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PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF RAY COUNTY.
It is to the interest of every man to live in a refined, moral and educated community. Ignorance is the handmaid of vice. Education promotes the happiness, harmony and general well-being of society. Where ignorance prevails, religion is neglected, progress impeded, crime increases, and disorder reigns. The only way of improving the social, mental and moral status of mankind is, by the dissemination of useful knowledge among all classes, in every community. The great aim of education, in the true meaning of that term, is to make moral beings of those upon whom the advantages of learning are bestowed. Therefore, every member of society is equally interested in the diffusion of intelligence. Every man and woman in Ray county is mutually benefitted by the means of education, placed within the reach of all. The good of society demands that every member thereof shall receive at least a common 'school education. It is the one true way of promoting the peace, good order and prosperity of the state. Where public instruction is fostered and maintained, men are prosperous and progressive in every department of life. Education upholds religion, propels the machinery of government, and sustains the whole fabric of society. To no community of Christian people is this fact better, or more appreciatively known, than to the citizens of Ray county; and to their encouragement and maintenance of common schools, under the laws of the state, is largely due the enviable prosperity the county enjoys.
Section I. of Article VI. of the first constitution of Missouri, declared, that: "Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged in this state; and the general assembly shall take measures to preserve from waste or damage such lands as have been, or hereafter may be granted by the United States, for the use of schools within each township in this state, and shall apply the funds which may arise from such lands, in strict conformity to the object of the grant; one school, or more, shall be established in each township, as soon as practicable and necessary, where the poor shall be taught gratis."
The general assembly subsequently provided for the appointment of commissioners by the county in each county court, to preserve from waste or damage the school lands mentioned above; and at the first term of the county court in Ray county, April 2, 1821, the court " ordered that John Shields, John Stanley, James Snowden, Sr., John Hutchings and Samuel Tilford be appointed to superintend and preserve from waste, all school lands in this county; and that they be empowered to lease or rent the same for any term not exceeding five years."
Thus, at a very early day, was an interest taken in free schools by the officials and residents of the county.
As soon as possible after the completion of hovels in which to live, and of preparations absolutely necessary for their sustenance and comfort, the first settlers commenced the building of school houses. Such as they built were poor and mean, it is true, but they could do no better, and doing their best, they did well.
The character of the first schools, and school houses, and where located, have been given elsewhere in this work.
There are, at present, (May, 1881,) one hundred and twelve school buildings in the county. They are commodious, comfortable and substantial, and comport well with the advanced and improved condition of the county, in other than educational affairs.
The municipal townships are divided into school districts; and the employment of teachers and the control and management of the schools (except as to the authority of teachers) are vested in a board of directors, composed of three members, elected by the qualified voters of each district, at the annual school meeting, which is held on the first Tuesday in April, of each year.
The public teachers of Ray county, who receive a certificate of qualification from the county commissioner, are liberally, though perhaps not quite adequately, paid for their services, and it is fair to say that, as a rule, they are exceptionally industrious and competent.
Mr. Lindsey Dickey, a courteous, agreeable gentleman, now principal of the Taitsville public school, has, doubtless, been longer continuously engaged as teacher in the public schools of Ray county, than any of his brother teachers, he having taught in this county for fifteen successive years.
Thomas M. Deacy, Esq., county commissioner, kindly furnishes us the following educational statistics of the county, for the year 1880. It is simply'a copy of his report to the state superintendent of public schools; and it is believed that, especially in after years, it will be of peculiar interest.
Following is the report:
To Hon. R. D. Shannon, Superintendent of Public Schools, Jefferson City, Missouri:
Sir:—In obedience to section 38, school law of Missouri, I have the honor to submit the following report:
Number of white children in the county between six and twenty years of age: Male, 3,535; female, 2,946.
Number of colored children in the county between six and twenty years of age: Male, 329; female, 227.
Number of white children attending school during the year: Male, 2,448; female, 2,112.
Number of colored children attending school during the year: Male, 192; female, 153.
Total number days attendance all such scholars, 306,720.
Average number days attendance by each, 63.
Number of days school has been taught: Summer, 34; winter, 102; total, 136.
Average number of scholars attending school each day: Summer, 14; winter, 26; total, 40.
Number of teachers employed during the year: Male, 102; female, 28; total, 130.
Average salary of teachers per month: Male, $37.52; female, $25.94— $31.73.
Number of school-houses in the county, 112.
Number of white schools in operation, 97.
Average rate per $100 levied for school purposes in the county, 40 cents.
Amount received from public funds, state, county, and township, $11,285.95.
Amount paid for teachers' wages in the county during the year, $22,484.60.
Amount paid for fuel, $851.66.
Amount for repairs or rent of school-houses, $632.44. Amount paid for incidental expenses in the county during the year, $615.95.
