of the State
By Holice, Pam, and Deb
Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing book. The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers! Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!
PERIOD OF HARD TIMES AND HARD FEELINGS.
During the early days of the Normal School's history the people of Cheney were united in support of the school. They worked in unity to get it located in Cheney; they subscribed their money for its continuance when the governor sought to abolish it by veto; they voted bonds to raise money to pay for the construction of a new building to be used by the school; they went before the legislature in 1895 with an earnest and untied please that funds be created not only for the continuance of the school, but also for the construction of a suitable building. In this work they were successful. The spirit of self-sacrifice, supplemented by the powerful argument of steady growth of the Normal School under adverse conditions, won a great victory for Cheney. When the legislature of 1895 adjourned supporters if the Normal School believed the future of the institution was no longer in doubt. But they were mistaken.
The year 1895 witnessed the beginning of several years of discord, years during which lasting friendships were broken, when factions in Cheney fought each other at the expense of the institution upon which the future of the town depended. And, curiously enough, these fights were waged by the various factions, as each believed, or claimed to believe, in the interests of the school. Echoes of the troubles in Cheney spread throughout the state, invaded the state offices at Olympia, were heard at teachers' institutes, and became the source of many puns in newspaper offices. Cheney became one of the best advertised towns in the state, but the advertising was not of a sort to reflect credit upon the community.
The new building, for which everybody in Cheney had worked so long, was the occasion of all this strife. Trouble over the building led to other contentions, which resulted in a series of disagreements between the administration and a group of Cheney business men. Every occasion was seized by the latter group as an opportunity for attacking the management of the school, and ultimately an open fight developed between the trustees and the group seeking to oust them and the principal of the Normal School., Affairs reached a climax in February, 1896. The man who had been awarded the contract for erecting the new building failed to meet his obligations, and the trustees were obliged to take over the unfinished work. On account of this failure many workmen of Cheney were left unpaid, their claims amounting in all to several hundred dollars. Although it was claimed by the trustees that a sufficient guarantee of protection for the workmen had been maintained, and that money was available to meet the obligations, the attorney general ruled that the debts of the contractor were not obligations of the state, and that they must be collected from the contractor, not from the board of trustees.
The opportunity given the opposition by this occurrence was not overlooked. One of the first open attacks was made upon an instructor of mathematics named C. e. Reeves, who was accused of being inefficient in "imparting knowledge" and of not giving satisfaction to at least "nine-tenths of the student." A petition, praying for the removal of Mr. Reeves, was signed by fifty-six citizens of Cheney and presented to the board of trustees. The petition and the signatures follow:
"The undersigned citizens of Cheney have heard with regret that the efficiency and reputation of the Normal School at Cheney are being seriously impaired by the unsatisfactory work being done by Prof. Reeves as an instructor. The feeling of dissatisfaction is so prevalent among the patrons of the school that we ask your board to carefully investigate the matter and give such relief as may restore harmony between the faculty and the patrons of the school and insure the best possible service obtainable in the departments of instruction of which Mr. Reeves has charge." Signed: F. A. Pomeroy, S. G. Grubb, George F. Cummin, James Cunningham, M. A. Wilkinson, J. W. Edwards, D. H. Fisk, A. Brown, S. S. Callahan, G. R. Pierce, James Findley, J. C. Truitt, J. W. Minnick, R. Jensen, I. Scribner, D. F., Percival, W. D. Lloyd, E. K. Sheldon, J. E. Burbank, O. B. Royce, Fred Switzer, W. H. Roberts, Allen Nollsch, W. W. Cossalman, M. K. Page, W. A. Crowder, L. C. Kittleson, Franz Magnus, A. English, Frank Plotz, C. Jensen, J. F. Brockman, J. L. Looney, James F. Cummin, J. D. Irby, D. H. Felch, W. F. Bassett, S. M. Harris, Leslie Gillette, D. H. Wagner, D. H. Stewart, F. M. Martin, E. B. Hendricks, J. A. Harris, Ulrich Bros., C. W. Baker, M. T. Coffman, J. A. Stoughton, George W. Sandin, J. heron, Ben Davis, J. T. Shearer, C. A. Hutton, James Allison, R. A. Hutchinson, and H. A. Wells.
After a session lasting most of the night, during which testimony from students and others was taken, the trustees declared that the petition would not be granted. The board also voted to sustain the action of the principal in dismissing from school a young woman who had been guilty of an infraction of the rules.
