Guthrie's First School Organized Three Months After Run
On April 22, 1889, Oklahoma Territory was opened for settlement. Until that time, Guthrie had been merely a station on the Santa Fe Railway line. By the close of that fateful day, thousands of people had staked claims and a city of tents had sprung into existence.
The evening of August 9, 1889, three months and eighteen days after the historic Run, a handful of concerned men met to discuss the securing of building sites and buildings for school purposes.
This was the first Guthrie Board of Education meeting to be held. The first order of business was to elect officers.
Mr. J. W. McNeal was elected president with Mr. T. J. Hart assisting as vice president.
Frank Guthrie was elected clerk and recorded the minutes of that first meeting.
After election of officers, two committees were appointed. One consisting of Mr. Hart, Mr. Guthrie and Mr. H. C. Schilling was selected to check around town for buildings and building sites.
Mr. G. H. Fisher and Mr. R. R. Carlin were chosen to draft the order of business to be followed by the board members at future meetings.
To establish how many buildings would be needed in which to hold school, all members of the board agreed to take a census of school age children in their respective wards.
Knowing money was needed to establish the schools, the members decided to negotiate bonds. To start the school system, off, Mr. John H. Anstott offered to donate two lots in an area known as East Guthrie. His generosity was quickly matched when a Mr. Goodrich offered to donate two lots in Guthrie Proper.
Aware that a deficit might occur in their efforts to negotiate the bonds, Mr. Hart pledged one hundred dollars to offset any shortage of funds. Encouraged by this display of dedication, a gentlemen by the name of D. B. Dyer, who had been elected mayor of Guthrie on June 5th, offered to take one thousand dollars worth of the school bonds.
Realizing others might want to help establish the schools, the members of the board agreed to publish in the local newspapers a plea for donations of lots upon which to build permanent school buildings.
On August 27, 1889, the members of the Guthrie Board of Education met in the office of the mayor. The city clerk was present to administer the oath of office to the board members.
Until this time, the board had been unable to act in any official capacity.
As their first official act, an invitation was issued to the different areas of Guthrie which had been acting independently of each other. The invitation was sent to East Guthrie, West Guthrie and Capitol Hill to discuss the possibility of consolidation of the areas.
The month of September, 1889, found the board members meeting to receive bids on school furniture. A Mr. Hudson of Blanchester appeared before the board to exhibit a school desk and file his sealed bid personally.
A building was located by the committee instructed to secure school rooms. Mr. C. C. Mills had agreed to rent the board his building on the corner of First and Springer. However, the building was in need of repair before it would be suitable for school. Mr. Mills informed the board members, he would rent the building to them for $30 a month if he had to make the repairs.
But, if the members would repair the building, he would let them use it for $25 monthly.
At this time, a search for a capable gentleman to fill the office of City Superintendent of Schools was begun.
Due to the constant drain on finances, Mr. J. P. Barton, Schilling and Guthrie were appointed to schedule the lots in Guthrie for the purpose of levying taxes to be used by the school system.
In October, the board members rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Mr. Hart and Mr. Fisher were appointed to set up school desks. Mr. Guthrie was instructed by the board to located stoves for the schoolrooms.
After the school desks were in place, Mr. Fisher was asked to purchase brooms, water pails and other necessary equipment for maintenance of the rooms. He was also asked to put the blackboards in place.
At this time, the first bills were submitted to the board of education for payment. Mr. Fisher was one of the first to receive payment for his labor. For installing the desks, he was paid $2.25 per day for nine days of work.
Others who submitted claims and the amounts they received were: Mr. Thomas Wolfe, $9.12 for 52 hours labor; J. F. Miller, 45 hours of labor, $7.87; J. P. Barton, 13 hours, $1.95; W. Johnson, 23 hours labor, $3.45; T. Valentine and W. Walch, 18 hours each, $2.70 apiece.
Also included were $1.75 for drayage at 25 cents a load; chimney building, 24 feet at 25 cents a foot, $6; and nails and thumbles for floors, $.70.
Payment of the bill for $10.95 for blackboards from Olmstead & Co. was not made. The blackboards were ordered by someone other than a board member and was not approved by the Board at any time.
Though the members of the Board of Education had been busy with the physical labors of establishing the schools, they had not forgotten the consolidation of the separate areas of Guthrie. In November, the four areas known as East Guthrie, West Guthrie, Capitol Hill, and Guthrie Proper became Guthrie Township.
