Maries County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

County History

Education in Maries County is still somewhat of a luxury, as it has been since the first pioneers located, but it is one of those luxuries which are and have always been highly prized by the people and as freely indulged in as the rugged condition of the county has possibly permitted. Although there have been public schools more or less since the county was organized, the subscription and private schools have held their own from the first, and are still well patronized, and this county, like most others, has furnished a few who have taken collegiate courses.

Early Schools.—It is not known who were the first teachers, nor the location of the first school; but among the earliest was one on the Bourbois, which was taught by William Green, one of whose pupils was a present aged citizen of Rolla, Mr. J. G. Mutohinson. It was held in a log house 16x18 feet, with stick-laid chimney, puncheon floor and split benches; and for a window one of the logs was cut and the opening covered with greased paper.  Mr. Hutchinson states that the motto seemed to be "licken' and larin'."  The pupils cut wood when they did not con Brook's or Webster's "epellin' book" or Pike's or Smiley's 'rithmetic.   The subscription price was one dollar per month, It was a favorite diversion of the inmates of these "ruby founts, of knowledge" to inaugurate a sort of "strike"  on Christmas day and order the " master " to treat the school, with the tacit understanding that that would be much more pleasant for all concerned than for them to be under the painful (?) necessity of "ducking " his pedagogic highness under the cold ice of the neighboring river. The more conciliatory teacher generally secured enough apples to go round. About 1833 Carter Woods taught on Maries Creek in a vacant house, and among his pupils were Abraham and James Johnson, and James and John Crismon. C. F. L. Durand, a surveyor, taught at Thomas Johnson's (Jr.) soon after on Cedar Creek, and on the Gasconade was Jacob Robinson. Roland Aubrey had P. H. Ammerman as a pupil on Lane's Prairie. Abraham Johnson began about 1839. Among others were Messrs. Pickering, Quesenbury and Br. W. C. Lacy. These all had subscription schools. The public schools were organized about 1856, when J. T. Prewitt, of Dixon, and J. H. Norris were among the first if not the first teachers. Lane's Prairie and Dry Creek settlements were the first to organize.

There has been no concerted movement toward providing for academic education in Maries County as there was in Pulaski, Phelps and other counties; and it has not been until a very recent date that any effort whatever from any source has been attempted.

The Vichy Normal and Business Institute.—In 1887 the institution bearing this name was organized at Vichy, by Profs. J. B. Hayes and D. N. Gardner, who constituted its first faculty. They located at Vichy in a three-story brick building, previously erected for other purposes at a cost of about $5,000. It has twelve rooms, and is pleasantly situated for such an institution. Both gentlemen were experienced teachers and, as the name indicates, established their school on normal principles and methods. During their first year forty students were enrolled; in the second about 100, and at present they have an attendance of over 150 students from various parts of Missouri and neighboring States. Their faculty now consists of the following persons: J. B. Hayes, president, and instructor in telegraphy, grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, physiology, physical geography, didactic mental and moral philosophy; D. N. Gardner, treasurer, and instructor in zoology, botany, geology, algebra, etymology, literature and vocal music; J. A. Ferrell, B. S. (of the Northern Indiana Normal), secretary, and instructor in book-keeping, commercial law, commercial arithmetic,  penmanship, chemistry, higher mathematics, engineering, surveying and debating; Mrs. J. A. Ferrell, teacher in German, Latin and common branches; O. L. Lyon, B. S., teacher in elocution, and G. H. Shigrue. They have two departments—the normal, having four courses, viz.: preparatory, teachers', scientific and civil engineering; the business department, having two courses, viz.:  commercial and telegraphic.   All excepting the last two courses are expected to be completed in four terms by the average student; the last two have three terms.   Owing to the youth of the school no graduates will have been had before 1890.   They are supplied with library, apparatus, instruments, and an actual business outfit. The school is owned by Profs. Hayes and Ferrell, whose vigorous methods, with the happy location chosen for the institution, are a pledge of its success in meeting the needs of the country and of its future growth.   The district public school is at times under their charge.

The Public Schools.—The people of Maries County were hardly numerous enough in earlier days to push the public school system with the vigor that they might have done other-wise, but it has slowly but surely made its way.   Soon after the county was organized there were but six or seven districts organized, and with as many log school-houses.   This was the condition in 1858 when Solomon Kimzby became the first commissioner of schools for the county.   It continued so until after the war, during which period there were no schools nor school officers.   About 1864 Henry Warren was made commissioner and served up to 1868, and the schools began to grow.   In 1868 Dr. A. L. McGregor took charge, and in 1870 R. W. Mahaney followed, until in 1872 J. A. Love became commissioner. Their work was improved upon by their successors, J. R. Rubison, R A. Daniel,  J R Hayes, W. M. Redford and D. N. Gardner-the present incumbent.

In 1873 the enumeration was 2,598; in 1874, 2,276; in 1875, 2,715; and in 1877 statistics showed the following: White children, 2 656 and colored, 9. None of the sixteenth section land had been sold before the war, but enough was sold previous to 1877 to make the permanent loaned fund $7,324.82. The total receipts for that year were $4,529.53; and there was expended $4,581.07 for the purpose of carrying on schools under nineteen teachers, at an average monthly salary of $30.73, to teach an enrollment of 821 (white) pupils, who attended an average of forty-two days each, annually. There were thirty-nine school-houses, with a seating capacity of 1,565 and valued at $4,129.50. This report is probably approximately correct. Almost ten years later (in 1886) the annual receipts were $9,627.18, of which $7,985.60 was paid to carry on schools under forty-four teachers, whose average salary was $35.18 and the enrollment of whose schools was 2,187 out of an enumeration of 2,945 white and two colored children. Of this enrollment there was an average daily attendance of 1,436 pupils, each of whom averaged forty-seven days of school annually. Of the teachers who taught them, thirty-four bore third grade certificates and two second grade; none were higher. The forty-four rooms employed could accommodate 2,560 pupils, and the property was valued at $12,874. This shows a treble increase in almost every respect in one decade.

The report for 1887 shows even happier results. Out of the $11,016.10 fund received for the year, $9,039.88 was expended to carry on the same number of schools as the previous year, with the increased average daily attendance of 1,523 for an average increased time for each pupil of forty-nine days. The enumeration was 2,307. The teachers' average monthly salary was $35.45, and they bore certificates as follows: Sixteen third grade, five second grade and two of the first grade. In addition to this four schools had observed Arbor Day and the institutes which had begun some time previously were greatly improved. The number of school districts is now fifty-one, among the largest of which are Vienna, High Gate, Vichy and Safe.

The Vienna school is simply a large district school, the enumeration being 132. This enormous number has been under the care of one teacher, except one season under J. W. Sulhus. Their first teacher was 0. A. Petit, who has since been followed by Miss Agnes, S. W. Reed, Miss J. Groves, A. Short, J. Allen, "W. A. Brandon, ___ Emerson, A. L. Benade, S. Rowden, ___Kilgore, Miss J. Felker, R. A. Daniels, L. C. Rowden, J. B. Hayes, W. M. Bedford, J. W. Sullins and the present incumbent, Prof. Lonsdale, a graduate of the State University.

History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries, and Osage Counties, Missouri. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing, 1889.

Maries County, Missouri Genealogy Trails
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