History of Greene County, Missouri
1883

R. I. Holcombe, Editing Historian


History of Missouri

Chapter 11: Education

Public School System — Public School System of Missouri — Lincoln Institute — Officers of Public School System — Certificates of Teachers — University of Missouri — Schools — Colleges — Institutions of Learning — Location — Libraries — Newspapers and Periodicals — No. of School Children — Amount expended — Value of Grounds and Buildings — "The Press."


The first constitution of Missouri provided that "one school or more shall he established in each township, as soon as practicable and necessary, where the poor shall be taught gratis."

It will be seen that even at that early day (1820) the framers of the constitution made provision for at least a primary education for the poorest and the humblest, taking it for granted that those who were able would avail themselves of educational advantages which were not gratuitous.

The establishment of the public-school system, in its essential features, was not perfected until 1839, during the administration of Governor Boggs, and since that period the system has slowly grown into favor, not only in Missouri, but throughout the United States. The idea of a free or public school for all classes was not at first a popular one, especially among those who had the means to patronize private institutions of learning. In upholding and maintaining public schools the opponents of the system felt that they were not only compromising their own standing among their more wealthy neighbors, but that they were, to some extent, bringing opprobrium upon their children. Entertaining such prejudices, they naturally thought that the training received at public schools could not be otherwise than defective; hence many years of probation passed before the popular mind was prepared to appreciate the benefits and blessings which spring from these institutions. [65]

Every year only adds to their popularity, and commends them the more earnestly to the fostering care of our State and National Legislatures, and to the esteem and favor of all classes of our people.

We can hardly conceive of two grander or more potent promoters of civilization than the free school and free press. They would indeed seem to constitute all that was necessary to the attainment of the happiness and intellectual growth of the Republic, and all that was necessary to broaden, to liberalize and instruct.

"Tis education forms the common mind;
For noble youth there is nothing so meet
As learning is, to know the good from ill;
To know the tongues, and perfectly indite,
And of the laws to have a perfect skill,
Things to reform as right and justice will;
For honor is ordained for no cause
But to see right maintained by the laws."

All the States of the Union have in practical operation the public-school system, governed in the main by similar laws, and not differing materially in the manner and methods by which they are taught; but none have a wiser, a more liberal and comprehensive machinery of instruction than Missouri. Her school laws, since 1889, have undergone many changes, and always, for the better, keeping pace with the most enlightened and advanced theories of the most experienced educators in the land. But not until 1875, when the new constitution wag adopted, did her present admirable system of public instruction go into effect.

Provisions were made not only for white, but for children of African descent, and are a part of the organic law, not subject to the caprices of unfriendly legislatures, or the whims of political parties. The Lincoln Institute, located at Jefferson City, for the education of colored teachers, receives an annual appropriation from the General Assembly.

For the support of the public schools, in addition to the annual income derived from the public school fund, which is set apart by law, not less than twenty-five per cent. of the State revenue, exclusive of the interest and sinking fund, is annually applied to this purpose. [66]

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PHOTO ON PAGE 67
OF
NORMAL SCHOOL AT CAPE GIRARDEAU

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The officers having in charge the public school interests are the State Board of Education," the State Superintendent, County, Commissioners, County Clerk and Treasurer, Board of Directors, City and Town School Board, and Teacher. The State Board of Education is composed of the State Superintendent, the Governor, Secretary of State, and the Attorney-General, the executive officer of this Board being the State Superintendent, who is chosen by the people every four years. His duties are numerous. He renders decisions concerning the local application of school law; keeps a record of the school funds and annually distributes the same to the counties; supervises the work of county school officers; delivers lectures; visits schools; distributes educational information; grants certificates of higher qualifications, and makes an annual report to the General Assembly of the condition of the schools.

The County Commissioners are also elected by the people for two years. Their work is to examine teachers, to distribute blanks, and make reports. County clerks receive estimates from the local directors and extend them upon the tax-books. In addition to this, they keep the general records of the county and township school funds, and return an annual report of the financial condition of the schools of their county to the State Superintendent. School taxes are gathered with other taxes by the county collector. The custodian of the school funds belonging to the schools of the counties is the County treasurer, except in counties adopting the township organization, in which case the township trustee discharges these duties.

Districts organized under the special law for cities and towns are governed by a board of six directors, two of whom are selected annually, on the second Saturday in September, and hold their office for three years.

