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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 1898

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The kindergarten movement, by 1899, was well started in Kansas City.  The Fowler had initiated it with the school in old Kansas City, Kansas.  Mrs. Cheney later established a kindergarten of her own on Minnesota Avenue, and the public wished to extend the services.  [Annotation:  Mrs. Alice Cheney advertised on January that she would accept children, three to eight years of age, for kindergarten and primary work.  The school was conveniently located at Third and Minnesota.  Children attending from 9 a.m. to 12 paid two dollars a month.  From one to four in the afternoon, the kindergarten was free.]  Mrs. Cheney in 1898 attended the National Congress of Kindergarten Workers in Chicago and brought advanced ideas to her school.  The Free Kindergarten Association supported a school at James and Ohio, which 50 children attended.

Company B was due home in October from the Philippines.  When Attorney Berger asked for a school holiday so that the children could join the welcoming crowd, the board granted it.  A request was made for a collection in the schools for Company B's entertainment.  Mr. Chester Rugg of Berkeley, California, addressed the board the board at the February meeting on the subject of organizing the school children into a Patriotic Society.  The board refused to permit him to work in the schools.

Little had been done to control contagious diseases.  In addition to smallpox, diphtheria and scarlet fever, meningitis raged.  Central and Armourdale Schools were closed for one or two weeks at different times because of smallpox in the school or neighborhood.  The city council, alarmed at the spread of the disease, ordered all people in the city to be vaccinated.  After January 2, 1900, all pupils would be required to present a certificate of vaccination.

A local paper, the "Gazette," advertised in the September 14, 1899, issue the opening of the Lowell Springs Addition, two blocks from the "Grandview School."  The springs were on Tenth Street between Orville and Ohio Avenues, so the advertisement read.  The Rescue Home wanted a permanent building for its inmates and was told that teachers could mention the objectives to children, but could not ask for contributions.  Residents on Seventh Street from Minnesota to Tauromee asked the board to sign a petition for asphalt paving.

Erection of the new high school was a dream fulfilled after years of hoping and planning.  Benjamin Schnierle's bid was highest on the $75,000 worth of bonds.  Interest was $4.5%.  W. W. Rose was instructed to draw up plans for the new building.  Attorneys assured the board that the title to the Huron Place site where Central School stood was impregnable.  Members said, however, that their original intention was not to build on the property as they understood the title was defective.  They required L. W. Keplinger to bring summary suit proceedings to determine the title.

Property owners offered 36 sites for the high school to the board.  A resolution of thanks was presented to Thomas J. Barker, who had offered a site of ten acres out of a beautiful grove for $10,000.  He also offered to donate $2,000 for a sewer installation.  Because the grove was in the north part of the city and the board wanted a central location, Mr. Barker's site had to be refused.

The board chose a location at Ninth and Minnesota.  The land owned by Charles and Theresa Haines consisted of 284 feet on the west side of Ninth Street between Minnesota and State.  It was 135 feet deep, with a fifteen-foot alley and also another running east and west from Ninth to Tenth Streets between Minnesota and State.  He would unite with the board in a request to the council to grade the north and south alley.  Moore and Berger, lawyers, donated their services in examining the title to the property.  On February 28, 1899, the deed was recorded.

On February 21-22, 1899, J. H. Lasley, engineer, surveyed the new site.  John W. Ferguson, formerly eight years with the schools, four of them as superintendent, was given the contract for the high school on March 6, 1899, for a total price of $89,484.  E. H. Rodekopf was elected to do the grading.  Out of many applicants, W. P. Gilbert was elected inspector for the new building.  Stone and brickmasons presented a petition signed by citizens, asking the board to require the contractor to employ sub-contractors who were residents of Kansas City, Kansas.

A Mr. Russell from the Mechanics Union wanted the board to see that union men be given preference in hiring workers.  A week later, on March 20, the board questioned Mr. Ferguson and a committee from the Bricklayers Union as to the workmen to be employed.

