[School History Logo]

The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas




Site Navigation: History Homepage / Biographies Index / Building Index of Libraries and Schools / Ethnic History of Schools / FAQs - Did You Know? / First Things First / Historian's Roundtable of Wyandotte County / Maps and Land Records / One-Room Schoolhouses / Picture Gallery / Publications, Online Transcriptions, Links / Queries / Copyright/Disclaimer

Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

Page Divider Bar

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

Return to Previous Section 1887

Blue Flash Bar Page Divider


The year 1867 had marked a long step forward in education in Wyandotte.  The acquisition at that time of two schools brought colored and white children into a graded, organized system under the leadership of some outstanding educators.  Fourteen years later, in 1881, the building of two brick schools with steam heat, at a time when money was scarce, showed he interest of the community in the education of its children.  The middle and late eighties marked a period of remarkable expansion and activity in the schools.  These were "boom" years, following an earlier depression.

The old blended with the new.  The Board of Education joined a group of citizens in signing a petition for a sidewalk on Sixth Street from Minnesota to Washington Avenue was purchased in 1888, an old log cabin belonging to one of the early Wyandots had to be removed from the grounds there.  At the beginning of an era of central heating in the schools, the board ordered in September, 1888, fifteen or twenty new stoves to heat classrooms.  M. H. Dickinson sold $27 worth of slate pencils to the schools.

The Missouri Pacific, whose shops and yards lay under the bluff east of Riverview School, planned to move to the Missouri River bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri.  Rumors spread that the Riverside Improvement Company had bought the "Cypress Yards" of the railroad.

The overcrowding and the clay mud of the streets prompted the board to rent, on May 21, 1888, the Palmer building for use as a high school, John Wherrell, principal, received a salary of $1350 a year.  Board Member J. P. Northrup urged the board to look up during the summer months a principal who would take charge at one thousand dollars a year.  The motion was defeated, but by only one vote.

County District Number 33 lay south across the Kansas River from Armourdale.  On May 29, 1988, part of that district containing this Melville School detached itself from Number 33 and became part of the Kansas City, Kansas, school district.  The detached part ran from the east bank of the river to the state line, south to the old Shawnee Reserve Line, west to the south bank of the river, and up the river to the beginning.

The board in addition to working out details of sites and buildings, found other matters demanding attention and the formulation of new rules.  The superintendent requested that the Rules and Regulations Committee set up a schedule of holidays.  These were announced as New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  The clerk was instructed to find out what the law was on having bills over ten dollars sworn to.  Mr. Knoblock, contractor, sued the board.  The Building and Grounds Committee was given the power to hire Hutchins and Keplinger as lawyers.

It became apparent that rules would have to be set up governing the use of buildings by teachers during vacation time.  In April the superintendent for years had conducted institute in the city buildings.  For others these rules were made:

  1. Only those teaching in the Kansas City schools to have permission to teach in vacation time.
  2. The work of "select" schools must conform to work outlined by the board.
  3. Only four classes could be taught by any one teacher.
  4. The term must be long enough to give a definite class standing one term in advance or to make the pupil stronger in his present grade.
  5. Teachers using the schools in holiday times must use only the rooms assigned them.

In addition to requests for rooms for the "select"  schools, one was made for the operation of a night school, and others were made for religious services.  There was a rule against the latter use, but it was sometimes suspended.  On June 18, G. E. Ireland obtained permission to use McAlpine School for church purposes.  In September the board granted use of the Stewart building, Ninth and Quindaro, for Sunday School for six weeks.  Rather than grant permission for a private night school, the board talked of organizing such a school at some suitable place in the consolidated city.  Young working men who desired to continue their education might do so in evening classes. There would be no distinction as to color.

The board set up rules concerning the certification and hiring of teachers:  All candidates for positions in schools who hold a certificate granted by an authority outside the city examining board to be required to pass an examination before the examining committee of the board.

The May examinations produced 54 certificates for teachers.  M. E. Pearson earned two, a first-grade primary and a principal's.  George E. Rose, A. J. Neeley, W. A. Morriston, J. R. Harrison, S. E. Cobb, and J. J. Bass received principals' certificates.  The Committee on Teachers recommended 71 applicants.

The clerk of the board wrote to Topeka, Wichita, Leavenworth, and Atchison, about salaries paid to teachers.  Teachers in certain positions and who held certificates of different grades were paid various amounts.  It was the board's wish to set up a fair salary schedule for all.  Members wished to assign teachers before determining their salaries.  The city required 87 teachers and principals and a sum of over $66,000 to operate the schools.  The school population was now 9658, consisting of 8084 white and 1574 colored children.  The old individual method of salary fixing had become too cumbersome.

