Early History of Meade Schools
Taken from the pages of the Meade County
Historical Society 1885 History Book (copyright)
Written in 1962 by
Laura S. Smith
Since records of the
first schools in Meade are no longer in existence, the early
part of this history is based on my own memory of the events
I heard discussed as a child which had happened some years
earlier, and on the memory of others who were here at that
The late Robert A.
Brannan recalled that he was a pupil in the first school
held in the town of Meade. That was in the winter of 1885
and 1886. The school was held in a store building which
faced the north on Carthage Avenue, about midway between
Fowler and Spring Lake Streets. Finances were by
subscription, as school districts were not yet sufficiently
organized to receive funds for operation. The first teacher
was a Mr. Charley Edwards. Mr. Brannan also recalled the
name of Melissa Louks as a teacher there. She may have been
the second teacher.
Later schools were held
in other buildings during the early years. A building
somewhere near the intersection of West Plains and Meade
Center Streets housed some of the pupils, and another on
East Carthage, east of Meade Center Street, held another
group. These locations are according to the memories of the
late Brother Buis and William Wehrle, and of Mrs. Eva Coon,
all of whom attended classes in those places. The late Mrs.
M.W. (Carrie) Anschutz recalled attending classes in the
Christian Church, on the site of the present Baptist Church.
About that time the
district began the erection of a school building, located on
the site of present Meade City school buildings. It was
named the Washington School, and opened In the fall of 1888.
It was a two-storey structure, containing six classrooms
with a full basement, which was used for play rooms in
stormy weather. There was a bell tower with a bell large
enough to be heard for two or three miles.
Three teachers divided
the 60 or so pupils into more or less ungraded groups. In
the early 1900s, a fourth teacher was added and an attempt
was made to arrange the pupils in formal grades. Some of the
early-day teachers who gave splendid instruction were Tillie
Turner, Jennie Kessler, Abbie Wightman (who later became
Mrs. Abbie Bodle and had a long teaching career in the
schools), Lou Bodle, A.T. Bodle, Ormond Hamilton, Florence
Richardson, Sada Jenkins, C.P. Dawson, and Ross McCormick,
to name only a few.
All through the years, a
few high school subjects had been taught to older pupils.
Such subjects depended upon the interest and preparation of
the instructor. So early-day students had some fine ground
work in such subjects as mathematics, science, Latin,
German, English, and bookkeeping.
However, there came a
demand for more formal high school work, and a three-year
course was established in 1903. Several classes were
graduated from this course.
In 1909, the school
board, consisting of James Wilson, M.C. Read, and Frank
Bennett, called a meeting of the highest class in the school
and asked them what they planned to do the following year.
The class replied that they expected to go on to school. The
year of 1910 saw a repetition of the same called meeting,
and the determination of the class to finish high school.
At that time, the State
Superintendent W.D. Ross, and the Superintendent of the
schools at Atchison, Kansas, came to Meade as an examining
board to give tests and examinations to determine how well
the school stood academically for accreditation as a four
year high school The result was satisfactory.
In the fall of 1911, Joe
N. Hamilton came to Meade as Superintendent and assistant
teachers were Florence Lennen and Bertha Davis. The
Washington building still housed the eight grades and the
high school. It was remodeled inside to add another class
room, and a science laboratory, tiny but complete, as well
as a domestic science rooms in the basement. So, in 1912,
the first class from a four year accredited high school was
In 1916, the Bennett
building was built to house the grade school and in 1926,
the new high school building was erected. The upper story of
the Washington building was removed, and classrooms were
rearranged to accommodate the seventh and eighth grades, and
other classes. A new grade school building and gymnasium was
built in 1950, the Bennett building was razed to make room
for it, and in 1959 the Washington building was removed when
a new wing was added to the high school.
A vocational agriculture
course was added, and a suitable building was placed on land
acquired for the purpose east of the school campus.