Amount paid for erection of school-houses or purchase of sites, $1,548.55.
Amount expended in defraying past indebtedness, $1,918.66. Amount paid for library, $30.10. Amount paid as salaries of district clerks, $81.55. Amount of unexpended school funds in the county at the close of the year, $7,895.48.
Thomas M. Deacy, County Commissioner. This 18th day of September, 1880.
In the year 1851, the ynod of the Presbyterian Church of Missouri realizing the importance of establishing a first-class college to be under its control, resolved, "That the time is come to arise and build," and appointed a committee composed of elders from different parts of the state, to examine such places as should offer inducements for its location and report at the next meeting of synod.
In 1852, the committee reported, and four places were put in nomination, Booneville, Richmond, Fulton and St. Charles.
For some months preceding the meeting of synod in Fulton, October, 1852, the most vigorous efforts were put forth in Ray county to raise a large subscription in money and land in order to secure the location of the college at Richmond.
The county was thoroughly canvassed by able speakers, who set forth the great advantages that would result, not only to Richmond, but the county, by securing the location of this institution of learning at our county seat.
The Richmond Herald, the only newspaper published in the county at that time, the publication of which commenced in March, 1852, in a number of able and spirited editorials and articles urged the great importance of this movement, and called upon the people of Ray county to present a liberal subscription to the synod that was to meet at Fulton in the ensuing October.
After a thorough canvass the subscription realized from the county was $15,000 in money and ten acres in land within the limits of the city of Richmond. The subscription in money was subsequently increased to $18,000. This was regarded as the best subscription made by any of the contending points.
A delegation of citizens was selected to represent the county, and present its claims for the location of this institution of learning at Richmond, to the Presbyterian synod of Missouri that was to meet at Fulton, Callaway county, Missouri, on Tuesday. October 12, 1852.
The delegation consisted of Dr. George W. Buchanan, Joseph S. Hughes, William Boyce, Dr. Henry C. Garner, James W. Black, and Captain William M. Jacobs.
Reverend David Harbeson, Hon. Austin A. King, who was then governor of Missouri; Hon. E. M. Samuel, of Clay county, Missouri; Reverend T. A. Bracken, and a number of other prominent citizens from western Missouri, were present advocating the claims of Richmond as being the most eligible place for the location of this institution of learning.
The claims of the other contending points were also ably presented, especially those of Fulton and Booneville. Hon. John Jameson, of Callaway county, and other prominent citizens, made the most earnest efforts in behalf of Fulton. Considerable influence was exerted by the citizens in Fulton and vicinity with whom the Presbyterian clergymen were quartered during the session of Synod. The delegation of citizens from Richmond, it is proper to state here, were all quartered at Hackady's hotel and most hospitably entertained, but met with no Presbyterian clergymen entertained at this hotel from other portions of the state than western Missouri.
Hon. John G. Miller, then a member of congress from the third district of Missouri, made a most eloquent and impressive speech in favor of Boone ville, presenting its claims with great clearness and vigor of thought. The ingenuity of his arguments, in showing that Booneville was the most elegible point for the college, and the most flourishing central city of Missouri, was highly complimented by many in the audience.
On taking the vote, after all the contending points had been duly heard, Fulton received a majority of the votes of the synod, and was consequently declared to be the most eligible place for the location of the Presbyterian College. Richmond received a large number of votes, being the only strong contending point against Fulton. Booneville and St. Charles received but a few votes.
The Reverend Hiram P. Goodrich, after the question of the location of the college had been decided, suggested the name, Westminster, as the most appropriate name for the college, which was adopted by the synod.
Considerable disappointment was manifested by the friends of Richmond, who had advocated its claims for the location of the college. An effort was therefore soon made by the Presbytery of Upper Missouri, to establish a Presbyterian College at Richmond, Missouri, on the endowment plan from scholarship. Vigorous efforts were at once made to place the projected scheme on a proper basis. The citizens of Ray county agreed to guarantee the building fund of q>15,000, and the Presbytery of Upper Missouri to guarantee the endowment fund of $40,000.
The act giving Richmond College its charter of incorporation was passed by the seventeenth general assembly of Missouri, February 23, 1853.
The preamble to the act of incorporation is in the following language:
Whereas, The presbytery of Upper Missouri, (O. S.) in view of the rapidly increasing population of that portion of the state, denominated Upper Missouri, and the existing and prospective necessity of educational institutions of a high order, desire to locate, erect and endow, a college of said character, in or near the town of Richmond, in Ray county, to meet said necessities; therefore,
Be it enacted by the general assembly of the stale Missouri as follows: That William Dickson, R. S. Symington, A. V. C. Schenck, T. A. Bracken, Robert Scott, I. W. Canfield,J. B. Harbison, James Young, A. H. McFadden, A. W. Hutchins, John G.Taylor, J. B. Slaughter, E. M.