(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 194-198 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)



SALINE COUNTY (by Judge O.P. Hamilton) -- In August of 1862, Salina was but a small village of some 10 or 12 houses, constructed mostly of cottonwood poles, and clapboards made from native timber (oak) used for siding, with the exception of a two-story frame building, constructed by Colonel Phillips, on the corner of Santa Fe and Iron avenues. The southwest corner room was at that time and sometime afterwards used as a common hall for various purposes, viz.: Church, Sabbath school, county elections, dancing hall, public lectures, and district or common schools.

On or about the first of September, 1862, a meeting was held in this room, of the citizens, irrespective of conditions. Whether they were the heads of families and had children to send or not, or young men, a like interest was manifested; and in order the better to facilitate the object in view, R. H. Bishop was elected clerk, and O. P. Hamilton director, with instructions to solicit subscriptions from the citizens, and hire a teacher for a term of three months. A subscription of $90 was quickly raised, and Miss Etta Thacker was employed, and placed in charge, with an attendance of 13 scholars, whose names we give, as follows: E. B. and R. H. Bishop, of R. H. Bishop's family; Johnnie Phillips, of Col. W. A. Phillip's family, who perished in a snow storm some miles southwest of Salina in November, 1867; Eddie Hanna, of the Hanna family, now a resident of Washington, D. C.; Miss Sarah Jane Morrison, of the Elder Morrison family, who became the wife of D. R. Wagstaff, a resident of this city; Miss Simons, now Mrs. Solberg, of the city, and her brother Eugene, of whom we know nothing at present; Misses Marietta and Myra Morrison, of the Rev. A. A. Morrison family, Miss Myra being now Mrs. Ritger, living in the east part of Saline county, her sister living with her; Luther and his sister Tillie, of the Joe Crowther family, who is now a resident of South Dakota—Tillie, the sister, having died in 1887; Miss Jennie Sharp, now married and living near southeast Salina.

This term of school had no interruption in its progress, except on the morning of the 16th of September, when the town of Salina was raided quite early in the morning by a band of Texas rangers and horse thieves, who had things pretty much their own way for a few hours. The teacher and a few of the scholars fled to the country for assistance, but were overtaken, and informed they should not in any manner be harmed. This term and two others, with short intervals, were taught by the same teacher, and attended by about the same number of scholars.

The schools were maintained by private subscription, and, so far as we remember, promptly paid. No legal district had been formed in Salina; but sometime during the year 1863, district No.1 was organized, and embraced all the eastern part of the county, and located a sod house near what is now Mr. T. Alley's residence, and the frame school house upon or near the same site.

Some time after No.1 was organized, the citizens of Salina organized district No.2. We have no recollection of any school being taught during the year 1864, but in 1865, a Miss Ingersol, whose family lived on the Solomon river northeast of Salina, taught a six-months term, which was maintained by subscription.

In the fall of 1862. Rev. William Bishop was elected county superintendent, and, I think, served two years. The next one was R. A. Mobley, whose residence was up the Saline valley, in Ottawa county, which at that time was attached to Saline county. His successor was D. M. Dunn, for the years 1866-67. Under his administration, the first school lands were sold, and a school fund created. Miss Kate A. Houston, from Junction City, taught the first district school in Salina, beginning January 1, 1866, and continuing six months. Miss Houston soon after became the wife of L. F. Parsons, one of the oldest citizens of Saline county, now living three miles east of Salina.

The school board of the first district school was R. H. Hishop, B. M. Simons, and one other, whose name cannot be recalled.

District No.3 was formed in 1863. It embraced the north tier of congressional townships, embracing a territory 6 by 30 miles in extent. The writer was clerk of this district for three years, and the enumeration of children of school age, each year, was only 16.

The first school taught in district No. 3 was in a little stone building near the residence of Gotheart Schippel, some four miles northeast of Salina, at the old Fremont and Government trail and ferry crossing of the Saline river.

