Rock Island Public Schools

Rock Island Public Schools

The citizens of Rock Island at an early day evinced a great interest in education. Prior to 1857, the schools of Rock Island existed under the sub-district form of organization. At this time, however, the attendance became so large and the schools were growing so rapidly that a different organization became necessary in order that the pupils of the district might enjoy better facilities for securing a common school education. Through a united effort a law was enacted to incorporate the “Rock Island School District,” and a charter obtained February 18, 1857, for the establishment of the present school system. This charter which was thus created for the government of the Rock Island schools, has been in force for over fifty years, and under its wise provisions the schools have been efficient in providing excellent facilities for obtaining a good, common and high school education. The first board of education consisted of W. L. Sweeney, George Mixter, Jacob Sailor, Elton C. Cropper, and David Hawes. Of this board Messrs. Cropper, Sailor and Hawes served two years, George Mixter and W. L. Sweeney six years. Of the forty-eight per-sons who have served on the board since 1857, J. M. Buford served twelve years; S. W. Mc-Master, eleven years; M. D. Merrill, thirteen years; F. M. Sinnett, ten years; and Mylo Lee, nine years. Among those who have rendered excellent service in building up, from a small beginning, the excellent system, were William Bailey, Charles Buford, George Mixter, E. C. Cropper, John Barge, A. F. Cutter, M. D. Merrill, Edward Burrall, and W. S. Knowlton, who have passed to their eternal home. They are, however, kindly remembered by thou-sands who have enjoyed the educational advantages they were so largely instrumental in providing. The first superintendent placed in charge of the schools, as organized under the charter, was B. M. Reynolds, who served from 1857 to 1862. During the past forty years, the schools have had ten superintendents, whose names and terms of service are as follows: B. M. Reynolds, 1857-1862; A. M. Gow, 1862-1868; James M. Gow, 1868-1869; W. A. Bemis, 1869-1871; J. F. Gowdy, 1871-1872; J. F. Everett, 1872-1881; S. S. Kemble, 1881-1895; James A. Ament, 1895-1896; R. G. Young, 1896-1900; H. B. Hayden, 1900, and at present, 1908, our good superintendent and director. It will be observed that S. S. Kemble, who is largely responsible for the system of schools which has been built up in the city, has had the longest term of service, having held the position of superintendent for fourteen consecutive years. Superintendent Kemble did a grand work in our city during the long term he had charge of the schools; and, though he is today far away in his western home, he holds a warm place in the affections of our citizens, both young and old. The schools of the city are as follows: High School, Twenty-first Street and Sixth Avenue. H. E. Brown, principal; Cora L. Eastman, assistant principal. Hawthorne School, Eighth Street and Third Avenue. L. C. Daugherty, principal; Mary E. Entrikin, assistant principal. Washington School, Thirteenth Street and Third Avenue. Emily Freeman, principal. Kemble School, Nineteenth Street and Fifth Avenue. Adda Ellen Muse, principal. Lincoln School, Twenty-second Street and Seventh Avenue. Mary Platt principal. School for Deaf Children, in Lincoln School building. Eugene Field School, Twenty-ninth Street and Seventh Avenue. Sarah Johnston principal. Irving School, Twelfth Street and Ninth Avenue. Leonora Witherspoon principal. Longfellow School, Forty-second Street and Seventh Avenue. Ida W. Lundy, principal. Horace Mann School, Thirty-seventh Street and Fourteenth Avenue. Mary L. Carter, principal. Grant School, Seventh Street and Eleventh Avenue. Dora E. Newton, principal. Board of Education of 1907 and 1908: C. H. Seidel, W. B. McIntyre, Hamlin H. Hull, F. C. Denkmann, Doctor J. W. Stewart. Our district should congratulate itself upon the exceptional facilities that have been provided for the education of its young people. Few cities have their school buildings more wisely distributed, more substantial in structure, and graceful in architecture, or more completely and comfortably furnished. In the year 1856 there was set on foot a plan to erect a High School building. A lot was purchased for $6,000 and a building erected for $30,000. When nearly finished, on the night of July 4, 1858, it was fired, and the interior entirely destroyed. It was re-built and occupied in 1859. The second High School was burned February 15, 1901.; after which the classes were conducted in the Broadway Presbyterian Church Sunday School rooms. The present High School was erected in 1901, at a cost of $125,000. Mr. Frederick F. Borgolte was the architect, and John Volk and Company the contractors. The original contract was $85,985; extras and additions making the total $125,000. The contract was let June 4, 1901, and the building opened for occupancy September 6 of the same year. While the chief object of the High School is the preparation of pupils for life, rather than for college; several University preparatory courses are offered. Graduates of this school who have completed any of these courses are entitled to a University certificate which will admit them to any of the leading colleges and universities.


City of Rock Island 


Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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