On November 26, 1889, a new election of members was held. New board members were Mr. H. C. Schilling and Mr. E. O. Barnes representing the 1st Ward; Mr. B. C. Hornbeck and Mr. C. H. DeFord, 2nd Ward; Mr. Winfield G. Smith and Mr. T. D. Hance, 3rd Ward.
Others were Mr. William Plagg and Mr. J. P. Barton, 4th Ward and Mr. G. H. Fisher and Mr. R. J. Tucker, 5th Ward.
Mr. Barton was appointed president with Mr. DeFord assisting as vice president. Mr. E. O. Barnes was elected to the position of secretary for the board.
The new board wasn't long in being initiated to their job. Mr. Smith, Mr. Hornbeck, and Mr. Hance were selected to write up the rules and regulations which would govern the conduct of the students. So that all students would be familiar with these rules, they were published in one of the newspapers.
Shortly after they took office, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Collar presented the board with a bill for wood which he had delivered for use in the schoolrooms. Much discussion was centered on the amount, $41.50, which he requested.
Finally, two weeks after he submitted the bill, the board agreed to allow him $25 instead of the original amount. Mr. Collar accepted the board's offer and was paid.
At the same time as Mr. Collar received his money, a company by the name of Lillie & Wright received $3.50 for blank books to be used by the board.
Very little was accomplished during the year of 1890. Members of the school board changed frequently as the ones who planned to make Guthrie their permanent home stepped forward and the adventurers and drifters looked for new frontiers to conquer.
School was held as their list of expenditures for the year showed. Some of these expenses were rent on school rooms around Guthrie. Henry Wolfe received $40 for rent, as did Mr. C. C. Mills, George Kendall and H. C. Nicholson.
Other expenses were Maranville & Booth for printing, $6.25; L. J. Kolkosch, school registers, $6.40; J. C. Tutt, blank books for tax collectors, $3; and William Plagg for glass and other repair supplies, $4.50.
At this time the question of whether schoolrooms should be used for other purposes when classes were not being held was raised by Mr. Nicholson. The board instructed him schoolrooms with small seats were not to be used for any purpose but school. However, they agreed to allow rooms with large seats to be used by responsible persons for the sum of $5 per meeting.
Three new members were added to the board to replace resigning ones. They were Mr. James O'Keefe, Mr. J. E. Ball and Mr. D. T. Flynn.
The new year was ushered in with a meeting in the office of G. F. Herriott and Co. for the purpose of electing a superintendent of schools. The board finally selected Professor E. L. Hallock and set his salary at $50 a month.
A few days later, the board met to review the applications rendered by individuals who wished to teach in the Guthrie School system. They selected the following teachers; Miss Carrie I. Anderson, Mr. I. H. Stryker, Mrs. A. J. Fowler, Miss Emma Harrington, Miss Olivet Thornley, and Mrs. J. Scott.
Other teachers were Miss May I. Quick, Miss Flora Leach, Miss Alma Carson, and Miss Jennie Cuppage.
The school term was set to begin January 12, 1891 and continue until May 29th. Also teachers salaries were set at $40 per month.
An office for the City Superintendent was rented for $10 a month in the Gray Bro. Brick and Stone Building on the corner of Division and Oklahoma.
Enrollment for the school term totaled 386 students. Due to the heavier enrollment than had been anticipated, the board found it necessary to rent another schoolroom. The new classroom was located on the west side of the Cottonwood River. Lou Olney and Miss May Wilson were employed to teach at the new location.
Other employees hired for the school term were Will Van Meter at 50 cents a week as bellringer, and Joseph Spink at $50 a month as janitor. One of Mr. Spink's first duties as janitor was to equip three privies with seats for the comfort of the smaller students. However, Mr. Spink did not stay with the job long and the board replaced him with Mr. Lee Robertson.
With the start of school new needs were presented by the teachers. These needs resulted in the purchase of three United States and two Hemisphere maps with spring rollers for $22.95; as well as the purchase of two Webster's Unabridged Dictionaries for $8.95.
At the same time, sealed bids were accepted for the purchase of 100 seats, 10 rear seats and two No. 20 teachers desks. Mr. H. J. Spengel representing the Grand Rapids School Furniture Co. appeared before the board personally to present his bid. Also appearing were Mr. L. McKinlay and Mr. J. C. Adams representing the National School Furniture Company.
