Winfield Public Schools


Compiled for the Arkansas City Historical Society by Richard Kay Wortman.


The Cowley County Old Settlers' Association met at Dexter Wednesday, August 26, 1903. H. E. Silliman gave the following report on early Winfield. It was printed in the September 3, 1903, Winfield Free Press. "The first school was taught by Miss Annie A. Marks, now Mrs. David Gross. It was a subscription school and was held in the old log store. Mrs. Gross says it was in the spring of 1871. There were fifteen children in attendance, among whom were Cora Andrews, Frank Howland and Ben Manning.

SATURDAY, MARCH 18, 1871. - Censor - "The lumber is now being sawed for a fine school house, 24 x 40 feet in size, where a good school will be kept this winter."

Robert Hudson, Jr. remembered AThe first schoolhouse in Winfield was near the corner of Tenth and Main (1003 Main) where the Coffee Cup cafe now stands.@ He remembered how he and James Lorton had to sit in the same single seat for many of the sessions. (And how occasionally he or Jim went down on the floor, depending on which gave the hardest shove.)

May 13, 1871 - Censor - "Our public school opened last Monday under the charge of Miss Bliss.

July 1, 1871 - Censor - THE SCHOOL. We congratulate the people of this place on the success of the school in the room below our office. The teacher, Miss Bliss, brings experience and rare ability to her position, and discharges her duties with the utmost fidelity. The County and District School Officers express their entire satisfaction with the progress which the school is making. Another article referred to a bakery being located on the corner of Main Street and Tenth Avenue (one door north of the Censor office.)

October 21, 1871 - Censor - The School Bonds carried last Monday, the vote being 68 for and none against.

"The first public school building was the north wing of Central high school building and was erected in 1872, being a substantial stone building 36 by 36 feet. E. P. Hickok was the first teacher in it and Mrs. Hickok was the next. She taught the summer school while he farmed his claim.




The following brief history of the Winfield City schools, prepared by order of the Board for the AColumbian History of Kansas@ is herewith inserted, not only as a matter of record, but in the belief that it may be a matter of interest to the Board of Education and the citizens of Winfield:

AHardly had the echoes of the axe of the first settler of 1869 died away, when the public spirited citizens of Winfield, with that unity of purpose which was a marked characteristic of the early residents, set about establishing a school, where their children might enjoy the facilities for an education.

A structure 20x30 feet and 20 feet in height, consisting of two stories, was erected by the citizens from logs cut from the trees growing along the Walnut river. This building served a variety of purposes. At times the hewn logs reverberated to the eloquence of aspiring young attorneys, who had delved deep into the mysteries of Blackstone. Again, some adventuresome young man, who had wearied of the humdrum of some quiet village farther east, and longed for the more exciting life of the frontier, condensed his collegiate lore into flowery language, hoping thereby to replenish his not over corpulent purse, by delivering to the mentallyChungry westerner a AScientific@ lecture. In the same room, on Sunday, all of the town might be seen listening to the earnest prayer and exhortation of some divine, whose only thought was to lead to a higher and better life those who sat under his ministry.

This building was located on the present site of Manning=s opera house. It was afterward removed to the ground where the telegram office now stands, and was reduced to ashes a few years since. The upper room of this building was used for a private school during the summer of 1870, being presided over by Miss Anna Marks, later one of the leading teachers of the county.

Her work was marked by earnestness and thoroughness. Rev. Mr. Parmelee of the Congregational church, followed Miss Marks, teaching during the week and preaching on Sunday. In the spring of 1872 bonds were voted, by which the people of Winfield were enabled to take steps toward the erection of a substantial stone edifice 36x36 faded a cost of $10,000, and consisting of two commodious rooms, which, however, did not meet the demands of the rapidly growing population. Later, the long low building, familiarly known as the Abarracks@ was built for the accommodation of the children of the primary grades.

The basement of the Presbyterian church was also used for school purposes.

When the place was chosen on which to build the school house many protested against its location, as it was considered too far Aout upon the prairie,@ most of the residences being then west of Main street. Notwithstanding these objections, the leaders with keen foresight, saw a bright future for the city, and proceeded to erect on the chosen site the building which constitutes the north wing of the handsome structure which is now the Central building.

Rev. E. P. Hickok was employed as Principal during the fall and winter of 1871C72, and continued to fill the place very efficiently until his resignation in 1875. A. B. Lemmon, afterwards State Superintendent of public Instruction, succeeded him.

W. C. Robinson taught in 1876C77, George W. Robinson taught in 1878C79, at which time there were 510 children of school age, 385 enrolled, and an average attendance of 230. E. T. Trimble became Principal in 1880, remaining until 1884. Ansel Gridley, Jr., was his successor, who remained until 1886. J. H. Hays followed him, remaining until 1891. The present Principal, J. W. Spindler, began work in the fall of 1891.

The fine stone structure in the first ward is known as the Central school building, and with the grounds occupies a block. The latter are covered with a beautiful green sward, and are ornamented with a variety of trees.

In the remaining wards the expenditure has been sufficient to make the entire school property of the city worth over $60,000. The High School room is located in the Central building, and has a seating capacity of 120.

There are 14 rooms in the Central building, 16 in the other wards, making in all 30 rooms, employing 27 teachers.


