By Dr. Ferrell Miller
Geary County Historical Society Board Member
“A History of Geary County Schools Written In 1893”
Today’s story is a brief history of Geary County Schools in the mid to late 1800’s. The information comes from a book written in 1893 by J.W. Rodgers, who was then the County Superintendent of Schools. “The history of Geary County schools dates back to a period before Kansas became a State – even to the days when the vital question asked was – should this be a free or slave state? The first schools were private, or “select” schools and were provided for by the interested parents, who paid tuition in proportion to the number of children in attendance. A fund was usually raised for those who were unable to pay the tuition.
During the winter of 1858-59 there were three schools in the county. One was located at Milford, one at Junction City and one four miles northeast of Junction City. The first “public” school was organized in 1862. A room was rented for the school and was above the jail, which was located in the Bartell block on the north side of Sixth Street and Jefferson Streets. County Superintendent, O. Davidson was also the teacher with 72 students enrolled. During the next school year eight additional districts were formed in the county with three male and four female teachers. The average salary for male teachers was $30.00 per month and $15.00 per month for female teachers.
By 1868, every district had its own school building. Some were built of logs, some were frame and a few were stone buildings. There was no standard curriculum until 1887, when Speer’s “Graded Course of Study” was introduced. With this course of study, teachers knew where to begin and what was to be accomplished to prepare students for graduation examinations. The exams were often held the last Saturday in April of each year. “
In 1893, there were a total of 44 schools in the county with 67 teachers. The average male salary had increased to $49.44 per month and the average female teacher salary was $39.92 per month.”
Today there are 19 schools currently in USD 475 with 682 teachers. The current base salary for beginning teachers (whether they are male or female) is $41,500.
“Albert More – A Tailor With World Wide Fame”
Today’s story is about Albert More, who in a matter of speaking, was born into the tailoring trade. His father and grandfather were both tailors and had a shop in Alma, Kansas. Albert became an apprentice at age 14. In 1899, when Albert was 20, he married Laura Hontz and after living in Manhattan for a while, they moved to Junction City. In 1914, Albert opened his own business. His shop was in the First National Bank building on West 7th Street and in time his skills would earn him national recognition.
On one occasion his work was noticed by a Mrs. Aubrey Lippincott, wife of an Army officer stationed at Fort Riley. She observed a coat Albert had made for Mrs. More and placed an order for one just like it for her. Later Mrs. Lippincott complained to Albert that her husband could not get a properly fitted pair of riding breeches. She asked Albert if he could make them. Not having done so before, he stated that he would try.
The result led to another order and from that humble beginning Mr. More’s business grew until more than a thousand pairs of riding breeches were made for cadets who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point. Still others discovered the “More Breeches”. Some of those were Generals Patton, Truscott, Wainwright, Richardson and the Army Olympic Equestrian Teams, which would wear the breeches in competition all over the world. Other famous personalities such as designer Oleg Cassini and even a young Ronald Reagan wore the breeches when he was an “inactive reserves cavalry officer” in Iowa in the mid-1930’s.
After 51 years of tailoring, Albert More turned over his shop to Richard Jones in January of 1947. At the end of WWII, a mechanized Army replaced the cavalry and there was a decrease in the demand for “More’s Breeches”. More died in 1974 at the age of 95.