The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 163-169 in:
MITCHELL COUNTY -- Mitchell county was organized in the year 1870. It was named in honor of Capt. William D. Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell entered the Union army as a private in Company K, Second Kansas Cavalry, and was promoted to captain in the Second Kentucky Cavalry. The population of the county in 1870 was 485, and in 1892 was 13,500. Beloit is the county seat.
The number of schoolhouses in 1876, six years after its organization, was 54. At the present time there are 114 districts organized, including three joint districts. There are 118 school buildings, with 147 rooms. Of the 118 buildings, 25 are made of stone. Five new buildings have been erected this year, two of which are stone, at a cost of $5,750.
The early settlers of the county had to encounter many difficulties in order to have schools. Lumber for some of the buildings was hauled from Solomon City, a distance of more than 50 miles. In many of the districts the first school buildings were dugouts, or sod houses; but as time rolled on and our people prospered these, one by one, gave place to something better, until now not a dugout or sod house is used for school purposes in the county. Our later settlers seem to appreciate the inspiration of the times and the present good facilities for improvements, and are erecting more substantial and commodious buildings.
The district schools are very well graded, Speer's "Course of Study" being the basis. Beloit, Cawker City, Glen Eder and Scottsville have special printed courses of study. The two former courses embrace three years in the high school, with a view to preparing students for the State University.
The district schools are divided into three grades of two classes each, viz.: Primary, B and A; intermediate, B and A; grammar, B and A. This course embraces all the common-school branches, and is intended to be completed by the time the pupil is 15 or 16 years of age. Reports are made by the teachers to the county superintendent, giving name and grade of each pupil attending the district schools, and these filed in the superintendent's office. In February of each year examination questions are sent to all teachers having pupils in the A grammar grade, as a preliminary for final examination, which occurs in April and May, in designated districts of the county. Those who pass the final examination and take part in the commencement exercises receive a diploma, signed by the district officers, the teacher, and the county superintendent.
The county superintendents have been: Wm. C. Cochran, 1870; J. W. Elliott and R. W. Lundy, 1871; John D. Mitchell, 1872-73; Cyrus Gaston, 1874-75; I. D. Young, 1876-79; M. J. Wilcox, 1880-85; James M. Cox, 1886-89; Irvin Stanley, 1890-94.
The salary of the earlier superintendents was a nominal sum. Since 1885 it has been $1,200.
The following is taken from the annual report of the superintendent of schools of Mitchell county, for the school year 1891-92: Number of males between 5 and 21, 2,781; number of females between 5 and 21, 2,673; total, 5,454. Number of males enrolled last year, 1,924; number of females enrolled last year, 1,712; total, 3,636. Average daily attendance, males, 1,160; average daily attendance, females, 1,091; total 2,251. Number of organized districts, 114; number of clerks reporting, 114; numbers of teachers required 126; total salary paid female teachers, $14,971.50; average salary paid female teachers, $32.33; average length of term in weeks, 28 66/100, value of school property, $74,500; number school buildings, 118; number of schoolrooms, 147; bonded indebtedness, $59,038; number of persons examined, 195; number of applicants rejected, 39; number of first-grade certificates granted, 9; number of second-grade certificates granted, 46; number of third-grade certificates granted, 82; number of temporary certificates granted, 17; average age of persons receiving certificates, 21.5 years; amount paid institute instructors, $371; amount of institute fund received, $665; amount of institute fund expanded, $438.40; amount of institute fund on hand, $289.88; total receipts for school purposes, $38,399.06; total amount expanded for school purposes, $34,841.46; total amount on hand district treasurers, $3,557.60.
Beloit has an excellent city library and reading room, under the management of the W. C. T. U., and a well-selected school library, under the care of the superintendent.
Cawker City has an excellent school library of several hundred volumes, and the city owns one of the finest libraries in the State, with a good library building.
Glen Elder and Scottsville also have school libraries, to which about 100 volumes have been added this year.
Twelve of the district schools have libraries, containing about 125 volumes of excellent selection. There is an increasing interest in the districts for libraries, and it will not be long until most of them will have a good collection of books. The schools are well supplied with apparatus, and most of them have Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
Since the organization of the State Teachers' Reading Circle, 106 teachers have enrolled as members of that organization. Monthly reports are made to the manager of the amount of work done, giving synopsis of work, etc., and a few circles have regular meetings. The teachers' association, which meets monthly, devotes a part of its program to reading-circle work. the pupils' reading circle has received much attention this year. Nine districts have raised the funds, principally by entertainments, and have purchased the entire set of books. Reading circles have been formed in some districts, which meet weekly at the schoolhouses. The good already accomplished in this line of educational work is incalculable.
