A HISTORY OF FORD 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 134-135 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

FORD COUNTY

by David Swinehart, county superintendent




FORD COUNTY -- Gov. T. A. Osborn issued a proclamation April 5, 1873, declaring Ford county duly organized, and at the same time appointed provisional officers, to serve until the special election, which was called for June 5, 1873. At this election, Morris Collor, one of the pioneer business men, was elected superintendent of public instruction. Mr. Collor was reelected at the general election in November of the same year. He was followed by Dr. T. L. McCarty, by appointment, who made the first annual report, in 1874. Mr. Arthur Wilder taught the first school in Ford county, in 1873, at a salary of $55 per month, in a building erected at Dodge City, the county seat. Miss Margaret Walker taught the second year, at $60 per month. It will be interesting to examine the tabular statement given here. These items are taken from the annual reports of the county superintendents, beginning in 1874.

Year No. of organized districts No pupil enrolled Average daily attendance No children school age Average salary paid teachers per month No. teachers employed No. houses Value of school property Receipts for school purposes Disbursements for school purposes No. certificates granted Institute enrollment
1874 1 30 13 110 $55 00 1 1 $2,025 00 ......... ........... ........... ...........
1875 1 32 13 97 60 00 1 1 1,525 00 $1,842 69 $857 07 1 .........
1876 1 54 47 80 60 00 2 1 2,030 00 1,574 39 1,499 54 2 .........
1877 ......... ........ ........ .......... .......... ........... ........ .............. ......... ........... ........... ...........
1878 5 255 150 399 55 00 5 7 ........... 2,402 71 2,306 56 12 ........
1879 14 439 .......... 572 36 75 13 8 7,653 00 7,036 96 5,880 87 26 .......
1880 18 ........ ......... 592 ........... .......... ....... ............... ........ ........... ........... ........
1881 16 729 315 716 46 00 17 ......... ............ 6,763 19 5,470 70 19 .........
1882 22 672 333 1,002 38 52 20 ........ .............. 9,862 91 7,465 73 27 20
1883 ............. .......... .......... ........ ......... ......... ........ ............. ......... ........... ......... ........
1884 21 686 335 1,021 44 67 20 17 20,000 00 20,203 68 14,005 05 27 50
1885 31 851 447 2,516 43 94 40 19 21,450 00 20,253 20 15,654 94 44 50
1886 47 1,522 833 2,786 42 00 40 23 30,000 00 32,149 99 22,037 57 54 56
1887 54 1,823 901 2,759 40 38 61 39 36,000 00 37,133 81 31,694 00 85 86
1888 59 2,242 1,150 2,634 42 38 79 61 50,000 00 48,404 82 42,249 14 77 89
1889 59 2,060 1,508 2,342 41 45 87 68 67,060 00 42,630 67 36,699 41 91 85
1890 60 1,883 955 1,873 37 93 83 68 63,880 00 51,987 14 38,261 34 112 75
1891 61 1,543 927 1,728 38 79 76 70 72,579 00 37,704 35 30,359 07 89 80
1892 ....... ...... ........ ........ ........ ....... ....... ........ ......... ......... .......... 75


In 1883, when Mr. Groendyke was elected county superintendent, about one-seventh of the State, comprising 15 unorganized counties, was attached to Ford county for judicial and school purposes. In all this area of 12,450 square miles there were at this time only five organized school districts, as follows: Cimarron, Garden Ctiy, Fowler City, Seward county, and Sherlock, west of Garden City; and all this territory had a school population of less than 300. These 15 counties, considered the offspring of Ford, have all been fully organized since 1884, thus relieving the Ford county superintendent by giving him a territory to supervise 30 miles north and south, and 36 miles east and west.

It will be observed that this county, and most of the school districts in it, took their present form during Mr. Groendyke's administration. Ford county proper had only 110 children of school age when the first annual report was made, in 1874, reaching the highest number, 2,786, in 1886. Next year, Gray county was organized, and considerable territory was detached from Ford, leaving only 2,759 persons of school age in 1887. The schools of 1888 had the largest enrollment and daily attendance of any year in the history of the county. In 1889, there were employed 87 teachers, the largest number for any one year. During the years 1887 and 1888, there were 40 school buildings erected, more than half the number in the county at present.

The first normal institute was held in 1882. The following have been employed as conductors: A. P. Warrington, J. M. Abbott, J. C. Hamm, J. H. Hill, E. D. Webb, E. B. Smith, and J. E. Klock. The following have instructed in the institutes: Miss M. P. Spencer, Frank Aiken, John Groendyke, C. N. Edwards, E. D. Webb, F. A. Lee, J. A. Beadle, M. A. Woods, L. D. Ellis, D. Swinehart, and B. F. Nihart.

Ford county has had six county superintendents--Morris Collor, T. L. McCarty, John Whittaker, John Groendyke, Fannie M. Thome, and D. Swinehart.

The schools of the rural districts and those of Dodge City were under the same administration until 1886, when Dodge was organized into a city of the second class, the subsequent history of which is given under the heading of "Dodge City."

It is generally conceded that our educational affairs rank second to those of no other county in the western part of the State. We cannot, of course, compete with the older and better-settled eastern counties, where the various systems adopted have had time to mature, and where the financial advantages are greater.

The method pursued for several years, of graduating pupils from common schools, has proven a great incentive to more and better work on the part of both pupils and teachers. About 50 now hold common-school diplomas.

The county board of examiners requires an average of 70 per cent., and allows a minimum of 50 per cent. for a third-grader certificate, and the number of such certificates is limited by the following resolution:

Resolved, That the board of examiners of Ford county, Kansas, will hereafter grant no more than three third-grade certificates to the same person: Provided, That those persons already holding third-grade certificates shall receive but two more.

Ford county has held 11 normal institutes, all of which have been well attended, considering the number of teachers employed. Since this county claims to be the first in the State to organize a model training school on an extensive scale, it will probably not be out of place to speak of it briefly here. In order to avoid the presentation of mere theory without application, as is usually the case in our institutes, this country made a digression, in August, 1892, by organizing a model department, as an appendix to the normal institute. About 75 children, of different grades, were enrolled in this department, and placed in charge of two teachers specially prepared, and adapted to the grades represented. The theory advocated in the normal was exemplified by these teachers putting it into practice, either in their rooms, in the presence of those who were observing, or before the institute. The normal students were also frequently called upon to conduct recitations, under the direction of these special teachers and the conductor. Conductor J. E. Klock, whose efforts made the undertaking a success, says: "The average teachers fail to do professional work, not because they have not read or heard a sufficient amount of theory, but because of the fact that they have no opportunity of seeing 'theory' in practice. Teachers need proper ideals, and ideals are formed not by hearing, but by seeing." Our teachers are unanimous in pronouncing this the most practical institute in the history of our county, and predict a great improvement in our schools; and the writer hopes to see the time when there will be a model training school in connection with every normal institute in the State.

transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas.


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