Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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The first teachers' institute in Labette county was held in Oswego, June 1-4, 1869. It was called and conducted by R. J. Elliott, county superintendent, with the assistance of the teachers of the county. Peter McVicar, state superintendent of public instruction, was present one day, and lectured in the evening. On November 9-12, of the same year, a second session was held, at Chetopa, under the same general direction, with an attendance of 24 teachers. On July 12, 1870, the next session was held in Chetopa, under the charge of the superintendent. Prof. B. F. Mudge was present at this institute, and rendered valuable assistance. The next session was held in Oswego commencing June 12, 1871, with, Colonel J. W. Horner in charge and 28 teachers in attendance. General Fraser, state superintendent, visited this institute, and lectured. Two sessions of the institute were held in 1872, the first at Oswego, commencing February 5th, with 35 teachers in attendance; the second at Chetopa commencing November 25th. At the close of this latter session, on November 28th, a county teachers' association was formed. In January, 1873, Miss Mary A. Higby came into office as county superintendent, and continued to hold the position for six years. Under her superintendency the institutes were even more successful than they had formerly been. One session each year was held at Oswego during the first four years of her administration, viz., 1873-76, all of which were well attended and gave good satisfaction.


In the winter of 1877 the Legislature provided for a four-weeks session, with paid instructors, and a charge to those who attended. Previous to this the institutes had been only from two to five or six days; the instruction had been free, generally given by the county superintendent and some of the leading teachers of the county. On August 6, 1877, the first institute under this law opened in Oswego, with Prof. J. B. Holbrook as conductor, and over 100 teachers in attendance. The most satisfactory results were attained. This institute went far toward popularizing the idea of a long institute under paid instructors. With the exception of two years, all of the normal institutes, commencing with 1877, have been held in Oswego. Those for 1880 and 1892 were held at Parsons. Up to 1885 the attendance at the institute ranged from about 100 to 135. Since that time, with possibly one exception, the attendance has been considerably larger, reaching 200 in 1891 and 302 in 1892; the latter being, it is said, the largest normal institute ever held in the State. The institutes have been under the charge of a conductor, with usually two and sometimes more assistant instructors. The following is a list of the conductors: 1877-78, J. B. Holbrook; 1879-80, L. M. Knowles; 1881, Buel T. Davis; 1882, Lee Tomlin; 1883, J. N. Ross; 1884, Lee Tomlin; 1885-86, J. W. Weltner; 1887, D. E. Sanders; 1888, J. N. E. Monroe; 1889, C. H. Harris; 1890, T. W. Conway; 1891, C. H. Harris; 1892, J. W. Weltner; 1893-94, Guy P. Benton; 1895-96, S. D. Frazier; 1897, Arvin S. Olin; 1898, H. Winsor; 1899, E. M. Wood; 1900, S. D. Frazier.


No formal organization of the teachers of the county was had prior to 1872, although teachers' institutes had been held since 1869. On November 28, 1872, the teachers' institute having just closed, the teachers who had been in attendance came together and organized a county teachers' association. Miss Mary A. Higby, who had just been elected county superintendent, was elected its first president, and Mrs. E. Williams, secretary. An association has been maintained most of the time since then, a part of the time in a very efficient condition, but sometimes indications of life were scarcely discernible. The meetings have been sometimes quarterly, and sometimes not so frequently. Nearly all parts of the county have been favored with these meetings, and they have done much toward unifying the work in the county and maintaining a sympathy between the teachers and the patrons of the schools.


A number of parties at one time or another have started private schools in various parts of the county, some of which have run for quite a length of time, and others have been short-lived. At the close of Miss Mary A. Higby's term as county superintendent she conducted a private school for a number of months. Subsequently Mrs. J. R. Boulter taught a private school for quite a length of time. C. C. Robins started a school in Oswego, but only conducted it a short time, because of its not being sufficiently attended to justify its continuance. B. R. Cunningham as well as other parties in Chetopa conducted classes for a greater or less length of time. Several similar enterprises have also been had at Parsons. In 1884 Lyman N. Judd opened an institute at Altamont, but failing to get a sufficient amount of patronage removed it to Oswego, but here, too, he met with less success than he had hoped, and after a short time abandoned it.