The bid for $388.78 from Mr. Spengel was accepted by the board and details of delivery of the school furniture were finalized.
Another problem demanding attention from the board was discipline in the schools. This being a major problem, Professor Hallock was instructed to quell disturbances in the schools by legal means if it was necessary.
To settle the issue of tuition being paid by those outside of a particular school district, the county surveyor was requested to prepare a map of Guthrie and adjacent townships to show the definite boundaries of each district.
Expenses increased as the school system of Guthrie got into full swing. Some of these expenses were keys for the 14 schoolrooms at $1.90 from Stanhope & Olsmith Arms Co.; Jones & Richardson, lumber, $14.88; Kalkolsch & Taylor, wood, $13.13; and Oklahoma State Capitol, printing, $34.
Other expenses were for five chairs at $2.50 and one stove at $3.50 from Mr. E. M. Bamford; Thompson & Blincoe, lumber and paper, $2.50; L. Chrisen, glazing, $1.75; Gray Bros., 1 dozen brooms, $3; Craig & McCoy, 1 dozen erasers, $1; William Plagg, sundry hardware and glass, $15.50; and A. H. Waite, 65 yards of bunting, $8.12.
In April, an election for board members to replace those who had left was held. Those elected were Mr. J. B. McKean of the 1st Ward; Charles H. Filson, 2nd Ward; and John R. Wallace, 3rd Ward. Mr. F. E. Marion was appointed present of the board. At the same election, the citizens of the Guthrie school district approved a 10 mill levy to facilitate the financing of the schools.
Professor Hallock had received permission from the board to hold a school industrial exhibit on May 23, 1891, to show the progress of the students. He rented the Opera Hall from W. C. Pentecost in which to hold the exhibition. Then he purchased 400 cards for $7 from L. F. Leach and Son, to identify the contributor of each exhibit.
The summer of 1891, the board members realized they needed to secure insurance to cover the investment they had in school furniture. After much discussion, insurance was acquired from C. M. Barnes at $58 per year.
The Cracker Factory was temporarily rented for the purpose of storing the school furniture during the time when school was not in session. At the same time, a search was started for a building to be used as a permanent warehouse for school supplies and furniture.
In August, a new member of the board, Mr. Alfred McCaskey, was accepted when he appeared with the written approval of the County Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Frank Terry.
After installation of the new member, a gentleman by the name of W. A. Buxton of Dakota requested permission of the board to present his ideas on the construction of a University in Guthrie.
The board was enthusiastic about Mr. Buxton's idea, but tabled any decision on the matter until a further study could be made. However, they weren't long in coming up with an acceptable solution. In September, a resolution was passed by the board which read as follows:
"Resolved that should W. A. Buxton make a satisfactory contract with the Guthrie Board of Trade to erect a substantial brick or stone building acceptable to this board as suitable quarters for the accommodation of 200 pupils we are willing to give him and two other teachers employment the coming year."
Also that summer, the board paid $9.38 each to the Guthrie Daily news and the Guthrie Daily State Capitol for publication of a financial report of the Guthrie Schools.
The financial report read in part: "Rent on school buildings: T. H. Cuppage, $80; Samuel J. Rowley, 2 rooms, $110; G. H. Linds (agent for C. C. Mills), 3 rooms, $175; John Netz, $45; J. W. McNeal, $34.40; and Gray Bros. rent for superintendent's office, $66.67."
Other expenditures listed were "Janitor, salary for 5 months, $254; W. A. Olmsted & Co., school supplies, $42; J. W. Weymouth, school desk, $3; J. W. Johnson & Co., two tables, $5; and American Book Co., school registers, $2.16."
In the same published report inventory was taken of school furniture and school supplies and their value. They were in part: "Fifteen chairs, $9.50; 15 heating stoves and pipe, $105; 25 yards of slate paper, $15; 3 Johnson's References, $11.15; and 2 Rolfe's Hemisphere maps, $11."
Other items listed were "Three indexed dictionaries, $27; 4 White's registers, $2.16; 6 Novelty erasers, $6; 8 fire shovels, $1.25; 9 coal hoods, $5; five tin dippers, $1; fifteen water pails, $4.50; 6 pokers, 50 cents; 50 pounds of zinc for the stoves, $7.75; 1 ax, $1.25; and 15 call bells, $15."
