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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 1907


The city suffered another flood in June, 1908.  Although the water stayed ten feet below the crest of 1903, on July 11 it entered the first floors of buildings as far west as Twelfth Street and Armourdale.  Ezra Meeker, famous walker, stopped overnight and asked permission to camp on the library grounds.  The Board of Education shop expanded its activities and acquired horses and a wagon.  Women and girls were painting flowers and designs on china, and the high school ordered a china kiln for the drawing classes.  [Annotation:  Kansas City's Levees Feasibility Study, showing flood pictures from 1881-1051.    Floods, Transcribed from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912 ]

The Education Committee of the Mercantile Club arranged for an "Educational Evening" in November.  When the club took its fall tour, Mr. Trotter, board member, and Mr. Pearson represented the schools.

{Annotation:  "The Mercantile Club was organized in December, 1898, as the result of the efforts of Evan H. Browne, a progressive citizen of Kansas City, Kansas. Its announced purpose was to promote the commercial and industrial advancement of the city. W. A. Simpson was its first president, and succeeding presidents have been W. T. Atkinson, Edwin S. McAnany, Northrup Moore, Evan H. Browne, George Stumpf, J. W. Breidenthal, Benjamin Schnierle, W. T. Maunder, Dr. George M. Gray, C. L. Brokaw, Willard Merriam, G. C. Smith and P. W. Goebel. During its life of a little over twelve years its secretaries have been W. E. Griffith, James S. Silvey, Carl Dehoney, Donald Greenman, A. H. Skinner and P. W. Morgan, the present secretary.

Among the earlier activities of the club was its aid to our educational authorities in building up its splendid system of schools. It was instrumental in obtaining an appropriation by congress for the erection of a post office building after many years of delay, and of securing from Andrew Carnegie a gift of $75,000 for a library building.

The annual "Sunshine" trade-extension trip of its members for a series of years covered nearly every mile of railroad in the state, and in nearly every city and town the name and fame of Kansas City, Kansas, was made known.

The Mercantile Club was first and foremost in the agitation that led to the erection of a system of parks and boulevards, and has backed every movement looking to civic betterment. It supported the Kaw Valley Drainage Board in its fight to obtain those improvements of the river to protect the property in the valley from damage by overflow. It has stood for the enforcement of law, and when the city was defamed by misrepresentations as to the effect of the closing of the saloons, through the enforcement of the prohibitory law, its members were quick to set the American people right by a presentation of the facts.

It was the Mercantile Club that advocated the purchase of the Metropolitan water plant by the city, by which our people were enabled to obtain an abundant supply of pure water at reasonable rates; and it is able to point with pride to the successful operation of the municipal water plant and the earning of a profit, above operating expenses and interest charges, each and every month. It was the Mercantile Club also that advocated the acquisition of a municipal electrical plant, for which an issue of $350,000 of bonds was voted and which now is building, and it was that organization which got behind the movement for the new city hall now building in Kansas City, Kansas.

And it was the Mercantile Club, ever and always advocating efficient government, that led the successful fight for the inauguration of the system of municipal government by commission which, in one year of operation, has demonstrated that a city can be run on a safe and sane business basis.

The Mercantile Club has comfortable quarters in the Commercial National Bank building at Sixth street and Minnesota avenue, and its meetings, held twice each month, are open to all members and to the public."

Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911]

[Annotation:  The KCK Chamber started in 1898 as the Mercantile Club.  It became the Kansas City Kansas Area Chamber of Commerce in 1918.  In 2004, the KCKs Chamber of Commerce occupies the building at 727 Minnesota Avenue, formerly occupied by the Mercantile Club.]

Coal stoves were on the way out and being replaced by gas.  Citizens grew impatient about school flags.  A. A. Brooks of the G.A.R. wanted a flag displayed from every school, and reminded the board of the recent law.  The ladies of the G.A.R. presented the board with an iron flag pole for the high school, the pole to be placed in the center of a plot of ground on the south side.

U. S. Guyer asked the board to decorate buildings that would be most prominent during the G.A.R. Fair, and the Principals' Round Table offered to consider the matter.  On May 4, the board said it would spend $100 for decorations, the principals and the Purchasing Committee to work together.

The Mercantile recommended early in February, 1908, that a meeting be held for promoting the establishment of a night school.  The Central Labor Union endorsed the move.  The board took its annual inspection trip on May 12.  When the Mercantile Club made a school property trip on May 18, it recommended the proposed $200,000 bond issue.  In the meantime, the Finance Committee of the Board tried to ascertain what could be done to raise funds for building purposes. 

More legislation was proposed.  At the suggestion of State Superintendent Fairchild, the board appointed a committee to represent it at legislative meetings.  In August this committee was discharged and another took its place.  C. L. Brokaw urged the issuing of bonds to improve facilities at Everett School.  The board president and the superintendent met with the state superintendent and State Board of Education in Topeka on October 19 and talked with them concerning school legislation.  The Kansas City board promised to take the initiative in the matter of the tax limit.

The high school addition probably was finished by February, 1908.  At that time two gym instructors, one man and one woman were appointed, and $25 allowed for music and printing for the opening.  Dunbar, after almost a year of bickering, was accepted on May 4, 1908, but the contractor, L. G. Ferguson received no payments, although the board and the bonding company tried during the spring to settle the matter.  Whittier, the Fifth Ward School, was ready in February.

