No history of this county was prepared
by the proper officer. The history of the schools in its largest city, which follows, was written by Supt. Guy
Fort Scott City Schools - District No. 55, Bourbon
county, Kansas -what is now known as the Fort Scott city school district - was organized in 1865, with Hon. P.
P. Elder, now of Franklin county, and ex-Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives, at that time Indian agent,
as president of the board of education, Hon. C. F. Drake, now president of the Bank of Fort Scott, as clerk, and
"Uncle Billy" Smith, as he was familiarly known, as treasurer. At that time, including Government troops
and refugees, there were about 25,000 people in the town.
The first school opened in the fall of 1865, and
rooms for school purposes were fitted up in one of the old Government buildings on the plaza, now used as an omnibus
barn, and in the old courthouse, recently torn down, on the corner of National avenue and Second street. A Mr.
Remsburg was the first principal, employed at a salary of $60 per month. The money for school support was from
Government funds, and no direct assessment was levied.
In 1869, the only school in the town *as the one
of four rooms in the Government building, above referred to, under the principalship of a Mr. Craven. The following
year, 1870, in addition to this school in the Government building, henceforward known as the Plaza school, four
ward schools, of one room each, were established in different parts of the city. Col. T. W. McKinnie was elected
superintendent, with some teaching to do, and the schools began under his administration to keep step with the
forward march of civilization.
During 1869 and 1870, the Central school, the large,
12-room brick building still in use, on the square bounded by National avenue, Fourth, Fifth and Judson streets,
was erected, at a cost of $65,000.
In 1873, Superintendent McKinnie was succeeded
by R. B. Dilworth, now pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Astoria, Ore. In the fall of this same year the new
four-room building known as the Margrave school was first occupied. Mr. Dilworth formulated the first course of
study, and, although superintendent but one year, gave the schools an impetus that has been an inspiration for
Superintendent Hutchinson followed Mr. Dilworth,
and remained in charge of the schools during the years 1874-'75 and 1875-76. The two years following, 1876-77 and
1878-78, Superintendents Philo and Phales, respectively, were in charge.
In September, 1878, B. Hudson, now a very prominent attorney and chairman of the metropolitan police commission
of the city, was elected superintendent, and served for seven years. During his superintendency three additional
brick buildings were erected, as follows: The Eddy school, the Wilson school, and the Plaza school. The latter
is used for colored pupils only, and supplanted the old stone Government building. Mr. Chas. Demoisey succeeded
Mr. Hudson, in 1885, and remained in charge of the schools two years.
In 1887, three elegant brick buildings, with all
modern appliances, the Main Street school, the Ivy school, and the Bell school, were erected, and that able and
cultured gentlemen, so many years one of the leading educators of Michigan, Supt. D. Bemiss, took control of the
schools. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto, and added to his superior education were years of experience,
which enabled him to give the schools a place and name never enjoyed before.
In 1888, the city had grown to a population of
15,000, and became a city of the first class; and, as a result, the tax levy for school purposes was cut from 10
mills to 7 mills. The following year the revenue was so reduced that Mr. Bemiss, to the regret of everybody, resigned,
to accept the superintendency of the schools at Spokane Falls, Wash., which'position he still holds, and enjoys
the distinction of being known as one of the best superintendents west of the Rockies.
Rev. Henry C. Bosley followed Superintendent Bemiss,
and began work in the fall of 1889. He was a graduate of the University of Rochester, and a man of many years'
experience, but at the time he took charge of the Fort Scott schools he was in very poor health, and after a long
and heroic battle with that dread disease consumption, he died February 27, 1890.
Guy P. Benton, educated at the Ohio Wesleyan University,
Delaware, Ohio, principal of the high school at the time of Mr. Bosley's death, succeeded the latter, and is still
in charge, now serving his fourth year.
At present there are eight buildings owned by the
board, and three rented ones, used for school purposes. The estimated value of school buildings is $110,000, and
the bonded indebtedness $60,000.
The census of 1892 shows 4,317 children of school
age, and an enrollment of 2,603.
Forty-four teachers are employed in the schools,
of which number four work exclusively in the high school.
The course of study in the grades is eight years
in length, and three years in the high school; a diploma from the latter admitting to the State University without
Any teacher passing the teachers' examination with
a minimum grade of 70 per cent* in any one branch, and an average of 90 percent, or above in all branches, is granted
a first-grade certificate, which is valid for life in the city of Fort Scott.
It is but just to say that the corps of teachers
now at work in the schools is very efficient in every way, and that the school system is one of the best west of
the Mississippi river.
The principals of the various schools at present
are as follows: David M. Bowen, high school; Stephen D. Frazier, Central; Miss Lucy A. Ware, Eddy; Clarence O.
Humphrey, Bell; Archibald M. Wilson, Plaza; John D. Orr, Ivy; John C. Richmond, Margrave; William D. Cowherd, Wilson;
Miss Melissa A. Green, Main Street.
A personal tribute is due many of the teachers,
but a history of the Fort Scott schools would be incomplete without an account of one of the most historic characters
connected therewith; therefore, it seems fitting to close with a brief sketch of the oldest teacher, in point of
service, in the schools.
Miss Sara D. Bates, a young schoolgirl from Evansville,
Ind., came to Fort Scott in the fall of 1870, and began teaching in one of the ungraded ward schools, and is now
serving her twenty-third year, having been in the schools continuously since that time. After the first year she
began to give her attention to primary methods, and since then has been engaged exclusively in that grade of work.
She was the first teacher employed in the Margrave school, and when that building, during school hours of the bitter-cold
day of January 2, 1879, took fire and burned to the ground, by her heroic cool-headedness she saved the life of
every child, and sent them home with their wraps and books. The new Margrave school was erected and she began again,
and, altogether, taught 18 years in that one school.
In 1890, she was transferred to the primary department
of the Central school, where she is now employed with children as pupils whose parents were her pupils.
Although long in the service, she does not fossilize;
but every year visits the schools of our larger cities, and during the summer puts herself in training for another
year's work. Colonel Parker, after having visited her school two years since remarked, "I consider her one
of the finest primary teachers on the American continent." Modest and retiring, yet energetic and enthusiastic,
she combines those traits of character that make her a veritable queen of her little kingdom, and she draws to
herself and so lifts up the boys and girls committed to her care that forever after their aims are high. May she
be spared for yet many years. She has been an inspiration to many a life that will be an enduring monument to her
good deeds for all time.
Source: Columbian History of Education in Kansas,
Compiled by Kansas Educators and Published under the auspices of the Kansas State Historical Society for the Columbian
Exposition, 1893, Commemorating the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Discovery of America, 1893, pages 101-102)
|List of Teachers 1905 (Fort Scott)|
W C Lansdon, Principal
Bess B Hafer
R E Hess
Eugene Pond, Principal
Sara D Bates
Gabriella Pratt, Principal
Isa Green, Principal
E J Hawkins, Principal
William Darling, Principal
Lucy A Ware, Principal
Mary D Stevens, Principal
Main Street School
Grace Redfield, Principal
(Source: Fort Scott Monitor, May 17, 1905)
Uniontown High School Senior Class of 1951
Source: Uniontown High School Yearbook, The Eagle 1951
Illah May Mason