Daviess County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

School History

History of Daviess and Gentry Counties Missouri – (Daviess County portion by John C. Leonard and Buel Leonard) – Printed by Historical Publishing Company, 1922 – Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Before the organization of the public school system subscription schools were established. The 1882 history of the county says, "In 1835 schools were taught, and from that day there has been no faltering by the way." However, no record of a school is found prior to 1837. This school was taught by H. W. Enyart, in Benton Township, in the summer of 1837. The term lasted for three months and in the following winter he taught another term of the same length. The salary was $2.00 per scholar, one account says $2.50, and was payable in produce, corn, deerskins, honey, etc. Occasionally money was paid but this was the exception rather than the rule.

A. S. Youtsey taught the first school in Union Township in a small cabin adjoining his farm. His terms were $3.50 per student for a session of three months. The first school house in the county was erected on his farm. The lumber was furnished by the settlers. The carpenter work cost $25 and William Bixby was the contractor.

The following account of the first schools in Jamesport Township is given in the 1882 history, "The first school taught was in a log cabin on Auberry's farm and taught by Lewis McCoy. This was in 1838. He got $6.00 per month, for six pupils and boarded around. On the John Hill place was the first school house and school was kept by James H. B. McFerran; who afterwards was a lawyer and banker at Gallatin, and now lives in Colorado. He had some seven or eight pupils and taught for $2.00 per scholar, a session of three months. It is evident that it was not the superabundance of wealth realized from teaching that caused him to take his departure."

The first school house in Benton Township was built in the summer of 1842. It was made of round lots, 16x18 feet, in size and had a dirt floor. It had a clapboard roof held with mud. The equipment consisted of smooth puncheon seats and desks. The building was put up by the neighbors, among them being Isaac and David Groomer, John D. Williams, John Githens and Joseph McCrasky. This building was in the north half of the section 28. John Githens taught the first school here and had about 20 pupils and received $3.50 per scholar for a three months term.

In 1846 the first school house was built in Colfax Township, and was on the Caster farm in section 15. Miss Elizabeth Morton was the first to teach in the building and she received, regardless of the number of pupils, $10.00 per month for her services. Not more than a year later a school was taught in the west side of the township by M. C. Weddle and he charged $1.00 tuition per pupil.

James Jeffries taught the first school in Lincoln Township in 1844. The school house was erected on Section 30, between ten and 15 pupils attended the first term. Mr. Jeffries was paid $15.00 per month.

The first school house in Marion Township was built of small lots or poles, Jonathan Trotter was the first teacher. A Mr. Peiffer taught the first school in Jackson Township on Penniston's Ridge. Here the first school building was erected at a cost of from $15.00 to $20.00. The first school in Liberty Township was taught by Joseph Starling.

Two school houses were built in Sheridan Township in 1842. C. Needier was the first teacher, receiving $1.50 per pupil unless the higher branches were taught.

Just who taught the first school in Monroe Township is not known. R. Owens taught in the township in 1837. James Hemly is supposed to have taught prior to that time but the exact date cannot be determined. The first school house was built, at a cost of about $40.00, in the Hickory Grove neighborhood. This was in 1840. The trustees of this school were Hardin Stone, Elijah Whitt, and George Hemry.

William P. Dunnington was one of the first to teach in Harrison Township. He had about 15 pupils in 1838 and 1839. The first school was taught in 1836 but was poorly attended and the name of the teacher is not remembered.

A Maine Yankee, Dr. Watts, was not only the first physician in Salem Township, but the first school teacher.

In 1840 some of the settlers in Washington Township erected a school house on the banks of Honey Creek. John D. Inlow, (or Enlow,) taught here, having as many as 20 pupils. A large number for those days. In the late winter of 1841-42 this building was washed away.