Salaries for principals ranged from $70 for a 4-room school to $125 for a building of ten or more rooms.  Elementary teachers, designated as assistants, earned from $35 to $65.  High School assistants received $650 to $1000 a year.  Primary teachers and first assistants were paid $5 more a month.  Having set up definite schedules, the board, weary of complaints, passed a resolution:


The question of salaries is definitely settled.  Annoyance and inconvenience are occasioned by teachers desiring changes.  The schedule is more liberal for assistant teachers than in any other city of the state.  We are resolved not to permit any deviation from the adopted scale for one year at least.

Edgerton PlaceThe city grew more rapidly during the boom years.  The board was unable to provide the proper facilities for the increase in the number of children.  New schools and additions to old ones had to be erected.  Edgerton Place in the north part of the city was one of the fastest growingsections.  [Annotation:  The Fowler Mansion became the Kansas City Baptist Theological Seminary. The property was sold to the school board in 1923 for $25,000 for the site of the Northeast Junior High School. Northeast Junior High was closed in the spring of 1976 because of a district court decision to desegregate the school system.]  The "L" road running north on Sixth Street under Minnesota Avenue to Washington Avenue, was extended east on Washington to Fifth Street.  [Annotation:  The Inter-State Rapid Transit Company was organized and charted in December 1883 to build a line or lines of railways between Kansas City, Mo., and old Wyandotte City and other points in the state of Kansas. The "elevated railway" was also known as the "L" road.]  There it turned north and ran Elevated Railway - 1880sto Edgerton Place, located in the vicinity of Fifth and Quindaro.  With good transportation provided, business and professional men soon were building handsome gabled houses in the new Long's Addition

Children from Edgerton Place attended Everett School in classes where there was room for them.  In 1887 the board rented the station house at Fifth and Lafayette, which was owned by the "L" roadcompany.  A Miss Clark taught 25 or 30 children there during the year 1887-1888.  By the summer of 1888, a school was imperative.

Architect George Colby planned a future 12-room building, after "gentlemen from the north side" had conferred in May with the board.  John Long and his wife deeded to the Board of Education on June 7, and July 2, 1888, eleven lots on the east side of North Sixth Street between Quindaro Boulevard and Haskell Avenue.  Some accounts say that the board gave $7000 for the site.  Others, and these are probably the more reliable, tell of a citizens' meeting at which the board reported having mo money.  The Long Brothers then offered the site free.  Later when there were complaints about the school being located in a hollow, the school board could do nothing about it, as it had no voice in the selection of the site.

The contract was awarded to L. G. Ferguson on July 2, 1888.  By September 4th, extras to the amount of over $1600 were discussed by the architect and contractor.  Although the four-room building, first part of the larger plan, was to be heated by stoves, a well, instead of the customary cistern, would furnish water.  A tiled galvanized pipe eight inches in diameter and seventy-six feet in length was sunk into the ground.  An iron pump was erected at the top.  Armourdale School was also promised a well.

A Mr. Allen became the first principal of the school when it was completed in November, 1888.  Three teachers and the principal taught 240 children in the four rooms.  As the board lacked funds, notes, to be legalized after the legislative session, served as pay for the teachers.  The school was called Long, either for the head of the development company or for a Mr. Long, owner of a wholesale grocery firm, who had been active in securing a site for the building.

Edgerton Park at Third and Edgerton was the meeting place for boys of the district.  It became affectionately known as the "Old Bums' Park" because of the indolent type of activity carried on there.  In later years, however, the Bums twice defeated Casey Stengel when he brought his team from Kansas City, Missouri, to play at Edgerton Park.

Morse SchoolIn the spring of 1888 the west part of Armourdale needed a new school, and the board planned a six-room brick on old Twenty-first Street.  Mr. Rowner and Mr. Sweigart, board members had met with businessmen from Armourdale.  School had previously been held in a store building at what is now Baltimore and Miami.  On June 18, the Kansas Townsite Company's agent, Mr. Brent, offered to furnish twelve lots and six thousand dollars to build a school.

The company wished to deed the land to some responsible outside party to hold until the board issued bonds.  Hutchins and Keplinger, lawyers, had to pass on the legal aspects of such a plan.  July 3, 1888, the land was deeded to James M. Squires, who in turn deeded the property to the Board of Education on December 6, 1888, for the sum of one dollar.

On June 25, 1888, the board advertised for bids on a school on 21st Street between Miami and Cheyenne.  A later address of the school, after new street names were in use, locates it on the wise side of Baltimore between Cheyenne and Miami.  L. G. Ferguson received the contract for a four-room brick building.  J. W. Ferguson qualified for L. G. Ferguson, for the bond for Long and Morse Schools at $25,000.  H. W. McKean was the first principal, appointed July 2, 1888.  A room was rented at Twelfth and Kansas until the building was completed.

