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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 1900

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On January 7, 1901, Long School closed because smallpox raged in the neighborhood.  Vaccination at this time had proved effective against the disease and measures had been taken to enforce a rule requiring it of school children.  Later in the school year, typhoid fever, diphtheria, and scarlet fever took their usual toll of victims.  In all seriousness, the Herald published in January a "cure" for smallpox and scarlet fever:

1 gr. sulphate of zinc
1 gr. fox glove (digitalis)
1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons water

When London Heights School closed in April because of contagious diseases, and typhoid fever spread over the city in October, people shook their heads and blamed the imperfect sewerage and cedar block pavement on the streets.  As to the sewerage, they may have come near being correct.

As requested by Colonel Campbell of the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic), children donated money for engraving names on medals for soldiers of Company B, the Twentieth Kansas Regiment.  The medals were awarded February 15, 1901, to the men who had served in the Philippines.  The G.A.R. requested the board to assist in arranging for pupils to march in the parade of veterans on Decoration Day, May 30.  School children were dismissed on September 19, on account of the burial of President William McKinley on that day.

The board, with high school building problems out of the way, planned other construction.  Sites for schools in the Second and Fifth Wards had to be chosen.  The old Fowler property had been offered as a site for a school in the Second Ward.  The board, however, chose a location on the northwest corner of Fourth and Parallel for a two-story four-room brick building.  In the Sixth Ward, Morse would have a four-room addition and a new two-story four-room brick would be used as an annex for Armourdale.  Block 40 near Armourdale School property was purchased for an annex.

Three old buildings on the Armourdale property were sold in May.  The school at Fourth and Parallel was named "Eugene Field" in honor of the celebrated children's poet.  S. J. Davidson was awarded the contract for the four-room Morse addition at a cost of over $11,000.  In June a hallway at Irving was partitioned off for use as a classroom.  The opening for Eugene Field School was set for two weeks later than the other schools in the fall and for closing two weeks later in the spring.  The board made arrangements for pictures to be taken of the new and old schools to be published in the annual report.

Citizens interested in the schools asked for a meeting with the Board of Education.  On May 31, 1901, the two groups met at the high school.  Alfred Weston, board president, asked Superintendent Wolfe to talk to the parents who wanted a more practical type of education in the schools.  Porter Sherman, W. E. Barnhart, W. P. Morgan and the superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri, Manual Training High School also spoke.  Sentiment for an expanded program was awakened.

The board appointed, in June, a supervisor for manual training in the grades, Clarence J. Smith.  Supplies were ordered in August for use in seventh and eighth grades, but a week later the idea of having classes in the grade schools was abandoned.  Mr. Smith became principal at Reynolds School.  Parents of high school girls asked that their daughters be permitted to take manual training.  To this the board agreed.

M. E. Pearson was elected in January, 1901, to the second vice-presidency of the Kansas State Teachers Association.  The eleventh annual meeting of the Northeast Kansas Teachers Association was held in Kansas City on April 4, 5 and 6.  George E. Rose, principal, and J. E. Kammeyer, high school teacher, explained their differences to the board on June 3, at which time a petition for Mr. Kammeyer to be elected principal was presented to bard members.

J. J. Maxwell, who had been principal at Central School, asked for a leave of absence on August 12, explaining that he wanted to work for a book publishing business.  C. W. Porter was elected principal of the old building and J. D. Orr for the section at Seventh and Ann.

Early in the fall, on November 2, a fire took the life of John D. Orr, principal of Central School.  In starting to build a fire at his home at 915 Oakland, he kindled a blaze that spread through the room.  His wife also was burned, though not fatally, and cut be broken window glass.  W. C. Jamison, principal of Atchison High School did not do so.  E. H. Jackson, Ann Arbor graduate and superintendent at Greenleaf for a time, was named principal of the Seventh and Ann building.

The Mercantile Club agitated the question of a high school for the colored.  Members said that the white people were willing to pay for equal schools, and that colored who wanted white schools could move to some place where their children attend.  The Almighty, said one person, has made "distraction" between the races, and people had a right and duty to respect it.  A separate high school would keep Kansans from going across the line to avoid the situation here.

On October 17, Alfred Weston, president of the board, addressed the Mercantile Club concerning the color line in the high school.  He told how many colored parents hesitated about sending their children to a white school.  If they had a high school of their own, more colored students would attend. Robert L. Peak, Mercantile Club speaker, mentioned that constitutional amendment separated the races in Missouri.

