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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 1891

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Armourdale School - 1901Residents of Kansas City in 1892 were troubled by assaults and robberies.  Armed bandits boarded the cars and trains to hold up the drivers and passengers.  Eight-year old Fred Carlson at the Armourdale School dashed in front of a street car in front of the building and was terribly crushed.  Years later his brother, John Carlson, served on the Board of Education.  Superintendent Pearson told Carlson about his holding the dying boy in his arms after the accident.  Mr. Pearson was the principal of Armourdale School at the time.

Principal Colvin of Everett was a victim of the mumps early in 1892.  The founders of Bethany Hospital made plans for its establishment.  [Annotation: Bethany, one of the largest hospitals in the central west and the first public Protestant hospital to be established between the Mississippi river and the Pacific coast, was organized in March, 1892, by Dr. P. D. Hughes, Mrs. Reba S. Freeman, Mrs. V. J. Lane, K. P. Snyder, Dr. Hoyt and others. Dr. Hughes, for four years prior to that time, endeavored to interest the people in the matter of a Protestant hospital. Winfield Freeman and K. P. Snyder, attorneys, arranged a constitution and bylaws and applied for a charter from the state, which was granted March 8, 1892.  The hospital was conducted in a large building on Washington avenue between Third and Fourth streets until the buildings at Orchard street and Tenney avenue were erected and properly furnished. These buildings, while offering every convenience for the work, are too small to meet the Bethany Hospital - ca 1892 requirements, but in a few months it is expected that the new hospital building will have been erected.The new Bethany Hospital is to be one of the largest and best equipped institutions of its kind in the United States, and for its erection and equipment a fund of $200,000 is being raised in the five conferences supporting it. It is located in a beautiful park between Eleventh and Twelfth streets north of Central avenue, the highest point in Kansas City, Kansas. It is to be made fire-proof. The foundation has been laid and all is now (July, 1911) ready for the erection of the great structure.  Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm.]  On May 26, Mrs. John Wherrell's Girls Academy graduated five girls, who read the customary essays at commencement.  Mrs. E. L. Barnes addressed the group.  The audience at the high school exercises on June 5, 1891, was patient during the long program presented by nineteen graduates. 

The weeds in Huron Place produced enough seeds by August to insure a good crop the following year.  The street cars took the lives of children and cholera warnings alarmed adults.  Cleanliness should be stressed, the papers warned.

The Columbian Exposition in Chicago, postponed to 1893, inspired a group of women to prepare an exhibit from Kansas City.  The Columbian Ladies, 300 in number, gave a dinner and bazaar on April 5, 1895 to raise funds for the exhibit.  County members donated chickens, eggs, and butter to be sold. Teachers and other interested people were invited to assist in the exhibit.

Schools opened on January 4, 1892 under the board's jurisdiction.  The high school returned to two sessions a day instead of one.  A building on lots north of Greystone School was leased for the colored children and named Garrison.  Employees received pay after two weeks instead of the usual four weeks' period.  London Heights patrons wanted their children back from Everett and the board assented.  The Everett principal was notified about the uncleanliness of his building.

In January, William Becker, a blind man, received the board's permission to sell pens, pencils nd tablets in the schoolhouses during noons and recesses.  Teachers, were authorized to spend not more than ten minutes daily in physical exercise.  Fifth eighth-graders took the mid-year tests, but only twenty-six were promoted to the high school.

After the music director's disputed hiring, his term evidently was short.  The superintendent was instructed to see that as much music instruction be given as possible without supervision.  When a committee of principals asked for standards for children's promotion, the board set up some rules.

  1. Students to take an examination in all branches every month.
  2. Teachers to keep all examination papers on file and to turn them over to the principal or the superintendent at the end of the year.
  3. Promotions up to 80% of the class to be made upon results of tests.  The principal or superintendent to give final examinations to the remainder of the class.
  4. Standards for passing to be 70% general average and not below 50% in any one branch.
  5. Monthly examinations to be divided into four weekly examinations if desired.

