THE LIFE AND
(transcribed by Leora White, September 2006)
Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Texas
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
John Ratliff, B. A.
It is the purpose of this thesis to record the services of John McNeese to public education in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, rendered while he was Parish Superintendent of Public Education between the years 1888 and 1913. It is not its purpose to deal with John McNeese the man in great detail, but with the development of the public school system of Calcasieu Parish under his guidance.
Sources of the materials of this thesis are the files of the Lake Charles Weekly American, of the Lake Charles Daily American, of the Lake Charles Press and of the Lake Charles American-Press; the Biennial Reports of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, the Proceedings of the Conferences of Parish Superintendents of Public Education for Louisiana, the Proceedings of the Louisiana Teacher’s Association Conventions and the Minutes of the Calcasieu Parish Board of School Directors covering the years of 1888 to July 5, 1913 inclusive, the Records of the United States Department of War covering the period of the Civil War, the Register of State and County offices of Texas for the year 1873, the Records of the Supreme Court of Louisiana and the Records of the Registrar’s office of Tulane University, and personal recollection of the friends and relatives of Mr. McNeese, particularly of his daughter Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires. The chapter dealing with his last days is based on letters written by Mr. McNeese to his daughter Mrs. Squires.
I have undertaken to weld all of this material into a connected story; telling how Mr. McNeese arrived in Louisiana, as a cowboy on his way to New Orleans with a herd of cattle and through misfortune with his cattle remained to found a system of schools that still remains a model rural school system.
Mr. McNeese was a pioneer in many phases of public education. He was the first parish superintendent of “Imperial Calcasieu”, probably the first parish superintendent of Louisiana to devote his entire time to the work of his office, the first to attempt the transportation of children to consolidated schools, one of he earliest advocates of consolidation among schools, the first to attempt class room supervision among rural schools and among the early advocates of professional control of public schools. He was certainly the father in Louisiana of the right the citizens of a local community to vote upon themselves taxes for the support of public schools. Mr. T. H. Harris, State Superintendent of Public Education for Louisiana said of him, “He was the Grand Old Man of teaching in Louisiana for more than a quarter of a century. The State owes him a larger debt of gratitude for his noble, unselfish services than it will ever appreciate.”
The writer wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the help of all those who aided in any way the preparation of this thesis. Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires loaned letters and other documents relating to her father, the staff of the Lake Charles American- Press permitted the use of their files, the staff of the Louisiana Library Commission furnished much material not otherwise available. Superintendent H. A. Norton and Assistant Superintendent H. M. Wells of the Calcasieu Parish public school system encouraged the matter and rendered valuable assistance to locating records. Mr. Vivian G. Jackson, graduate student of he University of Texas, rendered invaluable aid in proof reading the manuscript, Dr. C. F. Arrowood of the University of Texas helped and guided in the actual preparation of the thesis and gave it whatever merit it may have. Many others whose names cannot be listed here, aided by encouragement and by supplying information; it is hoped that they will understand how greatly their aid is appreciated.
Last but not least, I wish to acknowledge the help of my wife, Mrs. Catherine Grimes Ratliff, whose unselfish sacrifice of her own personal ambitions made the thesis at all possible.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I. Early
CHAPTER II. Calcasieu Parish in 1888
CHAPTER III. McNeese’s First Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1888-1892
CHAPTER IV. McNeese’s Second Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1892-1896
CHAPTER V. McNeese’s Third Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1896-1900
CHAPTER VI. McNeese’s Fourth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1900-1904
CHAPTER VII. McNeese’s Fifth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1904-1908
CHAPTER VII. McNeese’s Sixth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1908-1913
CHAPTER IX. Last Days of John Mcneese
CHAPTER X. The Progress of Education in Calcasieu under John McNeese
It has been said that if one should stop at the gates of a shipyard anywhere in the world and call, “Hello, Mac!” from one to a dozen sons of Caledonia would answer. Of such ancestry came John McNeese, the subject of the sketch. Family tradition (1) says that his father, William McNeese, came of an old shipbuilding family of Scotland and that his mother, Mary Beechman, was also of Scotch descent. The same tradition says that when the subject of a marriage between William McNeese and Mary Beechman was mentioned to the McNeese family bitter opposition was encountered. Sufficient to say, the thing dear to the heart of the writers of romantic fiction followed; an elopement to America. The newlyweds landed in the city of New York where the young husband found employment in the shipyards.
To them were born three children, John on July 4, 1843. Nothing is known of the childhood of John McNeese except that he lived in New York until the early death of both parents following which representatives of the McNeese family in Scotland offered to take the three orphans to Scotland and care for them on condition that they have nothing to do with their mother’s family. Two of the children apparently accepted the offer but John elected to remain in America.
He was taken into the family of Dr. Stafford of Baltimore Maryland, and provided with the best educational advantages that Baltimore offered, though of exactly what these advantages consisted there is no record.
The first authentic written records concerning McNeese are those of the United States Department of War. (2) These records recite:
McNeese was mustered into service September 30, 1861,
private in Co. E, 1st Regiment Eastern Shore Maryland Infantry, to
three years, and was honorably discharged February 25, 1864, to
him to reenlist as a veteran volunteer.
He reenlisted as a veteran volunteer, and was mustered into service February 26, 1864, in the same organization, as a corporal. He was
transferred to Co. D, 11th Regiment Maryland Infantry (exact date not shown); was transferred to Co. B, Second Maryland Infantry June 27, 1865 and was honorably discharged July 17, 1865, a corporal."
In 1866 McNeese, who at this time was supposed to have been a victim of tuberculosis, was supplied with means by his foster father, Dr. Stafford, to migrate to the west in search of health. He moved to Menard County, Texas, where he established himself in the mercantile and cattle business. (3) Either he did not have tuberculosis or the life in the open and the arid climate of Menard County effected a cure, as there is no further mention of the disease in any subsequent records.
After the county of Menard was organized, he became District Clerk, being elected in November 1872 and commissioned February 8, 1873. (4) No other record of him is found in any of the subsequent Registers between the years 1874 and 1886.
