(All articles on this page are from historical archives located at the Oswego Historical Museum)
Oswego District No. 1
Oswego Schools - Roy Greer
Oswego College for Young Ladies
Kansas Military Academy Burns
Oswego, District No. 1 [ Top ]
(From: First Century Education in Labette County 1883 – 1964 D. 1963 - 1964)
Oswego, District No. 1 was formed
of all Oswego Township lying south and west of the Neosho River, except
the two southern tiers of sections. This was the order of the first superintendent
Newlon. In June 1867, Mrs. Augustana Herbaugh began teaching the first
school, a private school because no public funds were available. It was
in a small log building with dirt floor near the northeast corner of Section
21. The first report, dated August 14, 1867, gave a total of 30 male and
39 female children, of whom 32 had previously attended school. The school
board secured the use of a small frame building with log slabs for seats.
Here R. J. Elliott began the first term of public school in Labette County
on November 1, 1867, which continued for three months. The next report
made by J. F. Waskey, September 14, 1868, showed 176 school children, of
whom 77 had previously attended school. In the summer of 1868, a subscription
was taken up among the business men and a frame building was erected on
the corner of Block 3 for school purposes, as well as for church and other
public gatherings. This building was equipped with slab seats. On March
10, 1869, bonds in the sum of $5,000 were raised for a new building to
be located on the west side of Block 16. Dr. R. W. Wright took the bonds
to Leavenworth and secured the money to the building. It was of stone,
4 rooms, 2 stories, capable of seating 200 students. George C. Sarvis was
the first principal and the enrollment grew to 350.
This building was sufficient to house the high school and the grade school until it was torn down in 1912 and was replaced with what was the West Side Grade School building. This new building housed the grade school and high school until 1921 when a separate building was built for the high school. The city donated a block of ground on East Fourth Street and the present day building was erected and equipped at the cost of $120,000.
In the elementary grades the white and colored students were provided with separate buildings and instructors. The first building for the colored students was erected at the corner of Third and Iowa Streets, known as Eastside. It was torn down and the structure which now stands on the same location was erected in 1921 at a cost of $19,000, The two elementary schools integrated in the fall of 1954. Presently, the Eastside building houses grades Kindergarten through fifth and employs eleven teachers. One principal serves both buildings. The high school employs nine teachers, one principal, and the city superintendent.
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By Roy Greer – 1967
The Civil War closed in April
1865. The following September, the Osage Indians sold the east 25 miles
of their Kansas Reservation to the U. S. Government, which area comprised
what is now Neosho and Labette Counties, to be settled by veterans of the
Union army. Early the next spring (1866) young veterans began to move in
to preempt land claims. Among them, and from Osceola, Iowa and vicinity,
came the Clover, the Lake and the Herbaugh families, all related by blood
or marriage. Augustana (Lake) Herbaugh had started her teaching career
at the age of 17 in her local district in Iowa and had taught the last
three years of the war. When the Wm. Herbaughs arrived in Kansas,
they preempted a quarter section claim that now lays on the east side of
the Montana road, a mile and a half north of Oswego. Those veteran parents
were young people. Their primary objective was to occupy a claim, build
a home and educate their children. On June 24, 1867, Augustana Herbaugh
started a subscription school in an old log house with a dirt floor. She
had less than twenty-five students. Tuition charges were $2.50 per pupil
for twelve weeks. Her efforts established the beginning of an educational
system in Oswego. The school was located on a parcel of land, then described
as the extreme N/E corner of Section 21. Today that location is on the
west side of Kansas, three doors south of Sixth Street, 615 Kansas. Early
settlers were told that the log house was occupied by a family of John
Matthew’s slaves and was overlooked by soldiers of the Union Army from
Ft. Scott, when they burned the rest of his settlement in September 1861.
Population was increasing in the town during the late summer and fall of 1867, whereby the need for teachers and facilities were increasing. R.J. Elliot started the second subscription school on November 1, in a multipurpose one story building on the S/W corner of the intersection of Commercial at Fourth. It closed at the end of January. The average attendance had been 41 students.