School was set to begin on October 5, 1891. However, before school began there were last minute details to be settled. One of these dealt with the reoccurring problem of school district transfers.
With the application of John C. Wicks asking that he be allowed to send his four children to the public schools of Guthrie, the board decided to pass the following resolution:
"Resolved that any pupils who may be admitted to the public schools of Guthrie whose parents or guardians live outside the city of Guthrie school district, except any pupil who shall be a bona fide resident -said district- shall be required to pay a tuition fee of two dollars per month payable in advance. The same to be paid to the secretary who shall give a receipt for same. Said receipt shall be presented to the Superintendent of Schools before any pupils shall be admitted."
Due to the overcrowding in one of the classrooms, it became necessary to separate the 5th and 6th grades that school year and place separate teachers over each of the classes.
As school attendance increased there was a steady demand for more teachers. It was at this time that a gentleman by the George P. Alexander appeared before the board seeking employment as a teacher. Much debate centered around Mr. Alexander's application. But, the board decided to employ him and Mr. Alexander became Guthrie's first male black teacher.
Of less urgency, but just as critical, was the room in which to house the growing student population. The acquiring of additional rooms or a building brought its own problems. One of these was turned over to Mr. Robertson for settlement.
Mr. Robertson was instructed to construct needed "outdoor facilities" at each of the schools. Each building used for school purposes was required to have two privies, one for boys and the other for girls. A screening-wall had to be built on each privy to shield the entrance from the view of passersby.
However, in November, a problem arose for which no provision or thought had previously been given. But one which required an accurate and immediate answer.
In the words of the participants in this emergency, "Whereupon it was moved by Filson that it is the sense of the board that they appear at the District Court of Logan Country on Monday, November 9, 1891 and show cause why a writ of mandate should not be issued against them in the matter of John Wilson vs. School Board as cited by the sheriff on said complaint served this date November 2, 1891."
A committee was immediately named to confer with the Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction as to the authority of the school board to employ counsel to defend the suit pending.
The following is the correspondence received in answer to their query:
Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory
November 3, 1891
Dr. F. E. Marion, President
Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory
I herewith forward you a copy of the opinion of the attorney general with reference to the power of a school board to employ counsel to prosecute or defend in a suit.
J. H. Lawhead
Supt. Public Instruction
The following is the correspondence included with the Superintendent's letter:
Hon. J. H. Lawhead
Terr. Supt. Pub. Inst.
In reply to your inquiry of this date as to the right of a school board to employ counsel to defend the school township or district- I have to say that I have no doubt of the power or duty of the board to employ counsel to defend the interests the Township or district.
Upon receiving these letters, the committee hastily started a search for an attorney. The latter part of December, H. S. Cunningham was employed to represent the school board. He drafted a notice concerning his fees which were to total $500, to be paid in stages. The first part, $150, was to be paid when an answer to the charge was filed; then $150 was due when the case was tried. The final $200 would be payable if and when the case went to the Supreme Court for appeal.
Added to the attorney's fees was the amount of $7.10 paid to Mr. Alfred Dewitt for stenographic work connected with the law suit.
The new year was welcomed in on a quieter note for the Board of Education in Guthrie. a proclamation from Governor A. J. Seay was issued to all citizens of Guthrie and to teachers and school officers specifically. It reads as follow:
"Believing that the legislature inadvertently omitted to enact a law for the celebration of Arbor Day, I do hereby set apart Wednesday, March 15 as a holiday to be observed by the planting of trees for the benefit and adornment of public and private grounds in cities, towns, and villages; at country school houses, churches, or private habitations in this territory, and that all school officers and teachers be requested to give the children under their charge a holiday for that purpose."
"Nothing will so cheaply add to the beauty and comfort of our streets and homes."
"If planted and well cultivated, only a short time will be sufficient to furnish trees from whose branches the songs of birds will cheer us, and under whose inviting shades the old folk may sit in comfort, and the frolicsome children swing in their little hammocks."
"Let every man, woman, and child plant at least one tree and give it a name."
In May, a permanent storehouse was located for the school furniture and supplies, the Kinkaid Building on the corner of 7th and Cleveland. It looked as though the Guthrie School system was there to stay with each addition of supplies or buildings.
