William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 8] [part 6] [Cutler's History]


Robert S. Kelley, the first postmaster of Atchison and associate editor of the Squatter Sovereign, received his commission April 10, 1855. The office opened in a small, one story stone building in the block now occupied by the Otis House. The room was about 20X26 feet, but large enough for all practical purposes. Mr. Kelley held the position but a few months and resigned. His successor was a bright young South Carolinian, John H. Blassingame. The location of the post-office was removed in May, 1856, to the store of Messrs. Woolfolk & Cabell, on the Levee. During "the war in Kansas," in August, the head-quarters of the United States mail service were removed to the law office of P. P. Wilcox, on C street, who ran the office while Mr. Blassingame was away on military duty. At the end of Mr. Blassingame's term of service in the postoffice, Henry Addoms and O. F. Short assumed the duties and responsibilities of the position for a few months. In February, 1858, Col. John A. Martin was appointed postmaster. For some time after the establishment of the service in the town, its citizens depended upon the Atchison, St. Joe and Lecompton United States Mail Line, and irregular "posts" received by river steamers. The mail line made regular tri-weekly trips between Lecompton and St. Joe via Atchison, running four-horse stages. At Lecompton it connected with the lines to Topeka, Fort Riley, Lawrence, and Grasshopper Falls, and at St. Joe with the Hannibal & St. Joe R. R. The head-quarters of the line in Atchison was the Massasoit House, and the arrival of the four-horse stages, with passengers and mail, was quite a social and business event. But with the building of the Atchison & St. Joe R. R. in 1860, and of the lines to the North and West within the next decade, the stages melted away before the quick breath of the iron horse, like snow before the noon-day sun, so to speak, and daily mails were taken as a matter of course, by the same public which only a few years before looked upon a tri-weekly service as considerable of a luxury. Col. Martin retained the office until 1873, when he gave place to Benjamin B. Gale. After five years' service Mr. Gale died, and John M. Price became postmaster, retaining the position until his resignation in April, 1882. M. G. Winegar then received the appointment. In July of this year, the free-delivery system was inaugurated in Atchison, which, with her money-order department, equipped her post-office with "all the modern improvements."


After 1857, when the Pro-slavery and Free-soil men of Atchison agreed tacitly to forge political differences and remember only the well-being of the town, several ladies opened small private schools for the accommodation of the growing young community. Among those who commenced the earliest and labored late in the work of education, was Miss Lizzie Bay, daughter of Hugh Bay.

School District No. 1 was established by Henry Kuhn, County Superintendent of Common Schools, and the first meeting in the district was held, pursuant to his notice, at the house of T. J. Dillon, in September, 1858. At this meeting was elected the first District Board, consisting of a director, a treasurer and a clerk, viz., James Coulter, O. F. Short and F. G. Adams. Mr. Short removing from the county, W. H. Grimes was, in December, appointed to fill the vacancy. He resigned after serving a few days, and Hugh Bay succeeded him. Mr. Grimes, Col. P. T. Abell, P. H. Woodard and L. A. Alderson were prominently identified with the educational interests of District No. 1, during these early days.

A month after the formation of this district - on the 20th of November - the Atchison Free High School was opened in Bury's new building, corner of Fourth and Commercial streets - Prof. P. D. Plattenburg being its principal. It was faithfully conducted, and merits a high niche in the historical gallery. Although the financial responsibility attaching to those interested in school matters could not have been heavy in those days, the fact is of record that Col. P. T. Abell, the Treasurer of the School Board, was laboring along at this time under a $20,000 bond. There was actually some difference of opinion as to whether that period of civilization had arrived, when the community would be justified in supporting schools. Even as late as 1860, the School Board refused to levy a tax for educational purposes. But from that time to the present, more sensible counsels have prevailed, until now Atchison has as well-regulated a system of public schools as is to be found in Kansas.

