(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 151-153 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)



No history of the schools of this county was prepared by the proper officer. The following sketch of Emporia schools, its largest city, was written by Supt. Wm. Reece.

Emporia Schools - Emporia is a city of about 15,000 inhabitants, and is situated on a picturesque peninsula, between the Neosho and Cottonwood rivers, six miles from their junction. The sagacious early settlers of Lyon county saw the natural advantages of this location. They perceived what a splendid inlet and outlet for railroads the valleys of these rivers made, and knew that somewhere near their junction the future metropolis of the county, and of central Kansas, must be located.

The town of Emporia was located in February, 1857, its proprietors being P. B. Plumb, of Emporia, and Gen. G. W. Deitzler, G. W. Brown, Lyman Allen, and Columbus Hornsby, of Lawrence. Emporia was first incorporated as a village February 6, 1865. In April, 1870, it was created under the laws of the State a city of the second class. Col. H. C. Cross was the first mayor. R. M. Overstreet was the first president of city schools, which office he held two years, and was succeeded by Robert Milliken, now professor in the Idaho Agricultural College. In August, 1877, John A. Reynolds was elected to the office for two years. In 1880, P. J. Carmichael was elected again, and served as superintendent for five years. In 1885, J. E. Klock was elected as superintendent, and served in that capacity until December, 1890, when he was chosen to superintend the Leavenworth schools, and William Reece, who was in his fifth year as superintendent of Great Bend schools, was selected to take charge of Emporia city schools.

The Emporia schools have always been regarded as taking high rank amongst the city systems of schools in the State of Kansas, and few cities have done more to shape the educational policy of the State than has Emporia. Supplementary reading, reading circles, sketching from nature, industrial work and harmony are prominent features in the Emporia schools. The industrial work develops habits of close observation, leads to a knowledge of the nature and uses of different material, shortens the hours of idleness, weakens the influence of evil associations, gives aim to the aimless, tact to the shiftless, attention to the heedless, frugality to the spend-thrift, industry to the idle, and thoughtful activity to all. The educational value is greater than is sloyd [sic!] work, as the pupil himself must determine what he can make with the material and tools within his reach. The products will not have machine accuracy and polish, but the observation, tact and resources of the pupil will be more fully developed. When pupils read, they stand in front of the class and read to the school, looking from the book, as public lecturers. The Ormsby or polyconic system of map drawing is another prominent feature in these schools. Practical fractions are commenced in the second grade, and third-and fourth-grade pupils are quite familiar with the elementary principles in decimal fractions and percentage. Harmony is successfully taught, even in the primary grades. The pupils of a grade sing one, two, three, or four parts, as the teacher may direct. The teacher, or even a stranger, may sing the numbers of the scale through several measures, and the pupils will give the same numbers, with names of the notes. They can also sing from hand signs, and can readily reproduce the tone of a piano string.

Emporia was one of the first cities in Kansas to place national flags over the school buildings. Every school building in the city has a large, beautiful bunting flag. There are eight school buildings and one church building used for school purposes. The school buildings and grounds cost about $80,000, and the furniture cost about $10,000. The high school has a well-equipped laboratory and a library of over 800 volumes, about half of which has been procured within the last two years. Within the last two years, a considerable amount of supplementary reading matter and other valuable aids have been placed in the primary and grammar grades. Occasional contests are held in spelling, number work, reading, speaking, singing, writing, etc. At a Columbian entertainment, given October 21, 1892, over $350 was raised for exhibit fund.

Below will be found brief histories of the different superintendents who have had charge of Emporia city schools:

Supt. P. J. Carmichael was born March 15, 1836, in Livingston county, N. Y. Received an academic and partial college course of education at Brockport Collegiate Institute, N. Y.; taught in schools of New York State from 1855 to 1869; then removed to Kansas, locating at Leavenworth, where for two years he remained, as principal of the high school; accepted the superintendency of the Emporia city schools, in 1871, and reorganized and graded these schools. He was superintendent two years; then, for three years held the professorship of mathematics in the State Normal School. After a residence of four years in California and Ohio, he returned to Emporia, in the fall of 1880, and reassumed the position of superintendent of schools.

Robert Milliken resigned the county surveyorship to take charge of the city schools, as superintendent, in 1875. He continued to hold this position until 1877.

He is at present county surveyor of Lyon county.

Supt. Buel T. Davis was born in Macon county, Illinois, July 30, 1852; educated in the public schools of Decatur high school when he removed to Kansas in the spring of 1871. located at Junction City, and taught in the schools of Davis (now Geary) county for two terms. In 1872, he resumed his studies, attending, successively, the Kansas Agricultural College, the Kansas State Normal School, and the Aurora (Ill.) Normal School. From the last-named institution, he was graduated in 1875, and from the Kansas State Normal in 1876. In 1876-77, he was principal of the schools at Chetopa, Kas.; then for two years he held the position of superintendent of the schools of Emporia. In January, 1880, he accepted the chair of director in training and gymnastics in the Kansas State Normal School, and held the two offices until the expiration of his term as superintendent of the Emporia schools.

James E. Klock was born March 27, 1855, in Wyoming county, New York. In the fall of 1871 he came to Kansas, locating at Emporia, and was graduated from the Kansas State Normal School in 1875. He taught school at Neosho Rapids for about five years, and in 1881 was appointed to the position of principal of the Emporia high school. He held that position until the fall of 1882, when he was elected superintendent of public instruction for Lyon county. In 1884, he was reelected, but some months after resigned, to accept the position of superintendent of the Emporia schools, which position he held until his election to the superintendency of Leavenworth city schools, in 1890.

William Reece was born in Baltimore, Ohio, September 4, 1838. He was educated in the district schools of Ohio, Carpenter's Academy, and at the Ohio Wesleyan University. He was superintendent of the Jamestown, Ohio, city schools 11 years, and was assistant principal and teacher of higher mathematics and natural science in the Springfield (Ohio) high school, four years. In September, 1886, he took charge of the Great Bend, Kas., schools, and remained there as superintendent until elected to succeed Superintendent Klock, who had been called to Leavenworth.

Superintendent Reece will be succeeded in the autumn of 1893 by John Dietrich, who was principal of Emporia high school for two years.

transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas



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