The refusal of the board to remove Mr. Reeves led to "direct action." A group of men met in Cheney on February 15, passed a resolution, chose an executive committee to draft a formal complaint and then adjourned. On the morning of February 19 Cheney was covered with "pink pamphlets," in which many charges were preferred against the management of the school. The pamphlet, entitled "A Public Trust a Public Duty," was printed on pink paper and singed by the following men: D. H. Felch, F. a. Pomeroy, C. W. Baker, and S. G. Grubb.
In making public sundry complaints the committee "appealed to the intelligence and sense of justice of the masses." It was charged that the board of trustees had shown lack of judgment in awarding the contract for the erection of the building; that, as a result of said incompetence, many innocent persons
were suffering; and that the building could not be completed until "another raid had been made on the state treasury." It was further charged that the board and the principal had failed to comply with the provisions of the law in not enacting a set of rules and by-laws for the government of the school; that a tuition gee of five dollars was being unlawfully charged each student; that the principal of the school was incompetent and damaging the institution and the community in the eyes of the state. The resolution under authority of which the pamphlet appeared was: "Resolved, that the above article represents out unanimous sentiment, and that we use our individual efforts to have it disseminated throughout the state."
The "pink pamphlet" was the means of uniting all groups that favored the administration. Trustees, students, and citizens of Cheney came to the defense of the administration with petitions and "expressions of confidence." A committee of students, composed of Clyde Miller, H. M. Korstad and J. Howard Reid, called a meeting of students, circulated a petition among them and then sent the signed petition to the Spokesman-Review for publication. This petition, signed by nearly one hundred and fifty students, was as follows:
"We, the undersigned students of the State Normal School at Cheney, do hereby denounce as false the statement of D. H. Stewart in an interview with the Spokesman-Review reporter, wherein he states that nine-tenths of the students are dissatisfied with the faculty and the rules.
"We also denounce the attack upon the faculty and the honorable board of trustees by F. A. Pomeroy, S. G. Grubb, and C. W Baker, committee, and D. H. Felch, secretary, in a pamphlet entitled 'A Public Office A Public Trust."
"We heartily and voluntarily endorse the rules laid down by the faculty, and we heartily endorse the action of the trustees in sustaining said rules and faculty.
"And, moreover, we wish to state that we are satisfied with the management of the school and request that all attacks on this institution cease."
Mr. Stewart, editor of The Cheney Sentinel, maintained that the leaders of the students circulated the petition at the instance of the principal who, he asserted, had declared that "all loyal students would sign." Mr. Stewart further claimed that many of those who signed were new students and not familiar with the controversy.
Confidence in the management of the school was also expressed by eight citizens of Cheney: Mayor T. W. Odell, Councilman D. J. Turner, Steve Harris, and A. L. Ames, and J. S. Mount, H. h. Hubbard, T. J. McFerron, and C. G. Tipton, in a state which appeared in the Spokesman-Review on February 23:
"Our usually quiet town is just now in a fever of excitement over the clandestine publication of a scurrilous attack upon the trustees and faculty of the State Normal School. * * * It is therefore due to the school that important facts concerning it, and the attitude of the people of Cheney toward it, be placed before the public.
"The board of trustees are charged with extravagant and incompetency. AS the chief instance of extravagance they are accused of paying a secretary and an assistant. The secretary gives much of his time to the work and receives $35 a month, and the bookkeeper receives $10 a month for posting the books. No business man would call this extravagant.
"The incompetency charged is that they let the contract for the new building at too low a figure, and to an irresponsible party. No complaint is made that the work is not being honestly and well done.
"It is claimed by experienced builders that the contract was wisely let and that the work thus far shows that the building can be completed within the limit of the appropriation. The trustees, Mr. Manier and Mr. Dempsie, are working constantly to guard the new building from jobbery and to promote the interests of the school. Mr. Dempsie has been especially prompt to leave his business at Spokane many times at the call of the state, and no more honorable, fair or capable man could be found to look after the state's interest in the school. The public may rest assured that the new building, when completed, will be one of the best ever built for the money, and a pride to all friends of education. * * *
"The false insinuations of the circular against the school seem unworthy of notice. Principal Sutton has been identified with the school from its inception in 1890. His qualifications as an instructor, his skill as an organizer, and disciplinarian, are thoroughly well known over the state and by hundreds of teachers who owe much of their own success to the through work of the Cheney Normal.