Having wandered, however, there is no other way but to turn back. The corner-stone of a central building for the city school was laid in August, 1858. In October, 1869, the edifice was burned, and the present school building, on Fifth street, was erected on its site. The basement of the Congregational Church, Price's Hall, the Masonic Hall, and a room over the Kansas Bank were all made to serve the cause of public education in Atchison. Up to the year 1866, no particular system was apparent, and private and public education seemed to be almost synonymous terms. Mrs. Wickham, the Misses Dickinson, Miss Bryning, Orlando Sawyer and David Negley, were most faithful stewards in this particular educational vine-yard. Prof. D. T. Bradford returned what had been committed to his care with interest, for he not only was a most faithful and efficient teacher, but he brought an admirable graded system out of a partial chaos. The graded system of the Atchison public schools was established chiefly through the labors of Prof. Bradford. Prof. Owens, Rev. H. M. Jackson, Prof. I. C. Scott, Prof. C. S. Sheffield and Prof. Richard C. Meade succeeded him in his work. During the few years that Prof. Meade has been at the head of the city schools, he has brought them to a far higher state of proficiency than they ever attained before. He is well qualified to continue the work of improvement, being a graduate of the Highbury Training School, London, and having since an educator in this country for many years.

In pursuance of an act of the legislature, approved March 1, 1867, providing for a Board of Education in the cities of the second class, consisting of two members from each ward, the first annual election for members of the Board of Education of the city of Atchison was holden (sic) June 3, 1867. This board superseded the old District Board of School District No. 1. The first board, which served from June, 1867, until May, 1868, was as follows: President, Wm. Scoville; Vice President, John A. Martin; Clerk, M. L. Gaylord; Treasurer, Wm. Bowman; First Ward, Wm. Scoville, Wm. C. Smith; Second Ward, M. L. Gayord, L. R. Elliott; Third Ward, John A. Martin, Julius Helthaus; Fourth Ward, Geo. W. Gillespie, Jacob Pochler. When Atchison was made a city of the first class in 1881, the members of the Board of Education from each ward were increased from two to three. They are now as follows: First ward, A. E. Gushing, Louis Rochat, G. L. Florence; Second ward, Joshua Garside, A. F. Martin, J. C. Fox; Third ward, J. H. Talbott, Augustus Lang, S. C. King; Fourth ward, J. B. Kurth, H. R. Bostwick, Dr. R. D. Hudson. Officers of the board: J. C. Fox, President; J. B. Kurth, Vice President; James H. Garside, Clerk; Richard C. Meade, Superintendent.

Under the energetic management of Prof. Meade, a regular high school was established in 1880, and placed in charge of Prof. F. W. Bartlett, who is still principal. Before the close of the first year the attendance had doubled, and the school, situated in the Central building, is so increasing that Prof. Bartlett will be furnished with an assistant. The course of study is of so high a grade that its graduates are admitted to the Freshman classes of the State University, Washburn College, Baker and Lane universities, and other leading colleges of Kansas, without further examination.

The graded course of study pursued in the public schools is in accord with the most advanced methods adopted in the East, a certain programme of work to be accomplished annually being strictly carried out by the teachers of the different grades. Besides the Superintendent of City Schools and Principal of the High School, twenty-nine regular and two substitute teachers are employed in the maintenance of public education in Atchison. The average daily attendance (May, 1882) is 1,886 out of an enrollment of 2,310. The wards of the city are so overcrowded, however, that when State legislation has been obtained enabling the city to issue bonds, certainly two new school buildings will be erected - a High School building, to be located near the Central building, and an additional structure for the accommodation of pupils in northwestern Atchison.

Central School - The building was completed in 1870 to replace the one destroyed by fire in October, 1869. Located on Fifth street, between Santa Fe and Atchison streets, the structure is one of the finest in the West. Its cost was $85,000. Prof. Meade, the Superintendent of Public Schools, has his office on the second floor, the High School is located on the third floor, the other rooms being devoted to the public school proper. The building is of brick, three stories, cut stone foundation and trimmings, dimensions 63X82 feet. The grounds surrounding the building are 310X225 feet. The Central building is a structure which is one of the noble looking landmarks of Atchison, standing as it does on an elevation which overlooks the thickly settled portion of the city. The attendance is 800.

Washington School (South Atchison) is situated on the corner of Fifth and Q streets, and was erected in 1873, at a cost of $15,000. It is built of brick, three stories in height, and next to the Central Building is the most imposing school edifice in the city. The principal of the school is Prof. F. M. Draper, who also has charge of the Douglas (colored) school, on Q street, between 5th and 6th streets. The attendance at both schools is 506.

Prof. J. F. Thorn is principal of the Franklin school, the building being located on Commercial street. The average daily attendance is 260.