After the public schools were fairly well organized it was customary to hold county institutes. These were held just before examinations for county certificates were given and the courses offered were largely preparatory for these examinations.
In 1869 W. M. Bostaph reported to the state superintendent of schools, "The county teachers institute in this county is in a flourishing condition, with about 50 members, most of whom are regular attendants, and a lively interest is being manifested by some of them."
The report of 1883-84 shows that an institute was held in Daviess County under the management of B. F. Brown with H. H. King as instructor. The session lasted 30 days and 47 teachers were in attendance.
During the summer of 1885, the institute was managed by W. T. Paugh with B. F. Duncan and J. J. Bryant. The term lasted ten days and was attended by 71 teachers .
The instructors during the summer of 1887 were Laura Hyden, C. H. Dutcher and F. A. Swanger, and W. T. Pugh was again manager. Again the attendance showed an increase, 98 being enrolled. Each teacher paid a tuition of $3.10 for the 19 day session.
H, Hamilton was in charge of the institute in 1889 and B. F. Heaton and others were the instructors. An institute lasting from July 9 to July 27, in 1895 and was under the management of C. A. Savage. F. W. Williams and W. H. Buch and A. R. Alexander were the teachers. The enrollment reached 122. At the end of the session 16 first grade, 32 second grade and 49 third grade certificates were granted.
The teachers in the 1900 session which met from July 17, to August 4, were A. D. Edmison, J. L. Gallatin and F. W. Williams. 78 were enrolled.
The character of these teachers' meetings has been greatly changed. The state university and the teacher's colleges have supplanted the county institute for courses of instruction. Even the county meetings which usually lasted a couple of days in August and in November are being superseded by the state and district associations.
At the time of the organization of the county statuary provisions were in force for the organization of public schools to be supported out of the school funds of each county and local taxation. In 1842, the first apportionment of state money was made, but Daviess County had no schools entitled to this fund. At the next apportionment in February, 1843, one school received state aid. District No. 1, in Township 59, Range 26. 42 children were taught in the school out of a possible enrollment of 59. The account of state money received was $35.40 when the fifth apportionment in January, 1846, was made, four schools were entitled to aid and the sum received was $146.74.
The report of the state superintendent of schools for the year 1854 contains much detailed information regarding the schools.
At that time the effort from Daviess County showed that out of the 2,345 children between the ages of five and 20, 1,084 were enrolled in the schools. The average attendance was, however, much lower than this. 30 teachers were employed, 23 of whom were men. The average salary per month for the men was $19.12, while the women had to content themselves with an average of $10.60. The average length of the school year was four months, seven days. The sum of $442.00 was reported raised for building and repairing school houses.
The school system continued to grow until the Civil War. During that period many of the schools were suspended. By 1886 the system had been somewhat reorganized and the report for that year showed that there were in the county 61 primary schools and three private or select schools, with an average school term of four and one third months and an average attendance of 29.
For the school year ending in June, 1821, the reports show that the enumeration for that year was 4,105. The decreases in enumeration are to be accounted for in decrease in the whole population of the county. The average daily attendance was 3,538. Two schools have less than a six months term. 16 have between six and eight months. 60 have eight months, and seven have a nine months term. 297 pupils were graduated from the common school course in 1921.
There were 153 teachers employed in the schools, 25 men and 128 women, while in 1854, only seven of the 30 teachers employed were women. There still remains, however, considerable difference in the average salary paid men and women. In 1921 the average salary per month for the former was $110, for women $80. Of the 153, 18 held state, 41 held normal and 94 held county certificates. The estimated value of school property in the county is $250,000, while equipment is valued at $35,000.

High Schools were early established in the county. The report of the state superintendent in 1910 showed that Gallatin maintained a first class, Plattonburg a third class and Jamesport an unclassified high school.
In the last 11 years great progress has been made. By 1915 there were three first class high schools. Gallatin, Jamesport and Pattonsburg; two third class high schools, Coffey and Jameson. The schools. at Altamont Lock Springs and Winston were on the unclassified list. Which schools of Coffey, Jameson and Lock Springs, had been added to the list of first class high schools in 1921. There were third class schools at Altamont, Winston, Blake and Carlow.
Two high schools provide training for teachers - Gallatin and Pattonsburg. At Gallatin the class is taught by Mrs. Clara Wills, at Pattonsburg by R. F. Wood.
Vocational agriculture is taught at Jameson and Gallatin.
The Winston opera house is being remodeled for use as a high school. The building is so located that the city park can be used as a play ground.
The Jamesport high school building was erected in 1914. The Gallatin building was completed in 1910.
The first consolidated high school in the county was built at Jameson. The district being formed by the union of Jameson, Laswell, Brown, Brushy Creek and the Grant schools. The first week in February, 1914, a petition signed by 36 taxpayers, asking for consolidation was presented to I. J. Vogelgesang, county superintendent. The election was held later in the month and was carried by a vote of 142 to 69. The question of providing transportation for school children which was presented as a separate proposition carried by a vote of 154 to 15. Two weeks later the new district voted a bond issue of $20,000 for the erection of a school building. Early in March the district acquired four acres for a campus, and the contract let for the building. Seven new school wagons each accommodating 25 pupils were also contracted for.
Suit was then made to disorganize the district ; was made a test case before the Supreme Court. The auditor declining to register the bonds. The court decided that the consolidation was legal and the new directors proceeded with the work.
Two elections were brought to disorganize the district but both failed.
School opened Oct. 4, 1915, with B. F. Brown as principal.
In 1916 the county court ordered school districts known as Prairie Valley 63 and Mann 64, to be hereafter designated as Blake school district No. 63-64. An attractive building was erected. In addition to the elementary school work, two years of high school work was offered.