"In January, 1892, when by default of the former principal the school was thrown into chaos, principal Sutton stood in the breach, kept the teachers together, and pushed the bill for the appropriations which was vetoed in 1893. When State Superintendent Bean was ready to give up the school, and the teachers were offered good positions elsewhere, but Mr. Sutton stood firm, induced the teachers to remain to the end of the year, graduating the class the same as if the state had not withdrawn its support. * * *
"A legislative committee visited Cheney, examined the books of the school and reported it to be second to no educational institution in the state.
"In 1895 the record of the school was placed before the legislature and, upon the strength of it, the appropriation was again asked for and obtained. Principal Sutton was persistent in his efforts, and his success was set forth as the time in a news dispatch from Olympia, published in the Spokesman-Review of March 16, 1895. * * *
"The present condition of the school fully justifies the high expectations of the governor. There are now enrolled two hundred twelve students in the Normal department and one hundred fifty or more in the training department of the school. The high standard of instruction, and discipline is maintained in spite of the misdirected efforts to break it down. The graduates of the school are either attending college or filling good position at teachers." * * *
On February 29 a set of resolutions, signed by two hundred sixty-one citizens of Cheney, expressing confidence in the administration, was sent to the Spokesman-Review for publication. It was stated that care had been exercised to keep off the names of students. The resolutions follow:
"Whereas, Statements have gone before the public derogatory to the State Normal School, located here, signed by certain individuals who claim that they represent the citizens of Cheney: and,
"Whereas, The above statements are being made for the purpose of impairing the efficiency of the school which the last legislature declared to be second
to no educational institution in the state, and of which we are justly proud, therefore,
"Be it resolved, That we, the undersigned citizens of Cheney, are opposed to all such uncalled for attacks, and shall exert our influence and energy in behalf of the best interests of the institution to the end that the people of the State of Washington will have no occasion to regret that the State Normal School was located in our midst."
Interest in the controversy in Cheney attracted state-wide attention, due in part to the circulation of the "pink pamphlet" and in part to the wide publicity given it by the Spokane newspapers. Editorial comment was profuse, part being serious, part facetious. Medical Lake, Sprague, and Ritzville newspapers were not disposed to be sympathetic toward the administration, while papers at a greater distance deplored the quarrel and hoped that it would soon be settled. The point was made constantly that the State Normal School at Cheney belonged to the state, not to Cheney, and hat factional fight in Cheney should be not permitted to impair the work of a state institution.
A paragraph writer for the Spokesman-Review could not resist the temptation to write the following: "President Harrison (Harrington) of the state university may visit Cheney before returning to Seattle, but it is not true, as was reported on the street last night, that he is going there to collect additional data for his lecture on local and general storms."
Charges brought against the board of trustees in the "pink pamphlet" were answered by the Reverend R. H. Manier, one of the trustees, whose statement was approved by E. Dempsie, another trustee. Mr. Manier wrote a lengthy review of the action of the board in letting the contract for the construction of the building. He said, in part:
"It is well known that the board advertised for competitive plans and required all architects submitting plans to accompany said plan with a bond that his plan, if adopted, could be let to a responsible bidder for or below the sum of $55,000, the limit fixed by the board for the cost of the building. The contract was let to T. R. Nickalls for the sum of $51,164, he furnishing bonds in the total sum of $25,000 that he would complete the building according to plans and specifications for the sum of his bid. Before letting the contract the board was assured by Mr. Nickalls he would use $5,000 of his own money to commence the work. Failing to procure the $5,000, and the board holding back twenty per cent of all estimates as the work progressed, according to the contract, for the protection of the state, and for which these same faultfinders condemned the board as incapable of doing business, the contractor failed, leaving some debts unpaid. In this emergency the board was forced to take charge of the work and complete the building. They have advanced far enough now to know they can finish the work within the limit of the appropriation.