The cable cars ran west on Central Avenue from Riverview to the section known as Grandview.  The board interviewed members of the Interstate Investment Company about a building to sell the Oakland schoolhouse and site, then located at about what would now be Sixteenth and Muncie Road.  Oakland had been an early-day county school in part of old District 9.  When the school was taken inside the city limits, the district built a new school house west of Eighteenth Street.

J. I. Reynolds of Boston Place offered, in the summer of 1888, to sell ten lots at thirty dollars a foot and to furnish money to build a school there.  On June 18, the board voted to accept the offer, and to buy the northeast corner of Thirteenth and Ridge from the Boston Land and Park Company.  In August warrants were issued for $3000, less 20 percent, and L. G. Ferguson was warded the contract to build a four-room school in Boston Place.  George Colby was the architect.  The building would accommodate 240 children.

The new school was named Reynolds in honor of J. I. Reynolds of the Boston Land Company.  Two of the four rooms were in use by December of 1888.  Mr. W. A. Morriston, principal, and his assistant, Julia Hixon, taught six grades in two of the rooms.

To the south and easy of Armourdale, across the Kansas River, lay a part of the city recently annexed and known as the Greystone Heights Addition.  Residents there wanted a school.  In May the board planned for a two-room building.  Frank R. Phelps then offered to furnish six lots for a site and possibly the money for a building.  On June 25, bids were called for.  Before the building could be started, the board found that money was not available to complete it.  A committee from the board recommended buying from Mr. Phelps 150 feet at $18 a foot, but later decided it would be better to rent a building at $15 a month.  It was late August before the matter was settled.  Frank R. Phelps sold lots 7 to 12, Block 4, at the southwest corner of Abbey and Hudson to the board for a sum of $2700.  The architect was instructed to draw plans for a two-room building.

The colored children in old Kansas City, Kansas, attended school in a rented building.  Lewis G. Ferguson, in December, 1888, offered to sell lots 219-221 of Shute's Addition for $6000.  Mr. Squires, president of the board, thought the price a fair one.  On December 20, 1888, the board bought this site on North Second Street between and Riverview Avenues for Bruce School.

Dr. Brown investigated a location for Douglass School at Ninth and Everett.  The board debated about what to do with old District Number 9 School, known as Armstrong.  In May and June they wavered about selling, some being in favor of disposing of it altogether.  Others wanted it for use by the colored.  Nothing was decided.

Sometime during 1883-1885 the city moved its limits west from Seventh to Ninth Street.  At what is now 2509 North Ninth stood the old District Number 7 School.  It was located on the Cobb farm of early days and across the road from the Stewart place.  The school had been erected in 1867 and damaged by cyclone on May 17, 1883.  When the school was taken into the city, the trustees of District erected a new building on what is now North Twelfth Street.

A few board members thought a new building should be erected at Ninth and Quindaro.  J. P. Northrup met with the directors of Number 7 and agreed with them to place a value of $3000 on the school.  The district still wanted to use the building, and Northrup recommended that the board permit the use of the Stewart (Cobb) building for one year by District 7.  The district would keep it in repair, employ the teacher assigned there by the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education, and allow the smaller children near the building to attend.  S. E. Cobb was the teacher.  On November 12, Stewart was opened to District 7 children whose parents were willing to pay tuition.

The Board had many adjustments to make concerning the new districts 7, 9, and 33.  F. M. Slosson, county superintendent, assisted with some of the problems.  District 9 was reduced when Armourdale and Armstrong became cities and Oakland at Sixteenth and Muncie was made part of Kansas City.  The eastern part of the district was taken out as far west as the bridge just beyond Eighteenth Street and Kansas Avenue.  The city lay east and north.  The superintendent and county attorney ruled that the Kansas City board owed District 7 the sum of $502.56 and District 9 an amount of $769.77.  Old Wyandotte, District 1, and Number 33 owed $234.65 to the board.

The board, on August 20, 1888, passed a resolution in which it refused to assume liability for payments to Districts 7 or 9.  Attorneys Hutchins and Keplinger ruled that the board need not pay, nor should it accept any money from District 33.  The board offered to submit the case to the District Court if the district boards and the superintendent desired to test the question.  The Missouri Pacific Railroad presented a bill on September 4, 1888, for excess taxes levied for 1886-1887 by the State Board of Railway Assessors and Wyandotte County assessors.