Apparently he did not serve a full term as District Clerk because in a statement to the newspaper given at the time he retired from the office of Parish Superintendent of Education of Calcasieu Parish in 1913, he stated that he come to Louisiana late in 1873. (5) In a letter to his daughter, Emma, written in 1913 he refers to the panic of 1873 and its effect on his fortunes. (6)
The manner of his coming to Louisiana and settling is unusual enough to be worth relating in detail. It is said that in 1873, he and several other men started on a cattle drive form Menard County to New Orleans for the purpose of finding a market for their cattle. (7) They made the drive over a dry range until they reached the Sabine bottoms, where a number of the cattle became lost in the swamps and were not recovered. The majority of the remainder of the herd, being long without green food, ate to excess of the rank growing swamp cane and died. The cowboys found themselves on the east bank of the Sabine without cattle enough to justify continuing to New Orleans and without means of returning home to Menard. They did the only thing possible under the circumstances; they sold what cattle remained and took whatever employment lay at hand.
This was in the day when the itinerate writing and singing school flourished in the rural districts of the South, and McNeese, being a skilled Spencerian penman and a singer of no small ability opened one of these schools at Hickory Flat, near the present town of Oberlin, Louisiana. (8) While so engaged he boarded at the home of William Bilbo, one of the early settlers in that community. Among the members of the Bilbo, family was a daughter. A courtship between the erstwhile cowboy and Susan Bilbo followed. The wedding took place July 4, 1876, which was the thirty-third birthday of the groom. It was a typical wedding of the time and place, the whole community attended, while piles of cakes, pies, barbecue and other refreshments, usually found on such occasions, were served in the open air to the wedding party and guests. There followed a honeymoon on horseback, visiting the neighboring settlements and homes of the neighbors. The young husband enlarged his teaching field and was soon teaching private subscription schools in the community. Lake Charles was recommended to him as a thriving town where schools were desired, and Mrs. McNeese having relatives there, they moved to that place and opened a school.
Louisiana was just at this time beginning to recover from the Carpet Bag regime and public schools did not exist outside of the larger cities, or if they did exist, they were poorly taught by poorly paid, poorly trained teachers in poorly equipped buildings. (9) The report of the State Superintendent for the year 1869 states there were in Calcasieu Parish two thousand, five hundred and thirty- six children of school age but not a public school in the parish. The only money distributed in the parish for public schools was a salary of two hundred dollars a year to the Parish Treasurer for acting as Parish Superintendent.
The same report for the year 1872, the year before McNeese arrived in the parish, states that a school board had been organized with John A Spence as President and A. H. Moss as Secretary and Treasurer. (10) Because the Secretary failed to send his annual report to the State Superintendent, it was difficult for the State Superintendent of Public Education to get an accurate view of the school situation, but it was reported unofficially, that there were twenty- three public schools in the parish with and enrollment of five hundred and twenty-three pupils. The schools were kept in operation for a part of the year, the teachers being appointed by the President of the Parish Board.
Under such conditions, the people who wished their children educated did it in one of several ways; they taught them at home, employed private tutors, sent them from home to schools and colleges, or organized local subscription schools.
While there is no documentary evidence-proving hat Mr. McNeese ever taught private schools in Lake Charles, there are a number of reliable citizens yet living who attended such schools taught by him. (11) It is said that at one time he lived in the lower floor of the Lake Charles Masonic Building and taught in the lodge room above. (12) The last of these private schools taught by Mr. McNeese is said to have been in the Chloe community on the Le Bleu Farm.
It was while teaching in private schools that Mr. McNeese undertook
the study of law, studying in the office of Judge G. A. Fournet of of
Lake Charles, Judge E. D. Miller or Jennings, Louisiana, says in regard
to Mr. McNeese’s career as a law student and lawyer: (14)
"In reply to your letter of the 4th inst., will state that I was well acquainted with the late lamented John McNeese, having made his acquaintance in 1886 when he and I matriculated in the law of Tulane University at New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mr. McNeese attended one session and graduated in the spring of 1887, he being the holder of a certificate to the effect that he had read law in law the office of a reputable attorney before attending law school. I, myself, attended the following session and graduated in the spring of 1888. Upon my return home, I opened a law office in Lake Charles.
I do not believe that Mr. McNeese ever opened an office for the practice of law, but recall that he was for a time in the office of Col. A. R. Mitchel where, if my recollection serves me, he served Col. Mitchel as Amanuensis, but do not think he was associated with Col. Mitchel in the practice of law.
Whether or not Mr. McNeese ever secured a license from the Supreme Court for the practice of law I do not know but do recall that shortly after I opened an office, perhaps in the fall of 1888, he assisted me in the defense of a man charged with a criminal offense. That is the only time I can recall of ever having noticed him in the trial of a case. Mr. McNeese, or rather Prof. McNeese, as he was generally known, had taught school before reading law and had a penchant for that profession, which perhaps accounts for his not having entered upon the general practice of law.
I recall that shortly after I had opened a law office he re-entered the field of teaching, for which he was distinctly well qualified, and became Parish Superintendent of Schools foe the Parish of Calcasieu, Louisiana, where he developed a system of schools, which was recognized over the state as a model."
It is said that when Mr. McNeese expressed a desire to enter the law school at Tulane, his wife sold some property which she had inherited and used the money to help defray the expenses of the family in New Orleans.(15) Mr. McNeese was also employed by a Chicago book concern while not attending classes. Mrs. McNeese regretted for the remainder of her life that he did not enter upon the active practice of law.
The records of Tulane University of Louisiana show that he graduated from the law school of that institution with the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1887, but they reveal no other facts regarding his career as a student. (16)
The records of the Supreme Court of Louisiana do not show that he ever received license to practiced law, but there is evidence to show that he did have such license and was recognized as any attorney. (17) There is in the possession of the writer an unidentified newspaper clipping listing him, along with another person, as having been admitted to the bar. Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires states that she recalls distinctly that
Her father acted as attorney for several people in civil matters, particularly in settling of estates, after he became secretary of the Parish Board of School Directors. There is also in the possession of the writer a hand written copy of the Civil Code of Louisiana, which Mr. McNeese copied while a student at Tulane.
