(from a book written in 1893)

The following text was transcribed from chapters on the history of education in individual Kansas counties found on pages 123-128 in:

compiled by Kansas educators and published under the auspices of the Kansas State Historical Society, for the Columbian Exposition.
(Topeka, Kan. : Hamilton Printing Company : E. H. Snow, state printer, 1893)



by Miss Frances E. Katner, county superintendent

DONIPHAN COUNTY -- Doniphan county was organized in 1855. The first county superintendent, John Bayless, was elected in 1859, and served four years. He organized school district No. 1, at Wathena, April 21, 1859. Mr. Benjamin Harding, the first teacher legally licensed to teach in the county, took charge of the school. Mr. Harding gives an account of his first certificate, as follows: "I received my certificate, the first he ever issued, from Mr. Bayless, in 1859. Went on horseback to Highland, ate dinner with him, when he had his daughter bring her school books, and from them he questioned me till he was satisfied. There was no fooling about him." A frame building had been erected for school purposes in 1857, and school had been maintained in it in pioneer style up to the time of organization. A new schoolhouse, built in 1867, and afterwards used for the colored school, has since been torn down, and a fine brick structure erected in 1870, at a cost of $10,000. We must return to Mr. Bayless in 1859. I shall ask you to go back even before his timeto 1837, when the Presbyterian Board of Missions planted a mission under the hands of that self-denying and devoted man. Rev. S. M. Irvin, among the Sacs and Iowa Indians. The lands of these tribes occupied what are now Doniphan and Brown counties. A number of grammars and text-books in the Indian language were set up and printed, the literary and typographical work being done by Revs. Wm. Hamilton and S. M. Irvin.

In the year 1854, a treaty was made with the Indians, removing their claims from this part of their lands, and the country was open for settlement. The missionaries, thoughtful and prayerful as to how they could best prepare for the coming population, decided to found a college whose corner stone should be the Bible, where a "pure faith and true science" would be taught. In May, 1857, a little school was commenced in a log cabin, (the first house built on the premises, which had been occupied for a time as a preemption house,) where the town of Highland now stands. Two ministers, two elders and a dozen pupils made up the first session of a school that, to the present, has never lost a school day. The next year, the log cabin was exchanged for a neat and comfortable frame building, and the schoolhouse became a Presbyterian academy. In 1858, a liberal charter from the Territorial Legislature was obtained, under the title of Highland University Company. The further history of this institution need not be traced, although we may add that, in 1866, a large brick building, the one now in use, was built, at a cost of $4,000.

The average yearly enrollment of this institution has been for some years about 100 students, and among its graduates we find men of prominence, as well as men of ability and integrity. Among the early corporate members of this institution we find the name of John Bayless, the first superintendent of public instruction of Doniphan county. He had come to Kansas in 1855. He was public-spirited, and interested in the development of the new State. He was organizer, having built, with little assistance, one of the first churches in Broome county, New York. He organized 21 school districts in Doniphan county, the last, 21, was attached to the district which includes Troy, the county seat.

Mr. Bayless was a man of strong conviction, holding his peace for no man and in no presence, when principle called his to utterance. Politically, he was a Whig, later a Republican and Abolitionist. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1865, where he died in 1873. His work, so well begun, has kept pace with the development of the county. All honor to the pioneers! to the pathfinders! They were a sturdy, staunch race. They have made our present civilization possible.

In 1863, Mr. C. C. Camp, a bright young man of ability, was placed in charge of the schools. He was district attorney at the time, and was appointed first, afterward elected, to the office of county superintendent of public instruction, with the understanding that he would be expected to do as little as possible and keep the schools going. It was the time when men and even boys were training and hurrying to war to determine the question of schools or no schools; and those who were compelled to stay at home to carry on civil government filled as many places as possible.

During the four years he held offices, he organized 20 school districts, making 41 numbers; but some had lapsed.

The courthouse burned in 1867, and all early records were destroyed. Mr. Camp gives some interesting reminiscences of those early days. He says: "Teachers were so scarce that I had to be very careful not to reject any one who was sent by a school board for examination. One incident in this connection I well remember. A school district sent for examination a man whom I had long known as wood chopper and teamster. I commenced his examination, with many misgivings, by asking with what branch he was best acquainted. he said he was something of a mathematician, so I followed this lead. He answered readily all questions as to the primary rules of arithmetic, showed a perfect knowledge of fractions, explained all the intricacies of decimals, percentage, and interest; gave the rule of square root. I asked him to give the reason for this rule. He immediately did so, and I immediately gave him his certificate.

"A large part of the original population of Doniphan county came from the Southern States, and many of them were opposed to being taxed to support schools. So many Union men were away in the army, that in one instance they voted against the tax and closed the schools. In this emergency they came to me. I told them to rally the war widows, and let them vote in place of their husbands. From that time forward no schools were closed for want of tax levy."