In 1909 the state superintendent formulated a plan for the approval of rural schools. In 1910, Daviess County had ten approved schools - Barnett, Johnson, Haw Branch, Madison and Swisher with Bert E. Morgan, F. W. Williams, Edna Offield, Blanche Ayres and Orpha Leabo as teachers.
By Jan. 1, 1916 the number had a little more than doubled, 11 schools: Everly, Virginia Ridge, Barnett, Prairie Hall, Splawn's Ridge, Prairie Hill, Castor and Madison being on the approved list.
The schools placed on the standard list in 1921 and their teachers are, Liberty, James I. Ray; Netherton, Mrs. Irvin Schapaugh; Goodbar, Mary Croy; Fairview, Orla Olsen; Prairie Hall, Gertrude Parmley; Pleasant Grove, Bernice Miller; Blake, Mrs. Alvin Nebelsick ; Island No. 10, Ferm Meloy ; Wooderson, Ora Quitmyer ; Allen, Mary Temple.

Grand River College, then located at Edinburg, in Grundy County, was organized and opened to the public in 1850. It was a co-educational institution, and is said to have been the first college in the state to admit women on equal terms with men. It was first called Grand River College Association. It had its inception in the enterprising spirit of the Baptists of Grundy and adjoining counties. Several years later the name of the organization was changed and the institution incorporated as Grand River College. For 40 years this unpretentious college maintained a record of faithful and efficient work. Its faculty included some of the ablest educators in the state.
Edinburg was an inland town, and in 1892, the trustees decided that in order to make the college more accessible, enlarge its facilities and increase its usefulness, its removal to another location was desirable. Gallatin was selected. The citizens of Gallatin agreed to furnish the college site and to erect a building, to cost when completed, including furnishings, not less than $15,000, and when completed, to convey the site and buildings to the six Baptist Associations, Mt. Moriah, West Fork, North Grand River, Gentry, Livingston and Linn County. The gift was made with the understanding that a college in all its appointments to the educational demands of the age should be maintained. Any surplus remaining from the sale of town lots in the College Addition to Gallatin, after appropriating the $15,000 for the building, was to be added to the permanent endowment fund. The citizens further agreed to raise within two years after the opening of the college an amount which when added to this surplus would be $5,000.
The college started out under very favorable conditions. Dr. W. Pope Yeaman, a prominent Missouri educator, who had formerly been chancellor of William Jewell College and president of the Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, was secured as president.
The college had seven departments, philosophy, languages, mathematics and astronomy, natural science, literature and history, art, and preparatory. It conferred the degrees of Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Arts, and certificates of graduation were given in any department upon the completion of the studies in that department.
The college opened its first session at Gallatin, Oct. 3, 1893. During the first year, 106 students were enrolled, 60 others being enrolled in the preparatory department, taught in the old college building at Edinburgh.
On Jan. 16, 1893, the charter of the college was approved by the county court, the Board of Trustees being C. P. Brandon, W. L. Merritt, I. H. Bohannon, Joseph Koger, J. N. Brassfield, I. S. Lowry, E. A. Excun, F. P. Bain, Jasper Shoemaker, S. R. Dillion, E. D. Isbell, George Tuggle and Gabriel Feurt.
The second year a law department was added, the work being conducted by J. W. Alexander and President Yeaman. The total enrollment that year reached 137.
Dr. Yeaman resigned in 1897, and the school was taken over by the Hatton brothers, J. H. Hatton being president, M. W. Hatton, vice-president and R. E. Hatton, secretary.
In 1902, J. H. Hatton resigned and H. E. Osborn of Warrensburg was chosen as his successor. In November of the same year, President Osborn resigned. A successor was not secured until August, 1913, when the Rev. James Rice, of Bolivar, Mo., was chosen. Under the agreement with him, the college was to be endowed and put upon a permanent basis. The trustees, were, however, unable to endow the college, and after a rather long struggle, the work was abandoned temporarily.