"These compilers say: 'The perfidy of the members of the board who gave assurances on which they relied, that protection would be granted brickmakers, stonecutters, and the various other material men and laborers, can scarcely be too strongly censured, and constitutes one of the darkest chapters in the whole transaction.' Well, in what does this perfidy consist? Simply this: Mr.Nickalls, in prosecuting his contract with the board, contracted with Sharp & Truitt for all the brick he would need to fulfill his contract. Mr. Nickalls made estimates on the brick in the walls from time to time and paid them for
the same. Sharp & Truitt were brickmakers, making brick in their yards, and delivering to Mr. Nickalls, and from the same kilns shipping brick to Sprague and into the Big Bend country. In paying their brickyard men and those had brought wood from, Sharp & Truitt made arrangements with Nickalls to give orders on him, which he was to accept instead of paying money to Sharp & Truitt. The orders thus given and accepted by Nickalls aggregated over $1600; and these order cover all now due the business men and citizens of Cheney, and which 'has caused the bankruptcy of some of the business men of Cheney.'
"Had these compilers desired to state the facts to the public, they would have said the board they accuse of perfidy did all they cold to apply the twenty -er cent reserved from Mr. Nickalls to pay on his debts due for labor and material, but the state auditor refused, under the law, to allow them to do it; that the attorney general of the state, by who opinion the board must be controlled, informed these 'compilers' the trustees could not pay one cent of Nickalls' debts until the building is completed, and then only out of money due him, if any, on his contract. They would further have told the people that the attorney general had told them that the orders given by Sharp & Truitt and accepted by Nickalls were a private transaction, and that the board they accuse of perfidy in not paying out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the state had been instructed by him, as attorney general, not to pay these orders.
"The statement 'the building will not be completed until another raid on the state treasure can be made' will be answered b y the completion of the building within the limit of the present appropriation; and since they assert they intend by the fight they are making, to bring about the removal of the present boards and hereby get control themselves, it will be necessary for them to force the governor (as they assert they will do if necessary) to the accomplishment of their purpose very soon, or the building will be completed and turned over to the state, paid for out of the present appropriation, before they get their hands in and pay to themselves the private debts of Sharp & Truitt, and no excuse remain for their contemplated 'raid on the state treasury.'
"As to their statement that the board has employed an assistant superintendent, that is simply an unqualified falsehood. There is no such employee known to the board. Alexander Watt, the superintendent, has been busily engaged since the work was closed down, on account of the weather, looking after material, receiving shipments and getting everything in readiness for resumption of work when suitable weather comes."
Almost simultaneously with the appearance of the 'pink pamphlets' came an unfortunate affair in the school, which resulted in the expulsion of one of the men students. He appealed the case and was supported by the group in Cheney that was unfriendly to the administration. After another stormy session the board of trustees approved the decision of Principal Sutton.
So far as Cheney and the Normal School were concerned, in February, 1896, "it poured." Story after story from the press in those days tells of the board
of trustees adjourning after a session lasting until midnight or well beyond. Citizens wrote articles attacking the Normal School or some person connected with it; other citizens wrote spirited replies, defending the person attacked, or the institution, and in turn denouncing the authors of former articles. The administration was attempting to solve the problems and to go on with the building; it appeared as if many persons were doing all within their power to obstruct the work. It was an unfortunate state of affairs, from which the town and the school were a long time in recovering in the estimation of the general public. It probably paced the way for the disaster of 1897, when another governor interposed a veto.
The failure of the first contractor placed a heavy burden upon the board of trustees. It became necessary for the board to take up the unfinished work, save from the "wreckage" what could be saved and complete the building within the appropriation of $60,000. In the Spokesman-Review for March 1, 1896, the following story appeared:
"The trustees of the State Normal School adjourned at midnight without awarding the contract for the competition of the new building now under construction. The board entered minutely into the details of the work and was in conference for several hours with Architect Seaton and Superintendent Watt, and, although ten or a dozen contractors were here waiting for the verdict, it was decided the safer course not to act hastily, but to consider the matter for another week.
"As a result of this careful consideration the trustees now believe that they will be able substantially to complete the building within the appropriation and have several thousand dollars left for furniture. This, however, will not cover the indebtedness under the Nickalls contract, amounting to several thousand (?) dollars. when the board took the contract off the hands of Contractor Nickalls it was hoped there would be sufficient funds to complete the building and pay these claims besides. The attorney general, however, decided that under the law the board must first complete the building and then consider payment of the claims against the contractor, if any balance remained."