In conclusion I will say: At no time in my 30 years' residence in Saline county was there a greater interest manifested in educational matters than in our first efforts to have and maintain schools. When no suitable building could be secured, a sod house was at once built upon some selected spot convenient to the greatest number of children, or if not a sod house, a dugout in the bank of some ravine, creek or river was readily built, and was oftentimes more comfortable than the modern buildings. In these rude structures many of Saline county's children have received their first lessons in district and Sunday schools.

Salina Schools (by E.Y. Roop, superitendent) -- One of the earliest acts of the people of Salina was the organization of a private school, which soon changed into a legally-organized public school. As time rolled on, the interest in education did not abate, but rather increased, until now no city in the West can boast of better privileges. In 1867, a two-story building, containing two rooms, was erected on the grounds now occupied by the Central school building. Gradually the number of children grew, till, in 1874, the three-story, 10-room building, now known as the Central, was erected, at a cost of $22,000. At that time this was regarded as the finest school building in the State, and many were free to say that it contained more school room than Salina would ever need. The number of pupils increased, however, so rapidly that the building was crowded to its utmost capacity and in 1880 the south part of the second-ward school was erected and three of the four rooms immediately filled. In 1885, more room was needed, and the two-room addition was placed on the north side of the second-ward building, and every room immediately filled with pupils. There were 16 teachers employed this year and 862 pupils enrolled.

In 1886, the boom largely increased the number of pupils, and again crowded every schoolroom to overflowing. In 1887, the South Park, the Oak Dale and the Logan buildings were erected, and at once three rooms were occupied in South Park, two rooms in Oak Dale, and one room in Logan. There were 22 teachers employed and 1,239 pupils enrolled. In 1888, 24 teachers employed and 1,257 pupils enrolled. In 1889, 26 teachers were employed and 1,329 pupils enrolled. In 1890, 28 teachers were employed and 1,416 pupils enrolled. In 1891, 29 teachers were employed and 1,455 pupils enrolled.

This year, 1892, the same number of teachers are employed, 37 more pupils than were enrolled last year at the close of the third month, and the prospects are that there will be nearly 1,600 enrolled by the end of this school year.

The schools are divided into two departments: the elementary, consisting of the seven grades; and the high school, four grades or classes. Each grade represents one year of school work. That the schools are doing most excellent work, is shown by the uncommon uniformity of enrollment in the different grades. The "C" class, or preparatory to first grade, contains 70 pupils, who require about half a year of work before they can enter the regular first grade. The first grade enrolls 161 pupils; second grade, 170; third grade, 161; fourth grade, 203; fifth grade, 172, sixth grade, 137; seventh grade, 145; and the four classes of the high school enroll 138. These figures show that the pupils do not stop at the fourth or fifth grade, as in some cities, but nearly as many are found in the seventh grade as in the first grade. The following figures indicate the rapid growth of the high school in recent years. Beginning with the school year of 1879-80, the average daily attendance in the high school for each year, in order, is as follows: 24, 22, 28, 32, 30, 24, 29, 30, 42, 43, 53, 88, 114, and the average daily attendance for the present year, so far, is about 125.

Students graduating from the high school are received into the State University, and like institutions, without examination. A class of 24 young men and women will graduate at the close of the present year. The high school is now occupying rented rooms, but a new building will be erected soon, in all probability, as present quarters are overcrowded.

The aim is to make the instruction in all the grades as practical as possible, and the ideas has been assiduously inculcated that the world owes no one a living; that if a person "work not, neither should he eat," that no one has the right to consume the wealth of the world, the product of human labor, without returning value received. The schools are conducted on the theory that the State is bound to see that children are so trained that they shall become good, law-abiding citizens, able to cast the ballot intelligently, and perform all the duties that devolve on the American sovereign.

During the past three years 2,745 books have been added to the school library, which now consists of 3,367 volumes. Each schoolroom is supplied with from 60 to 500 books suited to the needs of the pupils of the grades which use them. During the past year, the records show nearly 50,000 readings by pupils.

