Washington County Missouri
Potosi Academy.—The first steps in behalf of education in Washington County were taken in 1816, by some prominent citizens, who contributed the means and caused to be erected two frame schoolhouses, near the site of the present railroad depot at Potosi. They then secured the passage of an act of the Territorial Legislature entitled "An act to establish an academy at Potosi," approved January 30, 1817. By the act William H. Ashley, Lionel Browne, John B. Jones, Moses Austin, David Wheeler, Moses Bates, Benjamin Elliott, James Austin, William Perry, John Mcllvain, Andrew Scott, John Hawkins and Abraham Brinker were constituted a board of trustees, and they and their successors to be a body politic and corporate. The Potosi Academy was then opened in the buildings mentioned, and among the early teachers there were John Brickey, Uriah J. Devore, Mason Frizzell, Eugene O'Mara and Jesse O. Norton. This school was sustained until some time during the forties, when it was discontinued, and a school was opened elsewhere in the town Common Schools.—On the 4th of March, 1854, the inhabitants of Township 38 north, Range 2 east, met at the store house of George Cresswell, and organized a meeting, and resolved as follows : First—" That we, the inhabitants of said Congressional Township No. 38, will now proceed to organize a common school." Second—" That we are of the opinion that but one common school is necessary to be established in the township at this time, and that we will have but one school." They then proceeded to hold an election, for the purpose of electing school officers, which resulted in the election of Elias Horine for township clerk; F. Lord, Smith Jackson and Elias Horine as school trustees, and Michael Flynn, collector. This was probably the first common school organized in Washington County.
After the passage of the "act to provide for the organization and government of common schools," approved March 27, 1845, the county court began to organize school townships in accordance therewith, and completed the organization of the last one in 1853. Meanwhile, a nominal system of common schools was established, but only a few schools were opened, and those only at the villages, as the only means for the support of the common schools was a nominal sum received annually from the State treasury by each school township, together with the interest which was collected annually from borrowers of the proceeds of the sale of the school lands, being the sixteenth section in each congressional township, which was donated by the United States to the inhabitants of the township for educational purposes. These revenues were not sufficient, on an average, to sustain a single school in a school township for a term of three months per year ; consequently, no adequate system of common schools existed in Washington County prior to the inauguration of the present school system, which was established after the close of the Civil War. The school lands in the county have not quite all been sold, but the total amount of the township fund derived from the sales thus far is $27,495.90.
School Funds.—The county school fund, which is derived from the accumulation of fines, forfeitures, swamp land sales etc., amounted in the aggregate, according to the official report of the county court clerk for 1886, to $11,190.80, which, added to the township fund, makes a grand total of the principal of the permanent school funds of the county at that date of $38,680.70. The township fund may be slightly increased by the sale of the small balance of the unsold school lands, and the county school fund will always continue to increase from year to year by the accumulation of fines, forfeitures etc. The principal of these funds is loaned to individual borrowers, and the interest thereon only is appropriated to the support of the schools.
Statistics.—-To show how the present public school system is sustained in Washington County, the following statistics are compiled from the official report of the superintendent of the public schools for the year ending June 30, 1886, the report for 1887 not as yet having been received.
Enumeration: White—males, 1,613, females, 1,565. total, 3,178 ; colored—males, 153, females, 119, total, 272. Enrollment: White—males, 976, females, 971, total, 1,947; colored—males, 99, females, 90, total. 189. Number of teachers employed, 53; average salary of teachers per month, 831: number of rooms occupied, 45; number of white schools, 40; number of colored schools, 5; cost per day per pupil, 5 cents; value of school property, $13,374; amount paid to teachers, $4,088.33. According to the foregoing only 1 per cent and a fraction over of the white scholastic population attended or were enrolled in the public schools, and about 69 1/2 per cent of the colored scholastic population were enrolled in the public colored schools.
The report shows only one graded school in the county, and that is the public school at Potosi. There were 287 white and 58 colored children enumerated in the Potosi school district, and 184 white and 44 colored were enrolled in the public schools. This shows that 103 white and 14 colored children enumerated were not enrolled in the public schools. The Potosi schools were taught eighty days during the year, and there were four teachers employed, and the salary of the principal was $300 for the year. There were two schools—one white and one colored.
Bellecue Colllegide Institute—In 1867 the people of Caledonia and vicinity determined to found an institution that would furnish opportunities for the higher education of their children. A joint stock company was formed, and soon $6,000 was subscribed. A brick building, containing four rooms and a basement, was erected, and the school opened the same fall, in charge of B. S. Newland, A. M. In 1868 the St. Louis conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South appointed a committee to locate a conference school, giving it discretionary power. The committee decided that the location should be contingent upon the financial aid offered. Caledonia and Arcadia were the competing points. The former offered about $20,000, including the building before mentioned. This being the larger donation offered, it was accepted, and Caledonia was selected as the site. In 1869 the committee received from the board of the Bellevue Academy, as it was then called, the property and subscription list. An order was made, upon request by the circuit court, in 1870, to incorporate the institution under the name of the Bellevue Collegiate Institute. On behalf of the conference, the committed proposed to raise $15,000. Relying on this and the former subscriptions, a large two-story addition, 40x80 feet, was erected.
The promises failing, debt followed, and ruin seemed inevitable. Discouragement followed failure; the school dwindled to nothing in 1870, and the conference authorized the sale of the property. It must have gone down had not a few men taken the load on themselves. Their names deserve preservation, and are here given George Goodykoontz, Stewart McSpaden, J. B. and J. H. Headlee. In the winter of 1876-77, the doors were closed save to a private school ; but through earnest labors of friends it was opened again in September, 1877, with F. M. Finney, D. D., as president. The income not being sufficient for a support, he resigned in 1880, and W. D. Vandiver, Ph. B., was chosen in his stead. By persistent effort he had secured about $5,000, from such men as Samuel Cupples, R. M. Scruggs, W. P. Donnell, of St. Louis, and others. A mansard story has been added to the main building, thus giving it greater capacity, and adding much to its architectural appearance.
The faculty of the institute as shown by the catalog for 1880-87 is as follows: W. D. Vandiver, president, professor of physical and moral sciences; John W. Shipp, A. M., vice-president, professor of languages and literature; George B. Deuel, Ph. B., professor of mathematics and bookkeeping; Miss Carrie L. Evans, principal of music department; Mrs. J. H. Headlee, matron. Total number of pupils enrolled for 1886--87 was 152. The institute is now in a prosperous condition, and is doing excellent work in the cause of education.
by Genealogy Trails