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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 1895

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The depression continued into the new year, 1896, and more banks failed.  In the January drabness, school personnel enjoyed a lift in spirits.  One of their number, a Miss Hahn of Riverview School, received an inheritance of $150,000.  By spring, smallpox was on the increase, especially among the colored people.  The city authorized the erection of a pest house in Grandview.  When builders started work, residents of the neighborhood drove workmen away and scattered materials.

[Annotation:  Main Entry: pest·house
Pronunciation: -"haus
Function: noun
Date: 1611
a shelter or hospital for those infected with a pestilential or contagious disease]

President Heinz of the Board of Trustees for the new university looked over the grounds in April.  The school opened on September 24, 1896, on the site of the present Augustinian Seminary (Annotation:  In 2003, it is currently the Augustinian Seminary) at Thirty-fourth and Parallel.  Schools celebrated the last day of the term in May with a picnic.  The big Armour whistle that today stills serves as a time signal for local residents, blew its first blast an nine o'clock on the evening of June 10, 1896.  It was supposed to be the deadline for children on the street.  Parents wanted the curfew at eight in winter.

Diphtheria and smallpox spread.  Parents tried preventives and remedies to protect their children.  In all seriousness the newspapers published so-called "sure cures" for diphtheria.  One recipe read:  "Take crude copperas and mash fine.  Cook in a skillet till brown.  Add one-half teaspoon to half glass of water.  Gargle three or four times a day."

Another cure called for pure lime water every fifteen minutes, to be gargled, and then a small amount swallowed.  A beef's esophagus in an ice pack, "Held filled from ear to ear," was recommended for inflamed throats.

[Annotations . . . . . .

Copperas . . . . .
Main Entry: cop·per·as
Pronunciation: 'kä-p(&-)r&s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English coperas, from Old French couperose, from Medieval Latin cuprosa, probably from aqua cuprosa, literally, copper water, from Late Latin cuprum
Date: 14th century
: a green hydrated ferrous sulfate FeSO 4 ·7H 2 O used especially in making inks and pigments

Diphtheria . . . . . Diphtheria is an acute bacterial disease that usually affects the tonsils, throat, nose and/or skin. It is passed from person to person by droplet transmission, usually by breathing in diphtheria bacteria after an infected person has coughed, sneezed or even laughed. It can also be spread by handling used tissues or by drinking from a glass used by an infected person. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and sometimes death.  

Corynebacterium diphtheria diphtheria was once one the most common cause of death in children. During the late 1800s, diphtheria epidemics were rampant in the United States and Western Europe. At that time, most victims were under the age of ten. It was even widespread in the early 1900s, when all through the 1920s; the disease struck about 150,000 people a year, with 15,000 of them killed. However, since then, these numbers have dropped drastically. With the introduction and widespread use of diphtheria vaccine, diphtheria has been rare in the United States and Europe.

Smallpox . . . . . Smallpox is a serious, contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious disease. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is vaccination. The name smallpox is derived from the Latin word for "spotted" and refers to the raised bumps that appear on the face and body of an infected person.

Smallpox is caused by the variola virus that emerged in human populations thousands of years ago. Except for laboratory stockpiles, the variola virus has been eliminated. However, in the aftermath of the events of September and October, 2001, there is heightened concern that the variola virus might be used as an agent of bioterrorism. For this reason, the U.S. government is taking precautions for dealing with a smallpox outbreak. Generally, direct and fairly prolonged face-to-face contact is required to spread smallpox from one person to another. Smallpox also can be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing. Rarely, smallpox has been spread by virus carried in the air in enclosed settings such as buildings, buses, and trains. Humans are the only natural hosts of variola. Smallpox is not known to be transmitted by insects or animals.  A person with smallpox is sometimes contagious with onset of fever (prodrome phase), but the person becomes most contagious with the onset of rash. At this stage the infected person is usually very sick and not able to move around in the community. The infected person is contagious until the last smallpox scab falls off.

A century ago, milk sold at the local store was dipped from an unrefrigerated five-gallon can. Very likely, molasses, chalk, or even plaster of Paris had been added to improve its taste or appearance. Infants and young children often became ill from the germs that thrived in the warm milk, especially in the summer months. At the time, infectious diseases were the leading cause of death, and contaminated milk was a leading source of infection. The first major victory in the fight to save the lives of young children was won by setting standards for the safe handling of milks. "Milk stations" were set up where parents could get fresh milk from "certified" suppliers.

The next battle was fought against the killer diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). In the 1800s, these diseases filled graveyards with their tiny victims. Parents watched over their children as the disease ran its course to recovery or death. Doctors, called late in the disease when death was close, faced desperate situations. During his years of practice, Dr. Abraham Jacobi, the nation's first doctor for children, performed emergency surgery on more than 2,500 children dying of a blocked windpipe, the deadly complication of diphtheria. Though his heroic actions saved many children, tragically he was unable to save his own son. When the diphtheria vaccine became available, parents celebrated the chance to protect their children.