Much care is exercised in the selection of experienced, competent teachers, and the teachers from surrounding cities and towns often visit the Salina school to observe the excellent work done. During the past year, more than 40,000 visits were made to our schools by parents and others, and, from present indications, the number this year will be doubled. It is good indication when parents visit the schools often. It greatly encourages both teacher and pupils, and establishes a more intimate friendship between all interested persons. People who pass the school buildings at recess time or dismissal often express themselves as surprised at the number of well-dressed and bright-looking children the city affords. the plump forms and rosy cheeks give conclusive proof of a vigorous health that is the best possible advertisement of the fact that Salina is one of the most desirable places to move to to rear and educate a family.

St. John's Military School (by Walter M. Jay, head master)-— On the 14th of March, 1887, citizens of Salina formed a corporation for the purpose of establishing an institute, to be known as the Episcopal Military Institute, of Salina, Kansas, to be carried on under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Kansas.

Pursuant therewith, the corporation of St. John's School was formed, for the purpose of maintaining and conducting a school and college for boys and young men. It was provided in the charter, that the place of business be at the city of Salina; that the trustees shall have the right and power to elect their successors, but, if they are unable to agree, or if they fail to perform such duty, then such successors shall be appointed by the bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the diocese of Kansas; and, that a majority of the trustees shall be residents of the State of Kansas, and communicants of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

The incorporators were: E. S. Thomas, Topeka, Kas., E. P. Chittenden, Salina, Kas.; W. D. Christian, Abilene, Kas.; Joseph A. Antrim, Leadville, Colo.; Arthur M. Claflin, Hugh King, J. H. Prescott, E. W. Ober, William Hogben, Salina, Kas.

The official seal is a disk, with a raised cross in the center, inscribed "In Cruce Solum," and "St. John's School, Salina, Kas.," on the edge of the disk.

On the 20th of September, 1888, the school was formally opened by Bishop Thomas, who retained the rectorship till the 9th of January, 1890, when he nominated as his successor the Rev. E. P. Chittenden.

Upon the resignation of Mr. Chittenden, in September, 1891, Bishop Thomas again assumed the duties of rector.

The board of trustees is as follows: The Rt. Rev. E. S. Thomas, S. T. D., bishop of Kansas, president, Topeka; H. D. Lee, vice president, Salina; E. W. Ober, treasurer, Salina; A. M. Claflin, Salina; Wm. Hogben, Salina; Rev. W. D. Christian, Abilene; Geo. A. Rockwell, Junction City; J. B. Wood, Hutchinson, and Maj. E. R. Powell, Wichita.

The board of visitors and examiners is: Rev. W. D. Christian, Rev. W. W. Ayers, Rev. R. Ellerby, Rev. Pendleton Brooke, Rev. Joseph Wayne, Prof. F. E. Stimpson, Hon. Albert H. Horton, and Geo. A. Rockwell.

The officers of the school are: Rector, the Rt. Rev. E. S. Thomas, S. T. D.; head master, Walter M. Jay, A. M.; commandant of cadets, Charles K. Warrens, captain U. S. A. (retired); chaplain, Rev. J. H. Lee, A. M.; secretary of faculty, Arthur G. Gates; bursar, W. M. Jay; matron, Miss Genevieve Marlowe.

The following is the corps of instructors: The Rt. Rev. Elisha S. Thomas, S. T. D., visitor and lecturer; W. W. Champlin, A. M., mathematics; J. H. Lee, A. M., Greek and Latin; Walter M. Jay, A. M., English history and literature; Capt. Charles K. Warrens, U. S. A., military science and tactics; C. Rowland Hill, B. D., chemistry and physics; Arthur G. Gates, stenography, penmanship, bookkeeping, and typewriting; Prof. W. H. Packard, instrumental music.

Physicians in charge: J. W. Crowley, M. D., allopathic, and J. W. Jenney, M. D, homeopathic.

