HISTORY OF Southeastern Dakota, Its Settlement and Growth,

Sioux City Iowa: Western Publishing Company, 1881

transcribed by Karen Seeman





The first official action having for its object the establishment of public schools in Sioux Falls, was in 1871, when the County Superintendent, John Bippus, designated the boundaries of School District No. 1, as embracing all of township 101, of range 49. This action of the County Superintendent was approved by the County Commissioners July 3d, 1871, but nothing further was done until April 14th, 1873, when County Superintendent A. Thome issued a notice for the first school meeting in the District. The notice was directed to Edwin Sharpe, and appointed the meeting at the barracks on the 29th of April.

At the meeting, so appointed, Mr. A. Gale was elected Director, R. F. Pettigrew, Clerk; and D. S. Goodyear. Treasurer. Although Sioux Falls was then dignified with a school organization, its officers were powerless to act, as the district had neither school house apparatus or funds wherewith to pay teachers.  Too overcome these difficulties, a special meeting of the voters of the District was called for the 12th of May. at which time a tax on the property in the District, of one per cent, was voted to be expended in building a school house, and a further tax of one-fourth of one per cent, was voted to be used in the purchase of school furniture.   At this meeting. John Bippus, R. H. Booth, H. J. Whipple and R. F. Pettigrew were appointed a committee to select suitable grounds for a school house.  This committee reported, June 3d, the selection of six lots in block two of Gales'  addition and a corresponding number in block 7, of J. L. Phillips’ addition, adjoining.   These lots were afterwards purchased by the District, being the ones now occupied by the High School building.   The voters present at the meeting directed the Board to proceed at once to the collection of the tax voted, and to take such other steps as they deemed necessary in order that the school might be in operation at the earliest possible moment.   The most sanguine of the people were sure that a public school would be started in a few days, or weeks at farthest, but they were doomed to disappointment.   The Treasurer had doubts in regard to his authority to collect the tax, and by the time he had satisfied his doubts, and got fairly to work, he found his warrant was of no use to him, he having held it until it had expired.  The taxes he had collected were returned, and the project for the immediate commencement of the public school was for the time abandoned.   At the annual meeting held September 6th, 1873, Mr. A. Gale was elected Director, H. J. Whipple, Treasurer, and C. W. McDonald, Clerk.  To the Board, as thus  constituted, was committed the task of providing nine months of school during the ensuing year, the collection of a tax of three-fourths of one per cent, on all the taxable property in the District, and the building of a school house to cost not exceeding $1,000.00.   In order to carry out their instructions, the Board engaged the most available room in the town, and on Monday, the 15th day of September, 1873. the first public school of Sioux Falls was opened in the Libbey building (now a part of the Commercial Hotel), on Main street, with Miss Clara Ledyard as teacher.   They also entered into a contract with Edwin Sharpe for the erection of a building for school purposes, 32x40 feet, with twelve-foot ceiling, for $935.00.

The collection of the tax voted, was resisted by some of the tax payers, and a petition for an injunction was presented to Judge Shannon, asking the Court to restrain further proceedings in its collection. The prayer of the petition was not granted; the taxes were collected, and on the 5th day of December, 1873, the school house was finished and turned over to the district to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. The second term of school, in the town of Sioux Falls, was taught by H. J. Whipple, beginning January 12, 1874. The next term of the public school was taught by Miss Mary H. Cory, beginning April 27th, 1874. 

By the fall of 1874, the number of children in the district entitled to the privileges of the public school had increased to such an extent that an additional school room, and an additional teacher, were found necessary. To meet this want, the building used by the Methodist Society for church purposes was secured, and Misses M. H. Cory and Clara Ledyard engaged as teachers; the officers of the district being the same as during the year 1873.

The School Board elected in 1875, was: A. Gale, Director; C. Walts, Treasurer, and C. W. McDonald, Clerk. The teachers during this school year were Misses M. H. Cory, E. F. Cowdrey and C. Ledyard.

At the annual election, in 1876, T. H. Brown was elected Director, the other officers holding over. The teachers selected were: Hon. Newton Clark and Miss L. C. Bryan.

During the session of the Legislature, in 1877, the school law was so amended as to make the election of officers come in the spring instead of the fall as before. In accordance with this requirement, an annual school meeting was held April 3d, 1877, at which T. H. Brown was elected Director for one year; C. W. McDonald, Clerk for two years, and C. Walts, Treasurer for the ensuing three years. The teachers, during this school year, were L. D. Henry, Principal; Miss L. C. Bryan, teacher of the Intermediate Department, and Miss S. Wagner, teacher of the  Primary Department.

