(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 143-147 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)



LABETTE COUNTY -- No history of this county was prepared by the proper officer. The following sketch of the schools of Parsons, was written by Supt. H. C. Ford.

PARSONS SCHOOLS -— The city of Parsons is located in the northern part of Labette county, three miles from the Neosho county line. Track laying on the Neosho division of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad reached this place May 20, 1870. A town company had already been formed. The town was named in honor of Mr. Levi Parsons, one of the presidents of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad.

Before the organization of the city, a school district, No. 33, had been formed by R. J. Elliot, superintendent of public instruction for Labette county, sometime in the year 1867. At a school-district meeting held soon after for that purpose, the following officers were chosen: Anson Kellogg, director; George M. Wilson, clerk; Joseph Simpson, treasurer. At this meeting a certain per cent. was levied for teachers' fund, which, when collected, amounted to $14.04, as may be seen by the treasurer's books.

The first school, a three-months term, was taught by Miss Marla Hussey, for the sum of $16.67 per month. Even this amount had to be raised by subscription. The whole number enrolled was 15; the average daily attendance, 10.

The first schoolhouse, a one-story frame building, 18 x 34 feet, was erected early in 1871, on the corner of Appleton and Twenty-first streets, at a cost of $625. In August of the same year, an addition of six feet was ordered to be built, and a partition to be put in dividing the house into two rooms—- 18 x 24 feet, and 16 x 18 feet, respectively. Two teachers were employed for the winter—- Mr. E. H. Taylor, at $50, and Miss Sophia Emery, at $40 per month. The whole number enrolled was 109; average daily attendance, 44.

The minutes for August 10, 1871, say that Anson Kellogg was paid $2 for "chalk and water for the school." (Mr. Kellogg was not in the milk business.) The water was for the pupils to drink, and the chalk for use on the blackboard.

The growth of the city was so rapid that, on October 3, 1871, the citizens voted to issue $15,000 in school bonds. With this fund, a four-room brick building was erected, on Seventeenth street, between Forest and Johnson avenues. The board of education paid J. G. Haskell $200 for the plans and specifications, and T. B. Douglass $12,200 for building the house. The following year, Mr. E. H. Taylor was paid $75 per month as principal of the schools.

To relieve the cramped condition of the schools, in 1874 another two-story brick schoolhouse, costing the same as the former, was erected, on Twenty-fourth street, between Belmont and Corning avenues. In 1880, another schoolhouse was erected, on Stevens avenue, between Central avenue and Eighteenth street. This building was much larger than those built in previous years. As the city has grown, and more schoolroom was needed, these buildings have all been enlarged—the first two brick buildings to six-room schools, and the last to an 11-room school. In 1884 a four-room school was erected on Twenty-sixth street, between Stevens and Dirr avenues.

For many years the board of education has maintained a high school. The teaching was done principally by the superintendent and his assistant for some years. The first class (1882) graduated consisted of only one member, Miss Maude Keyser, now Mrs. Gregg. Rosalee Perry had charge of the high school. Since that time, 84 have graduated from the high school. Of this number, 35 have engaged in teaching, 12 of whom are now employed in the Parsons city schools.

J. W. Richardson, now one of the assistant supervisors of Indian schools, under the Secretary of the Interior, was the next principal in charge. He was succeeded by J. N. Selby, in 1883-84. Mr. A. Moore had charge of the high school in 1884-85. He was succeeded by J. W. Iden, the next year. Mr. Iden is now practicing law in Parsons, and is clerk of the board of education. Mr. I. J. Uzzell was principal in 1886-87. H. G. Woodrow, now of Salina, was at the head of the high school for two years, 1887-89. He was succeeded by E. T. Hand, who left here to take charge of the Eureka schools, in 1891. Mr. P. C. Hoyt, the present principal, was elected in 1891.

The high school has been held in various buildings, as room could be most conveniently provided. July 11, 1892, the city voted to issue $35,000 in bonds, for the purpose of erecting a high school. This building is in process of erection, and when completed will be one of the most handsome structures in the State. It will consist of an assembly room, capable of seating 200 pupils, six schoolrooms, library, laboratory, reception room, principal's office and superintendent's office. The Smead system of heating and ventilating is to be used, also his system of dry closets. The style of architecture is of the most modern type. The house is to be finished and furnished in first-class style throughout.

After the organization as a city of the second class, the first president was Geo. H. Reynolds, who served one year. His successor O. L. Hall, served only seven months. Geo. W. Biggs served the remainder of that term. He was succeeded the following year by G. C. West. The next president, A. Wilson, served three years, from May, 1876, to May, 1879. Others served as follows: R. H. Patrick, 1879-82; Wm. Mosher, 1882-83; S. W. Kniffin, 1883-84; J. M. Gregory, 1884-85; W. Z. Quick, 1885-86; I. N. McCreery, 1886-87; J. N. Caldwell, 1887-88; R. D. Talbot, 1888-89; Dr. J. T. Tinder, 1889-91; A. H. Tyler, 1891-92; O. H. Stewart was elected in May, 1892, served two months, and resigned. G. H. L. Coplen was chosen to fill out the remainder of the year. The present board consists of the following members: C. Brewster, Wm. Gillies, J. W. Hogue, Ira F. Adams, C. W. King, R. M. Johnson; G. H. L. Coplen, and J. S. Young.

