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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Kealing School

Eugene Field aka Kealing School

Location:  4th and Parallel (Fowler Park area)

Other Names:  Eugene Field

"Kealing School was constructed in 1900.  It was located on the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Parallel Avenue.  The school was crowded into one acre of land that was purchased by the Board of Education.  The first name given the school, Eugene Field, was during the time when White children occupied the school.  Eugene Field School was attended by White students until the Spring of 1926.  It was the 13th day of September, 1926, the Board of Education changed the name from Eugene Field School to Kealing Elementary School.  It was on this day that the first Black students attended Kealing School.  As the northeast section of Kansas City, Kansas became predominately filled with Black families, the schools that were for White students were quickly converted into school for Black students.  This change in population began at the turn of the century.

Kealing School was named in honor of Dr. H. T. Kealing, a former president of Western University in Kansas City, Kansas.  Dr. Hightower Kealing was born April 1, 1859 in La Grange, Texas.  He was the son of slave parents, Moses and Caroline Kealing.  When the A.M.E. Church was organized in Texas during the late 1860's, Moses and Caroline Kealing welcome those uneducated missionary preachers into their home.  Their only son, Hightower, would read and write for those missionary preachers as they traveled throughout the state of Texas.  He later attended Straight University (now known as Dillard University) in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He graduated from Tabor College, Tabor, Iowa.  Hightower Kealing was the first Black student and alumnus of Tabor College.

In 1910, upon recommendations from Governor Stubbs of Kansas, Bishop J. R. Ransom, Bishop Abraham Grant and Booker T. Washington, Dr. Kealing was appointed president of Western University.  Dr. Kealing was the first Black person ever to address the convention of Kansas Teachers in Topeka, Kansas.  Dr. Kealing married Miss Goldie Shaw in 1891, and from this union six children were born.  Four of their six children grew up and attended the schools in Kansas City, Kansas.  Hightower Kealing, Jr. graduated from Douglass Elementary School and Sumner High School.  Cecilia Kealing Gayden was a teacher at Vernon School in Quindaro, Kansas City, Kansas.  Carolyn Kealing Dixon was a teacher at Stowe Elementary School and Northeast Junior High School.  Frances Kealing Hayden was a teacher at Sumner High School for a period of eight years.

The first year Kealing School was opened for Black students, the school had a kindergarten, first, second and third grades.  There was also located in the Kealing School on the top floor a room which was named the "Open-air" room.  This was a room for Black children who were under weight for their age.  At one time it was believed that these children were tuberculin or were suspected of having tuberculosis.  However, this type of discrimination enraged many Black parents in the community and the "Open-air" room lasted only a few years.

The first principal of Kealing School was Leah Crump.  Each year just before the Thanksgiving holidays, Miss Crump would have a big Thanksgiving dinner in the basement of the school.  Her invited guests were mostly school dignitaries.  Her hard working faculty was never invited.  For this reason, she was highly criticized by many of her faculty members.  Margaret Wright, Aileen Brown, Mable Jones and Gertrude Brooks were members of the first faculty at Kealing Elementary School.  Kealing School was one of the few elementary schools which had an exceptionally large P.T.A."

A History of Black Education in Kansas City, Kansas, Readin', 'Riting, 'Rithmetic by William W. Boone, March 1986 (Copy located in the KCKs Public Library, 625 Minnesota Ave, KCKs, 913-551-3280).  The school district is sincerely grateful to Mr. William W. Boone, Ms. Josephine C. Vandiver, and Mr. Jackson C. Van Trece for their research and preparation of this material.   (Check the Biographies Index on the site map to view bios on these three people.)

This represents a excerpt from the manuscript/book as it was presented, including terminology used at the time of the writing.  All attempts have been made to reproduce the spelling, capitalization and layout of the original manuscript/book as much as possible.

Disclaimer:  The written historical perspectives online at this web site, and web sites to which links are provided, reflect the view of the author(s)/(creator(s) which are protected under the rights of free speech; and do "not" necessarily reflect the views of the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education.

Copyright Notice: In keeping with the policy of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by non-commercial entities for research/information. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other gain. Printing for personal research use is encouraged, as long as this "copyright notice" is kept with the copy. Other use, including publication, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other means requires the written approval of the author(s) of this works.


1926 - Previous to September 1926:  Known as Eugene Field School.  It was a school for White students.   The school became a school for African Americans in September of 1926 and the name was changed to Kealing in honor of Hightower Kealing, former president of Western University.

September 13:  First occupied.  Four teachers, grades, kindergarten, one and two.  Probably only strictly primary school in the country.  Miss Leah E. Crump, principal.

September 29:  First PTA.  Mrs. L Saunders, president.

"There was a third grade at Kealing (formerly Eugene Field School ) for only one year, 1926-27. The teacher was Miss Gertrude Brooks." (Information from Mrs. Josephine Vandiver Boone, a native of Kansas City, Kansas . Both Mrs. Boone and her mother attended KCKs schools, living across the street from Northeast Jr.  Mrs. Boone graduated from Sumner High School and taught at Northeast Jr. High. Her mother graduated from Western University .)

"Kealing had the first Open Air rooms for African American children who were thought to have Tuberculosis.  There was dissatisfaction amongst those in the Black community over this.   Black children from all over the city (including those who had to ride street cars from the Argentine and Rosedale areas), who were 20% underweight had to come to the Open Air rooms. Cots were provided for them to rest on and milk and graham crackers provided for snacks." Josephine Vandiver Boone  (Note:  As we know today, being underweight does not mean that a person has tuberculosis, and parents felt these earlier actions allowed a stigma to be placed upon the black children put in the Open Air rooms at Kealing.)

"This was the only strictly primary school with Open Air Rooms in the country.  The primaries were Kindergarten, first and second grades on the first floor.  The Open Air Rooms occupied the second floor and was for children under weight with minor health conditions.  Each child received daily, breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch and mid-afternoon snack.  There were four rest periods for a half hour each day.  Teachers, pupils and many parents of the northeast area provided much of the money needed to purchase equipment for the Open Air Rooms.  The room was maintained as long as there was a need for this type of health teaching and program.  In 1930 the room was closed and the school was opened to normal children of the Kindergarten, first and second grades."   Memoirs of Two Great Schools - Kealing and Stowe, The Kealing and Stowe School Committee

1972 - Building closed and razed.  Land used for new Banneker School (K-6).


1926-68 - Lea Crump / 1968-69 - Clarence Glasse / 1969-72 - Nolen Porchia

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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