A newspaper story written at the time of his death say that he was appointed a member of the Parish Board of School Directors by the State Board of Education in 1883, and that he was elected secretary of that body soon after.(18) At that time there was no such office as Parish Superintendent. The minutes of the Board begin with 1888 and previous to September 8, 1888, at which meeting he was elected secretary and ex officio parish superintendent, he is listed as a member of the Board. The minutes of the Board for September state that the Board met for reorganization and that John McNeese was duly elected secretary and ex officio parish superintendent of education.(19)
Calcasieu Parish in 1888
Having briefly traced the career of John McNeese up until he assumed the office of Parish Superintendent in 1888, let us glance at “Imperial Calcasieu” as it was at that time. If the reader will examine a map of Louisiana as it is today and imagine the present parishes of Calcasieu, Allen, Beauregard and Jefferson Davis, in one political unit with Lake Charles as the parish seat, he will have a map of the Calcasieu Parish of John McNeese’s time.
The area of the parish was 2,047,541
acres and its population 20,176, according to the census of 1890. (20)
The parish was created from a part of St. Landry parish in 1840 by an
act of the General Assembly, entitled: An Act to Create a New
Parish to be Called the Parish of Calcasieu.
A newspaper account published in 1890 gives a brief but somewhat inaccurate historical sketch of the parish as follows: (22)
"When Texas loomed up into a great country and as the Lone Star State severed her connection with Mexico, our section remained the outskirts between Louisiana and Texas. The Calcasieu River was then known as the Rio Hondo. The lands lying between it and the Sabine was a disputed territory claimed by two great colonies. And while a few adventurous pioneers came into the section east of the river under what is known as the Spanish grants from the Louisiana colonial authorities, a few others, perhaps two hundred and fifty settled in the western region under what were Rio Hondo claims. Among the Indians in the western regions afterwards conceded to the United States as part of Louisiana, from an unknown origin sprang a race of mixed ancestry, known as Red Bones. These and a few others for many years constituted the entire population of Calcasieu, attached to St. Landry from which it was separated about the year 1840, and designated the parish of Calcasieu. The Calcasieu lost its Indian (Spanish) name and acquired that of Quel Que Shoue form which again, by the strange changes, which time effects without the reason being retained, it passed into the euphonious name of Calcasieu, whence may be the pronunciation, ‘Culcashu’ yet given it my many older inhabitants."
The chief towns of the parish were DeRidder, now the parish seat of Beauregard Parish, Oakdale, Oberlin, now the parish seat of Allen Parish, Lake Charles, Lake Arthur Welsh, and Jennings, now the parish seat of Jefferson Davis Parish. The soil ranged from the sea marsh on the extreme southern edge of the parish, the coastal prairies lying, in general, south of the Southern Pacific Railway line and east of the Calcasieu River, the hard wood lowlands along the streams, and the great forests of long leaf pine occupying practically all of the northern half of modern Calcasieu and all of the parishes of Beauregard and Allen.
The population included from the descendants of the original Spanish and French Creoles and the picturesque French speaking Acadian who guided his cypress “pirogue” along the streams or his long tailed pony over the prairies of the southern part the parish, the hustling “Yankee” who had been persuaded by the land agents to forsake his home in the North and settle in the “Italy of America” and grow rich raising rice on cheap land of the same prairies, descendants of the Anglo-Saxon pioneers who had drifted in from the older southern states and last but not least these same people of Indian descent known as Red Bones who lived among the great pines of the northern part of the parish.
The chief occupations were farming, stock raising, hunting and fishing for the market, trapping for furs, and lumbering. Along with these went he supplementary occupations of buying and transporting the products of the country and of supplying the citizens with such goods as they did not produce at home and such services as they could not render themselves.
Although the public schools of Louisiana had their origin in the state constitution of 1845, public education in the state prior to 1900 was extremely limited. (23) While there had been some forward steps, educational progress was painfully slow and the schools woefully inadequate. The reasons for this slow development are to be found in the poverty of the people, the devastation caused by the War Between the States, the civic trouble resulting form the era of reconstruction, and the lack of educational leadership. But for these conditions and events, the establishment and development of an adequate system of public schools would have probably been earlier accomplished. As it was, the basis was laid for the common school system of Louisiana only about 1900.
Reference has already been made to the conditions that existed in the parish in 1872. While there are no records available to cover the period between 1872 and 1884 it may be safely assumed that the schools were of the meager backwoods type of subscription school in the Anglo-Saxon section, the schools taught by the Catholic clergy in the French districts, and the private school in the towns and cities.
McNeese’s First Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1888-1892
As previously stated the Minutes of the Parish Board of School Directors began with the year 1888. In the Minutes for September 8, 1888, we find the following:
"On motion by C. D. Welsh, duly seconded, John McNeese was nominated for the office of parish superintendent. On motion by Mr. John H. Poe, the nomination was closed. Mr. McNeese was unanimously elected."
Apparently, the Board did not meet with any degree of regularity because there is no record of another meeting following the election of Mr. McNeese as superintendent until July 6, 1889, but he did not spend his time in idleness, for when the Board convened on that date he was ready to give them some facts regarding the school system and outline a program of work.
At this meeting the following report was made by the new superintendent. (25)
"There are six schools in the parish that open for six months in the year, three that open for ten months, and two open for six months. There are six schools with teachers salaries varying from $25 to $30 per month. Since November 1888 there has been spent $670,500, an average of 188 months of school at an average cost of $35.00 per month."
In what parts of the parish these schools were located the report does not say, but evidently none of them were as might have been expected, in the city of Lake Charles, because at the same meeting of the Board a committee of five citizens was appointed to solicit funds for the erection of a school building in Lake Charles. The funds when collected were to be paid over to a building committee. The President of the Board was authorized to borrow $1500.00 to pay for labor and material for the school building, the lot and building to be mortgaged for that amount as security.