Labette County was not chartered until March 10, 1867. It took most of a year for the new officers to become organized and operational so taxes could be levied to support the schools. During the summer of 1868, the town’s people through donations and volunteer labor built the first tax supported school house on the S/E corner of the block where the Courthouse in located now. It was a frame building and a well was dug and walled to serve that school, on the north side of the building. As you leave the present Courthouse by the east door, glance southeast about 45 feet and the well remains as a landmark, covered by a large concrete slab. Classes started on September 1, but the life of that school was of short duration. On February 1, 1869, the building was sold to the Commissioners of Labette County for the first Courthouse, again leaving the community without a school.
Immediately following the sale to the county, Oswego citizens called for an election to support a bond issue of $5,000 to construct a new school building and the election carried the bond issue. A two story stone structure of four large rooms.
This was the first school to be supplied with manufactured seats and desks. The first three were furnished with benches from long planks split out of oak trees from the banks of the Neosho, supported by peg legs. The stone school was located where the Junior High (Eastside) is now and became inadequate of space as the population of the town continued to increase. Additional rooms were rented in some homes for part of the classes and rooms were rented in the upstairs of some of the downtown business buildings for larger classes. The stone school with its rented space served the school system for 14 years.
In 1882, the citizens voted a bond issue of $12,000 to build a structure of brick which enclosed four unusually large rooms on two levels that was located on the block where the West Side Homes are situated now.
That school was built in the summer and fall of 1882 with classes starting January 1, 1883. The High School was established at that time, at the new building, with a two year curriculum. The following September, those students who enrolled in High School were offered a three year curriculum which continued until 1905, when the four year course of study was established. If it occurred from 1882 until 1905 that a student wanted to enter KU or any school of comparative requirements, they had to attend some other High School and continue studies, and for years that was not offered at Oswego.
The old stone school was replaced in 1886, by a much larger brick building on the same location, resulting from a bond issue of $6,000. The black population requested the use of this building for their children and they were granted their request; however, one of the eight rooms, one on the ground level was reserved for the Kindergarten, and the first grade white children living in the east part of town.
From the time the new Eastside School was built in 1886, the overall educational system in Oswego moved forward with harmony and remarkable progress. Then in the fall of 1910, what geologists of that day, called a slippage of the cap rock in that part of town caused the Westside school to develop a large crack in the corner of the structure which kept separating by the week. The Board of Education condemned the building because they considered it unsafe for further use. This occurrence tossed the school system in a cocked hat. Leaders of the black community were asked to move their students to their churches, which they gladly consented to do. The lower classes of the Westside school were moved to the Eastside school and crowded in. The seventh and eighth grades were housed in the Old Stone Church which has been replaced in recent years by the Lutheran Congregation with a brick structure on the same location. All high school students were housed in the upstairs of the City building on the N/W corner of the intersection of Commercial at Sixth Street. That City building was dismantled some years ago and the location is now used by Fred Taylor Ford, as a used car lot.
Another brick building, much larger and better constructed was built in 1910 where the original Westside School was dismantled, to house all grades and high school. The black population was given the Eastside School in its entirety. Classes started in the new Westside School on September 1, 1911 and continued until January 1, 1969, when Neosho Heights Elementary School opened.
When the first settlers came and the town was surveyed in early1867, a city block was set aside and called the Eastside City Park. In years following, trees were planted and a bandstand erected. That park was a busy place during its existence because it was close in and most people had to walk at that time because carriages and automobiles were scarce items to the town’s people.
By 1920 the High School enrollment at the new Westside School had increased to the point that the Board of Education deemed it advisable to erect a separate building and offer an expanded curriculum. The only logical building site was the Eastside City Park. Bonds were floated in late 1920 to build the new High School and to build a replacement of the Eastside School which developed into the Junior High. A new brick structure to be used as an adequate Gymnasium was erected on the High School property in 1950. Classes began at the new High School on September 6, 1921.
When Labette County was created from the south half of Neosho County, among the new County officers appointed by then Governor Samuel J. Crawford, was Dr. J.F. Newlon, to be Superintendent of Schools. Oswego being designated as the County, Dr. Newlon organized the Oswego School district as District No. 1. The boundary lines of District No. 1 were altered and changed several times during the 99 years it existed. This original district was dissolved June 7, 1966, when District No. 504 was created under the Kansas Unification Law.