On March 30, Bricklayers Union Number 4, Kansas City, Missouri, addressed a communication to Contractor Ferguson.  The union had held a meeting at which a resolution was drawn protesting the action of the board in employing only resident labor.  Such action, the letter said, was detrimental to the interests of their union.  Union bricklayers would refuse to work on the building unless the resolution was rescinded.  The board acceded to the demand.

Number 1 buff brick was chosen for the building, which was running beyond planned costs.  Rather than delay the work, the board shortened the school term two weeks and spent the extra money on the high school.  The Mercantile Club furnished the cornerstone with the date inscribed on it.  At 2:30, Friday, May 19, the cornerstone ceremony was held.

Older children gathered at Huron Place to march to the high school site and to sing patriotic songs at the ceremonies.  The Light Guards Bank and the Westminster Cadets marched along Minnesota Avenue between rows of flags.  Factory whistles blew a salute.  On the program were Governor W. E. Stanley, Porter Sherman, J. K. Cubbison, Mayor Marshman and Superintendent Greenwood of Kansas City, Missouri.  It was one of Kansas City's proudest days.

A new building for the colored children at Walker School brought problems. Architect W. W. Rose made plans in April for a four-room brick school for the district, to be located on Virginia Avenue between First and Second Streets. White citizens of the district presented, less than a month later, a petition against the building of a school there. On May 8, Walker School patrons informed the board that they were pleased with the board's choice and thanked the members for their excellent judgment.

Persons opposed to the Second and Virginia site selected another, which the board thought too small and too expensive.  The first site was chosen and J. W. Ferguson awarded the contract.  Houses on the grounds had been used temporarily as a hospital.  These were destroyed under the supervision of the Fire Department Chief.  An old brick house on the location was sold to Kepler and Son for $25.  The board named the school Stowe, for Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

The board was relieved of responsibility for the library when in January, 1899, the club women of the city assumed responsibility. On the Library Board were: Lillian Walker Hale, Mary M. Banteleon, Carrie A. Brownson, J. D. Cruise (Cruse), Sarah A. Richart, Morrell Wells, W. E. Barnhart.

Rooms above what was later the People's National Bank were rented.  The Board of Education paid $500 for new books and named Miss Elizabeth Dickinson, a former teacher, librarian.  Mrs. Mary Farrow succeeded her for a few months.  When the new high school was completed, the books would be moved there.  D. A. Griest gave the library a sixteen-volume set of Masterpieces of American History.

The picture of Mrs. Clarinda Nichols exhibited at the Chicago Fair by the Columbian Ladies, was presented to the library.  It was valued at $500.  Mrs. Mary Tenney Gray was president of the group.  Mrs. Sara Robinson, wife of the first governor of Kansas, presented a book for the Kansas section.  Valuable reports of Mason S. Peters, former congressman, were the gift of Mrs. Sarah Richart, present of the Library Board.  After an appeal for donations, the library received over 400 magazines, including copies of Scribner's, Harper's, Century, and Review of Reviews.

Mrs. Many N. Farrow left to go to the Kansas City, Missouri, Library.  The board praised her work over the past two years.  Miss Mina Lane took her place.  City teachers received free tickets to the library.

The increasing school population more than filled available rooms.  In January, 1899, plans were made for a two-room addition to Greystone and the contract awarded to J. W. Ferguson the following June.  Rooms in the old high school building were readied in the summer for Central pupils.  Two small rooms in Central would be abandoned.  A room at the corner of First (Fifth?) and Osage was leased for an annex to the Armourdale School.  Morse and Long needed relief.  A storeroom at Third and Lafayette was rented for Long.  Morse had to care for all until something could be done.

The colored at Greystone appeared again pleading for a school.  When Reynolds patrons wanted an addition, they were told by the board that Lowell, London Heights, and others were in the same fix.  There was no money to build.  McAlpine patrons told the board of their 400 children in need of a new eight-room building.  The Mercantile Club thought Huron Place would look better without Central School.  By December the new Greystone addition was in need of repairs.

