From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Editors note: The following story came to the Leavenworth Times in the form of a letter from Frank Hageman, chairman of the board of the National Bank of America, Salina, Kas. In recalling his memories of former days while attending the old Morris School, Mr. Hageman hoped his reminiscences would come to the attention of some of his former classmates.
Recently a granddaughter of mine, Mrs. Edwin Read, while visiting her husband's parents in Leavenworth (Mr. and Mrs. Walter Read) was given a copy of a story of the Morris School Building which appeared in the Times and in turn handed it to me.
I was much interested in it as I became a pupil in the Morris School about 1867 and continued there through 1873. I believe that Professor Peter McVicker was superintendent of the city schools and Professor Carmichael was the principal at the Morris School a good part of the time. They were both fine men.
At one time Professor Wherrell taught us chemistry. He achieved considerable distinction by building the Kansas Corn Palace at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876. The teacher I best remember was Miss Porter. I was in her room two and possibly three years and she was promoted with the class. Will Hook (later, a distinguished federal judge) used to roll scalp and wiggle his ears which was fun for the rest of us but Miss Porter had no sense of humor for this feat.
During the seventy and odd years since I left the school I have not met to exceed a half dozen of those former schoolmates but from time to time I have learned a little of the history of some of them.
Alfred Benjamin went with the Abernathys to Kansas City and became noted for his philanthropy. Frank Hastings first went with Armour then managed Swenson Brothers' many-thousand acre ranch in Texas. Sturges, a son of an officer at the Fort was killed in the Custer massacre at the Big Horn in 1876. John Lehman Todd, nicknamed Bean, went to Camp Supply Indian Territory in the early seventies and, I was informed, died there.
Helen Richards, the one that was the daughter of J. F., married a wholesale grocer at Fort Worth, Texas. Mollie Richards became a saleswoman in one of the city dry goods stores. Lizzie Ide became Mrs. L. A. Knox. Nell Whitrock and Josie Rivard were teachers in the city schools. One of the Moonlight girls, Agnes married E. E. Murphy, and remained at Leavenworth until about 1935. Ralph Kitchen operated the Paxton Hotel at Omaha. Sol Einstein went to New York and died I think at New Rochelle.
What became of the greater numbers which included Fred Wellhouse, Mary Callahan, Jessie Ashton, Levi Wilson's boy, one of Carneys, Caulkins, Brace, Ed Moonlight and a Hook boy who lived near him on Third Street, I think a son of Dawes Hook, Joe Irwin, Lewis Rogers and Jerry Quinn, I do not know. I can picture a few others faintly but I cannot remember the names.
In a grade or two above me were Charlie Durfee whose father was in the fur business and sent a steamer every spring up to Fort Benton; Tomp Todd, who I believe went to Fort Benton for the Durfees, Frank Lynch who became a prominent politician, John Coulter a newspaper man in New York City, Charlie Schmelzer who moved his father's arms business to Kansas City and David Benjamin who became manager of Fred Harvey's dining car and hotel service. These were some of the older boys whom I knew very well.
In later years I wondered why this school was placed t almost the extreme north edge of town, for quite a number of the pupils that were in the senior, middle and junior classes, also the first, second and third grades, lived in south Leavenworth and some of them had a long ways to come. They walked for there were no street cars or buses in Leavenworth in those days but I suppose a free site was quite too much for Judge Brewer to withstand.
I enjoyed the story very much for it took me back many years with fond recollections.
The names come slowly and the given names in some instances are questionable. Since writing the above, more names have occurred to me.
Will Clough and his sister Maggie. Will was a frequent playmate of mine. George Marsh and May Woodworth both living on the North Esplanade near the D. R. Anthony home where I once saw Susan B. Anthony. I believe she was a sister of D. R., maybe not but she had the same fighting blood anyway. George Marsh was drowned while on vacation.
May Woodworth married George Clayton of the Union Pacific and moved to the Omaha headquarters. May, my sister Dollie, and Sally Repine were great friends. Neely Todd married one of the Repine girls. One of the Marshall boys lived in south Leavenworth and a boy named Reese lived across the street from him. Ed and Mildred Powers. Ernie Taylor was murdered near his home on North Broadway. Harry Rogers became a railroad magnate and I believe a town in Arkansas was named after him. Willie Phillip's a doctor's son lived on North Fifth Street, a model student. Rothenberger, a brother of Ike, of tobacco fame.
There were others of course, but I do not recollect any more at this moment so I had better quit.
We used to go swimming in Two Mile Creek and later in the Missouri and it was great fun to ride the waves behind the stern wheelers.
National Bank of America
October 15, 1949.