"The sum of $60,000 was appropriated by the legislature for the building and the furniture. The board has expended o date $27,337.59. it has contracted for the heating and ventilation at $11,569; for the wiring at $582.50; for the painting at $1500; for the glass, $600; for the plastering and cement floors, $2850. There is also a balance due the National Iron Works of $342,50; due W. J. Sutton, $176.70; due Giles & Peet for stone, $109.
"This makes a total paid out and due by law of $45,067.29. The board has cash on hand, $198.64, which, deducted from the amount paid out and the amount due, leaves $44,868.65. The appropriation was $60,000, so the board now has a clear balance of $15,131.35.
"Some doubt has been expressed as to whether the building could be completed within the appropriation, and the examination of the bids offered today was awaited with great interest. These were but one bid for the entire contract, that of Peter Hughes of Spokane. It was $14,000 upon its face, but an explanation is necessary in order to understand it correctly. Mr. Hughes proposed these figures upon an understanding that the contract called for glass, but the glass has already been contracted for by the board, and that item is therefore to be deducted. In like manner his bid contemplated the putting in of a cement
floor, but the board had also contracted for that, and this calls for a reduction of $1416.10. He also offers to take the material now owned by the board, and Superintendent Watt estimated that this will amount o $1690. Mr. Hughes's net bid, therefore, is $10,749.90./ to this is to be added $250 figured for incidentals and $1490,74 for the superintendent and (the) architect, or a total of $12,490.64 yet to be expended, with $15,131,35 available. If these calculations should be borne our in the actual construction, there would remain a balance of $2540.71 for furniture for the new building.
"The board questions whether this would be ample, and to increase the balance has about concluded to leave the attic floor unfinished for the present. Architect Seaton estimates that this would effect a saving of $846.40. It if is done, the apparent balance would be increased to $3487,11.
"the board has also under consideration the omission of the tiling in the corridors and estimates that this would make a saving of $825. An additional saving of $800 could be provided by omitting the cement floor in the basement of the main building. If all these reductions should be agreed upon, the apparent balance would be $5112.11. these is some question, though, whether, under the law, the tiling and the cement floor could be omitted. There is no question that the board has power to leave the attic floor unfinished, because that would require no alteration of plans, but it is thought that the substitution of oak for tile floors in the corridors and basement would be a change of plans, and therefore of doubtful legality. Trustee Dempsie is to refer the question to Attorney General Jones.
"The board figured along these lines not because it has decided to award the contract to Mr. Hughes, but for the reason that his bid covered all the work and material. Chairman Walter said after adjournment that he considered the Hughes bid the lowest and the best."
Compete reports on the turn affairs took in the spring and the summer of 1896 are not available, but it is known that the breach between the administration and the town group opposing it widened rather then narrowed. But, despite it all, work on the new building progressed so satisfactorily that the class of 1896 held if graduating exercise it in it June.
The controversy of 1896 brought a new newspaper to Cheney, the Cheney Free Press, to support the interests of the Normal School administration. This paper has survived all of its competitors and is still being published in Cheney. The first issue appeared on April 10, 1896. Money to establish this newspaper
was furnished by a group of business men of Cheney who were friendly to the Normal School administration. The name of the newspaper was taken from the Detroit Free Press.
Meantime, while the attention of Cheney folk was centered on the affairs of the Normal School, political changes of tremendous import were taking place in the nation. This was the year of William Jennings Bryan and the nationwide agitation for the free coinage of silver. The free-silver movement made its influence felt in Washington, resulting in the temporary "fusion" of the silver democrats, the silver republicans, and the populists. Out of this fusion came misfortune for the State Normal School at Cheney.
John R. Rogers, who was elected governor of Washington on the "fusion" ticket in 1896, was no friend of the Normal School. He had a hobby, It was the common schools, and he is popularly credited with the authorship of the famous "barefoot schoolboy" law. A monument erected to his memory, commemorating his work in behalf of the public schools, stands in front of the old capitol building in Olympia. But Governor Rogers, despite his interest in the old common schools, failed to see the proper relationship existing between them and the institution which train elementary teachers. He advocated, as did Governor McGraw before him, a "central" normal school. It therefore boded ill for the State Normal School at Cheney when Mr. Rogers assumed office as chief executive of the state.
Trouble which had arisen over the new building, the attitude of the new governor and the economical spirit which pervaded the legislature were matters of no little concern to Cheney folks. Preparations were made to have the needs of the school brought to the attention of the legislature. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, the completion of the new building, representing a considerable outlay on the part of the state, led the active supporters of the school to believe that the state could not afford to abandon the institution or to cripple it in any way. The sequel will show that this belief was not wholly justified.