With a new surge of hope and optimism, the board employed the teachers for the coming school year and set up standing committees to facilitate the operation of the board of education.
Teachers employed were I. H. Stryker, Mattie E. Wagner, Carrie I. Anderson, Agnes Scott, Julia Ryan, Mary E. Ackley, Queena E. Lee, and Lucy M. Fowler.
Others were May S. Meadows, Mary Turpice Granger, Alma Carson, Alice Markland, Dell Seely, Sallie M. Shaw, Marguerite Byrne, and Nannie Marsh.
Standing committees which were established were Ways and Means; George E. Gray, O. P. Cooper, J. S. Lyon and Veeder E. Paine; Teachers and Salaries: Mr. Gray, C. W. Tyler and H. Friedlander; Auditing; J. L. Brown, T. H. Cuppage and W. F. Davis.
Other Committees and members were Printing, Textbooks and Course of Study; Mr. Brown, Mr. Cuppage, Mr. Friedlander and Mr. Paine; Furniture, Apparatus and supplies: Mr. Brown, F. E. Houghton and Mr. Friedlander; Building and Grounds: Mr. Houghton, Mr. Gray, Mr. Tyler and Mr. Paine; School Laws, Rules and Regulations; Mr. Cooper, Mr. Davis and Mr. Lyon.
School census in the month of May showed 2,748 students eligible for admittance to the Guthrie school system. The need for permanent school buildings had reached a critical point.
H. W. Hadley an architect from Topeka, Kansas, was invited to appear before the board of education to inform them of the cost of building. He also presented plans of schools he had designed in other locations outside of Oklahoma Territory.
However, their dreams of permanent schools was of necessity slow in becoming a reality. Until then, they still must keep what they had going and face the expenses and problems of the present.
School was scheduled to being September 12, 1892 and last for 9 months. Salaries were raised to $80 a month for the Superintendent and $50 monthly for teachers.
The board decided to establish a 9th grade class on an experimental basis that year. Miss Sara L. Bosworth was employed to teach it. But, she was told the new class was just a trail run; therefore, they could not guarantee her permanent employment.
Sadly, school had just begun when the board was forced to abandon their idea of a 9th grade class due to a lack of funds. However, Miss Bosworth was told she would be the first to be hired in the event they were to have an opening in the school system.
In August, the idea of changing their method of heating the classrooms was taken under advisement. Bids for the necessary stoves were accepted from dealers at the August 15th meeting.
Companies and the amount of their bids were Farquharson and Morris, No. 23 (size 19 inches); $13.55 and No. 25 (size 21 inches), $17.40; Spencer Hardware Co. No. 21 (size 21 inches), $16; Twing Hardware Co., Big Bonanza, $15.90 and Hercules, $12.35.
However, the bid which the board accepted was $9.55 from Tontz and Hirschi for the "Grand Oak" stove with one pipe and a damper, hood, shovel, and poker. The prince included delivery, installation, and blacking.
Leonard and Company were given the contract for delivery of coal to each of the classroom locations.
The board members requested the janitor to build coal bins at each of the classroom sites as soon as he possibly could.
Some of the building rented for schoolrooms were in the University Building, the basement of the M. E. Methodist Church South, City Hall, the Congregational Church and the Bloomer Building.
Classrooms had been rented, stoves installed and repairs made. School began for the third term in Guthrie.
However, things were not necessarily running smoothly. School had barely begun when a new problem arose for the board to cope with and which required immediate action from them.
A resolution was passed and a copy of it sent to one of the teachers. The resolution read as follows:
"Resolved that it is the sense of this school board, that complaints justify them in calling the attention of Mrs. ---to the reported fact that her method of discipline and mode of punishment and use of language in correcting is not in accordance with the board's opinion of discipline necessary to govern the scholars. And that further complaints of undue punishment and cruelty when verified will be investigated to the probable dismissal of her services."
It eventually became necessary to release her from employment, a few years later, when complaints were again lodged against her. She and her legal representative repeatedly refused to appear before the board to show cause why she should not be dismissed
The year of 1893 was welcomed in on a dubious note by the Board of Education. A problem had occurred which prompted the members of the board to empower the president, Dr. F. E. Marion, with the authority to suspend, indefinitely, and student who had in their family any contagious disease. At that time, diseases such as typhoid, smallpox, and tuberculosis were dreaded infections.