On September 15, 1892, a private school was opened in one of the rooms of the public school building in Altamont by T. B. Hanna, who had been secured by the county superintendent to make the experiment, with the hope that it would develop into a county high school under the provisions of the general law. The school continued during the year and was measurably successful, reaching a total enrollment of 64 pupils. Mrs. Lucy Best, the county superintendent, not being of the opinion that a proposition to establish a county high school could be carried, if submitted to a popular vote, as required by the general law, secured the passage of a private act by the Legislature, in 1893, establishing a high school at Altamont. When this action became generally known, it was strongly condemned in many parts of the county, and the opposition to the carrying out of the project was very decided, and came from a large proportion of the people.

county high school
at Altamont
However, as required by the act, the county commissioners at their April (1893) session, appointed a board of six trustees, to prepare for and open the school, selecting two from each commissioner's district, viz.: Nelson Case and J. E. Van Sant, of Oswego, from the first district; W. A. Huff, of Altamont, and Benjamin Johnson, of Mound Valley, from the second district: William Scott, of Dennis, and J. M. Birt, of Parsons, from the third district. Soon after their appointment, this board met and organized and decided to open the school the following September. The board at the proper time made a tax levy for the purpose of erecting a building and of paying for the running expenses of the school. A suit was thereupon brought by those who were opposing the establishment of the school, to enjoin the collection of this tax, and thereby to test the validity of the law establishing the school. The defense of this case was conducted by Nelson Case, assisted by W. B. Glasse, who were employed by the friends of the school. At the conclusion of the trial in the district court, a judgment was rendered for the defendants, dissolving the temporary injunction. The case was carried on an error to the supreme court, where the judgment of the district court was affirmed.

Notwithstanding the fact that the injunction proceedings had prevented the raising of any revenue the first year, the teachers employed proceeded with their work, with no assurance of receiving any compensation other than the faith they and their friends had in the successful outcome of the litigation in favor of the school. All understood that if the law was held valid, the school would go on and the teachers would be paid; but, on the other hand, if the courts held the law invalid, the school would fail and the teachers would have given a year's work without compensation. Rooms were rented in Altamont and the school was opened with appropriate ceremonies September 4, 1893. Addresses were made by Nelson Case. Mrs. Lucy Best and some others. On the following day the work of the school was put into practical operation, with an enrollment at the opening of 84 students. During the year the attendance reached 147. The validity of the law establishing the school having then been declared by the highest court, the trustees proceeded with the erection of the building. The structure was commenced in the fall of 1894 and was completed the following spring. The dedicatory address was delivered by Nelson Case May 4, 1895. The entire cost of the building, furnishings, and improving of the ground was as follows:

Building proper $18,221 50
Architect 720 00
Heating apparatus 2,000 00
Blackboards 403 97
Furniture 1,378 69
Piano $ 350 00
Outhouses, walks and other ex-
penses on grounds
730 95
Total cost of the plant $23,905 10

The faculty has consisted of four teachers until the present year; five are now employed. T. B. Hanna was principal the first five years; since then W. M. Kyser has been principal. The enrollment for the seven years has been as follows: 146, 176, 178, 151, 179. 183, 146. The first graduating class went out in 1896, and the several graduating classes have been as follows: 1896, boys 8, girls 11, total 19 1897, boys 7, girls 13, total 20; 1898, boys 9, girls 17, total 26; 1899, boys 9, girls 27, total 36; 1900, boys 16, girls 17, total 33; whole number of graduates, boys 49, girls 85, total 134.


