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Madison School: A History (1908)

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▶ Madison School History

-from "The 9th Annual Report of the Public Schools of Wheeling, West Virginia," 1908

History of Madison School.

The course of events that brought about the naming of the Island school, Madison, is an interesting story in the history of that school.

In the early days of our city the streets running from the river were named for prominent people, national and local, as is shown by the name Zane Street that still attaches to the M. E. Church in the Fourth ward. At that time the street now known as Tenth was called Madison; and the school building on Madison Street was then known as the Second Ward School house. These designations of streets and schools continued till the schools were re-organized under the laws of our new state in 1865. Then the Second ward became part of Madison district, so named from Madison street, and the school was known as Madison District School. The Island was made a part of Madison district, and soon a school building was erected thereon. Then in 1866 the principal’s office was transferred from the old Madison Street School to the Island School building; the larger pupils of the whole Madison district coming to the Island school, and only primary pupils attending at the building on Madison Street.

After an unsuccessful effort in 1865 to divide the “main land” part of Madison district at Madison or Tenth street, this change was finally made in 1875. Consequently the only Madison school for the past one-third of a century has been solely on the Island. The name then comes from the old township, the name of the township coming from the old name of Tenth street, called Madison in honor of the fourth president.

Second Ward School.

The lost ward school of Wheeling is the Second. For, contrary to what might be one’s first impression from the distribution of schools at the present day, there was once a Second Ward School. A brick building was erected in the Second ward and school opened in the same year that schools were started in the First, Fourth, and the Fifth wards, though a little later because of legal difficulties. This was in 1849. The Second Ward School Building, consisting of two large rooms and two class rooms, stood at the upper end of Madison street, now Tenth. These early schools were originated and organized under the general act passed by the Legislature of Virginia March 5, 1846, and the special school law for Ohio county, passed February 23, 1849. One commissioner, who was a member of the City School Board, was elected from each ward, and he with the local trustees had control of the schools in his ward. At the first election, on the fourth Monday of March, 1849, William S. Wickham was elected commissioner for the Second ward, and William Hull was appointed trustee. In 1852 William S. Wickham resigned as commissioner, and Thomas Johnson was appointed to fill his place; Achilles Scatterday follows Johnson in 1853. In 1854 E. J. Stone is elected commissioner; 1860, Achilles Scatterday. Besides the first, William Hull, the following served as trustees: John Fizzell, Josiah McClellan, Dorance McGinnis, P. B. Taylor, Wm. H. Jamison, Dr. J. C. Hupp, Wm. Berryhill, and Wm. Riheldaffer. In 1853 Thomas Johnson was president of the Board and at a later date Achilles Scatterday filled the same position. There men took an active part in organizing and improving the early public school system of Wheeling; the first to be established in a southern state.

The man appointed to open the first school in the old Second ward building in the spring of 1849, was Rev. R. S. Arthur. Very little is known of Rev. Arthur; he was still living in Wheeling in 1851. At this time Agnes Hall was principal of the Second Ward; from 1854 to 1856 a Mr. Stevens served as principal of Union School. Rev. Harvey Amrine of the Presbyterian Church, a graduate of Jefferson College and of Western Theological Seminary, was another early principal of the Second Ward for a short time, likely from 1856 to 1858.

In 1858 Rev. Samuel Boyd, one of Wheeling’s most efficient school men, was appointed principal, and served till 1863; afterward he became principal of Webster School. At the opening of schools in the fall of 1863, Mr. Charles H. Collier was principal of the Second Ward, and served for three years. Later Mr. Collier became a prominent business man, serving on the Board of Education from Madison district, and was elected the Board’s president. Of him it has been said, “He made his life tell for the good he could do.”

Mr. S. Winning Boyd was appointed principal in 1866; at first he had his office in the Second Ward building; but soon after the opening of schools that fall, on the recommendation of the City Superintendent Williams, Mr. Boyd’s office was removed to the Island, where afterwards the advanced pupils of both the Second and Seventh wards attended school. After Mr. Boyd’s successful term of four years, Mr. A. M. Stevenson was appointed principal, and served as such till 1875. In 1875 the Second Ward was torn asunder educationally; that part of north Tenth street was taken by Washington School, the south part by Clay; the old building taken by the colored school; and the name Madison taken by the Island School. The old Second Ward building was destroyed by fire on January 10, 1893.

In the early days of itshistory the Second Ward seems to have been small; this likely is the cause that led to putting both the Second and Seventh wards in one school and both Madison township. The population in 1852 was 1,368; 174 boys and 154 girls of school age; in 1859-60 the number of pupils was 233.

