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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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Wood School


Other Names:  Cooper School

Built: 1871; eight-room brick building

Building no longer exists

One of the 9 original schools when Wyandotte, Kansas City and Armourdale were separate cities; consolidated on March 6, 1886 within the Consolidation Act of 1886.

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From "KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961" by Nellie McGuinn, copyright USD 500 Feb, 1966

Both Kansas City and Armourdale had established schools before 1886.  Kansas City was the older of the two cities.  It occupied the tract of ground lying between the Kansas River and the State Line [Annotation:  Missouri State Line - called the Bottoms or French Bottoms].  This land had been reserved by the government for a fort, as recommended by Lewis and Clark.  When floods covered it after spring rains, the government built the fort at Leavenworth on higher ground.  The Wyandots camped on this strip in 1843, and other settlers built homes on the government-owned land.

Silas Armstrong, a Wyandot, had permission to choose a section of land in payment for Ohio properties.  He decided on the strip in the "Bottoms".  For years Armstrong and the "squatters" waged war in the courts over the "Armstrong Float," as the place had become known.  When the packing houses moved here in the sixties they built plants on the low land near the rivers.  Workers settled nearby to be close to work.  A company was formed to lay out a town in 1868.  In October, 1872, the city was incorporated under the name Kansas City.  Only the state line separated it from the part of Kansas City, Missouri, known as West Kansas.

The city and school district had the same boundaries.  It covered about 300 acres and had a population of 5000 people, when it was consolidated.  The first school, an eight-room brick, was erected in 1871 as District School Number 3.  In 1879 the school was enlarged to care for the increasing number of children.  By 1883 seven teachers taught 500 hundred under H. S. Gibson, principal and seventh and eighth grade teacher.  Forty-five colored children attended school in another building.  Members of the Board of Education in 1883 were:  E. L. James, president; George Nelson, John Furgason, Dr. A. H. Vail, E. S. Matoon, J. H. Spake; Samuel McConnell, treasurer.

In old Kansas City the school was located on Wood between Fifth and Sixth Streets and was called Wood or Wood Street School.  After the cities were united, Wood Street was changed to First, but old name for the school remained until 1904.  Wood was Mr. M. E. Pearson's first teaching assignment in the Kansas City schools.  It was transferred to the new board in May, 1886.

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1868 - Company formed to plan town of old Kansas City, Kansas. On "Armstrong Float" between Kansas River and State Line, bottom land.

1871 - "The city limits are also the limits of the school district, which contains about 300 acres of land, 5,000 people, and nearly 500 school children; seven teachers are employed. The first building was built in 1871; in 1879, it was enlarged. The Board of Education is now composed of the following named gentlemen: President L E James; Treasurer, Samuel McConnell; Members, Dr. A. H. Vail, George Nelson, John Furguson, E S. Mattoon and J H. Spake. The principal and teacher of the sixth and seventh grades is H. S. Gibson. The colored school is conducted in a separate building has an average daily attendance of forty-five, out of over seventy enrolled in the district."  (William Cutler's "History of the State of Kansas," 1883, Andreas Publishing)

1872 - Kansas City, Kansas incorporated.

(Officers, Wyandott Gazette, 17 July 1873 - John Casto, Peter Wilson, and E. A. Eidenmiller)

1879 - School enlarged.

1886 - Old Kansas City, Kansas Board transferred to Board of the consolidated city. Lots 124-126, 128-130 (100 feet) on Wood Street, including two-story, eight-room building.

May 3: New Board was organized in Wood Street School.

Wood School was being repaired but colored people in old Kansas City, Kansas complained of poor school facilities.  (Note:  It is possible that at this point in time, both white and colored students attended Wood School - see separate item on Bruce School.)

1887 - Wood Street School needed a coal shed.  Board Member Day procured the lumber, and the janitor, Louis Cooper, worked fourteen hours to build it.  He received $2.45 extra on his salary for the work.

1888 - Sewer connections installed.

1895 - November: Extra room to be fitted up.

1896 - February: Closed for week because of diphtheria.

1899 - The principals of London Heights, Wood, and Walker reported to the board in answer to complaints by patrons about punishments given the children.

1903 - February: Mercantile Club declared Wood unfit. New building needed. Money from special bond election in May.

May: Building damaged by flood. For many days the daily papers were filled with accounts of the high water. Board member Bowles and Superintendent Pearson hired a boat and went to the Armourdale School. At the Morse School, the current was too swift for the boat to get close. Wood was the third school to be inundated. They feared the three buildings would have to be replaced, but Wood was the only one condemned. Earlier it had been declared unfit for use and a new building recommended for the following year. By July, Armourdale and Morse were being repaired. Bruce, the colored school in the Wood district, also could be restored.

June 6: Building condemned.

August: Rented No. 43 North First from W. E. Griffith.

August: Bids on new school received. Six-room, red brick. Some records refer to twelve rooms.

On September 3, 1903, the name of Wood School was changed to Cooper. The History of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools by Nellie McGuinn.

1904 - March: Moved into new building.

A Chapter in Working Class History by Bill Onasch


1871-? - H. S. Gibson / 1883-89 - H. S. Gibson / 1889-91 - M. E. Pearson / 1891-94 - H. W. McKean / 1894-96 - La Pierre (Lapier) Williams / 1896-1903 - C. W. Porter / 1903-04 - Sophia Bobo; U. A. Screechfield / 1904-07 - C. W. McCamish / 1907-08 - Della Maddox, head teacher / 1908-11 - Florence Dixon / 1911-14 - Victoria Eggleston / 1914-16 - Alice J. Talley / 1916-18 - Mary Nelson / 1918-20 - Isabel Frush / 1920-39 - Elizabeth S. Miller

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15th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the year Ending June 30, 1901:  p. 86, First seven grades, eight room brick.  First Street, between Central and Lyons Avenues.  Boundary - All of the First Ward north of the Union Pacific tracks and that territory west of the Kaw River bounded on the north by Ohio Avenue and on the west and south by the Missouri Pacific tracks.  Frank Colvin, Principal

17th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1902 and 1903:  p. 99, First seven grades, six-room brick.  First Street, between Central and Lyons Avenues.  Boundary - All of the First Ward north of the Union Pacific tracks and that territory west of the Kaw River bounded on the north by Ohio Avenue and on the west and south by the Missouri Pacific tracks.  No principal listed.

18th Annual Report of the Board of Education of the City of Kansas City, Kansas for the Year 1904:  p. 22 - "Kindergarten - It is to be regretted that kindergarten training is not given to the children of this city before they reach the age for admission to the first grade.  Kindergartens have been established for so long a time in the schools of most cities of the country that they have become a recognized part in every complete system of schools. There is great demand for these schools in some of our school districts. This is particularly true in those communities where from the necessity of home conditions the period of school life must necessarily end at a much earlier age than in others. I would recommend that as soon as possible kindergarten schools be established in the Cooper, Armourdale, and Morse Schools."

Ward Boundaries

Meat Packing Industry - Then and Now by Margaret Landis

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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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