Herewith is shown a condensed table giving the graduates of the common and high schools of the county:

1881011. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .   . .. .. .011
1882000. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .   . .. .. .000
1883112134. .. .. .. .. .   . .. .. .246
18841910325314. .. .. .. .. .   . .. .. .71219
18852810314088. .. .. .. .. .   . .. .. .51722
1886235000336123. .. .. .   . .. .. .6814
188711011257112156. .. .. .   . .. .. .52126
1888000347279213. .. .. .   . .. .. .71219
1889112135510145101. .. .. .   . .. .. .82129
1890099099134011. .. .. .   5293475157
18912574812044000. .. .. .   163450225173
189231316551021012145. .. .. .   233255346498
1893511166713134022. .. .. .   122234244569
189463901010099336. .. .. .   141529234063
18955813549156022. .. .. .   3054844173114
189658134483131622481119   737442975104
18975152018936900071320   1936453568103
1898161228178371023591726   37589568104172
189910132308815603392736   1928473984123
19006152117821012279161733   923323679115


 71156227449714127991261535504985134   1913585493988301227


The Friends' Yearly Meeting of Iowa having decided to establish a school for colored children, a committee by them appointed to locate the same decided upon its location at Parsons, and on March 23, 1882, the school was opened. The basis of the fund for starting this school was $1,000, from a legacy left by Mr. Hobson to be used for the benefit of colored people, and in his honor the school was named Hobson Normal Institute. Prof. D. W. Boles had charge of the school from its organization until his death, July 8, 1890, since which time during the remaining life of the institution A. W. Hadley was principal. Both Messrs. Boles and Hadley were assisted by their wives, and also scholars in the higher grades taught some. The institute had a fine two-story frame building on the corner of Gaudy avenue and Twenty-fourth street. It was furnished with maps, charts, reference books, and other material adapted to the instruction in the common branches and the natural sciences. A score or more graduated from the teachers' advanced course, and a larger number completed the teachers' elementary course. Many of these themselves became teachers in schools at other points. However, the parties having charge of this institution, after an experience of a few years, found the patronage was not sufficient to justify its continuance. When the Home for the Friendless was started in 1896, the building which had been erected for this school was sold to the Home, and Hobson Normal Institute ceased to exist.


This institution is located at Parsons and is under the control of the Catholic church. From 1890 to 1896 the Sisters of Loretta had charge of it, with Mother Mary Bernard, principal. Since then it has been under the care of the Sisters of Charity.


The first private school of a high grade established in the county was planned and inaugurated by Rev. R. P. Bukey, under the above designation. It was located on the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 17, township 33, range 21, a little northwest of the city of Oswego. In the summer of 1870 Mr. Bukey erected a very nice-appearing two-story frame building, 20x36 feet, which contained two good school-rooms. Under his employment Miss Mary E. Claypool opened the school the first week in September, 1870. She remained in charge of the school until the close of the school year the following June, and was the only teacher till the close of December. After the school opened the attendance was so good and the prospects were so flattering that Mr. Bukey planned to largely increase its capacity and to provide for the boarding of those who came from a distance. He secured the cooperation of John D. Gillette, who was a man of some means, and during the fall and winter of 1870 erected a two-story 20 by 26 feet frame addition, and also a kitchen and accompanying rooms, which were ready for occupancy in January, 1871. The teaching force was increased by securing Prof. Allen C. Baker as teacher of mathematics. Rev. J. H. Leard was also elected president of the college, but his relation to it was only nominal that year. The following year the faculty consisted of Rev. J. H. Leard, president; Prof. A. C. Baker,teacher of mathematics; Miss P. D. Bullock, teacher of languages; Miss Ella School teacher of music, Judge S. P. Moore was also announced as teacher of commercial law, but nothing was ever done in his department. There were several boarding students. Neither of the owners had any practical knowledge of school matters, nor was the president able to add any strength to the school. The college opened with very bright prospects, and its first year's history gave promise of its becoming a permanent and flourishing school. Nothing but the inability on the part of those in control to comprehend and provide for its wants prevented its success. After the second year the school hardly had an existence. The original building, was purchased by Mrs. Bettis, who removed it to town and transformed it into a residence. The addition was also brought to town, and out of the material a store was constructed.