The board ruled on other matters.  The clerk was instructed to take charge of the janitors during vacation time and was given the power to suspend during the summer months.  During the school term the janitors would wear badges as special police.  The Gazette was named the official paper of the board, and F. Hoersman was paid $6.75 for blacksmithing.  I. D. Smead Heating Company offered to pay the expenses for a committee to visit the East and see the operation of their furnaces.

The board was responsible for the choice of texts used in the schools.  Superintendent Ferguson recommended "How to Think and What to Write" or some other good composition blank to use in school.  Stoddard's Ray's, Dean's, or Brook's, any one was a good choice for a mental arithmetic ext.  The agent for Thompson's Intellectual Arithmetic promised to take all of Brook's Arithmetics from the dealer and to replace them with his own.  He offered 125 copies to the board.

A suggestion that was to be accepted by educators years later was made by the superintendent in October, 1888.  As history is taught by topics, he said, it seemed advisable to have more than one text.  Eggleston's History of the United States and Anderson's Grammar School Histories of the United States, he thought would give different viewpoints. 

On September 3, the superintendent requested that school boundaries be defined and a definite opening date be set.  Originally named for September 10, the opening wa postponed for two weeks until September 24.

Children flocked to the schools.  In spite of new buildings, basements had to be converted into classrooms.  Ferguson transferred children from one school to another, whenever there was room.  Every classroom had from two to eight additional desks installed.  Ten double desks were put into use and an order placed for sixty single desks for Riverview School.

The Board sent a committee to Topeka in December, 1888, to meet with other school boards to promote legislation for changes in the school laws.  The attorneys for the board warned against paying bills until receipts for all materials were located.  The buildings, they feared, might be subject to liens.

The number of committees was reduced to eight in September, 1888:  Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Text Books and Course of Instruction, Teachers and Salaries (a combination of Teachers and Visiting Schools and Salaries), Teachers Examinations, High School, School Laws/Rules and Regulations.

When the high school moved into the Palmer building, attendance increased 95 percent.  Central children and 246 high School students practically filled the building.  Unfortunately many promising students dropped out after attending one year.  Enrollment in the different courses was divided in the fall of 1888 as follows:  Normal Training - 83; English - 74 Commercial - 50; and Latin and Scientific - 27.  A few enrolled in a new Classical course and sic carried irregular programs.

Teachers were:  John Wherrell - Teacher/Principal; E. F. Taylor - Normal and Commercial; Eva McNally - Elocution and Literature; Mrs. Wherrell, Bridget Cushing, and Hammond J. Lock - Green and Latin.

Some students requested the study of German.  A teacher was hired to teach a class a day; later a course in French was offered. 

On December 3, 1888, C. H. Carpenter, trustee representing the Masonic Lodge, notified the board that Palmer's Wyandotte Academy was for sale for $12,000.  The lodge would accept the amount in warrants.  Warrants were issued on December 10, 1888, and the ninth city school came into possession of the board.  Trustees C. H. Carpenter, J. M. Holloway, and S. S. Sharpe represented Wyandotte Lodge Number 3, A. F. and A. M. of Kansas City, Kansas.

Dr. George M. Gray and his wife deeded to the Board of Education on December 3, Lot 3, plus the south 41 feet of Lot 6 of Block 150, old Wyandott City.  The property lay to the south of the high school at Seventh and Ann and had on it a four-room house.  This would serve as an office building for the board.

All these purchases took more money than the board possessed.  A resolution passed on December 17, 1888, provided for a bond issue of $127,000 for building purposes.  The bonds would run for twenty years and pay 5 percent interest.  The board instructed the clerk to have the bonds printed.  No mention is made in the records of an election being held to get the people's approval.

The board encouraged the growth of the high school.  Superintendent Ferguson and the Committee on the High School made arrangements for commencement at the end of the year 1888-1889.  The committee suggested that the board donate to the alumni for the senior banquet the tuition of one month from out-of-town students.  The clerk and Mr. Northrup also would prepare a "souvenir" for the alumni.

A former student recalled over thirty years later his days at the old Palmer Academy after the high school moved in.  Ed Fitzgibbons had been a pupil of John Wherrell.  For offenses against rules the pupils were assigned a literary selection to copy.  The selection would run from 1000-2000 words, according to the offender's docility.  A protest brought a penalty of 5000-6000 words.

Ed Fitzgibbons copied off blocks of 500 words during study periods so he could pay his fines, and he built up a reserve of 55,000 words.  The next day, after Ed finished, Wherrell introduced a new form for punishment and the 55,000 words went into the waste basket!

Next Section   1889

Page Divider Bar

Download Adobe Acrobat ReaderLinks using reader are marked ( pdf ).
Click icon to download reader.
Use browser's back button to return

Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

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

Visit the KCKs Public Schools Homepage