Mr. Camp adds that he was paid from $36 to $50 per annum, and very modestly says he thinks they paid him very well for all the services he rendered. Humility, thou art a jewel! Mr. Camp afterward returned to Fredonia, N.Y., where he now resides, still as much interested in Doniphan county and her schools as in his numerous financial affairs.

In 1867, Rev. Gary Hickman, a Presbyterian minister of the old style, highly educated, yet eccentric, was elected county superintendent. He and his pony are remembered by many even yet. He called the first institute ever held in the county, in 1867. It was held in the M. E. Church, in Wathena, and the teachers sat upon board benches. D. W. Brown, from Troy, Rev. T. H. Dinsmore and three or four others from Highland, went, and with the Wathena teachers, formed an institute. To tell how it was conducted would be a puzzle now. About this time, two advanced school-girls, from Wathena, walked down to see Mr. Hickman, about two miles distant. One was to teach in the Wathena schools, if she could get a certificate. With many misgivings, they met him, and told their errand. He asked them some simple questions, that a third-reader pupil could easily answer, and said: "Now, girls, if you will make me a real nice bow, and say, Thank you,' I will give you each a certificate for 12 months." He held the office until May, 1868, when he resigned, and Mr. D. W. Brown was appointed to succeed him. He was a practical schoolman, and served four years and four months. During this period, he devoted his entire time to the work. The war was over. The schools, freedom's handmaid, had been neglected while freedom herself was in danger.

The educational affairs of Doniphan county, in common with those of other places, were in a chaotic condition. The most of the schoolhouses were little better than stables, and but two or them were what could be called seated. There were no records in the office; the county was imperfectly districted; the text-books in use were a mixture of everything published at the time. Mr. Brown arranged with Wilson, Hinckle, & Co., of Cincinnati, to bring about uniformity. The company furnished the books gratis, exchanged new ones for old, and paid the freight both ways. Mr. Brown, in his buggy or on his house, brought around the new books, and took away the old ones. Well do we remember one little country school and its pupils that were made so happy one spring day in 1869. The books were a revelation to us, and for weeks and months they were an inspiration. A number of new districts were organized, and the boundaries of many more changed. Many new schoolhouses were erected, and as many more improved, reseated, and furnished with appropriate apparatus.

He held "institutes," as they then called them, of one week's length, usually in August, each year, at Troy, Wathena, White Cloud, and Highland. In these institutes the teachers did the best they could with what they had to do with. No funds were provided. The teachers acted as volunteer instructors, and were all entertained with true, open-hearted hospitality by the citizens of the town. They had a good time, exchanged methods, instructed each other, and all felt the good results. The examinations, usually written, and at stated times, were conducted by an examining board.

Mr. Brown says he left the teachers, as a class, much improved. This, in part, was due to immigration. He made a complete record of the districts as he found them and as he left them. He made many changes. He did it without consulting policy or public opinion, and was frequently censured and often unjustly blamed. Those who know most of his work consider him one of the best schoolmen who have been in the county. He was a native of Vermont, and now resides near Troy. He resigned, on account of ill health, in September, 1872, when he was succeeded by D. D. Rose.

Mr. Rose held the office six years and four months. He carried on the work left by his predecessor, was educated in the common schools and academies; like him, he began teaching at 19 years of age, continued in this work until the war, and served through the entire time as a soldier. He came to Doniphan county in 1866, as did Mr. D. W. Brown.

Mr. Rose held short institutes at East Norway, Highland, Severance, and White Cloud; and in 1877, he held the first annual normal institute of one month, at Troy, in August. It was conducted by Prof. John Wherrell, assisted by J. A. Lane and Miss Wherrell, and enrolled over 100 teachers.

The normal institute met with great favor. The young teacher was better prepared for his work; and to the more experienced teacher it brought new methods, a professional insight, and a keener relish. It afforded an opportunity for weaving a stronger professional bond of sympathy to unite those engaged in the work. The normal institute of 1878 was conducted by Prof. H. D. McCarty, assisted by J. A. Lane. Township associations had been organized as early as 1871. In Iowa and Wolf River townships they were especially successful. They met every two weeks, at different schoolhouses. On Friday night there would be a gathering for a lecture and some discussions, and on Saturday the teachers spent the day in class drills. Mr. Rose was succeeded in 1879 by Mr. Edward Heeney, who conducted the affairs of the office with vigor and ability. In August, 1879, the institute was conducted by Professor McCarty, assisted by O. C. Hill. This was one of the largest ever held in the county, having on the roll 140 names. During the session, the Doniphan County Teachers' Association was organized. Mr. Edward Heeney was chosen first president. This county teachers' association has had its seasons of prosperity and adversity, but has had its regular meetings each year, and has been a great factor in the growth of the school work.