The School Board did not have the authority to levy taxes directly for the support of the public schools but the Police Jury, which is the governing body of the parish, was permitted to make donations to the school’s funds. A news story giving the proceeding of the Police lists under Disbursements a donation of $3,000.00 to the parish school funds. (26)
The teacher’s institute was a favorite means of calling the teachers and others interested in schools together for the purpose of discussing school affairs. The newspaper cited above has the following to say in regard to one, which was held in Lake Charles in June of 1889: (27)
the parish superintendent of education, followed with a short but
excellent address. In a conversation with Mr. McNeese he said
that most of the teachers present were natives, only one,
Mr. Peasly, out of a number of Northern teachers, being present.
We concluded from our observation last Saturday and the
energy that Mr. McNeese is putting forth in his work, that a power
of good will come of it."
Mention of these institutes is common in the press of the time.
In October of the same year, the same
paper carried an editorial praising the work of the public school
system and urging the people of the parish to support the schools.
announcement is made of an entertainment to be given for the purpose
of raising funds to furnish the school building then under
On January 4, 1890, Superintendent McNeese rendered to the Board his first annual report. (29) At this meeting he reported as follows:
|Number of schools taught||24|
|Number of schools in operation||13|
|Organized by me and in operation||7|
|Number of schools organized in districts having no previous benefit of public schools||8|
|Number of teacher under contract||24|
|Female teacher||11 (30)|
|New, enrolled this term||15|
|Teachers enrolled previously||45|
|Pupils enrolled in 24 schools||840|
|Making for each school||35|
|Number of Teachers and Length of Term.|
|12 schools taught 3 months, total||36 months|
|2 schools taught 4 months, total||3 "|
|6 schools taught 5 months, total||30 "|
|2 schools taught 6 months, total||12 "|
|2 schools taught 10 months, total||20 "|
|Making an average of nearly 4 ½ months for each school.|
|Number of schools in bad condition||4|
|Number of schools having room for writing||6|
|Number having little or no accommodation||14|
|Number of schools taught||63|
|Number of months taught||155|
|For each school house||95.00|
|Number of log school houses||30|
|Number of frame school houses||46|
|Number built this year||7|
Remarks of the Superintendent Relating to His Annual Report:
"The year has entailed upon me many
duties, most of which have been onerous, because of the change in management of the
schools, and the endorsement of the same.
I have found it difficult in some cases to get along with the people as to the location of the schools, because previous to my experience as superintendent no limit was put on the number of schools that might be located in a ward, and an effort to limit the number of schools when left to the people tended to create factional strife. Therefore, I recommend that the Board locate the schools through the superintendent. The trial of local directors as a means of help to the parish Board has been very satisfactory on all of its details.
My plan has been to leave the school of each district to the patrons, not to be influenced by the teachers or other outside parties. In all cases where I found dissension, I appeared in person and completed the organization.
I have had trouble in many cases to prevent people from one district participating in the organization of another. I maintain that people can vote only within their respective districts.
I have been successful beyond my expectations in my efforts with local directors in procuring their cooperation in supplementing the local funds.
The condition of the school houses through out the parish is 500 percent better than when we visited them last year, but yet, much is to be done, in the same direction to make the schools at all comfortable.
I have been instrumental in bringing about harmony in a few cases where strife seemed inevitable, though in no wise affecting the dignity of the school board.
In every case, I have refused to give a certificate to any applicant when I knew him to be morally disqualified, though ever so competent otherwise, and always required the teachers’ qualifications and experience to be equal with the want of the school to be taught.
I have held four institutes, three of which have been largely attended and the people in every case petitioned them oftener. In fact, it seems as a general thing the people are destined to lead the teachers in this important work.
My visits to the schools in different parts of the parish have been of inestimable value to the public school interest as such has stimulated the people to renewed energy because they appreciate the fact that their interests are always the object of careful consideration on the part of the parish Board.
The principal part of my visits to each school is spent in addressing the children upon the importance of estimating morality as an inseparable and indispensable part of what constitutes Christian character.
Before concluding, I freely acknowledge that what ever may be the extent of my success, it was reached through the instrumentality of the Board under whose undivided support I have acted.
There are points in this report deserving special comment. It is interesting that two schools had terms longer than ten months, that some schools only had accommodations for teaching writing, that there were more boys enrolled than girls, the reverse of conditions today: and that log building were in use in thirty schools. Mr. McNeese’s conception of supervision, as reflected in his statement of how he spent his time when visiting schools is in contrast with his later ideas on this subject, as well be clear to the reader as he follows the history of Mr. McNeese, his later practices show a marked progress.
One of the problems which faced McNeese and which has persisted down to the present time is that the holdings for speculative purposes by non-resident land owners of large tracts of land without making any effort to develop them. This undeveloped land is assessed at a low valuation for taxation purposes with the result that the country does not progress and the schools are deprived of a great deal of revenue.
The School Board attempted to make this land bear its share of the burden by a resolution calling upon the Police Jury to assess all non-resident owned land at its full value for taxation. (31) Evidently the Board was beginning to realize that the method employed for raising revenue, that of calling upon the Police Jury, for donations, was an unsatisfactory one; for the following week, May 26, 1890, they passed a resolution calling upon the state legislature to pass a law permitting parishes, municipalities, and school districts to levy special taxes for the benefit of public schools. (32) The law was not passed at this time but was enacted later.
Before February 1890 there had been no provision made for an office for the parish superintendent and he was forced to use one of the rooms at his home to transact official business and as a place of deposit for his records and a meeting place for the Board and for teachers who might call to see him on school affairs.(33) At a meeting of the parish board held on the date cited, the following resolution was passed:
"Moved that the sum of one
hundred dollars per annum or as Much thereof as is necessary, be
allowed the parish superintendent for an office in which to keep all
records belonging to said office of superintendent and for the
accommodation of teachers and members of the Board.
