SCHOOLS - THEIR GROWTH AND FINANCIAL EXHIBIT
Henry County has not been behind her sister counties in her desires and aims for a thorough school system. The people of a neighborhood who had, previous to the county's organization, but apologies for schools, were anxious that the sixteenth section should contribute as soon as possible to improve their school facilities. Some schools had been kept in the county at private cabins, and again some old deserted one had been utilized for teaching the children of a neighborhood in the rudiments of an elementary education.
Very cheap and very imperfect had been these schools, the parents paying from one to two dollars per month for each pupil. All of these early schools were known as subscription schools. The neighbors would get together, when an old hut was not at hand, and erect a log cabin with a stick chimney, puncheon stools, no doors or windows, and here would be found the youths of both sexes gathered together, taking their first lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic. It was not much, but it was all, and the best the pioneers of those early days could do. As the population increased, better provisions were made, and the state school fund became an important item in causing the winter term to lengthen to three and four months.
The county had been organized but a little over a year when the inhabitants of what is now Clinton Township, petitioned for the sale of the sixteenth section of township 42, of range 26. The court granted the petition at the February term, 1836. This was the first land sold, but not all of the section was disposed of. Then followed the petitions for the sale of other sixteenth sections in the order here given:
Sixteenth section, township 40, range 25, August, 1836.
Sixteenth section, township 43, range 25, November 1836.
Sixteenth section, township 42, range 24, March, 1838.
None of these sections were fully sold at the first sale.
No Prairie Lands Wanted
The old pioneers never had a liking for prairie lands, and all of the settlers generally located on or near a stream of water. While the prairies were treeless, on the banks of all the streams and rivers there was plenty of wood. This objection to prairie land was very plainly exemplified by the early settlers of Henry County, in a petition to the county court, that, sixteenth section of township 42, of range 25, the sixteenth section of township 43, of range 24, and the sixteenth section of township 41, of range 26, be given back to the United States, on the ground "that it was poor land, and there was no timber on it," and that they have the privilege of selecting three other sections of land in their place. The court effected the change, for Thomas Arbuckle was afterward commissioned to select the lands for township 43, range 24, and he may have done it for all, and when selected, an order was granted for its sale for school purposes.
In August, 1837, the first school district was organized in Henry County, and was called district No. 1, township 42 of range 26. John F. Sharp, George W. Lake and Hiram Baker were appointed trustees. They continued in office one year and then all resigned. There were no others organized until November, 1842, when one was organized in township 43 of range 26. Mr. William Akens was appointed commissioner. From that time on to 1847 quite a number were in operation, no less than nine receiving the state fund distributed that year, which amounted to $322.40. It was apportioned as follows:
This was the first money distributed which was found of record. The next apportionment of state fund here entered was in May,1850, and it amounted to $363.96.
In May 1851, the state school money received was divided among all the townships in proportion to the number of children in each township between the ages of six and twenty. The sum apportioned is given in detail, so as to show on future pages the growth of the schools in the county, and what townships were in the lead, both in number of children of school age and schools in operation. The gross sum from the state amounted to $439.40, and each township received its proportion, as here given:
State School Apportioned 1850
This fund is received in April or May of the following year, and the amount was received and distributed to the school districts in May 1851, and divided as follows:
There was a steady increase in the state fund from year to year, and by the sale of the sixteenth sections the townships fund also began to show a fair supply for distribution. The state fund for 1852 was $410.80, 1853, $450.50, and that apportioned in 1854 to $611.10. The number of children in the county of school age was, in 1852, 1386, and in 1854, 1444. The state school money of 1852 gave thirty cents to each child of school age, while that of 1854 was within a fraction of forty-two cents. As the year 1854 was the first year that a full apportionment was made of all funds, the county and townships being apportioned together it is here given with the township funds, such as had any.
There was distributed of county school money $216 and of state money $611.10. There was, according to the school census, 1444 children between the ages of five and twenty years in Henry County.
In 1854 there were six townships which at that time had no permanent township school fund, the sixteenth section still remaining unsold. Township 44, of ranges from 28 to 24 inclusive, being one-sixth of the township on its southern border and lying within Henry County, were attached to the school townships, joining them in township 43, of the same ranges.
February 7, 1857, the county was divided into regular school districts for the first time and numbered from one to twenty, and they remain so to this day.