Denominational Schools -- There are three denominational schools in the county: Two Catholic, with an average yearly attendance of 120; have two schools buildings, worth about $1,000. Grellet Academy, under the management of the denominational of Friends, with an average yearly enrollment of 60, with one building, and property worth $3,000. This academy was organized in the year 1878, with Prof. W. P. Trueblood as principal. Since then, the following persons have had charge of the school: Profs. Joseph Cosand, G. H. Hartley, Elam Henderson, Irvin Stanley, and J. W. Marshall. The school was chartered by the State in the year 1883. There is a library of about 200 volumes, and some apparatus. The academy has two departmentsgrammar and academic. The grammar department embraces all the common-school branches, and the academic department embraces the following:
FIRST YEAR. First Term - Algebra, Ray; bookkeeping, Bryant & Stratton; civil government, Young. Second Term - Algebra, physical geography, Guyot; rhetoric, Hart. Third Term - Algebra; philosophy, Steele; botany, Gray.
SECOND YEAR. First Term - German; geometry, Olney; Latin. Second Term - German; geometry; Latin; general history, Barnes. Third Term - German; Latin; English history.
THIRD YEAR. First Term - Zoology; Latin; English literature, Shaw. Second Term - Trigonometry; Latin; elocution. Third Term - Surveying; Latin; mental science.
Beloit Schools [by G. M. Culver, superintendent of city schools] - Very soon after the city of Beloit was located by Timothy F. Hersey, the few pioneers of those early days felt the need of school privileges for their children, who had come west with them to grow up with the country.
In the month of April, and only a very short time after Beloit had been located as a city, there were raised by private contribution sufficient funds to build a small cottonwood shanty on the lots now occupied by Robert's furniture store. This shanty, as it was then called, was utilized as a city hall for public meetings of all kinds, as well as for school and church purposes, for a number of years, and the first instruction given pupils in the city of Beloit, and perhaps in Mitchell county, was under the direction of Rev. O. N. Fletcher, a Baptist missionary, who went about the country preaching from place to place.
It is unfortunate, for the purposes of this article, that no record of the doings of the school board of old district No. 2, prior to the time the present board was organized, can be found, and therefore some of the information attempted to be given may be somewhat inaccurate.
Sometime in the year 1871 or 1872, bonds were voted by the citizens of Beloit and vicinity, then constituting school districts No. 2 of Mitchell county, for the erection of a schoolhouse on lots near the present high-school site. The construction of the old high-school building, which stood until 1884, was begun soon after the bonds carried, but, owing to misfortune and legal entanglements, the walls were only partially completed before the work was obliged to be discontinued for an interval of between two and three years. Matters were finally so adjusted that the work was completed, and from 1878 to 1884 the old brick building with the stone addition was used for school purposes. For two years before the bonds for the present high school were voted, the old building was considered unsafe, and, on the approach of a storm, the superintendent was ordered by the board to dismiss the schools. The fact of the building being unsafe undoubtedly hastened the time of the voting of bonds amounting to $20,000 for the erection of new buildings for the high school and the third-ward school. These buildings were completed ready for occupancy in the fall of 1885. The high school has 10 commodious rooms, with large halls, and basement under the whole building, while the third-ward school has two rooms, neatly fitted for primary pupils. The increase in population in the city and increased amount of territory taken into the school district made it necessary to construct other buildings than those already provided, in order to accommodate the pupils who desired and were entitled to attend school. Accordingly, in the summer in 1886, a proposition was submitted for the voting of bonds, to be used in the erection of what is now called the second-ward school building. After the election, at which the bonds were carried by a majority of 48, the proceeds realized from their sale were used under the direction of the board of education in the construction of the present two-story, four-room building. The upper rooms, however, owing to a lack of funds, were not finished until the summer of 1892, when the board of education, finding it necessary to relieve the pressure in the high school, made the rooms ready for occupancy at the beginning of the school year 1892.
The last estimate of the value of school property made by the board of education, as required by laws, shows the probable value of school property and grounds under the control of the board to the sum of $31,500.
As shown by the records, the present board of education of the city of Beloit was organized May 5, 1879, the members of the several wards having been elected at the preceding April election, in conformity to law. Wm. H. Burke, now deceased, was elected president; Wm. Grew, vice president; A. Patten, clerk; and J. W. Walker, treasurer. Soon after its organization a meeting of the board was held, at which time a settlement with the clerk and treasurer of old district No. 2 was had. There was something like $2,000 indebtedness, with no available funds worth mentioning. This indebtedness was assumed by the new board, and was the cause of much anxiety and trouble to that and succeeding boards for a number of years. The following terse quotation from the address of Pres. W. H. Mitchell serves to illustrate the questions which perplexed and vexed the board during the first few years of its existence:
"The board of education organized in May, 1879, came into power with many and varied difficulties before them, chief among which was a large floating debt of over $3,000, and with schoolroom sufficient to accommodate only about one-half of the pupils of our city. But, thanks to the united and energetic efforts of the board, backed up by the generous of our wide-awake citizens, they were enabled successfully to grapple with the problem presented. Bonds were voted, bearing a low rate of interest, and negotiated at par, our floating indebtedness funded, and ample schoolroom provided, placing our schools upon a firm and enduring basis, in a financial point of view at least, which was gratifying alike to all concerned."