Moved that the president be empowered to collect all amounts subscribed by he citizens of Lake Charles for he benefit of the public school. Adjourned."
How well the first part of these resolutions was carried out is evidenced by the following notice, which appeared in the Lake Charles Weekly American in June of the same year. (34)
Hereafter the regular examination for teachers will be held the first Saturday of each month. The Superintendent will be found at his office next door to J. B. Bryan’s to attend to all business pertaining to the schools. Teachers will please send their reports promptly, always addressed to the parish superintendent for examination and approval. John McNeese, Parish Superintendent."
It was not until several years later that the office of Parish Superintendent was recognized as being of sufficient importance to be provided with quarters in the parish courthouse.
It might be of interest to notice the sources and amounts of the revenues, which the school board received for the support of he schools during this time. The sheriff, who is ex officio tax collector in Louisiana, collected the taxes, delivered them to the parish treasurer of the school funds. The following is a report of the school treasurer to the Board for the quarter ending March 31, 1890. (35)
State of Louisiana
Parish of Calcasieu
March 31, 1890
W. L. Hutchins, Treasurer of the School Funds.
|Balance on hand December 31, 1889||3,786.20|
|Tax collected, Police Jury Donation||1,826.37|
|From State Treasurer||1,640.42|
|Forfeited bonds and fines||593.53|
|16th section funds||367.56|
|Balance on report of experts||575.78|
|Balance on hand April 1, 1890||6,104.90|
W. L. Hutchins, Treasurer.
After the Board had accepted the treasurer’s report, the following resolution was passed:
"Whereas, a quarterly report of the secretary of
the Board corresponding with the dates of the treasurer’s report is
necessary for a full investigation of the finances of the school
Therefore, be it resolved that the secretary is requested to make such reports in the future. The said reports are to set forth the different warrants indorsed by him for collection by the treasurer, as well as all warrants attested to for collection against the treasurer by the secretary.
The report of the building committee was received. The following process verbal of their supervision was ordered, read, and spread on the minutes.
We, the committee appointed by your honorable body to superintend the erection and construction of the Public Free School building of Lake Charles, beg leave to submit the following report as a process verbal of the transactions pertaining to said building from the beginning until received by us.
At a special meeting of the Board held on June 7, 1888, a resolution was passed to the effect that $1100.00, the amount due the white children of Lake Charles, and an amount of $1402.50, being the amount subscribed by the citizens of Lake Charles, making in all $2502.50, be formed into a building fund for the erection of a Free Public School building for the white children of Lake Charles.
At the October meeting in 1888, a resolution was passed authorizing the president to purchase a certain block of land for school site, and at the next regular meeting, the president reported that the amount of $800.00 had been paid for said block of land.
At a regular meeting in January, 1889, a committee of five was appointed upon plans and specifications and probable cost of the contemplated building and at a special meeting on January 18, the committee reported the dimensions of said house, and at the same meeting said committee was authorized to have plans and specifications prepared in accordance with dimensions adapted and to advertise for bids.
At a special meeting on March 9, the Board accepted the bid of Messrs. Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Co., for $1126 for the material.
At a special meeting on March 30, the bids of Messrs. Curley and Robinson being the same, a vote was taken which was as follows: Wm. Curley three votes, H.L. Robinson two votes.
The election of Mr. Curley being made unanimous the contract was awarded to him, according to the plans and specifications on file, for $3350.00 as per contract duly entered into, and bond was given with approved security.
At a regular meeting on April 6, 1889, a building committee of five (of which this is the report) was appointed by the Board, three to constitute a quorum, to superintend the progress of said building to completion.
At a special meeting on April 17, 1889, the president was authorized to accept the contract on the part of the Board, which was done according to law.
At a regular meeting on July 6, 1889, a resolution was passed that all money up to date due the white children of Lake Charles be placed to the credit of the building fund; and at the same time the president was authorized to procure a loan of $1500.00 to pay for the work and material used on the building under construction.
The building was completed as per terms of the contract, on the 23rd day of October. Your committee formally accepted same and released the contractor from further responsibility.
The following is a statement of all amounts disbursed from the beginning of the enterprise until completed.
|Complete cost of enterprise||5,596.19|
|Paid as per following items|
|Paid for lot||800.00|
|Paid for grading lot||15.00|
|Paid for plans and specifications of architect||50.00|
|Paid contractor from Third Ward Funds||1,329.00|
|Paid contractor loan from J. B. Watkins||1,491.95|
|Paid contractor from subscription funds||526.05|
|Paid Bradley-Ramsey Company||1,384.19|
|Obligations to be Met|
|Loan from J. B. Watkins||1,500.00|
|Interest on same one year||180.00|
|Due Bradley-Ramsey Company||1,284.19|
|Amount available from town council||500.00|
J. W. Bryan
Jas. P. Geary"
The Board then passed a resolution
accepting the report of the committee and authorized the president to
issue a warrant to the Bradley-Ramsey Company as part payment on the
amount due them, to be paid from the first funds available. After
appointing the Lake Charles Echo as the official organ of the
Board, it adjourned to meet April 12, at 7:00 P. M. The minutes are
signed by A. Thomson, as President, and John McNeese, as Secretary.
The following news item in regard to a state institute to be held in Lake Charles appeared: (36)
"Prof. D. D. Boyd, President of the State Normal School has announced a state teacher’s institute to begin here June 23, lasting five days.
Deeming this appointment fortunate at it will enable me to better carry out my own institute work, I most respectfully request the teachers, school officers and friends of educational progress throughout the parish to attend, thereby giving encouragement to the enterprise, in return for which the entertainments will be both entertaining and instructional.
The purpose of the meeting is not for the examination of teachers, but a normal school on a small scale, at which teachers will hear lectures on all subjects pertaining to their profession.
John McNeese, Parish Supt."