This situation pointed up the dire need for adequate facilities in which to hold classes. The overcrowded conditions had become a serious problem. School census showed a future enrollment in the fall of approximately 2300 students.
A committee consisting of Thomas Cuppage, J. S. Lyon, and George E. Gray was appointed to act in conjunction with Dr. Marion to draft resolutions to be submitted to the Board of Trade of the city of Guthrie. The resolutions would ask them for their cooperation and assistance in getting a satisfactory school bond law passed by the legislature.
A proclamation was issued by Mayor A. M. McElHinney of Guthrie setting the date for a special election for the purpose of voting on a $50,000 bond issue. The proclamation was published April 27, 1893 in the Oklahoma State Capitol newspaper as required by law.
The proclamation read in part as follows:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of the Board of Education of the City of Guthrie, Logan County, Territory of Oklahoma, that it is necessary in order to raise sufficient funds for the purpose of purchasing school sites and erecting suitable school buildings, thereon, to borrow the sum of $50,000, by issuing bonds of the district bearing a rate of interest not exceeding six per cent, per annum, payable semi-annually, bonds to be payable 20 years from their date.
"Resolved, That the mayor of the City of Guthrie is hereby requested and directed to forthwith call an election for the purpose of taking the sense of the district and voting upon the question of issuing such bonds for the purpose named therein. (signed by: F. E. Marion, Pres. and Veeder E. Paine, Sec'y).
"Now therefore, in compliance with the provisions of said resolution and by virtue of the authority in me vested by the laws of Oklahoma, I. A. M. McElhinney, mayor of the City of Guthrie, do hereby call a special election of the electors of the district composing the Board of Education of the City of Guthrie to be held on the 9th day of May, 1893. (Signed by: A. M. McElHinney, Mayor and E. G. Millikan, City Clerk)."
Inspectors, judges and clerks were appointed by the mayor to preside at the polls in each ward. Those gentlemen located in the 1st Ward were C. L. Shandony, inspector; J. S. Callan and C. F. Pegg, judges; W. C. Roberts and W. H. Kincaid, clerks; 2nd Ward; inspector, John Overbay; judges, George W. Pulse and L. B. Reese; clerks, D. R. Markland and C. C. Ingram; 3rd Ward: inspector, W. H. Blakemore; judges, W. H. Eads and John Taylor; clerks, T. F. Millikan and Lou Beland.
Other election officials were from the 4th Ward: inspector, J. A. Stephens; judges, George F. Fenton and Henry Schilling; clerks, W. H. Gill and F. Seixas; 5th Ward (east precinct): inspector, A. Ellison; judges, W. H. Leister and John Cammack; clerks, J. Oldham and H. C. Deal, 5th Ward (west precinct): inspector, A. M. Bowers; judges, S. L. Shelby and George Parish; clerks, J. W. Capens and J. L. Smallwood.
The board met the day after the election to tally the vote. Out of 290 votes cast in the election, 232 were for the bond issue with 58 against. Now someone had to be found who would take the bonds.
In November, W. L. Turner representing the Capitol National Bank of Guthrie offered to take the bonds for 96 cents flat. One condition Mr. Turner put on the purchase of the bonds was that the bank purchase all of them. The board accepted his offer eagerly.
However, since the election the board had not been idle. Within a few days of the election a contract was signed with Mr. Hadley. The contract read in part:
"The conditions of this contract are that the said Board of Education agrees to pay said Hadley two and one-half per cent on cost of buildings: for plans, specifications, and detail drawings...."
"And should the said Board decide to retain the said Hadley as Superintendent of construction....we agree to pay him an additional two and one-half per cent."
Next on the agenda was the retaining of an attorney to handle the legal aspects of contracts, land purchases, and related matters. A. G. C. Bierer was retained for a period of one year from May 25th for $100. Though later, he raised the question of more money if litigations resulted from any of the board's business transactions.
Thoughts of expanding the courses of study were evident when a Professor Newton was invited to speak to the board on the subject of introducing the teaching of music into the public schools. Professor Newton found members of the board responsive to his idea when Mr. Winfield Smith took the floor to speak on the same subject. Also discussed was the introduction of penmanship as a course of study.
Momentarily thoughts of the building of schools were put aside while arrangements were made for the start of the fall school term. Buildings would have to be rented in which to hold classes.