Winfield Courier, January 6, 1883. SCHOOL BUILDINGS.

The city of Winfield is divided into two wards, first and second, and each having school buildings. That in the first ward is 45 x 50 feet with an additional 40 x 40 and basement under the whole structure, while that of the second ward is 30 x 50 with two wings each 18 x 32 and basement. Each of these buildings are two story, built of magnesia limestone, well finished and furnished, and heated with hot air. The first mentioned contains eight rooms and the latter four. The first ward building cost $12,000, while the other cost $6,000. They are both situated on beautiful plats of ground and are an ornament to the town. We usually have about 9 months public school each year. The number off scholars enrolled during the present term is over 800. Both wards are under the supervision of one man, Prof. E. T. Trimble, one of the leading educators of the age, who is assisted by a corps of competent and experienced teachers, each of whom do their duty to the entire satisfaction of all parents.

Winfield Courier, May 1, 1884.

The Commencement exercises of the High School will take place in the Opera House Thursday, May 8th, at 8 o=clock p.m. Thursday and Friday, May 8th and 9th, will be devoted to oral examination in all the grades, to which the patrons and friends of the school are invited.

Winfield Courier, May 15, 1884.

High School Commencement Exercises.

The Opera House was crowded on last Thursday evening for the annual Commencement exercises of the Winfield High School. At the proper hour the curtain rose, disclosing a class of six young ladies, all beautifully robed in white, and countenances aglow with expectation, with their teachers, Prof. A. Gridley and Miss Caro Meech, at the head of the class. The program of exercises was as follows.

Invocation: Rev. Dr. Kirkwood.

Greeting Song: Class.

EssayCFrom Possibility to Reality, with Salutatory: Josie A. Pixley.

EssayCGeometry, with demonstration of proposition: Lizzie J. Lawson.

Instrumental MusicCDrops of Water: Miss L. Dawson.

Class Prophecy: Ivy Dell Crane.

RecitationC@The Present Crisis@: Olive Stubblefield.

Instrumental MusicCThe Witches= Dance: Miss L. Dawson.

EssayCThe Earth=s Phenomena: Coralie Shreves.

EssayCCrazy Patchwork, with Valedictory: Ella F. Garlick.


Farewell Son: Class.

Benediction: Rev. Brittain.

The subject matter and rendition of each performace were highly creditable and worthy of individual mention, but where all did so well, it would seem invidious to particularize. The presentation of diplomas was preceded by very appropriate words of advice by Prof. Gridley. Miss Dawson rendered the class valuable assistance in her beautifu instrumental selections.

Winfield Courier, May 29, 1884.


It is proposed by the City school board to submit to the voters of this district a proposition to vote $10,000 bonds for the purpose of building a new four room schoolhouse. There is not room in our present twelve school rrooms for near all the pupils that would have to attend our city schools and something must be done to make more room and that immediately.

It is concluded that four more rooms will be sufficient for the present, possibly for three or four years, but without doubt in the not distant future, another 4 rooms will be needed and still another.

It is, therefore, important in locating a new schoolhouse this summer that it should be done in reference to the future location of at least two more schoolhouses. At present there are the most pupils in the east and southeast part of the district who are distant from a schoolhouse, and the first new house should be built in that direction. We should say that about in the vicinity of Judge Torrance=s ten acre tract and Senator Hackney=s residence would be a proper location.

When other schoolhouses are to be built, the northeast and southwest parts of the district would naturally be the locations. It is probable that the wards of the city will be increased in number as fast as schoolhouses are built and the house to be built this year will be known as the third ward schoolhouse.

There is a considerable area in the east and southeast that ought to be included in the corporation limits and will be at no distant day, and we know of no reason why it should be insisted that a choolhouse to be built this year should be located within the present city limits. It is enough that it be located in the most suitable place within the district whether outside or inside the city limits.

We should say that the school board should first locate the site and contract for the ground subject to the approval of the voters at the election. Then submit the bonds, stating the location in the proposition and then an approval of the bonds will be an approval of the site and every voter will vote with a full and fair understanding of the situation.

Winfield Courier, June 19, 1884.


The Board of Education Locates It in the Southeastern Part of the City.

The Board of Education at its meeting last Thursday evening selected the site for the new school building in the south half of the south block of the Courier Place, on Eleventh Avenue, nine blocks east of Main Street. This site is chosen with reference to other school buildings, which the city=s future will undoubtedly demand. The largest number of pupils now distant from a schoolhouse are in the east and southeastern part of the district, and of course it is proper that the first additional building should be located there. The proposition to vote $10,000 bonds for the erection of this building will be submitted soon. The site chown by the Board of Education apparently gives general satisfaction.

In 1924 W. C. Robinson wrote a book AFootprints. In it he said AOur first school house was built in 1871-2 of our native stone and two storiesCtwo rooms. The winter of 1874, I, W. C. Robinson taught the school, and kept the books or Read=s Bank...@

AThe next school house was the southeast; next the West, then Fifth Ward. In 1910 was the first high school; then the East High in 1916, giving Winfield its present fine array of school buildings and equipment as of any town of its size in the state of Kansas. During the most of this time Mr. W. H. Somemier was on the school board and much of the time was its President.@