The biennial report of the general board of trustees to the governor, as summarized in the Cheney Free Press, for January 8, 1897, showed an unexpended balance of $11,008.90 from the building fund, an unexpended balance of $11,378.57 from the maintenance fund and $328,22 from the deficiency appropriation. The local fund showed receipts of $1997.82 and disbursements of $1696.03.
The Cheney Free Press, January 22, 1897, announced that the trustees had accepted the new building with the exception of the heating plant, but had reserved a fund ample to care for anything that was not wholly satisfactory.
Meantime, while the affairs of the Normal School were running the gamut of politics in Olympia, trouble of a serious nature was brewing at home. The outcome was the resignation of Principal W. J. Sutton. On February 1, 1897, he addressed the following communication tot he board of trustees:
"Owing to the differences which have arisen between your honorable body and myself concerning the administration of affairs of this institution, and of which there seems to be no probability of an amicable adjustment, I herewith tender my resignation, to take effect March 2, 2897."
The resignation was accepted by the board. Trustee E. Dempsie issued the following statement: "We have thirty days in which to fill the vacancy, but
I do not think we will appoint any one before the end of the school year, in June. We will probably place Assistant Principal Stone in charge until then. I do not think there will be any changes in the faculty. I would like to say of Professor Sutton that he is a fine man and has always taken a deep interest in the welfare of the school. He has always been anxious to see it take a front rank."
On February 6 Miss Nellie G. Hutchinson and Miss Lina M. Kiernan also tendered their resignations to the board, and a few days later Mrs. Lucretia K. Weygant resigned. The resignation of Miss Hutchinson and Miss Kiernan were accepted by the board the day they were given. Assistant Principal W. C. Stone was placed temporarily in charge of the institution.
The following dispatch from Cheney to the Spokesman-Review, under date of February 6, tells of happenings in Cheney that day:
"This has been an exciting day in the history of the State Normal School, Professor W. J. Sutton, after five years' service as principal of the institution, has served that connection, and with him have gone two of the faculty--Miss Nellie G. Hutchinson, principal of the Training School and teacher of methods, and Miss Lina M. Kiernan, grammar and geography. For the present Professor W. C. Stone, assistant principal and professor of natural sciences, will perform the arduous duties falling in the troubled pat upon Professor Sutton, and Miss Grace F. Swearingen, a former popular and successful teacher in the school, but now taking a post graduate course at Berkeley, Cal., has been elected to the placed vacated by Miss Hutchinson.
"The formal announcement of these changes was attended with scenes at once dramatic and charged with deep emotions. The announcement of the board's action called out a few hisses from some of the zealous admirers of the deposed teachers, eight pupils out of more than two hundred declaring their purpose of leaving the institution, and professor Sutton was tendered an affectionate and pathetic ovation, his brief farewell utterances being broken by the sobbing of many pupils and vigorous handclapping by others.
"There could be no mistaking the sentiment of the pupils. They love professor Sutton, have faith in him, and believe that he is a victim of persecution.
"As a counter current to these demonstrations the calm determination of the trustees was conspicuously in evidence. Their convictions developed, they were prepared to perform a painful duty and were not to be swerved there from by emotion or hostile demonstration."
Following the announcement to the students by the chairman of the board of the action that had been taken with respect to the resignation of the teachers, Mr. Sutton was asked to speak to the students. He said:
"Students of the Normal School: I will say that I feel that I can not talk to you this morning. This will be the last time I shall appear before you in the capacity of principal. It has been about five years since the control of this school fell upon me. I can here say that it has been my whole ambition to make the Cheney Normal School one of the best in the country. The young men and women who have graduated from this school I am proud of. I am proud of you. I have never had to make any apologies for you. I wish you all Godspeed and success."
The farewell address of the students to Mr. Sutton, given at a special reception in his honor, was made by George E. Craig, president of the class of 1897.
Citizens of Cheney gave a reception in honor of the departing teachers in the Odd Fellows Hall on February 11, 1897. Several addresses were made, and the work of the principal and the other teachers was commended. By special order of the board of trustees, students of the Normal School were not permitted to attend the reception.