Island Private Schools.

One of the early educational institutions of the Island was a private school, for many years conducted by Miss Sallie Holmes in the upper story of a building still standing on North Broadway at the corner of the alley just above Maryland street. This school seems to have been in existence from about 1854 to 1864. Another early private school was taught by Anna Archibald in 1855 in a building still standing, the second north of the M. E. Church. In 1864 and 1865 Miss Taylor taught school in the old Methodist Church erected in 1854. Later still Miss Griffith taught a private school in her residence. Other private schools have followed, having been taught by Miss Julia Wiley, Miss Oxtoby, and others.

Island Public School.

The first recorded notice that the Board of Education of Wheeling ever took of Island patrons of the public schools was that of March 20, 1856, when an effort was made to have a Third Ward teacher detailed to open a primary school for Island pupils. Prior to 1864 children of the Island had attended public school, first in the Third Ward, and later in the Second Ward. The first public school for Island pupils alone was not held on the Island, but in the upper story of the Second Ward Market House in the fall of 1864.The school was in charge of the first principal of the Island school children, Mr. S. Grafton Naylor, who was a well-known man of the Island till his death a few years ago. In this first school he was assisted by Miss Mary Campbell, who is now connected with the University School of Cleveland. Six hundred dollars was the amount allowed this school for the year 1864-65. About this time the Island is for the first time called the Seventh ward, a part of Madison township, being the Sixth ward before this.

A site for the first public school building on the Island was purchased July 29, 1862, for the sum of $275. This site was at the south-east corner of Maryland and North York streets of to-day, formerly called Chestnut and Second streets. On July 14, 1865, a plan for the first Island building was adopted; and in August the contract was awarded to Brodie and Hornish for $6,483.54, to be finished in December, Later J. B. and W. B. Lukens took part of the contract.

The commissioners who erected this building were Samuel McClellan, G. E. Wickham, and J. M. Bickel. James K. Bane was appointed principal for that year, and his assistants were Miss Mary Campbell and Miss Virginia Campbell. The building was accepted in January with the above named teachers. On Wednesday, January 10, 1866, the first public school on the Island opened, attended by 150 pupils, the first of the long line of the hundreds who have since found their way to the Island School, now called Madison. This brick structure with its four rooms and office was the ideal building of the day, with its well and old-fashioned pump, it scalloped picket fence, the clover field just across the street west used for a play ground, and the large pond a square south for summer wading and winter skating.

In 1866 Mr. C. W. Davenport was appointed principal of the Island School and Mr. S. Winning Boyd of the Second Ward School. Soon after the opening of the school Mr. Davenport seems to have resigned his position, and to have become principal of Washington School, and Mr. Boyd was made principal of both schools of Madison district, transferring his office and advanced pupils to the Island School. Mr. Boyd remained principal of the two schools till 1870, having a successful term of four years; when Mr. A. M. Stevenson was appointed principal and had the unusual distinction of serving twenty-seven years. Under these two principals the advanced pupils of the Second Ward came to the Island School till 1875.

Eight years after the first a second building, a frame eighteen by thirty-six feet, having two rooms, was erected a short distance east, facing north, James Bickel and T. H. Logan being commissioners. This was erected at a short distance east, facing north, James Bickel and T. H. Logan being commissioners. This was erected at a cost of $550 by Charles Nicol. This building was later the residence of the janitress, Mrs. Catherine Barkley, who served in this capacity for thirty-one years. This building afforded only a temporary relief for the crowded schools of that day, for two years later, in 1875, a contract was let at $6,472 to Donel and Hawley for an addition of four rooms to the original brick building, to be completed October 1, 1875. The commissioners at this time were J. M. Bickel, E. J. Stone, and D. C. List.

Soon after a one-room building was provided for the primary pupils, being on the east side of the janitor’s building; then the Shepherd frame building of two stories just east was purchased for school purposes; later still, the two-story double brick dwelling to the east of the Shepherd property was acquired by the Board and used for school purposes. This last purchase was made but a short time before the erection of the new building and extended the school property eastward to North Broadway.

On February 21, 1889, a proposal was made to have erected on the Island a substantial and commodious school building of twelve rooms, standing east of the old building at the corner of Maryland and North Broadway. The commissioners who carried this enterprise to completion were Chas. H. Collier, Myron Hubbard, and Samuel Bloch. The contract was taken by the Wheeling Mining and Manufacturing Company; contract price $22,671.20, heating apparatus, $7,950.00. The work was superintended by Mr. Brooks. The designs of Architect David Wells were accepted; but before the building was completed he was drowned in the Ohio River, and Joseph Leiner was appointed his successor. The new building was accepted by the Board September 20, 1890, and was occupied the same fall. The heating apparatus was remodeled in 1904, costing, with a cement basement floor, $8,100.

