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Crawford County, Missouri

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The first action taken by the county court in reference to school matters was on August 8, 1838, when the sheriff was ordered to sell, at the following November term of the circuit court, the sixteenth section of Township 37, Range 4 west. On May 8, 1841, the school fund, which had accumulated from the sale of the sixteenth section in the county, was as follows:


Township 37, Range 3 west, $708.15, interest, $70.-81; Township 39, Range 2 west, $645.09, interest, $41.40; Township 37, Range 4 west, $60.50, interest, $3.02; Township 38, Range 6 west, $100, interest, $8.33; total principal, $1,514.34; total interest, $123.56.


On May 1, 1842, the total amount of school fund was $2,297.43. Congressional Township 39, Range 2 west, was organized for school purposes November 20, 1843. William Harrison was appointed commissioner, and William Crow and Theophilus Williams, inspectors. The first meeting of the inhabitants was appointed for December 23, 1843, at the house of William Harrison. The sixteenth section of Township 39, Range 5 west, was ordered to be sold about this time. School Township 35, Range 5 west, was organized November 11, 1847, with Lewis Dent, commissioner, and Benjamin Cooksey and Samuel Shoemate, directors. The first meeting was appointed for January 10, 1848, at the house of Benedict Plank. School Township 36, Range 3 west, was organized February 19, 1848, Martin Barney, Esq., being appointed commissioner, and G. W. Edgar and J. W. Martin, directors. The first meeting of the inhabitants was to be held March 25, 1848, in the Seminary schoolhouse. School Township 38, Range 7 west, was organized February 14, 1850, with B. Wishor, commissioner, and Archibald Jones and Michael Durnvin, directors. The first meeting was appointed at the schoolhouse in said township for April 6, 1850. School Township 37, Range 3 west, was organized November 16, 1850, with Thomas Kelly, commissioner, and Samuel Runyard and John Carroll, inspectors. The first meeting of the inhabitants was set for December 21, 1850, at the schoolhouse. School Township 39, Range 2 west, was organized February 10, 1852, with John W. Harrison, commissioner, and Batteal Harrison and Benjamin B. Ruggles, directors. The first meeting was ordered to be held at Liberty schoolhouse on the fourth Saturday in March. In May, 1856, the school fund had reached $8,340, besides interest due, $767 ; and in 1860 it had become $7,480 with $509 interest due; and in 1865 it was $8,200 with $1,060 interest due.


Until within recent years the common schools of Crawford County made slow progress, which was matter of grave concern to many of the citizens, who could but feel much mortification and chagrin at the unfavorable comparison sometimes made between Crawford and other counties in this respect. On the 4th of April, 1873, the Mirror, in a leading editorial on the subject of common schools, said:


" The people of the county will soon have an opportunity to make preliminary arrangements for having public schools opened in the various school districts; and it rests with the residents of each separate locality to provide themselves with good schools, and to enjoy all the advantages resulting therefrom, or, by following the apathetic course of the past, to still permit their county to linger in the rear of others of comparatively recent growth.


" During the present month directors are to be chosen for various sub-districts, and on the selections then made much of the success or failure of the schools of each locality will depend. When earnest friends of education are secured for these positions there will be a marked improvement on the past. Much of the complaint against our school law arises from a dereliction or neglect in the officers selected to carry out its provisions, added to the indifference on the subject of popular education on the part of many of the citizens, and a distinct opposition on the part of others, with a constant repugnance to paying school tax.


" By statistics of the county for 1872, as given by John Monteith, Crawford County, one of the oldest in the State, cut a sorry figure on the subject of education. The population of the county was 7,982, and the school population was, white children, 3,269, colored, 45; the number attending school, 1,149, and the average daily attendance, 996. The number of school districts was 73, number of schoolhouses, 66, and the number of schools, 63. There was no report from the county superintendent of Crawford County to the State school superintendent, and no teachers' institute reported. Steelville Academy is the one bright oasis in the desert of popular ignorance in Crawford County."


Since then there has been great improvement in the common schools of the county, and probably greater improvement than the reports from the clerks of the sub-districts throughout the county would seem to show. For these various clerks are usually men whose opportunities for securing education in their youth were not of the best, and thus, while the schools improve, the reports made out by the same men as in former years, or by similar uneducated men, show the same deficiencies. And because of these defects, with respect to which Crawford County is by no means alone in this State, it has been until within very recent years next to impossible for any county school commissioner to present to the State school superintendent a report from which an accurate idea could be obtained of the condition of the schools of his county. The improvement in the schools have been largely caused by the increased interest in the cause of education taken by the teachers themselves, and in this county, as well as in Gasconade, Franklin, Washington and Jefferson Counties, teachers' institutes have been numerous, well attended, and of great benefit to the teachers, in giving to them clearer and more enlarged views of their duties as teachers, and in awakening in them a more intense enthusiasm for their profession.