The cost of a site for Everett School was considered at the meeting on May 18, 1908, and in September the board was ready to receive proposals from parties who wished to secure the old site.  A. J. Hibbs was awarded a contract on June 22 to build four rooms at Prescott.  For the first two months of the fall term of 1908-1909, Prescott pupils attended school in a rented room at Fourteenth and Central.

Two lots adjacent to Longfellow were purchased in January.  The following September patrons of the school, through Mr. Poindexter, assured the board of their cooperation in the work of improving conditions.  The building superintendent, W. S. Biscomb, constructed an extra room in October for Douglass.

Armourdale School put children in basement classrooms before the term was well started.  Five lots near Abbott were bought.  Fortunately the bond election called by Mayor Cornell resulted in victory for the bonds on December 8.  They were purchased by Seasongood and Mayer.

Children crowded the new schools and those with recent additions.  During October, 1908, the board listed the needs of the schools:

The board listed the cost at the amount of the bond issue, $250,000.

Chandeliers were purchased for the reference and the reading rooms in the library.  E. A. Clark received permission to collect specimens for a natural history exhibit, the board to provide a case and a license to hunt.  Building Superintendent Biscomb moved the storeroom from the library to the shop before the beginning of the term in 1908.  F. S. Merstetter reported that the matter of supplying books purchased through the A. D. Burt bequest was completed.  The board expressed appreciation for his work.

The State Library Association held its eighth annual meeting at the Carnegie Library here on October 15-17.  The librarians asked for freedom of the offices on October 15 for a reception, and for the high school auditorium on October 16 for an evening program and lecture.  The board offered the library contingent for incidental expenses of entertaining and refreshments.

The plan of dividing the schools into groups under a supervising principal was slightly changed.  Head teachers advanced to principalships.  Supervising principals were E. H. Jackson, H. W. McKean, J. L. Howard, F. D. Tracy, J. J. Maxwell, S. F. Wright, C. W. Myers, and A. J. Neely.

Flora Sackett, a teachers in the schools since 1878, resigned in August after thirty years in the system.  In her early years, Miss Sackett taught at Armstrong School and often told how she rode a switch engine from Wyandot City to the school.   The superintendent drew up a long resolution of appreciation, which the board endorsed.  In it he referred to her as a lady and a conscientious teacher, and mentioned her good example in the schools for right living, her spirit of cheerfulness, and her influence as an abiding force for good.

Teachers who received demerits for the kind of work done were investigated and reported upon by the Committee on Teachers toward the end of the year 1907-1908.  Some teachers owing to satisfactory work done received increases of about seven dollars.  The lecture course sponsored by teachers was highly successful and plans were made for another the following year.  One week before school began teachers attended the institute.  It was at this time that Superintendent Fairchild wrote to the board in reference to tubercular disease among teachers.  Letters signed by the superintendent and the board informed teachers of rules made in September, 1908, concerning professional work.  Colored substitute teachers were told to be in constant attendance at the schools where assigned, and to give assistance to other teachers.

B. N. O. Walker in the Journal for February 17, 1908, stated that the treaty of January 31, 1855, contained proof of the cemetery ownership.  The title, he said, was invested in the government, but the land belonged to the Wyandots.  J. P. Angle of the Park Board asked the board in July to share the expense of improving Huron Place.  Grading was done in front of the library and a temporary walk built.

Two telephone systems operated in the city in 1908.  Bell had measured service in the high school office and Home installed a private branch system there.  New Dunbar had a telephone and Central was given a straight line.  Lowell had a manual training shop, ad Irving's was moved to Whittier.  The Ministerial Alliance asked that filters be installed in the schools.

Riverview was modernized and remodeled during 1908-1909.  Teachers and students going from north to south rooms previously had to go through a classroom.  Two center rooms on the east were removed, providing large center halls.  Whittier pupils occupied their new building at Ivandale and Boeke on January 17, 1908.  The school formed the first of four units of a larger building, later to become the first junior high school in the city.  J. L. Howard was the supervising principal and Esther Mead, head teacher.

The first Parent-Teacher Association in the state was founded in May, 1908, at Longfellow School by Mrs. E. W. Poindexter.  Mrs. George Van Cleave was the first president.  The group held its first meeting at the Mount Pleasant Church on North Fifth Street and patterned its organization after those already active in Chicago.  The name adopted was "Mothers' Club of Longfellow School."

In the 22nd Annual Report, the Superintendent summed up improvements made during 1906, 1907, 1908.  With $200,000 in bonds in 1907, the following were built:  High school addition; 8 rooms in the 5th Ward; 4 rooms in the 3rd Ward; 8-room addition to the Armourdale School; 8-room addition to John Fiske; 4-room addition to Eugene Field; 4-room addition to Hawthorne.

Out of a $250,000 bond issue he enumerated:  High school addition, Sumner possibly; 8 rooms in the 4th Ward; 4 rooms in the 4th Ward; 2-room addition to Everett; 4-room addition to Hawthorne; 2-room addition to Morse.

Next Section1909

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