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Grundy County

Public Schools History

The public school was organized in 1856, after considerable opposition experienced upon the part of those who had been laboring for some time for its establishment.

The directors, who then had the matter in charge, were William L. Ferguson, William Wilkerson and Colonel John Steel. These gentlemen, aided by others, were unremitting in their efforts in behalf of the free school system, and knowing that it had been successfully tested in other states and in other communities, they were satisfied that the same system, introduced here, would prove to be of incalculable benefit to the masses, and afford the means of furnishing at least a primary education to those who were unable to patronize other schools.

At that period, the public school system, south of Mason and Dixon's line was not a popular institution, in fact, it was then in its incipiency in many of the Northern States. To-day (1881), however, its immeasurable utility is being recognized and felt all over the entire Union, and in no state have free schools made more rapid advancement during the past decade than in Missouri.

The first public school in Plattsburg opened its doors twenty-five years ago, under comparatively favorable auspices. The building then occupied was located where the banking house of Clay & Funkhouser now stands. Although the material of which the building was made was wood—a frame building—it was a rude and primitive structure, and contained but one room, which was imperfectly lighted and ventilated.
The first teacher employed in the public schools was A. K. Porter, from Kentucky, who now resides in the town of Plattsburg. Mr. Porter was paid a salary of forty-five dollars per month, and taught at intervals for several years. He opened the school with fifty pupils, the number steadily increasing as the town grew in population, and the prejudices which had existed against free schools abated.

He was succeeded by Sidney P. Cunningham, T. H. B. Turner, of Clay County, William H. Woodson, Kellum, Miss Jennie Steel,

A. J. Everly, and others. Not being able to get the early records, we cannot give the names of all the teachers and the dates at which they taught. Since 1874, however, we have the names of the principals of the public schools, and the names of each succeeding board, which we here give:

1874.—James A. Lanius, principal.
Directors: James H. Birch, Jr., M. M. McPhetridge, James M. Riley.

1875.—John S. Stepp, principal. Directors C. M. Hooper, M. M. McPhetridge, James M. Riley.
1876.—D. H. Lindsay, principal. Directors: J. M. Riley, C. M. Hooper, N. L. Ford.
1877.—D. H. Lindsay, principal. Directors: J. M. Riley, C. M. Hooper, N. L. Ford.
1878 to 1881.—L. E. Wolf, principal. Directors: J. M. Riley, N. L. Ford, E. S. Randolph.
1879.—J. M. Riley, E. S. Randolph, M. M. McPhetridge.
1880.—E. S. Randolph, Michael Guyer, Reuben Smarr.

Professor Wolf is a native Kentuckian, and has all the qualifications of a successful teacher.

His assistants are Miss Louise Porterfield, Miss Delia Sprague, Curtis Randolph, James Brawner.

Professor N. J. Berry is the teacher in the colored school.

There are altogether enrolled, this year (1881), 280 pupils, forty of whom are colored.

The building now occupied by the public schools is a brick, two stories, 32 feet by 40 feet in depth, containing four rooms 20 by 28 feet each, and well supplied with all the modern appliances necessary to facilitate instruction. The high school is under the immediate charge of Professor Wolf.

Source:  The History of Grundy County, Missouri: Birdsall & Dean, publ. 1881; Submitted to Genealogy Trails and Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack  

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