The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 146-149 in:
LEAVENWORTH CITY SCHOOLS -- This is a year of retrospection. In reviewing the progress of the last four centuries, we should not overlook our system of popular education, the wisest and surest safeguard of popular government. The history of the Leavenworth schools begins with the organization of the board. On July 3, 1858, a board of trustees for common schools, consisting of S. A. Marshall, Jared Phillips, Levi Houston, and Nelson McCracken, was chosen. Before the close of the year, this board divided the city into three districts, and opened a school in each.
By a change made in the laws of the city in 1864, the board of trustees was dissolved, and the board of education, consisting of 12 members, was organized. At that time the duties of the clerk were especially important anD onerous. He was a voting member of the board, kept all records, and was, ex officio, the superintendent of the schools. Mr. B. L. Baldridge discharged the threefold duties of this office for one year; David J. Brewer, our honored justice of the United States Supreme Court, for four years, and Mr. T. A. Hurd, for two years.
Another important change was made in the school law of the city in 1870. The duties of the superintendent and the clerk were made distinct, and were discharged not by members, but by salaried officers of the board.
Following is a list of the presidents of the board, from 1864 to the present time; Geo. A. Moore, 1864; David J. Brewer, 1865; Geo. A. Eddy, 1865; W. H. Ralston, 1865-67; J. L. Weaver, 1867-70; H. L. Newman, 1870-72; T. A. Hurd, 1872-74; Wm. McNeil Cough, 1874-76; J. F. Richards, 1876-77; O. B. Taylor, 1877-78; A. B. Havens, 1878-80; John Wilson, 1880-81; J. L. Weaver, 1881-82; Samuel F. Burdett, 1882-83; Lewis Mayo, 1883-84; D. M. Swan, 1884-86; R. A. Ketner, 1886-87; J. W. Park, 1887-88; L. A. Knox, 1888-90; Lewis Mayo, 1890-92; H. W. Ide, 1892-93.
The regular meetings of the board are held the first Monday evening of each month, in the Missouri Valley Building.
The officers and standing committees for the present year are as follows: President, H. W. Ide; vice president, Geo. H. Davis; superintendent, J. E. Klock; clerk, J. W. Park. Ways and means—- Jno. R. Garrett, T. A. Hurd, Lewis Mayo. High school—- L. A. Knox, O. B. Taylor, T. A. Hurd. Teachers and salaries—- Lewis Mayo, Geo. H. Davis, L. A. Knox. Buildings and grounds—Geo. H. Davis, M. Smith, Ed C. Fritsche. Auditing—- M. Smith, Ed. C. Fritsche, J. C. Lysle. Janitors—- J. C. Lysle, Lewis Mayo, Geo. H. Davis. Supplies—- H. S. Burr, J. C. Lysle, O. J. Twogood. Furniture and apparataus—Ed. C. Fritsche, O. J. Twogood, H. S. Burr. Text-books and course of study—- O. T. Twogood, H. S. Burr, O. B. Taylor. Printing—- O. B. Taylor, Jno. R. Garrett, M. Smith. School laws, rules, and regulations—- T. A. Hurd, L. A. Knox, Jno. R. Garrett.
The first superintendent after the legislation referred to above was Dr. Malcolm McVicar, of New York, a cultured and enthusiastic educator. He brought with him a corps of able assistants, professional teachers, whom he placed at the heads of the various departments. He introduced the graded system, and for one year struggled against the adverses that invariably meet the pioneer in this work.
His successor was his first assistant, Dr. P. J. Williams, whose many services to the cause of education in our State have been invaluable. For six years he carried forward the work so ably begun by Doctor McVicar.
After Doctor William's resignation, in 1876, Mr. John Wherrell served two years. He was succeeded, in 1878, by Supt. F. A. Fitzpatrick, now of Omaha, whose eight years' administration is the longest yet recorded. Mr. John Cooper's term of four years, together with Mr. Kendall's of but a few months, brings us down to the election, in 1890, of Supt. J. E. Klock, the present incumbent.
Drill in calisthenics, instruction in drawing and in vocal music are among the useful reforms introduced in the last two years.
The first school was opened in N. Z. Strong's building, on the corner of Fifth and Shawnee streets.
In the same year, 1858, rooms were secured in the home of Mr. Robertson, the teacher of the south district.
By the next year, three buildings were needed, and to meet the demand, the board secured the Robertson dwelling referred to above, the Christian Church, on East Sixth street, and the office of the register of deeds, on the corner of Third and Delaware.
