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Wyandotte County, Kansas

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2007

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Silver City Record, 15 November 1979, page 8

Mina and Miriam Cheney - The Clara Barton School

by Ed Shutt II

A Silver City Record article on October 18, 1979 dealt with a brief history of the former Clara Barton School   Readers may recall that this school was in operation from 1923 until the fall of 1951 and was designated specifically for grade school children of the Mexican-American community of Argentine.  Miriam Cheney was an early teacher and the first principal at the school.  This weeks article commemorates the contribution that these two ladies made to education in the Kansas City Kansas and to the Argentine communities.

Miriam and Mina Cheney were the daughters of George H. and Carrie L. (Doerr) Cheney.  A native Kansan, George H. Cheney was born on February 15, 1858 near Vinland.  Carrie L. Doerr was born near Beardstown, Illinois on March 5, 1868.  They were married on March 7, 1887.

George Cheney died on May 20, 1912 and his wife Carrie died on February 15, 1949.  They had seven children:  Nora (Benbow), Miriam (born August 24, 1889 - died August 18, 1936), Paul Grace, Ruth, Hazel, and Mina (born May 19, 1900).  Miriam was born in Beloit, Kansas and Mina was born in Kipp, Kansas.  The Cheney family moved to LaCrosse in 1903.  Both parents and all of the children taught school for at least two years entirely in Kansas.

About a week after her seventeenth birthday, Miriam Cheney's teaching career began at a rural school in Rush County.  She taught at the rural school for seven years.  Then she taught one year at LaCrosse, four at Holsington, two at Paola before coming to Kansas City in 1920.  In that year the Methodist Mexican Methodist in an old rock-stone building at 26th and Argentine Boulevard.  From its beginning Miriam taught classes in the night school and did night volunteer work in the Sunday School.  Over the next few years she would also earn a bachelors degree from Fort Hays State College.

When the Clara Barton School was staffed in 1923, Miriam Cheney was added to be its first Principal.  She also taught grades five through eight with as many as 49 pupils in a room.

Miriam Cheney died in Mexico on August 18, 1936.  She was on a trip there with Aurora, Lois and Evangelina Oropeza who lived at 26th and Cheyenne.  They were in the village of Tangancicuero, Michoacan visiting Uriel Amayo, an uncle of the girls and a former pupil of Miss Cheney.  The body was returned to the United States and Miriam Cheney was buried in the family plot at LaCrosse, Kansas.  He death occurred just before she would have begun her thirty-first consecutive year of teaching.  The Mexican-American community greatly felt the loss of the beloved woman who had devoted so many years to the field of education.

Mina Cheney came to the Clara Barton School on January 3, 1928 and was under contract as a substitute teacher.  Prior to that date she taught three years in a rural school and two years in a small high school.  While she taught at Clara Barton a room was added during her first and another in the 1930's.

In 1942 she was transferred from Clara Barton to the John J. Ingalls School.  Miss Cheney retired from teaching in 1963 and now resides in Holsington, Kansas.

Several former teachers of Clara Barton still reside in the area.  These include Miss Evelyn Koester (school nurse), Mrs. Mildred (Elam) McDaniel, Viola Loving, Winnie Wear, and Mrs. Ethel McGowan.

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 18-Jan-2007

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