Mr. Stone did not continue long as head of the institution. J. J. Rippetoe, a member of the faculty of Portland University, was elected principal and assumed his duties at once. At the time of his departure from Portland University, the faculty of that institution passed the following resolution:
"Whereas, Professor J. J. Rippetoe, A. M., has seen fit to vacate the chair of natural science of Portland University he has so honorably held from the second year of the history of the school, to take an important place in the faculty of the Washington State Normal School at Cheney, therefore,
"Be it resolved by the faculty of Portland University, That we part with regret with Professor J. J. Rippetoe, whose excellent qualities as a man, whose skill and kindness as a teacher, and who faithfulness as business manager of Portland University we shall gratefully remember;
"That we command Professor Rippetoe to the confidence of the faculty, students, patrons and friends of the State Normal School of Washington at Cheney."
In Olympia during this time the Normal School was also having difficulties. A bill to abolish the State Normal School at Cheney, as well as the institution at Whatcom, has been introduced in the legislature and recommended for passage by a senate committee. There was fear in Cheney that the bill might pass.
A favorable report on the institution was made to the legislature by the senate visiting committee, as follows:
"We found the school at present occupying the new building erected by the trustees during the past two years. It is our opinion that the same is exceedingly well adapted for the purpose intended, and that the state has acquired a model building for the money which was appropriated for that purpose. We feel that the trustees during the time of the construction have earnestly devoted much time to this work, and have at all times shown a devotion to the state's interest that reflects not only credit on them, as trustees, but which is also evident in every transaction requiring the proper spirit of economy in public affairs.
"In protecting the interest of the state the trustees may have inadvertently and unintentionally caused hardships to claimants for material and labor furnished to the contractor of the building during its erection; but we deem their conduct proper and their actions in the matter unavoidable at the time. The trustees built the Normal School so far as completed within the appropriation and should be commended for their earnest work.
"In reference to the present and past management of the school proper your committee hardly feels able to offer an opinion, but it is of the belief that the changes made by the trustees in the faculty were, in their opinion, for the betterment of the institution. The present faculty are held in the highest respect by both students and the board, and matters are now in such a favorable condition that the school will surely prove to be a valuable acquisition to our educational institutions of the state. We believe and would recommend that in order to keep up the present high standard of the institution no reduction of salaries would be advisable. The trustees during the past year have greatly reduced many, of not all, salaries."
A deficiency bill to reimburse the contractors who lost $9,500 in constructing the Normal School building was introduced in the legislature, but failed of passage. It was argued by the legislature that the experience gained by these contractors should be an "example" to all others bidding on public buildings.
In the closing days of the session a bill (S. B. 273) making an appropriation for the Normal School was passed, but Governor Rogers, as many person had expected him to do, vetoed the bill, as well as the measure making appropriations for the institution at Bellingham (Whatcom). Ellensburg was jubilant, anticipating a great gain for the Normal School located there. Opinion throughout the state divided on the governor's action, and there were predictions that the "regret" this veto, as another governor had done before him.
Wherever the Normal School had friends, resentment ran high against the governor's action. Teachers as a class denounced it, and many newspapers were not favorably impressed by the reasons advanced for the veto. V. H. Hopson, superintendent of schools in Spokane County, in an address to the county teachers' association in Cheney, April, 1897, said: "I condemn the action of Governor Rogers for his veto. He has proven himself an enemy of high education, and as such he is my enemy."
Recollections of the manner in which the citizens of Cheney has financed the Normal School four years before, when conditions were thought by some to be much less favorable, prompted many suggestions to the effect that a "way out would be found." The Pullman Herald voiced that belief; other newspapers repeated it; and the people of Cheney believed it. it was certain, regardless of what subsequent action might be taken, that the class of 1897 would be graduated.
On May 8, 1897, the following story appeared in the Spokesman Chronicle:
"Professor J. J. Rippetoe, acting principal of the Cheney Normal School, came in from Cheney this morning. He reports the school in excellent condition and the work progressing very smoothly, considering the state of doubt existing concerning the continuance of the school.
"'One thing has been fully decided,' he said. "That is that the present term of school will be finished the same as if the appropriation had not been vetoed. Regarding the advisability of attempting to continue the school after this year, the friends of the institution are in considerable doubt.