This large building, together with the old, provided sufficient room for the school till 1905. At this time the private residence of Mrs. Elizabeth Hunter, at the south-west corner of the square on which the two school houses stand, was purchased for $20,000.00, and remodeled into a school building of four rooms. The commissioners at that time were A. L. White, R. H. McKee, and A. O. Maxwell.

At the expiration of Mr. Stevenson’s term as principal in 1897, the nature of the schools was changed by having to send all advanced pupils to the newly established High School. In the preceding fifteen years Madison had sent out one hundred and forty-nine “grammar school graduates,” more than any of the other schools, and had not one failure to pass the examinations.

J. C. Gwynn was appointed principal in 1897, and under him Madison School kept its place as one of the best schools in the city. He originated the first “exposition of school work in pencil and pen” which later has been followed by many other schools.

In 1903, on the resignation of Mr. Gwynn, the present incumbent was appointed principal.

Many of the graduates of Madison have won distinction in their respective callings; a large number are teachers in the public schools; a few have become college professors; some are noted as lawyers, as doctors, and as preachers; a very large number are engaged in business; art , literature, and mechanics have claimed some; and one has been a professor in a leading polytechnic institute for several years, and is now acting president of the same.

The names of the commissioners of Madison schools given above show that Madison School interests have been well guarded by these successful business men, many of them being also men thoroughly educated, and some being experienced teachers, consequently well prepared to care for the proper training of schools. S. M. McClellan, in 1868, C.H. Collier, 1883, and A. O. Maxwell, 1905-06, served as presidents of the Board. Many of the valuable records of Madison School were lost in the great flood of 1884 and it is now impossible to restore items that would be of great interest.

The following is a fairly complete list of the Island teachers given in the order of their appointment, except the present corps is reserved for the closing names: Mary Campbell-Chandler, Virginia Campbell, Bertha Arndt, “Pet” Williams-Harper, Julia Wiley, Ella Boyd-Williams, Hannah Nicol, “Minta” Foster, Hannah Eagleson, Lyde McKelvey-Winters, Eve Rice-Seeley, Emma Snowdon, Ada McClyment-Beans, Clara Young-Parker, Kate Hall, Rida Dean, Ella Greer-Williams, Anna Thorburn-Morgan, Agnes Dillon-Moffit, Stella Moore-Hubbard, Ella Dillon-Martin, Emma Anderson, Alice English-Wright, Mrs. Martha M. Burt, Mrs. Matilda Lynn, Harriet Pace-Small, Mrs. Deborah Copenhaven, Virginia Hervey-Long, Jeannette Burt-Irwin, Mrs. Annie North emery, Bess Higgins, Emma Beall (on leave of absence).

Present corps of teachers: Mary A. Faris., Hannah Whally, Virginia Norton, M. Elizabeth Tappan, Annie E. Reeves, May A. Pogue, Estella M. Hull, Jennie Hervey, Estella M. Underwood, M. Belle McGranahan, M. Bertha Uthman, Lenore Kraeuter, Margaret J. Blake, Rose M. Hunter, Martha Ross, Florence I. Lewis, Minnie C. Stewart, Nelle L. Wood, Helen M. Garden, Ann C. Carnahan, Mae Pearl Wood, Emma Schrader, Gertrude F. Zinn.

The present efficient commissioners are Messrs. A. L. White, R. H. McKee, and James Cummins.

Island School Annexes.

At various times when the rooms of the Island School did not afford sufficient accommodation for the pupils other rooms have been utilized in which to place pupils and teacher.

One was the second story of the Stamp grocery on South Huron street, used about 1874, taught by Lyde McKelvey.

Another was the Hose House in 1889, Miss Pogue teacher.

In Myers’ Hall, corner of Virginia and South Penn, in 1905-1906, an overflow room was taught by Miss Minnie Stewart.

For many unrecorded facts noted above the writer is indebted to three living ex-principals of the Island Schools, Messrs. Boyd, Stevenson, and Gwynn, and to the relatives of the two principals, Messrs. Naylor and Bane, who have but recently died.

He is indebted also to many of the former pupils of the Second Ward school, and to the early pupils and teachers of the Island School for facts and material which he has incorporated in this history. He would make due and courteous acknowledgment to each and all who have contributed to it in any way, and trusts that the work which he has done in compiling it may be found reasonably accurate.

D. T. WILLIAMS, Principal.

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