At a meeting of the Board held in July 1890, after routine matters were disposed of, they took up for discussion a recent requirement of the State Board of Education that all teachers be required to pass an examination in physiology and hygiene. (37) After some discussion it was agreed that the first week in October be set aside as the time for all teachers to appear for the required examinations. It was decided that all teachers making an average grade of between fifty and sixty should be classed as primary and receive a salary not to exceed thirty dollars a month, all teachers making an average grade between sixty and eighty should be classed as intermediate and receive a salary not to exceed forty dollars a month, and all teachers making an average grade between eighty and one hundred, should be classified as grammar grade and receive a salary not to exceed fifty dollars a month.
The new school building in Lake Charles was to be opened for use on Monday, September 15, 1890, with the expectation of operating the school for eight and one half moths. Commenting editorially on the opening of the new school the American said:
"The opening of the
institution will mark an era in the development of Lake Charles. It will
be a long step in advance when this school starts out. It is
the intention of the School Board to employ four teachers in the
beginning and add others as the school may require." (38)
At its regular meeting in August 1890, the Board stated that since they had already appropriated $1000 for the support of the school in Lake Charles and the City Council had voted to contribute the revenue derived form tax of one and one half mills levied against all real and personal property in the city, it was their purpose to open the school on or about October 1, 1890, therefore, they proceeded with the election of teachers for the school. (39) The teachers were to be: a principal to be paid seventy-five dollars a month, and first assistant at fifty dollars a month, and one second assistant forty dollars a month, beginning October1, 1890. A vote of thanks on behalf of the school children of Lake Charles was tendered by the Board to the City Council. The Police Jury having raised their donation form five thousand to seventy-five hundred dollars a year, a vote of thanks was extended them also.
Prof. Dolby was elected as principal and superintendent and Miss Crossman and Miss Jenkins were elected second assistants. (40) It appears that the position of first assistant was left vacant at first and that these three constituted the entire faculty for the first two weeks, at the end of which time another teacher was added. At this meeting, the Board formally set October 1, 1890, as the opening date of school.
A news item published one week after the opening of the school stated that the school had opened with more than two hundred pupils enrolled and more were coming daily. (41)
It soon became apparent to the Board
that an additional teacher would be required, so that on October 16,
they met in special session and elected A. S. Vincent as first
assistant teacher. (42) While
the records do not so state, it is assumed that he received the salary
of fifty dollars a month, as provided for in the resolution of August
A change in the grades required for certification of teachers was made in October of 1890, when the Board adopted the State Board of Education system of grading and certification of teachers. (43) All teacher making above average of eighty-five on the examination were to receive a first grade certificate, a grade of seventy to eighty-four, entitled one to a second grade certificate, a grade of from fifty to sixty-nine entitled the candidate to a third grade certificate. This not only raised the requirements but the new terms, first, second, and third grade certificates were not so confusing as those earlier in use by the parish.
If the proverb “ No News is Good News” is true, the schools of the parish must have progressed smoothly during the months of November and December of 1890 since there are no news items in the press relating to the schools during that time, and the Board did nothing but attend to routine matters.
In January of 1891, Jas. P. Geary was appointed to interview the Lake Charles town tax collector and determine what amount of the city taxes had been collected and when the amount set aside by the town council for the schools would be available. (44) Mr. Geary was to report to the Board at the next meeting on Monday, January 5. At the same meeting, official notice was taken of the fact that small pox was present in Houston, Texas, and the city council of Lake Charles was called upon to pass such resolutions as they deemed best to prevent the spread of the disease to Lake Charles. The Board petitioned the Council to provide free vaccination for those notable to pay for it.
Apparently, there was some attempt at supervision of the city schools on the part of the Board through a visiting committee as on the special meeting of January 5, 1891, such a committee made a report, which is as follows: (45)
"The President and Members
of the Parish School Board.
We, the undersigned visiting committee to the Lake Charles Public School, beg leave to report that they visited said school January 5, 1891, and found every thing working satisfactorily.
It is true, however, that several teachers are over-crowed with pupils, and we are satisfied that another teacher is necessary and would recommend the employment of another without delay, were we satisfied that there will be sufficient means to meet the extra expense.
J. W. Bryan
John H. Poe"
At the same meeting of the Board, Mr. McNeese submitted his second annual report to the Board, the report follows:
Honorable Members of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish.
I most respectfully beg leave to submit the following report.
|Number of schools in operation during the year||57|
|Number of teachers employed during the year||57|
|Number of teachers employed, male||41|
|Number of teacher employed, female||26|
|Number of teachers, primary grade||16|
|Number of teachers, grammar grade||41|
|Average number of months schools have been taught||2.3|
|Average cost to run 57 schools||120.50|
|Average cost per month||36.50|
|Enrollment, male white children||1167|
|Enrollment, white female children||971|
|Enrollment, male colored children||58|
|Enrollment, female colored children||54|
|Total enrollment white and colored||2250|
|Number of teachers examined under the new law||25|
|Number teachers, grammar grade||13|
|Number teachers, intermediate grade||10|
|Number teachers, primary grade||2|
|Average attendance, white male||905|
|Average attendance, white female||733|
|Average attendance, colored male||44|
|Average attendance, colored female||42|
|Grand Total, white and colored||1724|
I have up to date organized in the eight wards schools with local directors duly elected.
|Number of townships that held elections and voted the 16th section for school purpose||4|
|Number of high schools established||2|
year I have visited the majority of the schools in operation and
found the people, children, and teachers advanced in
I am glad to state that the disposition of the people throughout the parish to supplement even dollars with dollars is increasing; and I am convinced that as funds increase theirs will be in proportion.
The custom heretofore prevailing of allowing so much money to each school according to the grade of teacher is becoming nominal, as the people are growing in disposition to ask help from the Board while making up the other half themselves, thereby tending to double the term.
In my rounds, I find many new schoolhouses replacing the old ones and in nearly every case made double in capacity, with commendable efforts to make them commodious. Desks for penmanship, blackboards, maps and many other school apparatuses. Now, in no case is there a school without a well, where formerly the schoolchildren in many cases drank branch or bayou water winter and summer.
