The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 98-99 in:
No history of this county was prepared by the proper officer. The history of the schools in its largest city, which follows, was written by Supt. J. H. Glotfelter.
ATCHISON CITY SCHOOLS -- District No. 1, in Atchison, including the territory now in the city of Atchison, was organized in 1858. The first district board consisted of James Coulter, O. F. Short, and F. G. Adams. The first school was opened November 20, 1858, P. D. Plattenburg being the principal. For 10 years the schools were kept in rented buildings. The basement of the Congregational Church, on Fourth near Kansas avenue, the lower floor of the old Masonic building that stood near the corner of Eighth and Commercial streets, the upper floor of Mr. David D. Auld's building, on Commercial street near Sixth, and probably other buildings, served as schoolrooms during these years. Plattenburg was followed by a man named Sawyer, and he by a Mr. Negley. A German school was taught by a teacher named Dengel, he being followed by Mr. Marcus. Miss Sarah Steele, Miss Wickham and Miss Lizzie Bay taught during this time, also. The names of Hugh Bay, W.H. Grimes, Col. P. T. Abell, P. H. Woodard and L. A. Alderson are prominently connected with the history of this period.
June 3, 1867, the city schools were organized under the law creating "boards of education" in cities of the second class; and Wm. Scoville, Wm. C. Smith, M. L. Gaylord, L. R. Elliott, John A. Martin, Julius Holthaus, Geo. W. Gillespie and Jacob Poehler were the first board.
In 1868, a large school building was erected on the east two-thirds of the block lying between Santa Fe and Atchison streets, and fronting on Fifth avenue. This was a three-story brick, 12-room building, and was the first building owned by the board. In 1869, in October, this building was totally destroyed by fire, and the schools, after enjoying for a few months their new magnificent home, as it then must have seemed, were compelled to return to the stores and churches, where they had lived 10 years. But the board had, fortunately, a large insurance upon the building, which was sufficient to rebuild and refit, in better style than the first the building which now stands upon the same foundation. The board then consisted of Wm. Scoville, Wm. C. Smith, M. L. Gaylord, J. T. Coplan, Capt. Wm. Bowman, A. B. McQueen, Jacob Poehler, and George Storch. In 1871, they had the present commodious building ready for occupancy. This building, known as the Central school until 1892, when it was named the Ingalls, has eight schoolrooms on the two lower floors, and excellent accommodations for the high school on the third floor. The assembly hall of the high school will seat 150 students, and is well lighted and seated. Its windows look upon a view of city, river, woods and plain that is unexcelled for beauty in Kansas. The recitation rooms are large and comfortable.
Other buildings have been erected as the growth of the city has warranted, until there are now six well-arranged brick structures; three of six rooms each, one of eight, one of ten, and the Ingalls building above described.
The first superintendent of the schools was B. T. Bradford, who organized the graded system. Mr. Bradford was succeeded, after a term of four years, by a man named Owens, who served but one year. Supt. R. H. Jackson followed him, and managed the schools until June, 1876, when J. C. Scott was elected to succeed him, and served until 1878. In 1878, C.S. Sheffield became superintendent, and served until 1880, when R. C. Meade was elected. Mr. Meade was superintendent until December, 1886, when he was superseded by F. M. Draper, and in 1889 he was followed by Buel T. Davis. Mr. Davis was succeeded, in 1891, by J. H. Glotfelter, who is superintendent at this date.
The schools are maintained during the nine months in each year. The elementary course is divided into eight grades, each grade including a year's work; each grade is divided into two classes, and promotions are made on the completion of each half grade, or class.
No examinations are held for promotion. The work of each month is reviewed, and a written exercise, representative of the month's work, is preserved for reference. These written exercises are graded, and pupils averaging 75 per cent. are promoted without question; pupils averaging less than 75 are taken under consideration by the principal, and if the teacher recommends it, and the papers written during the term bear out her judgement, they are passed. The purpose is to remove the nervous tension accompanying formal examinations.
The elementary course includes, besides the common branches, drawing, music and calisthenics. No special teachers are employed.
The Atchison public high school was organized about 1880, and since then has graduated 130 young men and women. The course fits for the State University, where our graduates are admitted without examination. The teachers are principally our own graduates. Many of our young men are carrying on successful business enterprises, or are rising in the professions.
The teachers of the city meet monthly, at which time lectures on pedagogy and kindred topics are delivered by the superintendent; besides these, classes in other branches are organized and kept up during the school year, at the end of which time the teachers are examined upon the work done, and their averages are accredited on their certificates. Monthly grade meetings are held, when the grade work is discussed, experiences compared, and mutual conference indulged in. This disseminates the best methods we are in possession of, and, by the mutual planning, each teacher has a definite aim for the month.
The enrollment in the city schools, for 1892, was 2,154. Private and parochial schools have a large patronage, so that all our school population between 6 and 14 years of age is being educated.
In looking over the records, we find the names of many of our most influential citizens among the members of the various boards of education, such as John A. Martin, George Storch, Capt. John Seaton, S. H. Kelsey, T. J. White, E. A. Mize, T. Tarrant, James H. Garside, W. S. Cain, and A. F. Martin.
Three ladies have been members of the board, Mrs. Maher, Miss Lydia Stockwell, and Mrs. L. A. Hambleton.
The present board consists of J. T. Hersey, president; James H. Garside, vice president; Chas. H. Farwell, J. T. Allensworth, J. F. Woodhouse, A. F. Gratigny, Jonathan Walizer, W. R. Fletcher, L. H. Swisher, and G. C. Wattles.
The whites and negroes are educated in separate schools, below the high school. In the latter, they attend the same school.
By the unfaltering support that the people of Atchison have always given her schools, we are led to believe that they have no public interest that is dearer to them than their system of education.
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