Hayes and Sons pressed for interest payments on the $35,000 worth of bonds they purchased.  Samual W. Day, former board member, rented the old Greystone building and asked that repairs be made.  The board voted to erect a division fence between the Garrison and Greystone Schools.  Teachers who had formed a society to study psychology obtained the board room for Friday evenings.

Interest in a free library grew.  The board, under the leadership of President Thomas W. Heatley, appointed a library Committee in February, 1892, to do something about books for young people.  The committee presented a list of rules and regulations:

  1. The name to be the Public Library of Kansas City, Kansas.
  2. The title, property, government and control to be with the board.
  3. The Board of Managers to consist of nine persons.  The Chairman of the Board of the Library Committee to be an ex-officio member and president of the Board of Manager.  The superintendent to be a member, ex-officio.  The board to elect four members, the several permanent library societies to elect three, and the Board of Trade, one.
  4. Term to be one year.
  5. To be supported by donations and the sale of library tickets at one dollar per year.
  6. Board of Managers to report to the Board of Education on rules.
  7. The managers to elect the librarian.
  8. Two-thirds of library money to be spent on works of history, biography, science, travels, essays and poetry.  One-third to be spent for fiction, reviews, magazines and newspapers.
  9. To be located in the Board of Education rooms.

Mrs. B. Gray, Mrs. D. E. Cornell and Mrs. Edwards were the first three women on the Board of Managers.  In March, F. S. Merstetter was appointed to the Library Board.  The library committee asked that the south room in the high school be painted and papered.

After December, 1891, six members only would be on the Board of Education.  Four would remain, and two new members would be elected from the Second and Third Wards.  A suggestion, welcomed by men of both parties, was that one Democrat and one Republican be named.  The Republicans said that they had too many candidates for them to accede to such a suggestion.  The new board would have $120,000 in funds and thoughtful people feared small leaks in expenditures might occur if care was not exercised in the selection of members.

Mr. Gadd from the Third Ward had served on the board in 1877 and 1878, when there were only about a dozen teachers.  His friends hoped he would oppose paying high prices for inferior sites of selling bonds below par without bids.  Janitors earning twelve months pay drew criticism of some.  A hard fight was made against Gadd, but he won.

Two colored boys fought in the high school and assaulted teachers who interfered.  The incident caused more agitation for a division of the races in high schools.  In his report in March, the superintendent deplored the 2,202 tardies among children and the 62 among teachers for one month.  Superintendent Olin requested that the delivery of an oration or essay by the graduates be limited to ten.  Principal Mead wished permission for the high school to hold a Declamation Contest to buy scientific equipment.  Only a few teachers were excused for absence or tardiness at Institute.

March brought a record in absences.  A total of 18,618 half days, or 169 half days to a class, was recorded.  Substitutes taught 72 days for absent teachers.  Tardies rose to a total of 2,005 for the month.  The United States Signal Office sent out storm warnings on April 4.  The president of the Police Commission and the chief of police had to carry orders to dismiss from school to school.

The principal of Central School, J. C. Mason, died on April 22, 1892, from the effects of a tumor.  Pupils and teachers of Central attended in a body the funeral at the Presbyterian Church.  The board paid Mr. Mason high tribute in a eulogy about him shortly after he died.  The price of admission to the high school graduating exercises was set at ten cents.  The high school earned $88 in April for reference books by presenting a public entertainment of literary selections, dumb bell drills, tableaux, solos, and Indian club exercises.

Seven schools celebrated Columbian Dan on April 22, and a total of $50 was contributed to the state fund.  The superintendent made 37 formal classroom visits in April and found only one unworthy of a rating from Fair to High.  Some board members proposed the dismissal of teachers who did not attend a meeting at Leavenworth, but the motion lost in a close vote.