In my requests in behalf of the Board, for these compliances the people have met then without a murmur.
The local directors are becoming better acquainted with their responsibilities. And not one has shown any disposition to avoid performing his duties. The people and the teachers have, in almost very case, been in harmony.
I have visited many localities especially to organize schools where the people have enjoyed the benefit of public schools, stayed with them until such organization was completed, ready for the commencement of school.
I have also visited many townships having 16th sections to their credit, gave them instructions how to petition for an election and how to carry on the same.
In visiting schools in operation I have been fortunate in many instances to meet with most of the patrons, my subject always education, the subject matter itself, its effect and the plans to raise means for its perpetuation. (46)
During the past year, I have held several district institutes and one parish institute; also helped the State Normal to propagate its work generally. These institutes have been instrumental in doing much good and experience in shaping them more for the teacher’s good.
The institute for the State Normal held here last summer has shown its effect, as every teacher that attended went to his school room toned up to do more and better work.
In giving certificates of qualifications I have at the bottom of each given a report of the committee showing the percentage in each branch, so that the teacher’s grade may be known by the local directors.
I have also added to the books of my office an account of the 16th section accrued interest to the credit of each township, carrying a copy of the same with me in my rounds, always informing the people of the amount to their credit.
Before concluding, I wish to make the following recommendations:
1. That the superintendent be required to grade schools according to the grade of teachers. The law provides this.
2. That is cases where schools are nearer than required by law, the same be discontinued, except those allowed by express permission of the Board.
3. I think it would be a good idea to give the teacher a certificate of attendance for every institute attended, with the understanding that the production of said certificate would be regarded in their favor when applying for promotion of grade.
4. That the superintendent be authorized to engage the services of an expert institute manager to conduct a parish institute during the summer months at Lake Charles, requiring all teachers to be present.
5. In conclusion I will say that this report is not as favorable this year as last, because I have not been able to start as many schools this November as in November of last year.
6. But next year will be, without a doubt, a year of large and good results educationally, as we will be able to spend at least $5000.00 more than last.
It is needless to say that anything relating to the results of the indefatigable energy of the school board in providing a school building and an effective corps of teachers in the city of Lake Charles, as the real friends of education must admit more has been done under the circumstances than could be expected.
I tender my sincere thanks to the Board for the manner in which they have helped to make me strong in the performance of my duty, and in every case, I have told the people that while I was the executive officer of the Board, I was their servant.
I am deeply thankful to the Board, because of its lenient disposition toward me when, at times, admonition might take its place, and I sincerely hope my future as superintendent may be as pleasant as the past. With much respect, I am
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
As follows is the Treasurer’s Report:
|To balance on hand December 31, 1889||3,792.61|
|Amount of money raised in the parish for schools by local taxation||5,404.09|
|Bonds and fines||774.83|
|Received from state funds||2,383.59|
|Received from poll tax||561.54|
|Balance to carry to new account||8,156.35|
Moved that the above
reports be received. Adopted.
A. Thomson, Chairman."
At a special meeting held in January
of 1891 the Board resolved that since the expense of the Lake Charles
school was already very great that a janitor would not be employed but
that the auxiliary visiting committee should make arrangements to
provide for the cleaning of the building in some other manner. (47) The committee decided to adopt the plan, provided by law, of
collecting one dollar per year from each patron to provide fuel and
In spite of the fact that the City Council of Lake Charles had voted to allow one and one-half mills of the taxes collected in the city for the support of the public school the Board seems to have had some difficulty in collecting the money. At a special meeting the following letter from the district attorney was read: (48)
"To the Hon. President and Members of the Board of School Directors for Calcasieu Parish.
The undersigned begs leave to submit this, his report, concerning matters instructed to him, and against C. Brent Richard, Tax Collector for the town of Lake Charles, La.
In pursuance of your resolution, suit was instituted in the name of your president against said Richard and judgement (sic) was rendered in your favor for the sum of $492.75 with five percent interest thereon from Feb.2, 1891 until payment, and judgement (sic) of non-suit was given you for the remainder of your demand.
The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals Third Circuit, where the judgement (sic) of the lower court was affirmed. Mr. Richard has exhibited to me the receipt of the school treasurer for this money, less his 5% commission, which I presume the report of the treasurer shows.
In accordance herewith I present my bill for services rendered amounting to $45.15, being 5% of $903.00.
R. P. O’Bryan
At the same meeting, the
superintendent was authorized to make all arrangements for the conducting of a summer institute by the
State Normal faculty. The sum of twenty-five dollars was appropriated
for the expenses of the superintendent to attend the annual convention
of parish superintendents at New Orleans, in June.
A resolution from the Little River District Institute protesting against a recent ruling of the Board that all teachers be required to teach a calendar month rather than a school month of twenty days was presented to the Board and read into the minutes.
Mr. McNeese attended the Fifth Annual
Meeting of Parish Superintendents of Louisiana, held at New Orleans,
June 2 to 5, 1891. There he read the following paper. (49)
"This year has been for Calcasieu a fruitful one educationally. Our Police Jury raised their donation from $3000 to $7500. The last census gave us 7258 educables, where as previously we had been drawing for the amount of children taken from the census of 1880.
The majority of the schools throughout the parish have been supplementing the public schools funds liberally, contributing at least one third of the amount expended for schoolhouses.
The schoolhouses taken as a whole throughout the parish are fairly creditable, being in comfort and appearance, and capacity 100 percent better than 4 years ago. No school being granted unless writing desks, black board, and teaching apparatus furnished for within, while in no case can a school begin until a well is dug to furnish pure water.
Lake Charles has completed nine months term in her building, completed last year. The building, as furnished, costing $6000.00. Jennings has a fine new building, only second to that of Lake Charles. Welsh is preparing to build a schoolhouse, which no doubt will reflect credit upon her for years to come.
My new list of teachers is composed of forty, being examined since October 1, 1890, to comply with the enactment of 1888, in regard to physiology and hygiene.