The following men have served as clerk of the board of education: W. A. Gillam, P. M. Griffin, M. Noyes, George Thornton, James Grimes, A. H. Tyler, C. W. Duzan, A. G. Thurman, and J. W. Iden, the president incumbent. Mr. Tyler has held the position longer than any other person. He was in office seven years—- from 1882 to 1887, five years; and from May, 1888, to 1890, two years. Mr. Grimes served from May 7, 1877, to May 1, 1882, five years. Mr. Iden, the present clerk, was elected in May, 1890.

Parsons was organized as a city of the second class February 23, 1873, at which time J. H. Griffith was principal of the schools. He was teaching a three-months term, at $75 per month. His assistants were Mr. A. C. Peck, Miss Sophia Emery, and Miss Ala Burnette, each receiving a salary of $50 per month.

When the first regularly-elected board of education was organized, the following May 5, 1873, J. G. Parkhurst, an attorney, was "appointed as superintendent and chairman of the board of examiners." He served until January 3, 1874. "Having been tendered a vote of thanks by the board of education, his further services were dispensed with," and the principal of the schools, David Donovan, was chosen to fill the office till the end of the school term.

Mrs. E. J. J. Collins served as superintendent and principal teacher for the year 1874-75.

June 26, 1875, Milton W. Reynolds was appointed superintendent, and served until January 19, 1876, at which time the office was declared vacant. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Parkhurst seem to have served for "glory" alone, as neither of them received any compensation. Mr. P. M. Griffin, a member of the board of education, was "appointed to take cases of insubordination in hand, and perform the duties of superintendent until such time as a superintendent shall be elected." From the above, it appears that there were some unruly pupils in the schools.

During the year 1875-76, Mrs. J. M. Arthur served as principal teacher. Since that time, Mrs. Arthur, now Mrs. L. B. Kellogg, of Emporia, has been admitted to the bar, and has made for herself an honorable reputation in the legal profession.

The following year, 1876-77, Mr. B. F. Hickey served as superintendent and principal teacher.

July 18, 1877, Mr. George Thornton, a former member of the board, was appointed superintendent, and served until the election of Mr. M. Chidester, of Leavenworth, Kas., August 14, 1877. Mr. Chidester filled the position for three years. He was afterward elected county superintendent. He is now in the Indian service, superintendent of an Indian boarding school, at Hoopa Valley, Cal.

Mr. O. M. McPherson, of Pierce City, Mo., was elected in 1880, and served one year.

In 1881, Mr. Lee Tomlin, of Oakland City, Ind., was elected. He held the position for seven years. Under his supervision the schools made excellent progress. The high school was improved. During his term of office the first class completed the course of study—the class of 82. For the first year Mr. Tomlin's salary was $640. At the close of his term of office he was receiving $100 per month. Mr. Tomlin is now superintendent of the El Dorado, Kas., schols.

Mr. C. H. Harris was the next superintendent. He was elected in 1888, and served three years. He is now practicing law in St. Paul, Minn.

The present incumbent, Mr. H. C. Ford, was elected May 11, 1891. He came to Kansas in 1878; graduated from the State Normal School, Emporia, in 1880. He has been superintendent or principal of schools continuously since that time.

Under the first superintendent, Mr. Parkhurst, the entire enrollment was 365; average daily attendance, 300; number of teachers employed, 6. In 1883, 10 years after, there were employed, besides the superintendent, 13 teachers. The entire enrollment was 1,450; average daily attendance, 808. Nine years later, 1891-92, there were in the city 2,418 children of school age; number of children enrolled, less transfers, 1,701; average daily attendance, 1,205; number in the high school, 85; number in the graduating class, 16; number of teachers, besides superintendent, 26.

The schools of this city consist of primary, grammar and high-school departments. The primary schools embrace the first four grades; the grammar schools embrace the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades; the high school embraces the ninth, tenth and eleventh years' work. Pupils who wish it are prepared for the State University or for college. It is, therefore, one of the "approved high schools" of the State.

A good beginning has been made in each school in the way of a circulating library. One of these has about 200 volumes; the others, 65 to 100 each. The high school has a reference library of about 300 volumes. This includes the standard cyclopedias and historical and biographical works.

The present corps of teachers consists of 28 members, each of whom belongs to the Kansas State teachers' reading circle. Regular meetings are held for the discussion of work and methods.

transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas



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