The rules and regulations adopted soon after the organization of the board have been successfully used without change down to the present time. This fact, with many others which might be mentioned, speaks well for the foresight, integrity and earnestness of those gentleman who composed the earlier boards of education. From the organization of the board down to the present time, the one great aim which has been kept in view is the best interest of the schools, to the end that pupils who attend shall have the opportunity of procuring a liberal, yet practical education.
It is a notable fact, also, that under all circumstances the individual members of the board, composed as it has been from time to time of a number of business men whose interests were different, have at all times sacrificed their individual opinions, although conscientiously advocating them, and yielded to the will of the majority. Our board also has the reputation among the teachers of the State of extending its hearty cooperation and liberal support to teachers and superintendents. Perhaps the fact that almost perfect harmony has always prevailed between superintendents and teachers and the board, as much as any other, has been the cause of our schools ranking among the very highest in the State.
It might be interesting, also, to glance at the business transactions of the board. In this connection, it is safe to say that no private business enterprise has been conducted more economically or with better results than those attained by the board of this city, as an examination of the particular acts and transactions will show. From May 5, 1879, to the present time, the board has met in regular or called sessions 342 times, and covering the same period there has been expended, for the maintenance of the schools and school buildings and grounds, the sum of $78,046.33, this not including any of the expenses of the school year beginnings September 12, 1892. All the present buildings have been erected during that period, the grounds graded, trees planted, water pipes and walks laid, steam-heating apparatus placed in the main building, besides a large amount of school furniture purchased and kept in repair, while the able corps of superintendents and teachers has been kept to the standard of the board.
It is a fact not known to many, that the wages paid by our board for its teachers are as high as the wages which teachers receive in the larger cities of the State and there are very few places, if any, which pay higher wages for the same character of services rendered by teachers. An examination of the school apparatus, furniture and charts will show that the board appreciates these practical helps to education. In the lower rooms will be found the latest charts, globes, maps, and all other appliances which are calculated to assist in the development of pupils, while for the advanced pupils there is provided a reasonably-complete laboratory for experiment in the sciences and other branches.
The pupils and superintendent, under the auspices of the board, have given a series of entertainments, by means of which they have purchased a school library, which with the recent addition of about 100 of the latest works, aggregates nearly 600 volumes, to which all pupils of suitable age have free access.
The following is a list of members of the board of education since its organization: D. F. Eakin, Wm. H. Burke, Carrie Byrd, J. A. Bell, Levi Cooper, Henry Casey, J. H. Calderhead, J. M. Cox, C. N. Fowler, George T. Finnel, J. M. Friels, C. H. Guibor, Wm. Grew, James Kempthorne, F. J. Knight, Etta Lamb, G. L. Myers, A. Manifold, W. H. Mitchell, J. H. Middaugh, P. W. Nippert, A. Patten, H. A. Phelps, Joseph Pelletier, B. H. Richardson, J. H. Roberts, A. T. Rodgers, A. L. Sears, J. W. Seward, J. F. Soper, C. P. Stevens, W. C. Stevens, S. Thanhauser, L. D. Williams, M. J. Wilcox, J. M. Walker.
Ever since the school district has been under municipal charge, there never has been a time when the attendance was less than 500, and prior to that date no effort had been made to grade the school in a systematic manner, for, as a matter of fact, there was little thought of grading schools in any portion of the State before that time. The board has been fortunate in securing the services of broad-minded comprehensive men for superintendents, who were capable of grasping the situation, and bring out of the chaos that existed a symmetrical system which now affords progressive training for the pupil from the first primary to the last days of the high school. To Professors Middaugh and Hutchins, more than to any other succeeding teachers, perhaps, belongs the credit of the success of the schools in point of gradation. These gentlemen laid the foundation and prepared the way for the work which has been so well carried on and perfected by the succeeding superintendents. Their work to the school system was what the architect's plan is to the building: it has taken years to place successfully in operation the work which they laid out to be done. The course of study which is now in use in the schools lays out a line of work which, if faithfully and energetically followed by the pupil, will fit him for the duties of life.
The following-named persons have been employed as superintendents of the schools since the board of education took them in charge: Miss Carrie Bauman, F. H. Clark, G. M. Culver, S. Ensminger, Bion S. Hutchins, W. M. Jay, J. H. Middaugh, and D. K. Thomas.
The work of the superintendents and that planned by the board would be as useless to the schools and the patrons as an architect's plans would be to the builder if such plans were not used in the erection of a building. The teachers employed during the last 13 years show that the board and superintendents have been ably assisted in performing their duties.
An idea of the growth of the schools may be obtained from the following table in which appear the average enrollment and attendance during each year, since 1879:
The class of work which has been done by pupils of all grades has been raised to a higher standard of excellence and more work required of the pupils than formerly. The diploma from the high school now admits a graduate to the freshman class of the University. The character of training of the graduates who have left the high school, and their success in life, it seems to us, will prove to any fair-minded person that the arduous labors of teachers and superintendents have not been in vain. The first regular class, consisting of two members, left the high school in 1883, and each succeeding year larger classes, until now the list of graduates contains 127 young ladies and gentlemen who have received their diplomas.
transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas
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