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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Third Ward School

The Third Ward stretched north from State Avenue to the Missouri River between 7th and 10th Streets in the town of Wyandotte and was an early home to many African-Americans and whites as well. It, too, became a mostly African-American community after the turn of the century. The 1855 Territorial Census showed a total population of 1,944 in Districts 16 and 17, wherein lies today's Wyandotte County. It also listed 56 slaves and 19 "free Negroes." By 1865, there were 11,622 residents in Wyandotte County, 1,323 of whom were African-Americans. African-Americans were by far the largest minority in the area, foreign born citizens and Native Americans numbering 552 and 259 respectively.

Opened:  First rented two-room building occupied September, 1887.  Second rented brick flat located at Ninth and Freeman and leased until 1890.

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"Perhaps the beginning of Black public education in Kansas City, Kansas dates as far back as 1886.  At that time the old Lincoln School, housed in a dirty yellow brick building, located on the southeast corner of Sixth and State Avenue, served both Black and White students.  This Lincoln School is not to be confused with the Lincoln Elementary School that was constructed in or about 1893, located on the southeast corner of 24th and Strong Avenue in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kansas.  To prevent confusion, the school at Sixth and State Avenue will be referred to as the old Lincoln School, and the school at 24th and Strong Avenue will be referred to as the new Lincoln Elementary School.  The old Lincoln School was an integrated school.  The new Lincoln Elementary School was not integrated.  Integration in the old Lincoln School only lasted until 1890.  It was then that the old Lincoln School building was sold by the Board of Education to the Y.W.C.A. for the sum of $5,000.00.  After the building was renovated, it was used as the Y.W.C.A. building for eighty-two years.  [Annotation:  Other records state that the Y.W.C.A. purchased the old Lincoln School on the southeast corner of 6th and State around 1905.  The Y.W.C.A. has built another building since then, but still reside at the same location of 6th and State in 2004.  The first Lincoln School at 6th and State Avenue (called Kansas Avenue prior to 1886) was a "Cincinnati frame" put up in about 1856 or 1867.  In 1881 when a new building for Lincoln School was built on the southeast corner, the old frame building was moved to the northwest corner of 6th and State and turned over to the colored.]

By the end of 1886, the building at Sixth and State Avenue contained only nine rooms.  Students in grades one through eight attended this school.  Due to the sudden growth of the Black population between Seventh and Ninth Streets, the building became greatly over populated.  Since the old Lincoln School could not adequately accommodate both Black and White students, a decision was made to ease the overcrowded condition by moving the Black students to another location.  In addition to moving the Black students from the first and second grades of the old Lincoln School, the newly populated area between Seventh and Ninth Streets was designated as the Third Ward.  The Board of Education rented a two-room building.  Black children from the first and second grades of the old Lincoln school went to school in this two room building.  Since the majority of these students were from the Third Ward, the school was named the Third Ward School.  The principal of the Third Ward School was Mr. J. J. Lewis.  There were two teachers, Miss Marguerite Calloway from Atchison, Kansas and Mrs. A. V. Watkins who is believed to have two grades (a third grade) in the Third Ward School.

It was the second Monday in September, 1887, when the Third Ward School opened for business.  The enrollment at that time was 82 Black students.  Thirty-six (36) of those students were second graders, forty-six (46) were first graders.  By the end of the first week, the enrollment jumped from eighty-two to ninety-two (92).  Already, the Third Ward School was over crowded.  Two well known citizens, Dr. G. H. Browne and Mr. J. Squire, influenced the Board of Education to rent a larger building.  The Board of Education secured a brick flat on the southwest corner of Ninth and Freeman, Kansas City, Kansas.  The Building was the property of Mr. H. J. Johnson.  This building was leased from Mr. H. J. Johnson until 1890.

On September 27, 1888, the Third Ward School enrolled 180 Black students.  After the first month, the enrollment had increased to more than two hundred pupils.  By shifting students again, the third grade students were sent back to the old Lincoln School.  Historical records do not indicate that sometime between the first Third Ward School and the time the building was rented from H. J. Johnson, that the Third Ward School had grown to include grades one, two and three.  After looking at many sites, the Board of Education decided to buy a tract of land between Ninth and Tenth Streets on Washington Boulevard.  Plans were made to permanently relieve the overcrowding in the Third Ward and the old Lincoln Schools.

A twelve room school was built.  The first section (West-Wing) was completed by January, 1890.  The Third Ward School moved from Ninth and Freeman to Ninth and Washington Boulevard.  The name "Third Ward School" proved to be too insignificant, and the name was changed to Douglass Elementary School in honor of the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.  In 1904, more rooms were added and Douglass School could accommodate Black children from grades one through eight.  The twelve rooms became over crowded by 1920, and by 1925 an annex was constructed for the ever growing enrollment."

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.

Ward Boundaries.

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

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