The increasing needs of the district, for more school room, were presented to the district at the annual meeting, in 1878, at which time it was decided to build another school house, sufficiently large, not only for the present, but also for the near future. After several meetings had been held, and the reports of several committees had been heard, a Building Committee, consisting of T. H. Brown, C. W. McDonald, C. Walts, J. B. Young and N. E. Phillips, was selected, and instructed to proceed with the erection of a building substantially as suggested by the School Hoard. After consultation with the Board, the plans were drawn by C. A. Wilbur, of Dubuque, for a frame building, veneered with brick, 60 feet square two stories and basement with stairways and entrances on the outside; each floor to be divided in the center, both ways, making eight school rooms, each 30 feet square, the rooms on each floor connecting by an octagonal room in the center of the building.  The Building Committee was further charged with the furnishing of the building with seats, heating apparatus, etc. The contract for the erection of the building was let to John D. Cameron, and the work was done in the fall of 1878 and spring of 1879.

The feeling engendered, in regard to the collection of the tax voted in 1873, took a practical turn, and petitions were presented to the county authorities asking for the formation of other Districts. At the hearing of the petitions, January 9th, 1874, six sections in the northeast corner of the township were attached to District No. 16. At the same time, sections 10, 14, 15, and the portions of 9 and 16 lying on the east side of the Sioux River, were designated as School District No. 25.

The first meeting in District No. 25 was held November 28th, 1874, at which time J. F. Webber was elected Director, O. P. Weston, Clerk, and A. F. Shaw, Treasurer. The first term of public school on the east Bide of the river was taught by Miss Allie F. Storey, beginning May 31st, 1875.

At the annual meeting in 1875, H. W. Lewis was elected Director, O. P. Weston, Clerk, and A. F. Shaw, treasurer. There was no school taught in the district during this school year, the district electing to pay tuition of the scholars attending school in District No. 1, and expending the moneys raised in the erection of a school house. At the meeting held in May, 1877, the same officers were re-elected, and three lots purchased from A. F. Shaw for a school house site. The school during the summer was taught by Miss Alice Morrison.

At a special meeting held July 28th, 1877, F. M. Harthorn was elected Director to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Mr. Lewis. At the annual meeting held April 2nd, 1878, M. A. Stickney was chosen Director for three years. The teacher, during the summer, was Miss Inda Bryan, the fall term of school being taught by Miss Cora Chamberlin.   The last meeting of the district, as a separate organization, of which there is any record, was on January 16th, 1879, at which resolutions were passed in opposition to the bill then before the Legislature for the consolidation of Districts 1 and 25, and the organization of an Independent School District, to comprise all the territory embraced in the corporate limits of the village of Sioux Falls.

The number of children in the two districts, entitled to the benefits of the public schools, as shown by the Clerks reports, for the several years that they were separate organizations, was as follows: 1873,136; 1875, 130; 1877, 170; 1874, 140; 1876, 170; 1878, 289.

At the session of the Legislature, in 1879, the Independent School District of Sioux Falls was incorporated, its limits to be identical with the corporate limits of the village of Sioux Falls.  T. H. Brown, C. W. McDonald, C. Walts, A. F. Shaw, O. P. Weston, E. A. Sherman, E. Sharpe and B. F. Campbell were made a Board of Education for the village of Sioux Falls; by the terms of this bill, the said persons were to qualify on or before the first Monday in March, 1879, and enter upon their duties on the first Tuesday of March, 1879. From the time the Board of Education assumed the duties assigned thorn by this act of the Legislature, School Districts Numbers 1 and 25, in Minnehaha County ceased to exist.

The first meeting of the Board of Education for the village of Sioux Falls was held March 11, 1879. C. W. McDonald failing to qualify, N. E. Phillips was appointed to fill the vacancy. At this meeting T. H. Brown was elected President of the  Board, and N. E. Phillips, Secretary.

The teachers selected for the balance of the year, were: L. D. Henry, Principal; Misses L. C. Bryan, C. E. Chamberlin, Sarah Wagner, for the Main Street school, and Mrs. Annie Roberts, for the East Side school.

April 1st, 1870, E. O. Kimberly was elected Secretary of the Board, May 14th, 1879, Mr. Kimberly having resigned his position as Secretary, C. M. Morse was elected to fill vacancy. September 13th, 1879, Mr. Morse resigned his office, and F. L. Bayce was elected Secretary of the Board, which position he has since filled. T. H Brown resigned his position as a member of the Board August 5th, 1879, and John Bippus was appointed to fill the vacancy. On the 13th of September, 1879, E. A. Sherman was elected President of the Board, which position he held until the  selection of a new Board in March, 1880.

The teachers of the winter term of 1879-90 were: L. D. Henry, Principal; Misses Mina L. Fletcher, Louisa O. Bryan, Maud W. Rouse, Cora E. Chamberlin, Sadie Wagner and Nellie Blanchard.

At the election in March, 1880, W. R. Bourne and E. O. Kimberly were added to the Board, in place of E. A. Sherman and O. P. Weston, whose terms of office had expired. At the organization of the new Board, John Bippus was elected President. At a meeting held July 20th, 1880, T. H. Brown was appointed a member of the Board, in place of N. E. Phillips, who had resigned.