The Lincoln school (colored) is located on Atchison street, between 7th and 8th streets, and is attended by 320 pupils. Prof. Thomas Morton is the principal.

The Atchison Institute was founded in September, 1870, by Mrs. H. E. Monroe, who is still its proprietor and president. The school, now known as the Institute, was first opened in a little building on Fourth street and was afterwards conducted in the unfinished part of the Kansas Avenue M. E. Church. In November, 1871, the first building upon the present site of the Institute, northwest corner of Third street and Kansas avenue, was occupied. A wing was added in 1876, and the large brick building in 1879. And now even more room is required. The location of the Institute buildings is high, healthful and beautiful, the property at present representing a valuation of $25,000.

The success of the enterprise has been phenomenal; without assistance from city, county, State, church or private donation; from a beginning of only nine students it has had for more than three years past an annual enrollment of nearly 300 students. Its musical department alone numbers seventy, and its art department fifty. It admits no superior in the Missouri valley for these two specialties. It has the following departments: Kindergarten, primary, intermediate, and academic grades. Its collegiate department consists of a Preparatory, Scientific, Classical and Belles Letters course. It also has the Normal Art, Musical and Commercial course. Its teachers for 1882 - '83 are: Mrs. H. E. Monroe, President and Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature; B. H. Nihart, A. B., Vice-president, Professor of Didactics, Languages and Science; Miss Ida A. Ahlborn, Professor of German, Mathematics and Common Branches; Miss Dora Phelps, Professor of Elocution; Miss E. E. Spencer, Principal Primary and Intermediate Grades; Miss Mary J. Whitaker, Assistant Teacher, Kindergarten; Mrs. D. N. Wheeler, Professor of Art; Frederick Wachter, Professor of Music; Miss Josephine Ware, Professor of Music; Miss S. M. Hayward, Professor of Music; Lily M. Gayler. Assistant Teacher of Music; Minnie Parker, Assistant Teacher of Music; making in all thirteen teachers. It has had the only course of successful lectures in the city of Atchison, extending through the term of five years. It also calls to it assistance specialists in the sciences, who give daily lectures and instruction on the subject under consideration.

Its course of Belles Letters is unique and original, and will commend itself to the judgement of thoughtful parents. It is designed as a post graduate course for ladies, as well as for ladies who late in life have time and means to cultivate their mental abilities. It realizes that while the higher mathematics are always beneficial, they are less so in the education of women than good domestic and literary training. During the course of two years nearly 100 volumes, including the classics of all languages, are read and discussed for training both as to matter and manner of conversation.

It is divided into four chapters of divisions, viz: Chapter of Language, Domestic Chapter, Chapter of Literature and Chapter of Accomplishment.

In the Chapter of Language the following branches are studied: Grammer, Rhetoric, Swinton's Ramble Among Words, Trench's Method of Words, Graham's Synonyms, Smith's Etymology, with a course of reading embracing ten books corresponding to the above.

Domestic Economy, the text books being House and Home Papers, American Woman's Home and Cookery as a Science, Domestic Chemistry, Physiology and Hygiene, particularly pertaining to the health of women and children, Mental and Moral Philosophy and Civil Government.

The most eminent ladies of the West lecture before this class and show that they consider no woman's education complete who does not know how to conduct a household, take care of the minds and bodies committed to her care, and prepare citizens for the republic. The next is an extensive course in the histories and literature of different countries, the history of art and artists, music and musicians, architecture and architects, besides the discussing of forty books on the above subjects. The chapter of accomplishments consists of music to the seventh grade, conversation as a science and art, and painting in oil and water colors, and general decorative art. The substitute for painting or music is cookery as an art.

Academy of Mount St. Scholastica - Among the educational institutions, which, during the past twenty years has been gradually, but surely establishing itself in the confidence of the community, is the St. Scholastica Academy, under the supervision of the Benedictine Sisters. Its location is one of the most charming and healthful imagined. The academy known formerly as the "Price Villa," is a large and finely arranged brick structure, three stories in height, with a mansard roof, and is situated in the suburbs south of Atchison, on a beautiful elevation commanding an extensive view of the city and the surrounding country. The size of the building is 80X120 feet, large bay windows and wide porticos and verandas giving it an outward appearance of homelike comfort which its interior arrangements do not belie. It is heated by steam, supplied with hot and cold water, bath rooms and every other convenience. The grounds surrounding the academy are being continually improved and ornamented, and are so spacious that they afford ample advantages for exercise,

