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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 1903


Water again rose in the lowlands of the city during the spring and early summer of 1904.  The damage to the schools was minor compared to that in 1903, as the flood was not extensive.  The silt deposit left in the buildings had to be cleaned out and walls and floors repainted.

The pioneer era truly had ended by 1904.  One October day, 31 of Central School's eighth graders went "on strike."  Olive Reed, their teacher and assistant principal, was transferred to the Armourdale School.  The pupils considered her a good teacher and were fond of her.  According to a news item of the time, she had already taught several years in Armourdale, which was considered a less desirable assignment than Central.  The editor seemed to support the children's action, saying that someone not yet "having the pleasure" might have been assigned instead to Armourdale.  What effect the strike had we are not told.

Serious trouble at the high school, which aroused strong feeling throughout the city, occurred on April 12, 1904.  Roy Martin, a seventeen-year old freshman, was working at Kerr's Park, getting the ground ready for a ball game.  Louis Gregory, a young colored man not connected with the high school, killed the boy.  Gregory's father turned him over at once to the police and asked that they protect him from violence.

Martin was the only son of Mrs. Eppa A. Martin, operator of the Home Hotel at 953 Minnesota. Irate citizens, aroused by the slaying, threatened lynching.  Armed Negroes gathered on Seventh Street near the jail, located where the Town House Hotel [7th and State Avenue] stands today.  A race war was feared.  A colored preacher, E. A. Greene, was said to have passed whiskey around, inciting the crowd of fifty horn-blowing, armed Negroes to call out insulting remarks and threaten further violence.  Leaders were arrested and fined after pleading guilty.

Hundreds attended the slain boy's funeral at the Seventh Street Methodist Church and his burial in Woodlawn Cemetery.  The high school was closed until the following Monday, when students calmed down a little.

The board had its own troubles.  Early in May, 1904, Myron A. Waterman, a well-known resident of the city, swore out a complaint against a board member, Frank Campbell.  In it he accused Campbell of receiving a bribe for procuring a contract for C. G. Gilhaus to clean the flood silt from the Armourdale School.  Judge Donohoo issued the warrant for Campbell's arrest.  Campbell appeared in court in person and made bond.

Frank Campbell, Sixth Ward member, had been indicted the previous year by a grand jury.  As all the indictments had been defective, he was never brought to trial.  Waterman said the bribe was for $412, but at the preliminary hearing on May 6, Campbell was discharged because of lack of evidence.

C. G. Gilhaus was supposed to have made a statement to Keplinger, Maher, and Waterman saying that he had given Frank Campbell a check for $412 on the afternoon he was paid for the work.  The check, he stated was for Campbell's services in getting him the job.  This statement Gilhaus repudiated entirely at the hearing.  He did say that his profit was over $400 on a $900 contract.

The new colored school in Armourdale, Phillips, opened in January, 1904.  The board voted to close the old one, which John Boddington bought in April for $50.  An additional four rooms were needed at Bancroft School, and four or six at Douglass.  In Armourdale the west end wanted an eight-room school built north of Osage and west of Tenth.

Henry McGrew in May sold to the board property for the new Armourdale building lots 21-27, Block 125.  Four rooms were planned at this time for the school which was to be called John Fiske in honor of the historian and author.  The Carpenters Union asked the board to insert a clause in the specifications saying that union labor must be employed except for something the unions were unable to do.  Only Miller voted against the resolution.  J. W. Taylor received the contract and completed his work on December 19, 1904.

The colored people in the north section of the city lacked facilities and asked for a school somewhere north of Haskell between Second and Ninth Streets.  The school would be called Dunbar in honor of Paul Lawrence Dunbar, a Negro writer and educator.  Armourdale patrons were promised in December that the old building would be replaced with a new one of four rooms.

The president of the Board of Health talked to the Board of Education about school sanitation.  The toilets at Longfellow and Eugene Field should be connected to sewers.  Drinking fountains with city water should be installed.  Porcelain-lined pails and dippers should be used instead of "fiber" buckets and tin ladles.  Fumigators were needed in the schools, and the board ordered two.

A change in board rules in December, 1904, permitted non-resident parents to deduct the amount of their taxes from their children's tuition.  Another change ruled that the architect would be elected each January for a term of one year.

Flood expenses prevented some teachers, especially those on maximum pay, from receiving an increase.  A Mrs. Hoyt, president of a teachers committee, presented a petition on July 5, 1904, signed by citizens and patrons, requesting an increase in salary for the teachers.  W. E. Barnhart, board president, talked to the Mercantile Club about the matter.  He explained that when he became a board member there was no schedule.

In some cases the older and experienced teachers were getting only $40 and the younger were receiving $50.  Mr. Barnhart and other members made the schedule, then the highest in the state.  The increase asked by the teachers meant an outlay of four or five thousand dollars.  Too many children were in the school for the taxable property to care for.

The board adopted a new contract form on July 18.  A teacher must give two weeks' notice when she resigned.  For teachers of one to eight years of teaching experience, the salaries ran from $40 to $65 a month.  After 1904-1905, there was promised a $5 a month increase.  High School teachers would receive from $60 to $105, with a special raise for 1904-1905.  Principals' salaries ranged from $65 to $120.