The high school did not open as planned on September 18.  On August 31, 1899, no floors or staircases had been built and only one-half coat of plaster was on.  President Simpson of the Mercantile Club warned against starting school in the building before school started on September 18.  Seats and blackboards were still missing in the new school.

On October 5, 1899, 175 boys, 360 girls and 16 teachers moved into the high school.  The paper described it as one of the finest in the West with 23 rooms, a study hall, a library and an auditorium.  Everyone overlooked the lack of conveniences due to its incomplete state.  Before the formal opening in December, Mr. Kirk Armour of the packing company donated $1500 to equip two or three rooms at the high school for manual training.  Mr. Armour's stipulations were that the room be available to all boys who desired manual training and that the rooms be available at night.

When patrons gathered on December 5, 1899, in the assembly hall, they were entertained with a musical and literary program.  Leading citizens made speeches.  The plea of W. A. Simpson of the Mercantile Club was that schools be taken out of politics.  Board President Barnhart told the parents that only Alaska had a lower per capita expense than Kansas City.  Porter Sherman read a paper discussing school matters.  Superintendent Wolfe spoke of pressures brought to bear on boards of education.  If members refused to employ second-class applicants, they often found themselves voted out at the next election.  Public feeling, he said, must be aroused.  Dr. Winship, editor of the National Journal of Education, was the main speaker.

The high school faced east on Ninth Street.  Later additions were built to the north and south of the original building.  In December after the opening, the State Department requested a picture of the school to send to the Paris Exposition.

The landscape artist and the council improved Huron Place.  Gradually it began to resemble the park which it was intended to be.  They tore down the ugly board fence between the Place and the old Indian Cemetery.  Small boys from Central School used to hang over the fence to look at the graves with weathered wooden markers.  Some citizens suggested spending a few dollars on the cemetery also.  The south side of Minnesota from Sixth to Seventh had been little used, but additional people in the city brought increased activity on that side of the street.

The cemetery had been neglected for years.  The head of James Big Tree, a Christian Indian, who died years before, was found protruding from his grave.  Someone carried it away and gave the hair to ghoulish persons for a souvenir.  Hundreds flocked to the cemetery to see the remains exposed to view.  Indignant citizens criticized the recently incorporated Cemetery Association for the indifference of its members and said the whole affair did not speak well for our civilization.

Graduates of the newly-organized Teachers' Training Department in the high school were given certificates.  E. E. Trowbridge, board member, thought that high school graduates should have a year of professional work before substituting.  He suggested that regular, successful teachers should be exempt from the annual examinations, except as required by the superintendent.  The board agreed that the suggestions were wise.

While the board's project for the year was the erection of the high school, there were other decisions to make.  In January, 1899, District 2 offered $75 for children attending city schools.  [Annotation:  District 2 was Kerr/Roosevelt and Eugene Ware.]  The principals of London Heights, Wood, and Walker reported to the board in answer to complaints by patrons about punishments given the children.  Bethany and Douglass Hospitals took up collections of food and clothing in the schools.  Mr. Lapier Williams left the high school in March to become superintendent of the School for the Blind.  Colonel E. Richardson, since 1894, has occupied the Fowler mansion in the northeast part of the city.  [Annotation:  The Fowler mansion was formerly the home of the Matthew Walker family, brother of Governor William Walker.]

Teachers asked for classrooms in vacation time.  A Mr. Marrs requested use of a room in Central to give lessons in penmanship and offered his course for one dollar less if pupils attended the public schools.  The Larson brothers received permission to teach Swedish at Long School during the summer.  Reverend Dornsifer was refused permission to hold church services in Greystone School because state law forbade.  The board complied somewhat reluctantly with the textbook list as chosen by the state commissioners.

Next Section   1900

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

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