The sum of $300.66 was received for the county school fund for the year 1856 and apportioned.
In June, 1857, the county court apportioned the county fund, the amount being $386.88.
The highest price any school land brought was a forty-acre tract northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 16, township 41, range 28 sold to James A. Cummings at $7.75 per acre. He purchased 240 acres of that section.
Section 16, of township 41, range 28, sold for $2,012. It was sold May 11, 1857, and brought the highest price of any school lands sold up to that date; Mr. Cummings paying an average of $3.80 2/3 per acre for his 240 acres, and J.A. Pinson, purchasing the remainder of the section - 400 acres -at an average of $2.70 per acre. There was, on the date above $3,818 worth of school lands sold.
In May 1858, the state, county and township fund had increased so that the distribution that year amounted in all to $1,608.51. The county treasurer also made a full exhibit of the township funds of each district. The organization into school districts caused the fund to be properly separated and each district had its proper amount to its credit. This was the first full exhibit made.
The report is below of each township fund at interest.
Township Funds 1858
The swamp land fund amounted to $9,890.65.
The return of township funds for 1859 showed a gain of $2,436.60, the total footing up $22,641.43, and that of 1860 was $13,089.34.
The township and county fund distributed in 1860 was as follows and footed up $2,521.90:
The school census was 3,051 children of school age.
The troubles which overran our country from 1861 to 1865 had a most depressing effect upon not only the school fund of the state, which arose to nearly a million dollars, but Henry County sunk nearly one-half of her permanent fund in the same time. The interest on the swamp land fund was in May 1861, for the year, $1,118.20, and strays and fines reported, $383.69. This was given, as the law required, to the school fund. That year, 1861, the largest fund had been received of any previous year, the increase being marked, and had not the war and its attendant evils prevailed, the school fund of the county would have borne wonderful fruit in the education of her children.
For years the amount apportioned to some of the school districts was not drawn, and the sum began to accumulate in the treasury. It was decided at the February term,1862, to loan it out and add it to the principal of the fund of the township that had neglected or failed to use the amount thus apportioned. In the report given of the township fund and the swamp land fund, which is all loaned out, the records in the county clerk's office gives the names of all those to whom the fund is loaned. For instance, take record Book E, on pages 213 to 222 inclusive, will be found names, amount and the sum due by each for the fiscal year ending July 1862.
The state apportionment for 1864 was $1,342.44.
1866 and 1870
To show how the years of bitter strife affected the permanent school fund of the county, the figures are given as taken from the record. As before given,
The township fund is again given for the two last years mentioned, but by townships, so that each can see its loss or gain in the different years, and it will also serve as a guide to count the future increase:
A township school tax was levied in the several townships for 1867,
to the amount of $15,161.40. In addition thereto some of the school districts levied an additional tax.
In the Sixth Annual Report of the State Superintendent of Public Schools for the year 1872, page 223, the number of acres of school lands sold in this county was put down at 10,400 acres, and the number still on hand at 2,400 acres, making a total in the county of 12,600 acres. The 10,400 acres were credited as being sold for the sum of $27,545.10. As this fund from the sale of school lands at this time, 1882, only amounts to $24,133.04, the people can see that they have not only lost the principal to the amount of $3,412.06, but lost ten years' interest besides, which at ten percent equals the principal, or a total lost of $30,957.16, saying nothing about the 2,400 acres of school lands, which are about all disposed of. The same report (1872), makes an interesting statement of the swamp land sale, a history of which will be found in another part of this work. This report credits the county with 25,298.12-100 acres, but says the county sold 27,120 acres for the gross sum of $15,699.66; that it had still unsold, 1,480 acres, and that it had lost of the amount sold for, no less than $6,621.86. There was about 40 percent and over, of the principal of this sum gone - where? The war times was a great year for losses, and but little of it had been regained a decade after.
In the report of the State Superintendent of Public Schools, January 5, 1876, covering the proceedings of 1875, it says, in reference to the school funds of the state, that, "the township swamp land and county school funds are under the control of the various county courts, and, as a general rule have been badly managed. They have, to a shameful extent been lost, squandered and stolen. This was more particularly true of the war period of our history. There is now a general principle to guard more faithfully these interests." Now all this is true enough, but the counties and county courts were not as derelict in their duties as the state officers were during the same time and up to January 1869. It then required a state certificate of indebtedness of no less an amount than $900,000 from the state to the state school fund, to meet the sum due that fund, which the state had neglected to do for a period of eight years. There is perhaps no better place to show how the school fund of the state stood, January 1, 1876, than here taken from this report. It shows that Missouri stands well towards the front rank of states that have made liberal and extensive provisions for the education of her children.
