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Public School System, 1819-1961
by Nellie McGuinn
Copyright USD 500, Feb 1966
By 1872 the Wyandotte schools were giving the pupils the equivalent of an eighth grade education. E. F. Heisler, county superintendent, and O. C. Palmer attended the Kansas Teachers Association during the December holidays. On January 4, 1872, Professor J. A. Davis advertised the success of his Select School and recommended that dissatisfied patrons of the public school give his school a trial. At the German Schoolhouse on Washington Avenue he would instruct in Languages, Phonography, and Shorthand. Young men would profit from the evening school. Languages taught included Latin, Greek, French, German, and Spanish.
All the Congregational Church Professor Whiting from Kansas City, Missouri gave lessons in vocal music once a week. His class was attended by a large number of persons from Quindaro and Wyandotte. One night a thief stole his horse that had been tied to a fence at the church grounds. The next day "Doc" Bowling announced that he had a three-quarter hemp, a splendid necktie for "sick chaps". Over at the Pleasant Valley School House near Armstrong Station the Philomathian Society presented debates and programs during the winter.
Recommended for home reading for students were the "Schoolday Visitor Magazine," published by J. W. Daughaday and Company in Philadelphia, a rich feast for readers; "Youth's Temperance Visitor; and Young People's Helper." In March, 1872, the Library Association moved to #16, Cook's Block. The association announced that it had a good assortment of books and one of the most pleasant rooms in the city.
As in the days of the old Wyandot settlement, public-minded citizens, in the early seventies, fought against ignorance and apathy. When the council passed an ordinance on May 2, 1872, against hogs running loose, a majority of residents could not understand why the law should be in force west of Sixth Street.
The Herald editor lashed out in a sarcastic editorial against a downtown saloon:
Wanted: Phillip Hescher's Saloon - 200 able-bodied men to drink 300 barrels Kentucky Bourbon; 75 barrels Rhein; 50 barrels sherry; 30 port wines; 600 kegs beer; 200 barrels ale. 250-300 accommodated at one time.
On July 4, 1872, Dr. Frederick Speck read the Declaration of Independence to a crowd at Governor Walkers' Grove. On Wyandotte Avenue (a street between Seventh and Eighth Streets) and south of Ann Avenue was Northrup's Grove, scene of another gathering.
The city's wards increased to four in March, 1872. New boundaries were set as follows:
First Ward - South from Nebraska, East from Fifth
Second Ward - North of Nebraska, west of Fifth
Third Ward - North of Nebraska, west of Fifth
Fourth Ward - South from Nebraska, west of Fifth
The division into four wards meant eight board members instead of four, and leaders in the city hoped that enough qualified men could be found. They feared that in the scramble for other offices, candidates for the board might be overlooked.
Elected on April 4, 1872, were listed ten members instead of eight: J. P. Allen, Francis, House, R. E. Cable, William Harrison, E. T. Hovey, J. K. Hale, F. W. Meyer, Corvine Patterson, Ralph Van Brunt, and A. Holzbeierlein.
The City Council, in 1872, planned to organize a police department with a starting force of four men. Minnesota Avenue, sixteen years after it was cut through as a main artery in Wyandotte, as to be curbed, gutted and McAdamized. The project of street cars to carry passengers to new homes all over the city might soon become a reality. Over in South Wyandotte, the Kansas Pacific Railway was selling lots in Armstrong to the workers at the shops under the hill to the south. The sale of intoxicating liquors was to be forbidden there. Residents of the new town would soon vote on two brick schools, a two-story for white and a one-story building for colored. Thomas Vickroy, newly-elected mayor, teased Mayor Stockton of Wyandotte by saying that "Armstrong may make Wyandotte a part of it."
The Wyandotte Teachers' Association, under Mr. E. F. Heisler, county superintendent, met every month on Saturday Sometimes teachers from Johnson and Leavenworth Counties joined Wyandotte teachers at all day meetings. On May 21 to 25, 1872, the Normal Teachers' Institute for the Judicial District was held at the school here. Mr. O. C. Palmer and Mr. Heisler "secured places of entertainment" for the visitors. State Superintendent McCarty attended and "showed he was in earnest." Once the Grinter School was host to the local county association, and at another time Quindaro entertained.
Speakers at the meetings included Porter Sherman, O. C. Palmer, E. F. Heisler, W. D. Colvin, A. Crawford, a Mr. Bowen, S. H. Burgess, F. C. Turrell, and Miss Haines. Their papers covered topics of interest to teachers as yet untrained in good teaching procedures. Listed on programs for 1872 were the topics: Immortality of School Readers, Primary Geography, Mental Arithmetic, English Grammar, Common Fractions, Primary Instruction, How to Treat Communication in the Schoolroom.
Professor Palmer found much difference of opinion among the teachers concerning "Communication." Most agreed that the subject was important and, on the whole, agreed with the speaker -- the best mode was not to allow it! Teaches also went on record as to their decision to try to induce the cooperation of parents at school.
Children and teachers enjoyed a two-week spring vacation from March 22, to the first Monday in April. Then they faced on June 6, a week of public examinations. Early September of 1872 was expressively hot with much sickness among the four hundred children enrolled. Owin to a smallpox epidemic throughout the state during the previous spring, there was some talk as to the advisability of the "scholars" being vaccinated.
History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012