Lectures, concerts, oratorical and declamatory contests, college receptions and commencement exercises afford to many a series of most delightful entertainments. The social life of the city guaranties to the cadets, wherever they meet its citizens, either at the hall itself or in the city, exceptionally pure and elevating influences.

The grounds of St. John's School contain about 50 acres, 12 acres of which form a pretty grove, known as "Thomas Park," in honor of Bishop Thomas, by whose efforts the same was secured for the school. The campus has been laid out in drives and miniature parks, and the avenues planted with shade trees. In a little while these embellishments will make th immediate surroundings of the school of marked beauty and interest. The parade ground, covering 20 acres, is well adapted for the use of the military department of the school, as also for field sports.

The imposing school building, named "Vail Hall," in honor of the late venerable Bishop Vail, first bishop of Kansas, is located one mile north of the city of Salina. It is, therefore, conveniently near for the transaction of business, while insuring, also, the seclusion favorable to study and the best discipline of the school.

Vail Hall is a five-story edifice, erected in the year 1887, by the citizens of Salina, at a cost of $50,000. It rests on massive foundations, with heavy buttressed walls of gray limestone to the second floor, and from thence is finished in cream-colored pressed brick, with light-red sandstone trimmings.

The approaches to the hall are ample and direct. Six large porticoes and doorways give entrance and egress from the lower stories, while five balconies adorn the outer walls, and afford attractive shade in the warmest days of the year.

The interior is finished in oiled pine, and is especially bright and cheerful. The ceilings are lofty, the windows broad, and the ventilation excellent. There are bath rooms and lavatories on each floor, and a reservoir above, providing water for the whole building.

The interior is as nearly fireproof as possible, the partition walls being all of brick, and fire escapes are attached to the building in the front and in the rear. The hall is amply lighted, thoroughly ventilated, comfortably heated by steam, and well supplied with well and rain water. For beauty, convenience, and utility, Vail Hall, as a school building, can hardly be surpassed.

At a meeting of the board of trustees, held in June, 1891, Bishop Thomas, Hon. J. H. Prescott and Mr. H. D. Lee donated $1,000 to add new volumes to the school library. Accordingly, new and attractive cases were placed in the reading room, and a number of interesting and valuable books were purchased. The list comprises histories, biographies, travels, and standard fiction, as well as a choice collection of juvenile books, written by able authors, especially for the young. On the reading tables will be found the latest magazines and newspapers.

The laboratory is well supplied with carefully-selected chemicals and the latest and most improved apparatus for illustrating physics and chemistry. No care is spared to make this department, which is so frequently neglected, of the greatest value to those who are pursuing the course.

"A sound mind in a sound body" is a maxim on which parents are placing more and more stress. To meet their requirements, we must send them, at the close of the course, strong, vigorous young men, full of vitality, trained to think, taught to know, but also taught how to live; taught how to gain and keep physical strength. To satisfy their laudable desires, and to give variety to physical exercise, a very neat and exceedingly convenient building, for a gymnasium and bowling alley, has been erected, at a cost of $2,000.

This will be provided with the most approved apparatus. Classes will be formed, a competent teacher placed in charge, and exercise will be taken regularly and systematically. At the meeting of the board of trustees referred to above, Mr. E. W. Ober donated $250 worth of apparatus for the gymnasium.

The discipline is parental, strict, and watchful, yet not exacting, firm, but not harsh, and permits as much individual freedom as is consistent with careful, respectful obedience to the rules of the school and the welfare of the cadet. The objects desired are to cultivate a frank, manly, independent spirit and self-government. The daily discipline is guided by the head master and commandant, who administer the rules of the rector and faculty. the usual penalties are "demerits," "squad drills," "close bounds," and, in case of officers, reduction to ranks. The severest penalties for repeated violations of the rules of the school, or for gross misconduct, are suspension and expulsion.

transcribed by Rita Troxel, State Library of Kansas



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