To show the people of the county how the state school money has gained in the amount apportioned, the figures of the different years are given together. Very few are aware of the rapid increase of this fund or even aware of the amount annually apportioned to this county.
State School Money
For a number of years the money apportioned and distributed was all put together. The state fund, however, for 1871 and apportioned May 1872, was $3,466. This shows a decided gain for the years first given.
There were that year eighty-four schools in Henry County for white children and four for colored, and there were eighty-four school buildings in the county. The enumeration showed children of school age in the county, January 1, 1873, 7,286, and in 1874 they numbered 6,737. The state school money for those years was: For 1874, $4,227.80; 1875, $4,442.30, and the number of children of school age in the county numbered for 1875, 7,230. The same year Henry County had the following permanent school fund:
Henry County had 98 school houses in 1875, and rented four more buildings for school purposes. The value of school property in the county was $64,198.74, and the wages paid teachers the same year (1875) aggregated $22,648.22. These figures show the rapid advance made in the county for a more perfect school system. The tax levy for a number of years has been quite heavy, and the sums thus voluntarily paid have done much to place the educational facilities of Henry County not only on a firm foundation, but have placed her in the line of educational facilities and genuine progress, in the front rank of counties in the state.
The schools show a commendable advance in the past five years. The state, county and township funds have gradually increased, and the receipts for school purposes correspondingly advanced. More schools were needed and furnished, and the demand in all departments fully met. The general statistics for 1880, and published January 1, 1881, are here given:
Receipts and Expenditures
This shows a healthy state of the school finances, but still there is no special necessity for so large an amount remaining on hand at the end of the year. It might go to the permanent fund, so that by-and-by, taxation might be lessened.
The following interesting report of the Clinton Graded School is appended: CLINTON
To the Hon. R. D. Shannon, Superintendent of Public Schools of Missouri:
DEAR SIR - Under the provisions of section 7138, Revised Statutes, I have the pleasure of submitting the following report of the public graded school of Clinton school district for the school year beginning September 8, 1879:
E.P. LAMKIN, Superintendent
This school has become noted for its proficiency and the success which has attended its course for the past few years. The building is a fine one, and its appurtenances throughout belong to the latest and most approved method of teaching. Two years ago there was a fine addition added to it, almost equal to its former dimensions, and even this now is hardly adequate to the demand upon it.
The state fund is increasing, showing a steady gain. So do the county and township funds, as fines, penalties, estrays, etc., are added to them yearly.
The apportionment from the state
The figures from these 3 sources for May 1882, amounted to $12,260.03
Missouri as a state is not behind her sisters in advancing the cause
of education, and today the permanent school fund of the state, including the township and county fund, exceeds that of any state in the Union,
Indiana alone excepted.
The school property of the state was valued January 1, 1881, at $7,353,401.22.
There is not a particle of doubt that the sum dedicated to educational purposes in permanent funds and school property aggregates the sum of $16,500,000.
When the population of the state is considered, the destruction and loss occasioned by the Civil War, the prompt manner in which the state has upheld and sustained the education of her sons and daughters has had no superior among her sister states, and but few if any equals. When the constitution gives one-quarter of the income annually to the support of this system of popular education, and fines and penalties are turned over to its use, and the counties of the state annually levy a tax according to their population of from ten to twenty thousand dollars in addition to all that may arise from the permanent fund, will any one say that the educational interests of youths of this state are neglected? No state in the union can boast of a better system, or has shown a greater desire to advance the cause of popular education, of religion and morality, and she stands the peer, having few equals and no superiors in the constellation of states that forms this glorious union. Rich in agricultural resources and mineral wealth, blest with a climate unsurpassed for its healthfulness, a soil rich and inexhaustible, it needs but the teaching of the rising generation that honor and manhood, combined with intellectual culture is the stepping stone to future greatness, and it is for them to advance and develop these to make her a beacon light, and an example for her sister states to emulate.