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Oswego College for Young
(Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901)
At a meeting of the Neosho Presbytery, held at Garnett, Kansas, October 3, 1882, a resolution was adopted looking to the establishment of a college within the bounds of the presbytery, and a committee was appointed to report thereon. The committee having reported favorably, Rev. Austin Warner was appointed a committee to lay the matter before the synod, which he did at its October meeting at Ottawa, 1882; and on October 6th, upon the report of the committee, the synod authorized the presbytery to proceed with the establishment of a school as by them proposed. The next day, at a called meeting of the presbytery, a committee of five was appointed to take into consideration the matter of the establishment of such school. A special meeting of the presbytery was called, to be held at Oswego, May 8, 1883, at which it was voted to establish the school at Oswego, and the following were elected as a board of trustees, viz.: Rev. C. H. McCreery, Rev. D. M. Moore, Rev. W. C. Porter, Rev. A. Warner, Rev. John Elliott, B. W. Perkins, C. M. Condon, C. O. Perkins, and Porter Sawyer. Of this board of trustees, B. W. Perkins was elected president, Rev. John Elliott, secretary, and C. M. Condon, treasurer. A few changes were subsequently made in the board. Rev. W. S. Davis was elected to fill the vacancy caused by the removal of Mr. Moore, and upon his removal from the State, E. P. Allen was elected to fill the vacancy. C. O. Perkins having died, on October 4, 1887, Nelson Case was elected to fill vacancy caused by such death.
On December 23, 1883, the college was incorporated, a charter therefor having on that day been filed in the office of the secretary of state. On October 4, 1884, on the request of the presbytery therefor, the Synod of Kansas took the college under its jurisdiction.
In the fall of 1885 the citizens of
Oswego purchased the N. W. 1/4 of S. W. 1/4 of N. E. 1/4 of S. 21, T. 33,
R. 21, and presented it to the college as a site for the school. This property
was at the time valued at $17,000. It had upon it a large brick residence,
which was considered one of the finest in the county. In December, 1885,
Miss Louise Paull was elected principal of the school, and authorized to
select other members of the faculty, and with the faculty thus chosen the
school was opened in the brick residence above referred to, January 14.
1886. In 1886 C. H. McCreery was elected (nominally) president of the school,
with the view of his taking entire charge of its financial management,
and devoting his time to the raising of funds with which to make improvements
and provide an endowment. His employment was in no way to affect the control
of the principal in the management of the school proper. Mr. McCreery had
served but a few months when family afflictions compelled him to resign.
Miss Paull continued in charge until the close of the spring term, in June,
1887. Miss Susan H. Johnson was thereupon elected principal. In the summer
of 1887 a large, new frame building was erected upon the college grounds,
at a cost of about $12,000, exclusive of furniture. Miss Johnson continued
to serve as principal until the spring of 1893, when Dr. J. F. Hendy was
elected president of the college. Dr. Hendy resigned the presidency at
the close of 1895, and Dr. William Bishop acted as president during the
last half of the school year. At the opening of school, in September. 1896,
Dr. M. H. Reasor took charge and served as president two years. During
the school year of 1898-99 the college was under the presidency of Miss
Delia Proctor. She was succeeded by Miss Margaret L. Hill, who served one
year. At the close of the school in 1900, the board of trustees did not
see their way open to provide a faculty for the next year, and the school
was closed. It is hoped that this suspension is to be but temporary, and
that the work of the college may soon be resumed.
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The Strode Academy [ Top ]
From 1901 to 1919 a Seventh-Day Adventist boarding school was in operation on College Road and was known as the Strode Academy. In 1919, the Academy was moved to Enterprise, Kansas. The administration building of the Strode School then became the home of the church. It was later remodeled.
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The Kansas Military Academy Burns
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(Oswego, Kansas, Friday, March 7, 1924)
Dormitory and College building proper was a total loss while the Administration Building, a brick structure, was saved only after a desperate battle with flames and much damage to it had been done. The fire started from a defective wiring in the front room on the north side of the building on the third floor about ten o’clock Monday morning. Blaze was soon discovered from fire plug hampered work of fire department. More than 2000 feet of hose being required for adequate connection. Colonel Terry, President of the Academy, has proclaimed a one week’s spring vacation for cadets. Most of whom have gone to their homes while plans for resuming work and replacing the buildings are being discussed. Academy has grown rapidly since locating here, and set of modern fireproof buildings is an ultimate goal of friends of the institution. The Academy was later to relocate. Colonel Terry had heard of the vacant campus at Aledo, Illinois and made arrangements to transfer from Kansas to Illinois.
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