cents a ticket, patrons and friends attended a program of songs, recitations, and musical numbers, given for the benefit of Wyandotte's needy.  The poor were richer by $75, owing to the children's performance.  In the spring the public schools held their closing exercises and entertainment at the Fifth Street Methodist Church.

The Wyandotte Public High School held its second annual commencement at the Fifth Street Church on the same evening with eleven students on a program of essays, orations, and music.  Porter Sherman, superintendent, gave the address.  Two weeks later Professor Palmer's Wyandotte Academy graduated at the Congregational Church.  "Wyandotte may neglect other thing," said one citizen, "but not its children's education."

A new law enacted by the legislature in 1885 cut the number of board members from twelve to five.  As all were to be elected at large, interested people hoped that selection would be taken out of ward politics.  It was suggested that a meeting be held at which qualified men from both parties would be chosen to give the welfare of schools more attention.

The board looked for a meeting place.  They asked for the Council Chamber, but went to Hale and Miller's office for their next meeting.  Six members, not five, attended and were named to committees. 

The spring of 1885 brought a change to the Wyandotte school system.  Porter Sherman, Yale graduate, one-time representative from the Tenth District, and superintendent of schools for ten years, left for post graduate study at Yale University.  He was succeeded by W. S. Beard, who served one year before the consolidation.  In the fall of 1885 city and county teachers, in recognition of Professor Shermans' ability as a teacher, presented him a full set of books on political economy.  Mr. Sherman sent from New Haven  frequent scholarly articles to the local papers.  An examination of his insight is shown in a letter of April 29, 1886, concerning the labor question.  In it he predicted a great labor movement and social upheaval in the country's future.

The Shermans owned a farm which had been taken inside the city limits.  They sold 46 3/4 acres in December, 1886, for $45,000.  Before long Mr. and Mrs. Sherman and their daughter left for Germany.  The next seven years were spent by Sherman in translating German books into English, and writing articles on various subjects for the papers.  He returned in September, 1890, leaving his family in Europe.  In the summer of 1891 he rejoined them, promising to return one day to Kansas City.

Mr. Sherman and his family came back in July, 1895, to a home at Ninth and Barnett.  They stayed for almost ten years.  It may have been during those years that he became more active in politics.  Little information concerning Sherman at that time is available.  By 1906 the family had gone to France, where they stayed until 1915.  Mr. Sherman died in Switzerland during World War I.  His widow returned to Kansas City where her mother, Mrs. Bertha Hovey, lived.  For a number of years Mrs. Sherman was active in the Mary Tenney Gray Travelers' Club and the Kansas Authors Club.

Next Section   1886 

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

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