At a meeting of the Neosho Presbytery, held at Garnett, Kansas, October 3, 1882, a resolution was adopted looking to the establishment of a college within the bounds of the presbytery, and a committee was appointed to report thereon. The committee having reported favorably, Rev. Austin Warner was appointed a committee to lay the matter before the synod, which he did at its October meeting at Ottawa, 1882; and on October 6th, upon the report of the committee, the synod authorized the presbytery to proceed with the establishment of a school as by them proposed. The next day, at a called meeting of the presbytery, a committee of five was appointed to take into consideration the matter of the establishment of such school. A special meeting of the presbytery was called, to be held at Oswego, May 8, 1883, at which it was voted to establish the school at Oswego, and the following were elected as a board of trustees, viz.: Rev. C. H. McCreery, Rev. D. M. Moore, Rev. W. C. Porter, Rev. A. Warner, Rev. John Elliott, B. W. Perkins, C. M. Condon, C. O. Perkins, and Porter Sawyer. Of this board of trustees, B. W. Perkins was elected president, Rev. John Elliott, secretary, and C. M. Condon, treasurer. A few changes were subsequently made in the board. Rev. W. S. Davis was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the removal of Mr. Moore, and upon his removal from the State, E. P. Allen was elected to fill the vacancy. C. O. Perkins having died, on October 4, 1887, Nelson Case was elected to fill vacancy caused by such death.

On December 23, 1883, the college was incorporated, a charter therefor having on that day been filed in the office of the secretary of state. On October 4, 1884, on the request of the presbytery therefor, the Synod of Kansas took the college under its jurisdiction.

In the fall of 1885 the citizens of Oswego purchased the N. W. 1/4 of S. W. 1/4 of N. E. 1/4 of S. 21, T. 33, R. 21, and presented it to the college as a site for the school. This property was at the time valued at $17,000. It had upon it a large brick residence, which was considered one of the finest in the county. In December, 1885, Miss Louise Paull was elected principal of the school, and authorized to select other members of the faculty, and with the faculty thus chosen the school was opened in the brick residence above referred to, January 14. 1886. In 1886 C. H. McCreery was elected (nominally) president of the school, with the view of his taking entire charge of its financial management, and devoting his time to the raising of funds with which to make improvements and provide an endowment. His employment was in no way to affect the control of the principal in the management of the school proper. Mr. McCreery had served but a few months when family afflictions compelled him to resign. Miss Paull continued in charge until the close of the spring term, in June, 1887. Miss Susan H. Johnson was thereupon elected principal. In the summer of 1887 a large, new frame building was erected upon the college grounds, at a cost of about $12,000, exclusive of furniture. Miss Johnson continued to serve as principal until the spring of 1893, when Dr. J. F. Hendy was elected president of the college. Dr. Hendy resigned the presidency at the close of 1895, and Dr. William Bishop acted as president during the last half of the school year. At the opening of school, in September. 1896, Dr. M. H. Reasor took charge and served as president two years. During the school year of 1898-99 the college was under the presidency of Miss Delia Proctor. She was succeeded by Miss Margaret L. Hill, who served one year. At the close of the school in 1900, the board of trustees did not see their way open to provide a faculty for the next year, and the school was closed. It is hoped that this suspension is to be but temporary, and that the work of the college may soon be resumed.


Among the organizations of a literary character which have been formed in the county, there has probably been no other that has maintained such a permanent existence and done as much good work as have the several branches of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientic Circle which have been organized and carried on in the county. Small circles were organized at Chetopa and Mound Valley, and regular work was done by these for two or three years, but neither circle awakened as much interest as did those of Oswego and Parsons.


This was the first C. L. S. C. to be formed in the county. It was organized at Oswego, September 26, 1878, and was maintained for the next ten years. Three of its members graduated in the first class in 1882. This circle had an average of about 20 pursuing the work designated by the general officers.


This circle was organized at Parsons, April 28, 1885, with a membership of 12. Its officers were as follows: President, W. J. Wirt; vice-president, Minnie Merriman; secretary, E. G. Roberts. In October following the circle took up the regular course of study, and had an enrollment of 35 members; many of its members graduated, and for a number of years the circle quite regularly attended the Ottawa Assembly.


In the summer of 1889 a new circle with the above designation was organized, the number pursuing the course having become too great to do effective work in the Grecian circle, as was thought. This new circle had nearly as large membership as its parent, the Grecian, and has done effective work.