One director is elected to serve for three years in each school district, at the annual meeting. These directors may levy a tax not exceeding forty cents on the one hundred dollars' valuation, provided such annual rates for school purposes may be increased in districts formed of cities and towns, to an amount not exceeding one dollar on the hundred dollars' valuation, and in other districts to an amount not to exceed sixty-five cents on the one hundred dollars' valuation, on the condition that a majority of the voters who are tax-payers, voting at an election held to decide the question, vote for said increase. For the purpose of erecting public buildings in school districts, the rates of taxation thus limited may be increased when the rate of such increase and the purpose for which it is intended shall have been submitted to a vote of the people, and two-thirds of the qualified voters of such school district voting at such election shall vote therefor. [68]

Local directors may direct the management of the school in respect to the choice of teachers and other details, but in the discharge of all important business, such as the erection of a school house or the extension of a term of school beyond the constitutional period, they simply execute the will of the people. The clerk of this board may be a director. He keeps a record of the names of all the children and youth in the district between the ages of five and twenty-one; records all business proceedings of the district, and reports to the annual meeting, to the County Clerk and County Commissioners.

Teachers must hold a certificate from the State Superintendent or County Commissioner of the county where they teach. State certificates are granted upon personal written examination in the common branches, together with the natural sciences and higher mathematics. The holder of such certificate may teach in any public school of the State without further examination. Certificates granted by County Commissioners are of two classes, with two grades in each class. Those issued for a longer term than one year, belong to the first class and are susceptible of two grades, differing both as to length of time and attainments. Those issued for one year may represent two grades, marked by qualification alone. The township school fund arises from a grant of land by the General Government, consisting of section sixteen in each congressional township. The annual income of the township fund is appropriated to the various townships, according to their respective proprietary claims. The support from the permanent funds is supplemented by direct taxation laid upon the taxable property of each district. The greatest limit of taxation for the current expenses is one per cent; the tax permitted for school house building cannot exceed the same amount.

Among the institutions of learning and ranking, perhaps, the first in importance, is the State University located at Columbia, Boone County. When the State was admitted into the Union, Congress granted to it one entire township of land (46,080 acres) for the support of "A Seminary of Learning." The lands secured for this purpose are among the best and most valuable in the State. These lands were put into the market in 1832 and brought $75,000, which amount was invested in the stock of the old bank of the State of Missouri, where it remained and increased by accumulation to the sum of $100,000. In 1839, by an act of the General Assembly, five commissioners were appointed to select a site for the State University, the site to contain at least fifty acres of land in a compact form, within two miles of the county seat of Cole, Cooper, Howard, Boone, Callaway or Saline. Bids were let among the counties named, and the county of Boone having subscribed the sum of $117,921, some $18,000 more than any other county, the State University was located in that county, and on the 4th of July, 1840, the corner-stone was laid with imposing ceremonies. [69]

The present annual income of the University is nearly $65,000. The donations to the institutions connected therewith amount to nearly $400,000. This University with its different departments, is open to both male and female, and both sexes enjoy alike its rights and privileges. Among the professional schools, which form a part of the University, are the Normal, or College of Instruction in Teaching; Agricultural and Mechanical College; the School of Mines and Metallurgy; the College of Law; the Medical College; and the Department of Analytical and Applied Chemistry. Other departments are contemplated and will be added as necessity requires.

The following will show the names and locations of the schools and institutions of the State, as reported by the Commissioner of Education in 1875:

UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES.

Christian University

Canton

St. Vincent's College

Cape Girardeau

University of Missouri

Columbia

Central College

Fayette

Westminster College

Fulton

Lewis College

Glasgow

Pritchett School Institute

Glasgow

Lincoln College

Greenwood

Hannibal College

Hannibal

Woodland College

Independence

Thayer College

Kidder

La Grange College

La Grange

William Jewell College

Liberty

Baptist College

Louisiana

St. Joseph College

St. Joseph

College of Christian Brothers

St. Louis

St. Louis University

St. Louis

Washington University

St. Louis

Drury College

Springfield

Central Wesleyan College

Warrenton

[70]

FOR SUPERIOR INSTRUCTION OF WOMEN.

St. Joseph Female Seminary ————— St. Joseph
Christian College ————— Columbia
Stephens' College ————— Columbia
Howard College ————— Fayette
Independence Female College ————— Independence
Central Female College ————— Lexington
Clay Seminary ————— Liberty
Ingleside Female College ————— Palmyra
Lindenwood College for Young Ladies ————— St. Charles
Mary Institute (Washington University) ————— St. Louis
St. Louis Seminary ————— St. Louis
Ursuline Academy ————— St. Louis

FOR SECONDARY INSTRUCTION.

Arcadia College ————— Arcadia
St Vincents Academy ————— Cape Girardeau
Chillicothe Academy ————— Chillicothe
Grand River College ————— Edinbuigh
Marionville Collegiate Institute ————— Marionville
Palmyra Seminary ————— Palmyra
St. Paul's College ————— Palmyra
Van Rensselaer Academy ————— Rensselae
Shelby High School ————— Shelbyville
Stewartsville Male and Female Seminary ————— Stewartsville

SCHOOLS OF SCIENCE.

Missouri Agricultural and Mechanical College (University of Missouri) ——— Columbia
Schools of Mines and Metallurgy (University of Missouri) ——— Rolla
Polytechnic Institute (Washington University) ——— St. Louis

SCHOOLS OF THEOLOGY.