The teachers elected for the ensuing school year, were: J. B. Hawley, Principal; Mrs. C. Everett. Assistant; Misses L. C. Bryan, C. E. Chamberlin, N. Blanchard, A. Allison, and M. E. Bissett. Miss Bissett failing to accept the position tendered her, Miss H. J. MacPherson was selected in her stead, and assigned to the east side school.

August 17th. 1880, E. A. Sherman was appointed a member of the Board to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of T. H. Brown. At the organization of the  Board in March, 1881, Mr. Sherman was elected President, which position he now holds. The Board of Education at present consists of the following-named gentlemen: E. A. Sherman, T. H. Brown, E. O. Kimberly, C. Walts, E. Sharpe. O. P. Weston, C. L. Norton and W. H. Nelson.

The teachers selected by this Board for the year 1881-82, are, S. E. Young, Principal; Miss Mary Bissett, Assistant; Misses C. A. Parker, Carrie Thompson, Nellie Blanchard, T. M. Rice and Mrs. C. Everett, for the High School building, and Miss L. C. Kinney, teacher in the east side school.

Deaf Mute School—Through the efforts of the Rev. T. B. Berry, of Sioux Falls, and Miss Jennie Wright, of Burlington, Iowa, the "Dakota School for Deaf Mutes" was opened in Sioux Falls on the first Monday in November, 1880. The school was duly incorporated with the following Board of Trustees: C. A. Lounsberry, of Bismarck; O. S. Gifford. of Canton; Rev. J. C. Pennell, J.S. Scobey, of Brookings; Vale P. Thielman, of Swan Lake; Newton Edmunds, of Yankton; C. K. Howard, E. A. Sherman, E. G. Wright and A. F. Shaw, of Sioux Falls. At the meeting held for adopting articles of incorporation, Messrs. Sherman, Wright and Shaw were appointed a committee for the purpose of raising funds to keep the school in operation until the convening of the Legislature in 1881.   At the fourteenth session of the Legislative Assembly of Dakota, held at Yankton in January, 1881. this school was declared to be the “Territorial School for the Education of the Deaf Mutes of this Territory," and appropriations were made for its support and enlargement. By the terms of the law enacted, every deaf and dumb person resident of the Territory, between the ages of five and twenty-one years, is entitled to receive an education of at least five years (including what has already been had), at this institution, at the expense of the Territory; provided, the County appointed Commissioners decide the persons responsible for the care and education of such person are unable to pay such expense. The amount appropriated by the Territory for expenses for such pupil is five dollars per week for each and every pupil. At the same session of the Legislature a conditional appropriation was made, of $2,000, for the erection of suitable buildings for the school. Ten acres of land and $1,000 have been donated by the city for the school, the site selected being on the bluffs just east of the city, where a building 36 by 40 feet, two stories high, with an ell 16 by 24 feet, has been erected, capable of accommodating twenty-five pupils. The teachers of the school are: Miss Jennie Wright, Superintendent, and Prof. James Simpson. The course of study comprises: language, reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, history and bible lessons.  The advancement made by the pupils, during the past year, gives ample evidence that the school is in proper hands, and that the reputation of the Territory will be zealously guarded.

Dakota Collegiate Institute.—The Southern Dakota Baptist Association, at its session July 2d, 1 SSI, decided that the denomination would build a first-class Christian Academy in Dakota, and referred the matter to its Committee on Education. This committee invited proposals from the towns in the southern part of
Dakota for the location of the Academy, which were opened by the committee at its meeting in this city September 26th, 1881. Dell Rapids offered $5,500 cash, and Sioux Falls $6,000 cash. On motion, Sioux Falls was unanimously selected as the location.   Articles of incorporation of the "Dakota Collegiate Institute" were adopted, and the following Board of Trustees elected: For one year—Rev. E. Ellis and J. B. Young, of Sioux Falls, and P. Morse, of Dell Rapids. For two years—Rev. W. Ross, of Oakwood; J. H. Drake, of St. Paul; Geo. Morehouse, of  Brookings, and B. F. Roderick, of Sioux Falls.   For three years—Rev. J. W. Reese, of LuVerne; Rev. A. W. Hilton, of Parker, W. W. Brookings, of Sioux Falls, and M. J. Lewis, of Vermillion. The Board of Trustees was organized by the election of E. Ellis, President; Geo. Morehouse, Vice-President; B. P. Roderick, Secretary; J. B. Young, Treasurer. A committee to arrange for the opening of the Institute this fall, if deemed advisable, was appointed, who have secured the services of the Rev. Thomas Ure, formerly Professor of Ancient Languages in  Cedar Valley Seminary, Iowa, as Principal, and will open the first term of the Institute in Sherman's Hall November 7th, 1881.




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