The buildings rented were the Bennett Building and the Walker Building on Oklahoma Avenue; the Darling Building on Vilas Avenue; the J. E. Aston Building and the Lillie Building on the west side.
Rooms were rented in the basement of the South Methodist Church, the Buxton University and the J. B. Bealis Building in the Capitol Hill addition.
The City Superintendent was instructed to use all necessary efforts to establish a high school in Guthrie. With forward-looking optimism, examination of high school teachers was scheduled for September 1st and 2nd.
As the board became more involved in the business of building schools, they decided a mimeograph was needed to lower their expenses from having their printing done by others. One was purchased from W. A. Olmsted for $23.
Mr. Hadley, the architect, was given his assignment of drawing plans for the school buildings. He was to draw plans for 4 eight room school buildings. The rooms were to measure 23 feet by 30 feet. Each school was to be of a different style. The board suggested the buildings be of native stone or of pressed brick manufactured in Guthrie. The shingles on the roofs were to be red cedar. Only one building was to be built with a tower. The tower was to be an octagon shaped one as was on the school in Paola, Kansas.
Later, the board decided to add bell towers to other buildings, but of less impressive design.
The plans were ready for display by March 1st and contractors were to have their bids for the construction of each building separately filed by March 15th.
The purchasing of land was proceeding with little difficulty. Lots 7 thru 12 in Block 78 of West Guthrie were purchased for $250. This became the location of school No. 3. Six lots on the northeast corner of Block 38 was purchased for $2525. Building No. 1 was to occupy this location.
Other land was obtained for Building No. 2 on Block 63 in the addition known as Capitol Hill. Block 25 in West Guthrie was to be the location of school No. 4.
As might be expected, with the spending of that amount of money, it wasn't long before someone was calling for an investigation of the board. A newspaper had hinted at corruption in the administrative practices of the board.
Guthrie's Board of Education responded to the charge immediately. A resolution was passed which read:
"Whereas the newspaper of the city are charging the school board of the city of Guthrie with corruption and being boodlers, and that the people are demanding an investigation.
Therefore be it Resolved that a committee of five be appointed composed of two members of the board and three citizens to investigate said charges and report at the next meeting of the board on Thursday evening March 8th, 1894."
The board was eventually absolved of any wrong-doing in the operation of the schools or the handling of the money. But, they were made aware their conduct and actions were open to scrutiny by the people they served.
Bids were received from several contractors. However, H. J. Vandenberg's bids were accepted on all four schools. He submitted a bid of $12,205 on Building No. 1; $11,272 on No. 2; $11,961 on No. 3; and $11,219 No. 4.
Mr. Vandenberg was required to post a bond in the amount of $47,000 to guarantee his completion of construction at the specified costs.
Mr. W. J. McCord was employed as Superintendent of Buildings. It would be his responsibility to keep the board informed on the progress of construction on each building. Also he would be required to clear the land where construction was to take place and sell any materials which might be found on the sites. These materials consisted of barns, rocks and such. Some of the rock was sold to Mr. Vandenberg.
Money received from the sale of school owned property was placed in a fund to supply books and supplies to indigent children.
May of 1894 saw finances the main topic of the board. The property of the citizens of Guthrie was assessed for the purpose of taxing. The evaluation totaled $1,606.951.
The school board decided because of the charges made against them before it would be advisable for the treasurer to submit a written financial statement.
The following is the statement as it was written:
Assets and Liabilities
May 15, 1894 Warrants registered and outstanding, debit, $7,768.53; May 15, 1892 Estimated interest, debit, 77.84; Interest on coupons of $50,000 bonds, debit, $1,500.00; Interest on interest of coupons $1,500.00 2 1/2 months, debit, $20.00.
Contra; By amount in hands of County Treasurer estimated, credit, $1,446.46; By amount to be apportioned by City Superintendent Separated Funds estimated, credit, $1,100.00; County General Funds estimated, credit, $600.00.
Total debits: $9,366.37; Total credits; $3,146.46.
In the above estimate the liabilities are computed to May 15, 1894; the assets, May 1st, 1894.
The amount drawn from The County treasurer paid in on local tax is Feb. 14, 1894, $1,707.89; April 25, 1894, $7,450.63; May 1st estimated and in County Treasury balance, $1,446.46. Total: $10,604.98.
The amount of last years levy 9 mills on $1,754,951 valuation excluding the attached district would amount to $15,794.00.