St. Vincent's College (Theological Department) ————— Cape Girardeau
Westminster College (Theological School) ————— Fulton
Vardeman School of Theology (William Jewell College) ————— Liberty
Concordia College ————— St. Louis

SCHOOLS OF LAW.

Law School of the University of Missouri ————— Columbia
Law School of the Washington University ————— St. Louis

SCHOOLS OF MEDICINE.

Medical College, University of Missouri ——— Columbia
College of Physicians and Surgeons ——— St. Joseph
Kansas City College of Physicians and Surgeons ——— Kansas City
Hospital Medical College ————St. Joseph
Missouri Medical College ————St. Louis
Northwestern Medical College ——— St. Joseph
St. Louis Medical College ————St. Louis
Homeopathic Medical College of Missouri ——— St. Louis
Missouri School of Midwifery and Diseases of Women and Children ——— St. Louis
Missouri Central College ——— St. Louis
St. Louis College of Pharmacy ——— St. Louis

[71]

LARGEST PUBLIC LIBRARIES.


NAME


LOCATION


VOLUMES

St. Vincent's College

Cape Girardeau

5,500

Southeast Missouri State Normal School

Cape Girardeau

1,225

University of Missouri

Columbia

10,000

Athenian Society

Columbia

1,200

Union Literary Society

Columbia

1,200

Law College

Columbia

1,000

Westminster College

Fulton

6,000

Lewis College

Glasgow

8,000

Mercantile Library

Hannibal

2,219

Library Association

Independence

1,100

Fruitland Normal Institute

Jackson

1,000

State Library

Jefferson City

13,000

Fetterman's Circulating Library

Kansas City

1,300

Law Library

Kansas City

8,000

Whittemore's Circulating Library

Kansas City

1,000

North Missouri State Normal School

Kirksville

1,050

William Jewell College

Liberty

4,000

St. Paul's College

Palmyra

2,000

Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy

Rolla

1,478

St. Charles Catholic Library

St. Charles

1,716

Carl Frielling's Library

St. Joseph

6,000

Law Library

St. Joseph

2,000

Public School Library

St. Joseph

2,600

Walworth & Colt's Circulating Library

St. Joseph

1,500

Academy of Science

St. Louis

2,744

Academy of Visitation

St. Louis

4,000

College of the Christian Brothers

St. Louis

22,000

Deutsche Institute

St. Louis

1,000

German Evangelical Lutheran, Concordia College

St. Louis

4,800

Law Library Association

St. Louis

8,000

Missouri Medical College

St. Louis

1,000

Mrs. Cuthbert's Seminary (Young Ladies)

St. Louis

1,500

Odd Fellow's Library

St. Louis

4,000

Public School Library

St. Louis

40,097

St. Louis Medical College

St. Louis

1,100

St. Louis Mercantile Library

St. Louis

45,000

St. Louis Seminary

St. Louis

2,000

St. Louis Turn Verein

St. Louis

2,000

St. Louis University

St. Louis

17,000

St. Louis University Society Libraries

St. Louis

8,000

Ursuline Academy

St. Louis

2,000

Washington University

St. Louis

4,500

St. Louis Law School

St. Louis

8,000

Young Men's Sodality

St. Louis

1,827

Library Association

Sedalia

1,500

Public School Library

Sedalia

1,015

Drury College

Springfield

2,000

IN 1880.

Newspapers and Periodicals ——— 481

CHARITIES.

State Asylum for Deaf and Dumb —————Fulton
St. Bridget's Institution for Deaf and Dumb —————St. Louis
Institution for the Education of the Blind —————St. Louis
State Asylum for Insane ————— Fulton
State Asylum for the Insane ————— St. Louis

NORMAL SCHOOLS.

Normal Institute ————— Bolivar
Southeast Missouri State Normal School ————— Cape Girardeau
Normal School (University of Missouri) ————— Columbia
Fruitland Normal Institute ————— Jackson
Lincoln Institute (for colored) ————— Jefferson City
City Normal School —————.St. Louis
Missouri State Normal School ————— Warrensburg

IN 1880.

Number of school children ————— _______

IN 1878.

Estimated value of school property ————— $ 8,321,399
Total receipts for public schools ————— $ 4,207,617
Total expenditures ————— $ 2,406,139

NUMBER OF TEACHERS.

Male teachers ————6,239; —————average monthly pay $36.36
Female teachers ——— 5,060; ————— average monthly pay $28.09

The fact that Missouri supports and maintains four hundred and seventy-one newspapers and periodicals, shows that her inhabitants are not only a reading and reflecting people, but that they appreciate "The Press," and its wonderful influence as an educator. The poet has well said:

But mightiest of the mighty means,
On which the arm of progress leans,
Man's noblest mission to advance,
His woes assuage, his weal enhance,
His rights enforce, his wrongs redress—
Mightiest of mighty is the Press.

[72-73]


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