The academy was established in November, 1863. In the convent opposite St. Benedict's Abbey, North Atchison. Here the school was conducted until July 16, 1877, when the magnificent piece of property in South Atchison, known as the "Price Villa," was purchased and the building adapted for the purposes for which it was intended. The property originally cost over $60,000, and is as finely arranged for educational purposes as any in the State. Nine teachers are employed in instilling a course of instruction which embraces every useful and ornamental branch of education suitable for young ladies. Differences of religion is no obstacle to admission; provided the young ladies are prepared to conform with the general regulations of the academy. Semi-annual bulletins are transmitted to parents or guardians, informing them of the conduct proficiency and health of their children or wards. Mount St. Scholastica Academy, in short, is a home where young ladies are instructed by a Mother and Sisters, who take a personal interest and pride in the well-being and well-doing of their pupils.


The Champion. - This, the oldest journal in Atchison, was founded upon the Squatter Sovereign, a Pro-slavery sheet, first issued February 3, 1855. The father of the Sovereign was the Atchison Town Company, or, to be more particular, a resolution passed by that association, September 21, 1854, donating $400 to Robert S. Kelley and Dr. John H. Stringfellow for the purpose of establishing a printing office. The little building, fashioned from cottonwood logs, which were borne on the shoulders of Mr. Kelley, was situated on the river bank overlooking George Million's Ferry landing. It is a coincidence that the site afterwards became the resident property of Col. John A. Martin, present editor of the Champion. As stated, the first issue was dated February 3, these gentlemen being editors and proprietors of the Journal. In the summer of 1857, the town association disposed of a large share of its property interests to the New England Aid Society, of which Ex- Senator A. C. Pomeroy was agent, and Robert McBratney and Frank G. Adams were active members. The Sovereign passed into their hands, being converted, of course, into a Free-state paper. Mr. Pomeroy soon became sole owner, but in the fall of 1857 sold the paper to O. F. Short. In February, 1858, John A. Martin purchased the establishment and on the twentieth day of that month, christened it The Freedom's Champion. In September, 1861, Mr. Martin commenced his term of service in the Union army, leaving the Champion in charge of George I. Stebbins. Mr. Stebbins had charge of the paper until the fall of 1863, when it was leased to John J. Ingalls and Albert H. Horton. In January, 1865, Col. Martin returned from the army, and resumed charge of his paper, and on the twenty-second of March, 1865, began the publication of a daily.

The next important step in the history of the Champion was taken August 11, 1868, when it was consolidated with the Atchison Free Press, being called the Champion and Press. The Free Press - a Republican daily paper - first appeared May 5, 1864, F. G. Adams, editor and Proprietor. In April, 1865, Frank A. Root became a partner. Two years thereafter L. R. Elliott, who had been acting as assistant editor for some time, became joint proprietor with Mr. Root. Mr. Elliott sold his interest in February, 1868, the consolidation with the Champion taking place in August, when Mr. Adams retired.

On May 20, 1869, the office of the Champion and Press was destroyed by fire, but within three weeks the establishment was again in running order, the paper coming to the public now with John A. Martin as sole editor and proprietor. The Champion is, as it has been for the next twenty-four years, bold and vigorous in the enunciation of its policy. With the exception of his term of service in the army, Col. Martin has been continuously at the helm. The Champion is Republican in politics, an eight-column folio in form, and is among the leading journals of the State, whether considered as a newspaper or as a political journal and champion of public measures.

The Atchison Patriot was established by Nelson Abbott, October 25, 1867. In September, 1868, Messrs. H. Clay Park, B. P. Waggener and Nelson Abbott, formed a partnership, under the firm name of H. Clay Park & Co., and purchased the establishment. In October of the same year, the paper passed into the hands of C. F. and C. P. Coolsan (sic), and shortly afterward reverted to Nelson Abbott. In December, 1875, Mr. Abbott delivered his valedictory through the columns of the Patriot. During his ownership of the paper, (*) H. B. Horn, who is still connected with it as bookkeeper, was (*) as agent of the Patriot, and performed much of the editorial work. On December 6, 1875, Messrs. H. Clay Park, F. L. Vandegrift and P. H. Peters, assumed control, the latter retiring soon after. In 1877, E. W. Beall was admitted as a partner, the style of the firm being changed from Park & Vandegrift to H. Clay Park & Co. On January 21, 1879, Thomas Silvers, who had been connected with the Champion for eight years, formed a partnership with Mr. Park, Messrs. Vandegrift and Beall retiring.