All of which is
E. M. Bamford, Treasurer
With the more mundane affairs of the board cleared away temporarily, the members turned their thoughts and efforts to the completion of their dreams....permanent schools for the students in Guthrie.
In June, L. W. Baxter was elected principal of the high school. The principals of the new schools were Henry Dodd at building No. 2; M. O. Neilon, No. 4; and Dr. Granger, No. 3.
As the realization of the value of the four schools which were being erected dawned upon the board members, their thoughts turned to insuring the citizens' investment.
Insurance was taken with three individuals. Each of the gentlemen would take 1-3rd of the insured value. The greatest amount of coverage they could get was for 3-4ths of the value of the buildings. However, to their dismay, they learned they could insure the buildings against fire, but not "cyclones". No one was willing to risk coverage of such an awesome and frightening natural phenomenon.
The agents who agreed to insure the buildings were W. M. Bronson, O. M. Barnes and A. A. Humphrey. They each offered $11, 612 worth of coverage at a cost to the board of $163.95 per year.
Next on the agenda of the board was reviewing bids received for casting a metal bell weighing between 1300 and 1400 pounds. H. Conklin's bid of $33 was accepted by the board. The bell was to be hung in the main building, No. 1.
In September, construction was completed on buildings No. 1, 2, and 4. The board turned their attention to the finishing touches which would make the schools acceptable for educaional purposes.
One of the finishing touches was receiving bids on water wells at each school. The board decided "dug" wells would be sufficient at two of the schools.
Patto and Jones were given the contract for the wells at a cost of $81 for the "dug" wells and $130 for the drilled wells.
Another finishing touch was the building of privies. Specifications for the construction of the privies were exact. The vaults were to be dug eight feet deep by 4 feet wide by 6 foot long. The inside walls of the vault were to be lined with boards.
Over each vault a "closet" was to be built. A high board fence was to separate the boys' building from the girls'. And as stated before, the entrance was to have a screen built around it. Leonard and Phelps were employed to erect the necessary privies at a cost of $40 for all eight of the facilities.
Last, but not the least of the finishing touches, were flagpoles and hitching posts. The board decided each building should be equipped with 20-foot flagpoles. Also, each building would have two hitching posts on each street front.
Janitors were appointed for each building. The board elected L. R. Jones, Eugene Westbrook, George Porter, and N. Young as the gentlemen who would see to it that each building was kept clean and in a state of repair.
On one occasion, the boards zeal for doing things according to "rules and regulations" led to confusion and bewilderment. But they, the members, can explain it best.
"The chair was informed that a delegation of ladies were in the hall with a desire to be admitted into the room. Moved by Furrow and seconded by another member that Mr. Martin be appointed a committee of one to escort the ladies into the room. Rules suspended. Chair appointed Mr. Martin a committee of one to wait on the ladies. He returned stating he could not find the ladies and Mr. Johnson took the chair. Ladies never located."
However, a few days later the ladies returned. This time the board's actions were quicker.
"It was announced to the board that a committee of ladies were in the hall awaiting an audience with the board. Mr. Scales moved and Mr. Decker seconded that we admit the ladies at once!"
The year of 1894 was drawing to a close. The board was drawing to a close. The board was finishing up the last touches on the schools. A bell was removed from the building at the corner of Oklahoma and Broad, to be hung in building No. 4. The bell for building No. 3 was taken from the Cennore Building.
The superintendent's office was relocated in the Lecture Room of building No. 1.
A vote had been taken in late 1893, and the decision was made to segregate the schools. When the decision was made, the board requested the county commissioners to provide suitable classroom facilities for the black students.
Over the whole of 1894, the battle had raged. The commissioners were required by law to provide the necessary classrooms, but had repeatedly refused to take action.
The Guthrie Board of Education agreed to provide one of the new buildings to the minority students. They agreed to furnish what support and help was necessary to maintain a high level of education for all students.
Black members of the board of educaiton chose the teachers who would teach the minority students.
The last official act of 1894, was the naming of the new schools. Building No. 1 became Central; No. 2, Capitol; No. 3, Lincoln; and No. 4, Banner.
Today little is left of the original schools. The old board of education minutes of meeting are yellow with age. The bell which hung in the main school, Central, may be seen today on the lawn at the northeast corner of the present day Central Elementary School.
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