In 1880, Professors McCarty, Hill and B. F. Nihart conducted the institute. Mr. Heeney went down with his party, in 1881. He has the honor of being the only Democrat who has held this office in Doniphan county. He is a native of the county and still remains here, handling, not boys and girls, but other hardware.

Mr. H. F. Shaner, in 1881, took up the work, and zealously and skillfully managed it for six years. He was Pennsylvanian by birth, but had been actively engaged in the school work of the county for 12 years. His energy and public spirit, which he had shown as a teacher, served him well in a higher capacity. The county associations were largely attended, the schools were carefully supervised. He encouraged teachers to read professional literature and organized a teachers' reading circle, which was moderately successful for two years. He set up a high standard before the teachers.

The normal institutes conducted during the term of his office were in charge of the following instructors: 1881O. C. Hill and B. F. Nihart; 1882L. M. Knowles and B. F. Nihart; 1883B. F. Nihart and O. E. Olin; 1884L. M. Knowles and D. E. Lantz; 1885O. E. Olin and William Wheeler; 1886O. E. Olin and William Wheeler.

The work of these six years is highly estimated. Mr. Shaner married one of the best teachers, and left the profession. He lives in Chicago, engaged in railroad work.

He was succeeded by Oliver Edwards, another Pennsylvanian, a graduate of Lebanon College, Ohio, a professional teacher, and an old soldier. During the two years of his term, his ability and his upright life impressed themselves upon the work and upon all who knew him. He died upon the eve of his reelection, in November, 1888, and was succeeded by A. R. Graves, by appointment. Mr. Edwards first published the association program for the entire year. This outlined the work ahead, and, in consequence, the teachers were better prepared. The plan has been followed since.

Institutes were held as follows: In 1887, conducted by O. C. Hill; 1888, by O. E. Olin; and 1889, by W. H. Johnson.

Mr. Graves laid the plans for the better gradation of the county schools. This was taken up earnestly by the teachers, and by his successor in office, Miss Frances E. Katner, November 19, 1889, and proved a most helpful move. The schools were brought into better system, the required studies were placed in all the schools, and graduation from the country schools introduced.

A reading circle was organized in 1881, with 70 members, and one in 1892, with 50 members. Associations are generally well attended.

Institutes were held in Troy, as follows: In 1890L. L. H. Austin, R. N. Pemberton, Mrs. Flo. V. Menninger; 1891Ida A. Ahlborn, R. N. Pemberton; 1892A. P. Warrington, I. B. Morgan.

The library movement seems at this time, 1893, to be the newest and most popular wave that has come to the county educationally for a long time. It is delightful, and bids fair to leave in its wake libraries in all the best school districts in the county.

We have briefly reviewed the school work of the county, and have done it imperfectly. Much credit is due the superintendents and the institute workers, but to the faithful teachers must the palm be given. They have all these years worked quietly, earnestly, and thoughtfully. Many of them have given the best years of their lives, their vigor, their energy, to the building up of a great work. Their names may be unwritten for you and me to heedlessly gaze upon, yet their work is written in the hearts of hundreds of men and women who hold their old teachers in grateful remembrance. They have not had wealth, and perhaps have lost health; but we have risen by the sacrifices they have made. In the long, long years to come, when the Angel of Progress reviews the deeds of the ages, to find to whom credit is due, then, and not till then, will the earnest, patient, faithful teacher know the magnitude of the work he has done.

The following is a summarized report of the schools of this county for the year ending June 30, 1892: School population between 5 and 21 years, 4,716; number of different pupils enrolled, 3,537; average daily attendance, 2,108; number of districts organized, 69; number of clerks reporting, 68; number of teachers, male 41, female 46, total 87; average length of term, in weeks, 28; average number of mills levied for school purposes, 11.2; number of persons examined, 75; number of applicants rejected, 9; number of first-grade certificates granted, 13; number of second-grade certificates granted, 29; number of third-grade certificates granted, 19; number of temporary certificates granted, 5; average age of persons receiving certificates, 23.5 years; number of teachers employed holding State certificates 2, first grade 28, second grade 42, third grade 15, total 87; average salary paid male teachers, $44.60; average salary paid female teachers, $39.15; estimated value of school property, $80,000; bonded indebtedness, $4,800; receipts by treasurers for school year, $40,058.86; amount expended for school purposes, $34,875.63; balance in hands of district treasurers, $5,183.23; amount institute fund received, $302; amount institute fund expended, $257.75; amount institute fund on hand, $44.25.

Transcribed by Rita Troxel, Kansas State Library -- January, 2003



This website is coordinated by Bill and Diana Sowers.
If you have questions/suggestions/corrections please send them to us at: sixsunflowers@yahoo.com.

Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.

Go to Top of Page
Last updated 1/22/2003
The USGenWeb Project
alternate sites

The KSGenWeb Project

Check out these links!