The library opening dwarfed the importance of other events.  The board planned in January for an early February opening, but it was postponed to March 4.  The library in the second-floor rooms at Fifth and Minnesota was moved to the new building.  As one writer put it, the opening of Carnegie Library was "a new epoch in the city's history."  On March 4, several thousand visitors inspected the rooms.  High school students came from one to three o'clock.  Women were greeted at a three-to-five reception by members of the Federated Clubs.  After seven in the evening the general public arrived.  Mrs. Sara Greenman, Mrs. Mary Neale Mills, children's librarian, and Miss Vera Francis (Johnson) greeted the guests.  James Fee, custodian, showed the building for hours.  Proud citizens boasted of one of the finest, best equipped libraries in the West, with one of the most beautiful settings in the United States.

The dedication was held in the Lecture Room, later divided into offices for the Board of Education personnel.  A distinguished group of citizens appeared that evening on the following program:

By March 7, 1904, the board was ready to accept books from Mrs. Richart's request.  Of the 5500 books in the library, 1000 were new and 4500 were old.  From March to June, a period of four months, the number increased to 18,116.  The board allotted $1000 for the purchase of new books in May.  For current fiction the Bodley Club in the library department of the Book Lovers' Library had been maintained.  The club rented 250 books which could be exchanged as often as desired.

Mrs. Greenman had two years previously studied library work at the University of Minnesota.  She hoped then to apply some of the knowledge gained there to the library at home.  When the library occupied the new building in January, the board employed Miss Marion Sparks, library organizer from the University of Illinois, to work for five months classifying, labeling and pocketing the books.  Miss Sparks and the other librarians made and typed 15,000 cards according to the Dewey Decimal System.  Later Vera Francis Johnson learned the system at Emporia.

The Library Committee reported in June that the $75,000 gift had been paid out in sums ranging from $5000 to $20,000.  The board agreed to pay half the expense for grading and sodding the library grounds, the Park Board to direct the work.  The library was to get a bell, for what purpose the records does not say.  Mr. Robinson and Mr. Snyder of the Park Board asked for desk room in the new building and were assigned a basement room.  A. J. Blook offered to paint a portrait of Andrew Carnegie for the library.

The art room had several pictures.  The portrait of Mrs. Nichols and "Pioneer Women" by George M. Stone of Topeka had been contributions of the clubwomen to the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893.  Three valuable oil paintings were gifts of Mrs. Mary E. Craddock, widow of a former mayor, W. H. Craddock.  They were "Rebecca at the Well," and "Ishmael and Hagar," also referred to as "Ishmael and Abram," originals by Giob(v)e Montine, painted in Italy, 1674, and "Cherubs," possibly a copy of Rubens painting.

The Montine pictures were supposed to have been originally the property of Elizabeth Patterson, wife of Jerome Bonaparte.  The emperor was said to have given them to her.  After the marriage was dissolved, the pictures were placed on the market and purchased by Mrs. Craddock.  In an agreement with the board, Mrs. Craddock promised that the paintings would hang in the library as long as desired, provided the space was not needed.  The board insured the pictures for Mrs. Craddock for $1000.

The board considered less important affairs in frequent meetings.  The Kansas Children's Home Society asked in March that a benefit collection be taken in the schools.  Requests for rooms for summer school were made by teachers.  Superintendent Pearson went to St. Louis to help with the arrangement of the Kansas Education Exhibit at the World's Fair.  In May, it was decided that each district, not the high school, would have its own 8-A graduations.

The Associated Charities asked for a room in an Armourdale building.  The high school curtain would carry ads for one more year, then H. Minor would provide a new curtain.  When District 44 [Park School] to the west of the city wanted their children in Kansas City schools, the board set the tuition at $600.  Colored children had their usual holiday on September 22 to observe Emancipation Day.

The seniors published an annual, a new feature in the high school.  During the summer, former Superintendent L. E. Wolfe and his family stopped to visit Mr. and Mrs. George Stumpf on the way to San Antonio from the NEA Convention.  The Mercantile Club sent a resolution to the Mayor and council that the city acquire 150 feet of ground on the southeast corner of Huron Place.  Pending the erection of a city hall on the site, the ground could be improved and made part of the park.

The superintendent made the 18th Annual Report for the schools.  He noted an increase of over 6,000 pupils since 1886.  From nine buildings the city had gone to 24, and the number of teachers increased from 56 to 204.  He listed the following needs:

  1. Manual training, popular in the high school, now needed in the grades.
  2. Kindergarten, established in most other systems, desirable in Kansas City, Kansas, especially in school where education stops early.
  3. Music, prominent with the help of a supervisor, apt to become tiresome unless given less time and emphasis.
  4. Language, grammar only in upper grades.  Must teach correct speech habits, free expression of thought and feeling, and accurate judgment of proper usage.  Thought-getting and thought-giving considered as fundamental purpose.
  5. More trades and commercial courses needed at the high school.  Purely academic courses fail to hold interest of all students.
  6. School needs to reach every child, 7 to 15.  New truancy law and services of an officer of great assistance.  A school for delinquent would help.
  7. Building need:
    • six-room addition to Douglass
    • four-room addition to Bancroft
    • four-room brick (John Fiske) to relieve Morse
    • Building fund for two years for the high school
    • Relief for Lowell and Prescott
    • North end school for colored

Principals made reports also.  Principal McCroskey explained how the university had raised requirements from eleven to fifteen points, and announced that short courses and those known as "snap" courses would be dropped.  Instead of a public oration, a senior thesis would be required.  To provide more supervision in high school, a "record room" system had been established, each teacher being responsible for every pupil in his first-hour class.  The principal offered the use of corridors if a physical education class could be organized.

Most grade school principals in their reports deplored the lack of parental interest and the large number of drop-outs among the boys.  Some criticized the music program, saying there was too much note-reading and not enough singing of familiar songs.  Many praised Ward method of teaching primary reading.

Next Section1905

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

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