The following statistics from the latest report accessible shows the condition of the schools at the present time: Increase in the public school fund since 1876 from fines, penalties, swamp land sales, etc.—1877, $94,20; 1878, $273.10; 1879, $137; 1881, $529; 1882, $205; 1883, $27.55; 1884, $420; 1885, $482.97. For the year ending July 1, 1886—State moneys, $3,402.55; county moneys, $470.35; township moneys, $1,631.50; direct tax, $8,763.39; total receipts, $21,778.19; total expenditures, $13,998.78; cash on hand, $7,779.41; county funds, $3,738.50; township funds, $15,870.80; total funds, $20,609.30. Enumeration: whites—male 2,178, female 1,949, total, 4,127, colored—males 17, females 10, total 27; total enumeration 4,154. Enrollment: whites—male 1,453, female 1,133, total, 2,586; colored, none enrolled. Average number of days' attendance for each child, 62; average number in attendance each day, 2,144; number of teachers, 80; average salary, $32.25; number of schoolrooms occupied, 87; seating capacity, 4,280; number of white schools, 80; colored schools, none; cost of education per day per pupil, 5 cents; value of school property, $24,975; assessed value of property in the county, $1,619,580.


County school commissioners: Rev. E. R. Fort, 1872; Walter F. Chapman, 18G5; D. L. Grace, 1878; E. A. Evans, 1880; W. L. Cowden, 1882; Job Wood, 1884; J. C. Jadwin, 1886.


Steelville Academy was established under the authority or auspices of the St. Louis Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in 1851. A two-story brick building was erected at a cost of about $2,000. The institution was chartered by the Legislature of Missouri, in an act approved February 3, 1853. Marvin W. Trask and Silas B. Brickey were clothed with authority to appoint three other persons who, together with their two selves, should constitute a body politic and corporate, and be known as the " Trustees of Steelville Academy," to have perpetual succession and a common seal. The capital stock of the institution was fixed by this act at $15,000, to be divided into shares of $5 each. It was also provided that no influence in favor of the principles of any religious denomination should be taught or tolerated in the academy, but moral discipline should be provided for. It was likewise provided by the statute that the capital stock of the incorporation and its property should be exempt from taxation, so long as it was used for educational purposes.


The first principal of this academy was Prof. Stacey, who had one assistant; and about forty pupils attended the institution the first year. The course of study embraced the higher English branches, and occasionally a student pursued the Latin and the Greek. Prof. Stacey remained one year, and was followed by Rev. I. B. Allen, who a part of the time had two assistants. The number of scholars increased to about fifty, quite a number coming from abroad. Prof. Wilson succeeded to the principalship in 1854; Rev. W. P. Renick, in 1856; Prof. William T. Stewart, in 1858; Rev. W. P. Renick, again in 1864; Prof. William H. Lynch, in 1867 ; and then quite a number of others served in that capacity, each for a short time, until in 1872 Prof. T. A. Gayman took charge. One other principal followed him, and then finally, the property was sold to the school district.


Records of the proceedings of the school board of this district, previous to 1883, could not be found. In 1882 the teachers for 1882-83 with their salaries were: Silas Dinsmore, principal, $65; Miss Ella Metcalf, $35; Miss Zora Halbert, $25. In March, 1883, Preston Halbert was president of the board of education, and Hermon Ferguson, secretary. April 9, G. D. Day and Eugene Trask had become members of the board. In June, Prof. Landrum was elected principal of the school for six months, at $65 per month and half the outside patronage. Miss Dora Sloan, of Cape Girardeau, was chosen first assistant, at $40 per month, and Miss Lillie Trask, of Steelville, second assistant, at $25. In April, 1884, E. A. Bass, G. W. Matlock and E. A. Pinnell were elected members of the board ; E. A. Pinnell was made president, Hermon Ferguson, secretary, and E. A. Bass, treasurer. J. C. Jadwin was elected principal of the school, at $65 per month, and has served ever since at the same salary; Miss May Halbert, first assistant, at $35, and Miss Delia Adair, second assistant, at $30. In April, 1885, E. A. Pinnell, G. D. Clark and J. C. Whitmire were elected members of the board. Nannie Marsh was chosen first assistant, at $35, and Miss Delia Adair second assistant, at $35.


On March 12, 1886, an order was made by the board to submit to the voters of the school district, at an election to be held April 6, following, the question of borrowing $3,000, on ten twenty-year bonds, to draw 6 per cent interest, for the purpose of building a new brick schoolhouse. This proposition was carried by a vote of 57 to 25—more than a two-thirds majority. The plan adopted by the board was that of a building, 26x40 feet, of brick, ceilings to be twelve feet high, the old building, formerly owned by Steelville Academy, to be torn down to the first story, and then rebuilt to correspond with the new building, all to form one building when completed. The proposition of S. J. Frazier to put up the new schoolhouse for $2,650 was accepted, $125 was allowed him for extra work, and the furniture and apparatus cost $225, making the total cost of the building, ready for occupancy, $3,000.


In May, 1886, Miss Cora Metcalf was engaged as first assistant, at $35 ; Miss Delia Adair, as second assistant, at $35, and Miss Fannie Braley, as third assistant, $35. That spring Preston Halbert, E. A. Bass and W. C. Devol were the new directors the board for 1887-88 being E. A. Pinnell, president; G. D. Clark, vice-president; E. A. Bass, treasurer; W. C. Devol, secretary, Preston Halbert and W. H. Davis. The teachers engaged in 1887 were J. C. Jadwin, principal, at $65 per month; Rev. W. D. Hawkins, first assistant, at $40; Miss Ura Halbert, second assistant, at $35, and Miss Fannie Braley, third assistant, at $30.


The principal's report of the school for October, 1887, showed the attendance to have been, males, 76; females, 90; the average number in attendance each day was 141, and the average number of days' attendance by each pupil was 17, the month consisting of twenty days.

History Excerpts from ‘History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, & Gasconade Counties, Missouri’, The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1888



Last up-dated 09/22/2013

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