[Annotation:  Until the 1954 case of Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education, many states operated under the ruling of the 1892 Plessy vs. Ferguson case, which ending in a Supreme Court ruling of "equal but separate".  For many school districts across the country, this meant that it was OK for them to segregate the white and colored race as long as the facilities for both were equal. -- You might want to take a few minutes and visit the site of "Welcome to African-American History!"]

The usual minor matters came up for consideration.  The YWCA asked for out-of-date magazines and books for its library on James Street.  Thirty historical charts of Kansas were purchased.  In February a group of colored women, known as the Mothers' Union, asked permission to meet one night each week after school at Lincoln.  The board refused permission for the Smith Bakery to distribute pamphlets in the school. 

When the Leavenworth Electric Railway petitioned to build a street car line in front of Lincoln School on State Avenue, the board signed in favor of it.  After using gas at the high school heating plant for a while, the operators returned to gasoline.  District 7 [Cobb/Stewart/Bryant; Eugene Ware/Waterworks], on March 4, 1901, refused to pay tuition for pupils at Hawthorne.  The board ruled that it must.  A Penny Savings System was soon to be inaugurated.

Mrs. Fowler asked early in May for the use of the high school auditorium for a benefit for "little Miss Rowena Schiffbauer."  In August the Children's Home borrowed 24 desks.  M. E. Pearson began a census investigation and said there were about 16,000 children of school age in the city.  Superintendent Wolfe purchased in September a steropticon for school work.

[Annotation:  Main Entry: ste·re·op·ti·con
Pronunciation: -'äp-ti-k&n
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from stere- + Greek optikon, neuter of optikos optic
Date: 1863
1 : a projector for transparent slides often made double so as to produce dissolving views]

A special board meeting was called on September 16 to consider the huge school enrollment.  Armourdale, Central, Morse and Long each had over 700 pupils and Riverview had over 600.  The city's year's enrollment had been exceeded by 348.  The average per room was down to 42 in 1901.  Mrs. Bliss asked for a room in Hawthorne School to teach elocution.

South of Armourdale, a district known as Toudeloup asked for a school.  C. Neville Walker's patrons at Hawthorne offered $100 in supplies if a manual training class would be established.  At the high school a new printing press would be in use early in 1902.  The new Eugene Field School was damaged by a December storm.

Of all events of the year, those connected with the plans for a new library were most absorbing.  Early in the year the board instructed the superintendent of repairs to have the sign, "Public Library" painted on one window fronting on Fifth Street and on one facing Minnesota.

A woman who had devoted her energies for years toward a free public library died in Seattle, Washington, on January 13, 1901.  She was Mrs. Sarah Richart, who residence was at Sixth and Everett.  In her will she left five or six thousand dollars for the purchase of library books, provided that there was a suitable place to house them.

A Mr. Hoag introduced House Bill, Number 791, in February, authorizing that the part of Huron Place under the control of the Board of Education be used as a site for a library building.  The Board of Education could give the ground to the city to carry out such a purpose.

On March 4, when the Board of Education offered title to the land in Huron Place, he Mercantile Club said it was going to ask Andrew Carnegie, eastern philanthropist, for money for a library.  The dog tax money, collected by Mrs. Richart and other club women, brought in only $200 a year, a large part going for expenses and only a little to the library.  The news arrived on July 4, 1901, that Mr. Carnegie would provide $75,000 if the city spent 10$ of the sum each year for the cost of maintenance.

The committee announced the gift on August 5, 1901.  The city pledged $75,000 over a period of ten years for maintenance.  Active on the committee were W. A. Simpson, president of the Mercantile Club, Chancellor David S. Stephens of Kansas City University, McCabe Moore, Board of Education members W. E. Barnhart, George McL. Miller and Alfred Watson.  On August 8, the board sent by registered mail a formal acceptance of Mr. Carnegie's gift and pledged the required annual guarantee.

The mayor and council, on September 12, passed resolutions in praise of the library gift.  On the same day the board received a letter from Andrew Carnegie's secretary affirming that drafts to the amount of $75,000 would be honored.  The women's clubs started a collection for a life-size portrait of Mrs. Sarah Richart, to be hung in a proposed art room in the library upon its completion.  Mrs. Snell and the Excelsior Club appealed to the board on October 7, asking for a branch library in Armourdale.  Attorneys still were working on establishing title to the ground of the library.  They found before the end of the year the location and dimensions of the plot on which Central stood and sent the library plans to Carnegie for approval.  In December, 1901, Miss Mina Lane resigned and Mrs. Sarah Judd Greenman, widow of Corwin M. Greenman, was elected librarian, a position she was to hold for many years.

Next Section   1902

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

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