This year, 1859, marks, also, the purchase of the Strong building, in which was opened a public German school, for the benefit of the large German element in the city. By the sale of this property, a few years later, a sufficient sum was realized to secure two comfortable brick buildings—- our present Third Avenue and Osage schools, each inclosures of 90 x 130 feet.
In 1864, two colored schools were opened, one in the north, the other in the south part of the city.
The board made very material additions to the school property in 1865. It leased from the city, for the term of 50 years, a block known as the public square, and purchased a two-room frame building situated thereon. Within this square, the well-known Morris school building, a large brick structure, was erected two years later. Its cost is estimated at about $80,000. A brick church, on the corner of Oak and seventh streets, was bought from the Westminster society and remodeled into a comfortable two-room building, which was used for nine years; then, in 1874, it was torn down, and on the adjoining property, which was purchased to enlarge the grounds, the present Oak Street building was erected, at a cost of $27,000. On South avenue and Prospect street, a schoolhouse, built for the use of colored children, was completed in 1866. No material additions were made to the school property for 12 years; then, in 1878, the site of the Grand Avenue school was purchased for $1,000 and a $4,000 brick structure was placed thereon.
In 1885, the board secured an unfinished church, which has been remolded into our present commodious high-school building. It contains a spacious auditorium, a laboratory, an office, halls, recitation and cloak rooms. At the present time it accommodates 250 pupils, with a capacity for a still greater number. The other buildings can seat about 3,500 pupils.
The high school was organized in 1866, under Mr. H. D. McCarty, as principal. It was reorganized, under Miss L. A. Mead, the next year; and in 1871 sent forth four graduates—- the first from a Kansas high school.
The number of alumni grew very slowly for 10 years, after which time the classes steadily increased in numbers, attaining a maximum of 45 last year.
Eminent among its many superior principals are, Mr. W. W. Grant, until recently principal of the high school of Indianapolis, Ind.; Mr. Geo. G. Ryan, now superintendent of schools in Paterson, N. J.; and Mr. W. A. Evans, for 15 years the head of the science department of the high school, a position which he still holds in connection with his work as principal.
Graduates from our four-years course of study are admitted, without examination, into many of our best colleges, among which are the University of Michigan, the University of Kansas, and Wellesley.
To our small but well-selected library, nearly 400 volumes have been added during the last two years.
The facilities for experimental work in the sciences are better than high schools are usually provided with. President Angell, of the Michigan University, in a recent visit to the school, expressed great pleasure with the completeness of the science department.
The two well-organized literary societies do excellent work. With the receipts from two annual contests, they have purchased an excellent piano.
The alumni association was organized in 1885. On its roll, at the present time, are nearly 400 loyal members, a large portion of whom welcome the graduating class at each annual banquet.
The 12 years required to complete our course of study are equally divided amongst the primary, the grammar and the high-school departments. The school year consists of 36 weeks, and is divided into two terms. Promotions are made at the end of each term, and are based upon the pupils' record in class and in the monthly examinations.
The superintendent meets the teachers of the first, second, third and fourth grades on the respective first, second, third and fourth Mondays of each month. Likewise, the teachers of the four grammar grades meet on Thursdays. In these meetings the work for the coming month is outlined.
At the end of the month, the examination questions are sent out by the superintendent. Thus, pupils in the same grade are taking the same examination throughout the city at the same time, and but two grades—one primary and one grammar—are examined the same week.
The teachers' training class, a new department of our public-school system, is open to graduates of the high school. The two-years course of study includes the history and philosophy of education, psychology, methods of teaching, observing in the grades, and practice in teaching. For this work the student's entire time is required. Graduates of this department receive a preference over other applicants for positions in the public schools who manifest no higher qualifications.
From this class, the board may select six members as supply teachers, at a salary of $50 per year. Those who substitute, after the salary of the regular teacher is withdrawn, receive $2 per day.
In 1869, the State Legislature passed an act establishing a second normal school in the State. Among a host of rival cities, Leavenworth was the successful claimant. It was established in 1870, under P. J. Williams, A. M., principal. After a few years, our lawmakers concluded that Kansas could not well support more than one normal school, and this one was abandoned, in order that a similar institution, established many years before at Emporia, might receive the support it so much needed.
The teaching force of the city consists of 55 teachers, and the total expenditures for salaries in 1890 was $38,637.
transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas
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