"The matter of the governor's veto will be carried to the supreme court during the present month, and an attempt made to have the veto declared uncon-
stitutional on the grounds that it is against public policy to discontinue the school or to refuse to support it. The point is an intricate one and involves the question of whether under the state constitution the governor's veto is an unlimited one, or whether in exercising it he is to be governed by the supreme court's idea of public policy.
"Attorney Frank Graves has been employed to represent the school, and feels confident of winning his case and securing an order from the court instructing the auditor to issue certificates of indebtedness to defray the running expenses of the school.
"The plan adopted and successfully enforced four years ago, when the appropriation was vetoed by Governor McGraw, was a little different from this. The matter was taken into the supreme court then, and the auditor cited to appear before the court and shoe cause why he should not issue certificates of indebtedness for the school, but yielded the point without appearing in court, and issued the certificates of indebtedness without a decision of the point being made by the court.
"'If the court decides against the school, there is not much probability that the school will be able to continue, as its friends are not as well able to support it as they were four years ago; and besides this, they are not working as harmoniously among themselves.'"
School was continued and the class of 1897 was graduated. But it was done at a considerable sacrifice on the part of the faculty. For four years the state neglected to pay the teachers for three months of service. In the legislative session of 1901 a special bill, calling for an appropriation to pay members of the faculty for services during April, May, and June, of 1897, was introduced. The bill was passed in March, during the closing days of the session, and was permitted to become a law without the signature of the governor. Money was appropriated in the following amounts:
J. J. Rippetoe, $600; J. L. Dunn, $300; W. C. Stone, $390; Grace F. Swearingen, $375; Annis L. Locke, $300; Irene C. Robinson, $300; Mary Powell Johnson, $240; Mrs. T. D. Gamble, $225; Lilyan Walter, $225; William F. Hamilton, $243; Clarence Thomas, $30; R. H. Manier, $75; L. Walter, $55.50; S. G. Grubb, $75.
Throughout the summer of 1897 some hope was entertained that the school would remain in the fall, and several positive statements were made to the effect that it would resume. Such a view was expressed by members of the board of trustees as late as August 13. It was planned to open school September 6. By September 1, however, hope had been abandoned. Faculty members were preparing to leave Cheney to accept position elsewhere.
"The people of Cheney need not lose heart, because the Normal School there is passing under a dark shadow of misfortune," declared the Spokesman Review. They have the public sympathy, and if they will keep up their gallant fighting of the past, the people will sustain them.
"Back of this question lies something even greater then the existence of this particular school. It is the important principle whether a governor shall be permitted to destroy an institution of the state, established by the legislature and a previous governor, and fostered and approved by every succeeding legislature. The Normal School at Cheney was established under a compact with the United States. It was the state's first normal school. The people have never asked that it be abolished. The wisdom of its creation was attested by large and increasing attendance. It filled a demand, and the principle ought to be firmly established in this state, so that in all the years of the future none will ever again dispute it, that every successful institution of learning, which has demonstrated its right to exist by a large and increasing attendance, must be fostered and maintained.
"For the present not a great deal can be done. The people of Cheney can, at slight expense, make some provision for the protection of the building and its contents, and they can ask and urge the former owners of the site to waive their claim of forfeiture. A year hence, when the campaign comes on for the election of a new legislature, they can carry this principle before the people and have an expression of popular desire."
Looking back over a period of twenty-five yeas, W. C. Stone, vice president of the Normal School at the time of Governor Rogers's veto, wrote the following: "In 1985 the legislature again made an appropriation for the school, an amount sufficient to meet the deficit and provide for the maintenance the following two years. but the troubles of the institution were not over, for in 1897, after the legislature had again made an appropriation for the following two years, an arch enemy of the institution was in the chair of state. Governor John R. Rogers had a pet--the common schools of the state. He had little sympathy for high education. His ambition was to have enacted what he termed a 'barefoot boy' school measure, whereby the funds of the state, to be used for education purposes, should be devoted very largely to the education of the boys and girls in the common schools, and he had little use for normal schools in general and none at all for the one at Cheney. So, following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Governor John McGraw, he too wrote 'I forbid' across the enactment that made provision for the support of the Cheney school for the following two years. Again the faculty agreed to finish the school year and graduate a splendid class of teachers, without compensation, until such time as the legislature might meet again and vote funds for this purpose."
You are the 1419th Visitor to this USGenNet Website Since September 6, 2004
Html by Debbie Axtman
This book is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library
[Index][WA AHGP][Mardos Memorial Library]