History of the Health Sciences - World Wide Web Links ]

On January 30, the trustees of St. Paul's Episcopal Church sold their church site on the southeast corner of Huron Place.  A loan company took the valuable plot of 150 by 150 feet to cancel the church debt.  The depression affected churches as well as schools.

The classroom situation grew desperate.  W. W. Rose, the board's architect, tried to figure a way to increase space at minimum cost.  Some high school students were compelled to attend school in Kansas City, Missouri but that city refused to take any more pupils from here.  The Board of Trade and the Labor Union endorsed the board's plan to make the high school part of the county system.  Different groups planned to go before the county commissioners to request such action.  At the end of ten or fifteen years, the city could again operate the high school which had increased in enrollment.

The Board of Managers invited the public to visit on February 13 the library managed by the Federation of Clubs.  The Riverview Mandolin Club entertained callers at the library rooms.  New books placed on the shelves were designated by the borrowers as heavy reading.

School children on President Grant's birthday, April 27, contributed to a penny collection for a fund for a monument to Mrs. Sturgis.  Ladies of the Relief Corps, Burnside Post, sponsored the movement to honor Mrs. Sturgis, a Civil War army nurse, who died in 1895.  Walker School closed because of smallpox, although Dr. Cornell and Dr. George M. Gray advised against schools closing.  The doctors asked the board, instead to insist upon children being vaccinated and to present a certificate before coming to school.

The board made a third try for permission to issue bonds.  Circulars were sent to citizens, explaining the need for additional money.  The high school must have six rooms and the north end of the Second Ward had to have relief.

One custom of the '90s was to print charges that today would instigate a libel suit against the writers.  Alex Carfrae, member, and M. G. Jones, clerk were subjects of attacks that even on the surface sounded untrue.  People voted against the bonds.  L. L. Hanks was elected superintendent, although first plans were to defer the election until the board reorganized in August.

Frank Colvin, Reynolds' principal, asserted that he had gone to Morril Wells, a board member, to ask for a transfer to high school vacancy.  Wells knew nothing of the matter.  William Fletcher sent Colvin to see Harry Bell.  Bell informed Colvin it would cost $100 to get the job.  When Hanks was elected in April, friends of other candidates said certain board members voted him in when others were absent.

Mr. Hanks answered charges of the board having railroaded him by asserting that he never had spent a single dollar for an appointment and that he was elected against his wish. He accepted the position as a political necessity at the urging of teachers and friends.  In answer to the accusation that Thomas Heatley had come from Cleveland to elect him, Mr. Hanks said Heatley's candidate was a Mr. Brooks and that he, Hanks, had not paid Heatley a cent.  The superintendent threatened to take the case to court for settlement.

The board arranged in the summer for a room in Northrup Flat.  Mr. Simpson, Mrs. Fleischman, Mr. Stoddard and Mr. Keys were notified that the schools would have no further use for their buildings.

Leading citizens sponsored parties and entertainments for the library.  On July 23, 1896, Mr. and Mrs. Winfield Freeman gave a "balcony" social as a benefit for the library fund at their home at Sixth and Freeman.  One invited guest said he had no idea what a "balcony" social was -- maybe it was an affair "where the boys could kiss the girls only in the shade of the vines on the balcony."  A new source of income became available for the library when one half the dog tax was turned into the funds, by an ordinance passed by the city council in August, 1896.

Although students had asked for modern language classes years before, it was September, 1896, when a class in German was organized.  The teacher, Miss Helbach, would receive $1 for each lesson taught a class.  One issue of the newspaper, to be called the "School News," was authorized.  News devoted to school interests would be featured.

Events of lesser importance occurred during the year.  Arvin S. Olin, former superintendent, went to Lawrence to teach at the university.  He later headed the Department of Education there.  Patrons wondered about the establishment of a free kindergarten, especially for the poorer classes.  The high school played its first football game in February with a Kansas City, Missouri team.  The 1896 players were the forerunners of the Crimson and White Bulldogs of the present time.  [Annotation:  The Crimson and White Bulldogs are Wyandotte High School in present times.]

The city needed a fire department station near Ninth and Quindaro.  City Attorney Pollock asked the board for the use of the old Stewart School there.  The Kansas City Telephone Company offered first class telephone service to the board for $36 a year. The contract would not affect that with the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company.

The music program got underway.  Miss Amanda Weber was appointed to teach and also to be the director of music at a salary of $75 a month.  The grade schools invited parents to a drawing exhibit in the spring.  Mr. Bell and Mr. Fletcher left the board in August.  Only 15 of 40 applicants for certificates passed creditably.  After canvassing votes in October, Miss Linda (Melinda) Clark of Riverview School was elected county superintendent in November.

The directors of District 2, to the west of the city, sent Mr. Tenny to ask that children attend city schools.  A fee of $50 was paid by the district.  A future state superintendent of schools, Lizzie Wooster, showed the board her charts for primary reading.  Over 6,500 pupils were enrolled in the schools and help was desperately needed from the legislature.

Next Section   1897

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