Some time after the closing of Grand River College, an offer was made by William Jewell College, of Liberty, to take over the property and use it as a preparatory school. In February, 1905, the trustees of the college met in Gallatin, and voted to accept the offer, upon the condition that William Jewell College would provide for the mortgage indebtedness of Grand River College, amounting to about $1200. The proposition made by William Jewell College was to take over the property, changing the name to Grand River Baptist Academy of William Jewell College, and to provide an endowment for the institution.
In May, 1906, the Board of Trustees of Grand River College decided to accept the offer, with some slight modifications, and arrangements were then made to open the Academy under the principalship of Rev. O. L. Wood, on Sept. 19, 1906.
At the first commencement, three were graduated in music, Blanche Deem, Charity Macy and Helen Weiser. Bessie Fannin, Lennis Downing, Etta Fox, Claude Fannin, Jessie Wilson, Irene Stout and Frances completed the business course.
The enrollment increased during the second year, reaching 100 in January, 1908..
In the summer of 1908, plans were set on foot to erect a new dormitory, since the main building did not furnish accommodations for all the students. To meet the growing demands of the school, several cottages near the Academy were rented.
During the summer of 1909, plans were completed for the erection of a $6,000 dormitory. The site selected was just west of the main building. Work was begun in August and was practically completed, when the Academy closed in 1910.
After again remaining vacant for several years, another attempt was made to revive Grand River College. In February, 1914, Dr. E. W. Dow begun negotiations with William Jewell College for the purchase of the building. The Commercial Club invited Dr. Dow to visit Gallatin to investigate the proposition. He came in April. He proposed to open a school for girls and asked the citizens of Gallatin to subscribe $500 annually for five years, payable at the end of each school year.
Arrangements were made for the opening of the school in September. At first it was called the Dow College for Girls, but it was later decided to retain the name of the original institution. The faculty was composed of Dr. and Mrs. Dow, Miss Helen Dow, Miss Mary Dow, in the Academic Department, Prof. Dunwoody, Music Miss Ruth Early, Art, and Miss Elizabeth Reneau, Commercial Department. The enrollment during the first year was near 50. The next year the standard of the college was raised, and a full four years' course offered. In 1916 the A. B. degree was conferred upon Miss Ethel Ramsbottom.
The third year there were three graduates from the preparatory department, Mary Moore, Lucille Netherton and Ruth Ramsbottom, and Georgia O'Hare from the collegiate department.
In 1918, the graduates were Cecil Burns, Fay Croy, Esther Foley, Mary Croy and Edna Merritt.
During the fall of 1918, an attempt was made to make Grand River College an accredited military school for the Students Army Training Corps. Negotiations were well under way and promised to be successful, but before the petition was acted upon by the government, the college burned. The dormitory, built in 1909, but which was never used, is all that is left to show for this institution of higher learning.

The State Legislature of 1849 passed an act incorporated the Daviess County Female Academy, pursuant to the provisions of which, the county court, in July, 1849, appointed as the first board of trustees Jonathan E. Mann, Volney E. Bragg, Francis M. Estes, Joseph L. Nelson, John D. Williams, Benedict Weldon and John D. Coulson.
Six years later the legislature passed an act incorporating the Daviess County Academy and Masonic Hall, naming as the first directors : John Cravens, Samuel Bryan, John D. Coulson, Thomas T. Frame, Nathan Gillilan, James McFerran, and Edgar C. Kelso.
Just when the Academy opened is not known. The first principal was a Mr. Tuttle, and Miss Addie Cauthorn, later Mrs. W. M. Givens, was its first teacher of Latin and Greek.
Others who taught at the Academy were J. S. Huffacre, R. M. Messick, Arthur C. Weston, John C. Vertrees, Miss Carrie Smith, Mrs. Ann Givens Cauthorn, and Miss Hattie Atchison, (Mrs. A. M. Irving)

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