A HISTORY OF BUTLER COUNTY SCHOOLS
(from a book written in 1893)

The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 103-105 in:

THE COLUMBIAN HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN KANSAS...
compiled by Kansas educators and published under the auspices of the Kansas State Historical Society, for the Columbian Exposition.
(Topeka, Kan. : Hamilton Printing Company : E. H. Snow, state printer, 1893)

HISTORY AND GROWTH OF SCHOOLS, BY COUNTIES

BUTLER COUNTY

by Clara H. Hazelrigg, county superintendent

BUTLER -- is one of Kansas' pioneer counties. It was first settled in 1855; but it was not until eight years later that its school system, within the present boundaries, was fairly set agoing, by the election of its first school superintendent. It is my purpose to sketch the growth of education in the several towns of the county, and follow this outline with a few lines of personal biography concerning the several superintendents to whom the supervision of the schools has been intrusted.

The towns of the county are: El Dorado (the county seat), Augustus, Douglass, Leon, Benton, White Water, Potwin, Brainerd, Beaumont, Keighley, Pontiac, Rosalia, Chelsea, Latham, Providence, Gordon, and Elbing.

The El Dorado schools are graded, and working under a course of study prepared by H. C. Ford, now of Parsons, Kas. There ae 1,253 pupils in the schools; 16 teachers; four buildings in the city, and one in adjacent territory - excellent buildings. The superintendent is Prof. L. Tomlin; principals, Wm. Fisher, Frank Mitchell, Walter Powell, and Stella Long. The first school in the city was taught by Edwin Cowles, M.D., a gentlemen still resident here. Some of the prominent superintendents of El Dorado schools have been: Professors Olin, Ford, Fertich, Shively, and Tomlin; some of the principals: Alfred McCaskey, H. W. Schumacher, Hattie Horner, Ida Fleming, Nora Brumback, Dora Montgomery, Mrs. H. M. Richardson, Agnes Grove, Mary Parsons, Clara Hazelrigg, and Nettie Murdock.

The Augusta schools are graded. Eight teachers are employed in one large and handsome building. H. V. Butcher, former superintendent of Wilson county, is the principal; Edward O'Bryan, assistant. Augusta schools enroll 473 pupils. The superintendents have been: Professors Shively, Olin, McGregor, Ford, Speer, Cady, Leidy, and Butcher.

Douglass, named in honor of J.W. Douglass, deceased, has graded schools. A large and convenient building. Present principal is W. J. Speer. Douglass enrolls 343 pupils. The principals have been: H. W. Schumacher, now county attorney, Miss Kelley, Professors Shively, McGregor, Speer. Employs six teachers.

Leon also has graded schools, working under a course of study prepared by Elmer Wiseman, the present principal. Employs five teachers. Enrolls 283 pupils. Its principals have been: S. L. Hodge, Frank Rickey, J.M. Dilts, S. J. Pottle, L. E. McClane, Elmer Wisemen.

Benton, Potwin, Towanda, Brainerd, Andover, Latham and White Water each employs two teachers, and has excellent two-roomed school buildings. There are many good single schoolhouses throughout the county, and more in course of erection. There are in all 165 school districts in the county, and an enrollment of 8,486 pupils.

El Dorado has a good library in connection with her schools. Augusta furnishes free text-books, and there are several other good libraries connected with the schools of the county.

The Butler county district schools are graded, and working under the course of study outlined in the classification register used in the schools. The work is divided into three departments - primary, intermediate, and advanced. When the entire course is completed, pupils take a final examination. If they make the required average, they receive a diploma.

There have been held, so far, 16 institutes in Butler county, and the 17th will begin June 5, 1893, with Mrs. Lillian Picken, conductor; Professors Picken, Vickrey, and Thomas, instructors.

The county examining board is composed of the following persons: Clara H. Hazelrigg, Fannie H. Wilson, J. R. Haven.

A large per cent. of the teachers of Butler county belong to the county reading circle, and nearly all attend the meetings.

The county superintendents have been as follows: Martin Vaught, 1864-66, now living at Ness City, Kansas. L. D. McCabe, 1866-68, is dead. H. D. Kellogg, 1868-69, is a practicing physician in Michigan.

John E. Buchanan, 1869-71, began his superintendency with 12 organized districts under his supervision, and closed his administration with 26. He made and published the first school map of the county. To his own scholarship was added that of his wife, who assisted him much in his work. Superintendent Buchanan fitted for his work by taking a three-years' course in the University of New York. During the opening years of the "reconstruction period" he was a teacher in the freedmen's schools of Nashville and Murfreesborough, Tenn., and for one year was superintendent of those schools. He is at present a successful farmer near Chelsea, Kas.

Samuel L. Shotwell, 1871-1873, organized the schools to much better advantage. He is a resident of Utah Territory.

L. S. Roberds, 1873-74, at the close of his one year of office, removed to Carbondale, Kas., to practice medicine.

John Blevins, from 1874-75.

C. N. James, 1875-76, was one of those early educators of Kansas who received such princely remuneration for their services. He taught at Mound City for $5 per month. He also taught in the Leavenworth and Council Grove schools, and conducted the first school on the present site of Augusta, in a log store building. This building was afterwards converted into a post office, and the city of one house was named Augusta, by way of doing honor to Mr. Jame's wife. Mr. James has been dead for several years.

Alvah Shelden, 1876-80, has been the editor of the only daily paper in Butler county, The Daily Times, for 13 years. During his superintendency, and in the columns of his paper, he has steadfastly urged upon the State of Kansas the adoption of uniform text-books, free of expense to the pupils.

J. W. Shively, 1880-84, organized a greater number of districts than did any other superintendent, and brought out the first course of study used in Butler county schools. In addition to his work as superintendent, he has served as principal of the Augusta, Douglass and Howard schools, and is one of Butler's foremost educators.

Hayward Webb, 1884-86, after completing one term, removed to California, where he is now engaged in school work.

Austin Brumback, 1886-90, is now a successful lawyer.

Mrs. Florence Olmsted, 1890-92, was the first woman to hold a county office in Butler. She secured the adoption of county uniformity of text-books, and organized the teachers' reading circle. She died from a hemorrhage of the lungs, before the expiration of her term of office, December 24, 1892.

Clara H. Hazelrigg, 1893, the present incumbent, has been teaching in Kansas since 1884, and was for several years principal of one of the schools in the city of El Dorado. Mrs. Hazelrigg, in conjunction with Artie Peffley, edits the only paper entirely devoted to educational affairs in the county, The Educational Advance.


Transcribed by Rita Troxel, Kansas State Library -- January, 2003

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