The high school committee of the board presented rules for approval:

  1. The full graduating class to take part in the closing exercises.  Papers limited to six minutes each.
  2. Professor E. Kreiser to be employed to direct the commencement music for a fee of $20.
  3. No flowers to be on the stage.
  4. Clergymen to be invited and to occupy reserved seats.

In previous years the board had waived requirements when a prospective high school graduate was short one or two points.  On May 23, Nicholas McAlpine appeared with Principal E. A. Mead and asked that Miss Annie O'Brien be permitted to graduate.  She lacked a few points in two studies.  Only three voted to permit her to pass.  A plea was made on June 2, but the opposition held and the girl failed to graduate.

The special taxes on the high school were paid by the board.  The Masonic Lodge was to pay the general taxes for 1888, but refused to help pay on the specials.  The holder of tax certificates of $2800 on school property wanted face value plus 10% or more.  On June 6, 1892, J. M. Sheaff and wife and a Mr. Hoffman as holders of certificates in the high school property, were paid 12% interest in settlement.  John Buckley and George E. Kroh were awarded judgments against the board.  A tenth mill levy was made to pay them for their work.

The last of the old Kansas City, Kansas, bonds were paid off in June, 1892.  The Herald's editor took up the matter of salaries and announced that when a woman does a man's work and does it equally well she should be paid the same salary.  He accused the board of violating its rule as to grades of certificates when holders of first grade certificates were paid $88 and those with second grade certificates received $110.  He went so far as to wonder if the board were running schools as charitable institutions.

The board had financial problems aside from salaries.  Property valuation in the city decreased $14,000.  Although the purchase of supplies was reduced to one third of the previous year's expenditure, the board would have difficulty in providing school for nine months.  Cypress Gardens colored people near the Missouri Pacific tracks east of Riverview School wanted a school.  District Number 9 had operated a school previously for them, but now the Kansas City board was in charge.  The board refused to continue the school.

The superintendent was directed late in the summer of 1892 to use a plan employed in other cities, frequently from choice and not necessity.  The plan was that teachers who left would not be replaced.  Teachers of first grade would have charge of 80 to 110 pupils each.  There would be two divisions, one in the forenoon and one in the afternoon.  Such measures were temporary, but for the time teachers who had no less than 80 pupils would received $5 extra.

Sally Lindsay, who married William Allen White, resigned in September, 1892, from her position at Long School.  The board regretted her loss.  Mrs. Godsil requested a teaching certificate with an examination only in physiology.  The law forbade such an arrangement.  Property in Armourdale and Greystone was sold for taxes, a matter for the city attorney to investigate.  The colored children enjoyed a holiday on September 22, Emancipation Day.  Winter preparation began with the purchase of twenty-five wagon loads of wood.

Worried colored citizens from Cypress Yards appeared again and again to plead for a school, for half days even, and the board had to refuse.  The superintendent and principals made plans for a city-wide Columbus Day celebration.  Parents with children under age seven had little trouble getting special permission to enroll their children in school.

Flags awaited poles from which to fly.  The board hoped to have flag poles at the principal schools before October 19.  It reluctantly granted permission for Miss Donnelly and Mrs. Slusser to take two weeks from their classrooms to campaign for the office of county superintendent.  Several principals wanted to go to Topeka and Leavenworth to see what schools in those cities were sending to the Exposition.  Superintendent Olin was given two days leave to go and to confer with the Board of Directors for the Kansas Educational Exhibit.  The exercises at the Tabernacle had earned $140.  A large crowd attended and pronounced the entertainment good.

The Herald and the Gazette bid for the board's printing contract.  The Gazette won and the Herald's editor made charges of favoritism against Thomas W. Heatley, board president.  Parents thought Professor Olin should do something about the morals of the schools.  The "male pupils" indulged in profane and obscene language when they left the school.  It was easy to remedy.  The superintendent could tell the principals that they were responsible for children's morals.  The principals then would tell the teachers, and moral, as well as intellectual, culture would be assured.

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Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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