The Patriot, at present published by Park & Silvers, is a seven- column folio, afternoon issue, daily and weekly editions. It is stanchly Democratic in politics, in fact, stalwartly so, if the expression may be excused. It is a good local and State paper, full of news pithily presented. In a word, the Patriot is a journalistic success.

The Globe was established by E. W. Howe, its present editor and proprietor, December 8, 1877. The daily is a spicy five-column folio, filled with fresh local matter, and touching every topic, editorially, from an independent standpoint. The weekly is a seven-column paper. Both editions are printed in its own office. Attached to the Globe is a good job office. As an afternoon paper it has its own peculiar field, which it alone can and does fill. Mr. Howe, although among the younger members of the editorial profession, is looked upon as one of the raciest writers in the State, and a young man of decided energy and ability.

Kansas Staats Anzeiger. - In 1880, the material for this weekly German paper was brought from Witchita, Kan. by Phillip Schmitz. About the same time, J. Hoernscheldt, who had purchased offices in Great Bend and Witchita, and tried the experiment of publishing a German paper in Topeka, and together they commenced the publication of the Daily Journal and the weekly Kansas Staats Anzeiger. Soon after, Mr. Schmitz sold his interest to his partner, and Mr. Hoernscheldt has since remained sole proprietor. The daily is a six-column folio, and has a circulation of 500, mostly in the city. The Anzeiger is the largest German paper in the State, circulates 3,000 copies, and has an excellent advertising patronage. Both journals are independent in politics. Connected with the paper is a well- appointed job office. The location of the establishment is on Commercial street between Sixth and Seventh streets.

The Sunday Morning Call, devoted to society, dramatic items, literature, and family reading, was established in February, 1880, by Frank Pearce. A few weeks later, Bowton, Low & Co. became proprietors, and increased its size. January 28, 1881, L. L. Higby became part owner, and the Call was enlarged to its present dimensions - a six column quarto. In July, 1882, Mr. Higby became sole proprietor.

As in all towns of blood and ambition, many newspaper enterprises which were put on foot in Atchison, stumbled and finally fell. That which met with the most prolonged success was the Union, the first number of which was issued June 4, 1859. G. O. Chase, editor and proprietor. It was purchased by Adams & Stebbins in the winter of 1861, and during the succeeding winter was sold to Cochran Brothers. By them it was transferred, early in 1863, to Leland & Marion, who published the paper for about a year, when it was started for Platte City, Mo., but the entire material was capsized in a creek on the way.

A Polish printer, named Pfeifer, established a small weekly in 1859, printed half in English and half in German. It existed only a few months.

The Atchison Bulletin, a Democratic paper, formerly the Lecompton Democrat, was published by Driggs, Faris & Moore, the first number being issued June 20, 1861. Its publication continued until December of the same year, and early in 1862, the material was removed to Leavenworth, where it was employed in establishing the Leavenworth Inquirer.

The Union Banner was issued as a Republican daily campaign paper, by John A. Martin, of the Champion, during an exciting canvass for city officers in 1861.

The Atchison Anti Jayhawker, a Democratic daily campaign sheet, was published by Cochran Brothers during the city canvass in the spring of 1862.

The Democratic Standard, published by W. J. Marion, was first issued November 29, 1862 but was continued only for three months.

The Atchison Free Press, a Republican daily paper, first appeared May 5, 1864, published by F. G. Adams. In April, 1865, Frank A. Root became a partner in the enterprise. L. R. Elliot became assistant editor with Mr. Adams in September, 1866, and editor and joint proprietor with Mr. Root in April, 1867. He disposed of his interest, February 10, 1868. August 11, 1868, the Free Press was consolidated with the Champion, Martin & Root being the publishers of the consolidated journal, Mr. Adams retiring. Mr. Root retired in the spring of 1869.

Die Fackel, a German weekly, was removed from Wyandotte to Atchison, January 1, 1868, and was published there until January, 1869, by H. W. Kastor, when it was removed to St. Joseph, Mo., and consolidated with the Volksblatt.

[TOC] [part 8] [part 6] [Cutler's History]