Most of the teachers have considerable experience having been educated in states where have been evolved the best systems of education.
All certificates issued since October 1, 1890, have at the bottom the percentage in each branch, including physiology and hygiene. There are three grades, primary, intermediate, and grammar.
Most of my teaching force now, attend all institutes, and I have furnished each one a certificate to show attendance. It being generally understood that said certificate will be considered in every case for future promotion.
The compensation for services of teachers is regulated by the grade of certificates, primary teacher being paid $30.00, intermediate $40.00, and grammar $50.00, meaning in all cases where local directors do not make terms with teacher for less, in which case, length of term is increased in proportion.
The patronage of the schools throughout the parish is every year becoming more and more in earnest in the cause of education. My institutes are generally held high in their estimation, at which they help to discuss the questions vital as regards the want of means for educational purposes. An ample tax for the educational purposes would be voted almost to a man, and resolutions to such an effect have been passed by every institute held during my term of office, and I can say, and while I have been over and above conservative in dealing with school affairs generally, I carried all along my line of duty the sympathy of the people, both patrons and the friends of education alike.
System of Managing Schools
Each school district, one on an average to every township, is controlled by three men appointed by the Board, or elected by the people, called local directors.
They indorse the petition of the teacher to the superintendent before contract is entered into. They visit the school at least once a week and inspect the teacher’s register. At the end of the month before a teacher can draw his pay, said director must sign his report as correct.
They take every responsibility in the premises as if the Board were present to act. They are furnished with printed instructions from the parish superintendent with additional information on all questions with which they are not familiar.
Previous to 1888 each school had no organization, the nearest independent of the teacher were the subdirectors of each ward, appointed without regard to geographical distribution. In some large wards they were not even acquainted, having never met for purposes of organization.
The Working of the Superintendent’s Office
The Board of Directors for Calcasieu Parish has done much to make the duties of the parish superintendent such as to produce effects in the direction of progressive education.
An office has been furnished, in which all documents pertaining to the school matters are filed. The Superintendent, acting as secretary, keeps for the information of the public and the Board, all books possible to give desired information, among which are a thorough set of minutes. A set of books to check each month against receipts and disbursements of the treasurer of school funds. A book giving the amount of the sixteenth section interest to the credit of each township, besides all others more peculiar to the office itself.
Extent of Superintendent’s Office
By terms with the Police Jury the superintendent is not to teach or follow any other business other than attend to the schools throughout the parish. About twenty days in each month are spent in the field and about ten days in the office.
The Police Jury found it necessary that, in spending $7,500 to provide that it be spent to the best possible advantage, and in a manner to effect such end.
The year ending May 31, does not show as well for the schools of Calcasieu parish as the year ending October 31, 1891, will, because, at the beginning of last school term bad weather, in connection with the small pox scare prevented many schools from opening the term. But, no doubt, Calcasieu’s report for the year ending December 31, 1891, will be noticeably for ahead of all previous reports in the number of children enrolled, number of schools, character of teachers, and the amount of means expended, with amount of institute work accomplished, and educational advancement generally.
Statistical Statement of Schools in the Parish of Calcasieu during the Term Ending May 31, 1891
|Number of schools taught||40|
|Average attendance of schools||1,610|
|Enrollment in schools||2,075|
|Number of months taught||150|
|Average attendance of each pupil||50|
|Average attendance of each school||40|
|Average school term in months||3 ¾|
|Average monthly salary of teachers||46.20|
|Average salary per term||58.25|
|Amount expended on schools||6,490.00|
|Amount yet to be expanded||6,710.00|
|Number of schools to be granted before November 1, 1891||44|
|Number of school districts organized in the parish||100|
|Number of organized high schools||2|
|Teachers enrolled teaching physiology and hygiene||40|
|Number of institutes held in the parish||1|
|Number of institutes held in the districts||6|
|Amount of funds raised - Poll Taxes||3,000.00|
|Lake Charles (corporation)||1,500.00|
|Forfeited bonds and fines||200.00|
|Amount supplemented by school||400.00|
|Amount of 16th section funds spent||302.00|
|Amount of Sixteenth section interest credit of townships||3,000.00|
I think it necessary that our present state constitution be amended so that throughout the state the people be allowed to vote the levy of a tax themselves by property qualification, an amount sufficient to give at least six months school in the rural districts and nine months in towns.
In my opinion the time is ripe for the holding of state normal institutes at as many convenient points as possible, for the term of four weeks in each year, during which time, after examination, teachers should obtain certificates of qualifications.
Nearly all states of the Union, as well as the territories, have recognized in the school laws the value of a county supervision. The only question being how to make it more effective. Therefore, I think it unwise to recommend any legislation to enlarge this supervision. And to conclude, I will say, that the labors of this Convention during the annual sessions, cannot be complete short of earnest efforts to bring about amendments to our constitution giving us the most important factor in evolving for Louisiana a system of education second to none in the Union.
Parish Superintendent of Public Schools, Calcasieu Parish"
At a regular session of the
Board which met in July 1891, the report of a committee appointed to
wait upon the town council of Lake Charles and ask for aid for the
schools of city reported that they had waited upon the council and
that the council had agreed to levy a tax of one and one half mills
for the support of the public schools. (50)
The council also of their own accord agreed to levy a tax of one-half
a mill for the purpose of improving the school property.
At this meeting, Mr. McNeese made a report of the proceeding of the Fifth Annual Convention of Parish Superintendents, which he had attended in New Orleans. He stated that most of the time was spent in reading papers on various educational subjects, the superintendents being able only now and then to get a report of the condition of their respective parishes. Since the reading of statistics had been ruled against most of the reports were handed in for publication at the end of the meeting. He stated that he felt that the real purpose of the convention had been frustrated. He believed that he got more benefit from talking with the more efficient superintendents in an informal way and finding out just what they were doing in school administration and supervision. As a result of these informal conferences, he reached the following conclusions:
1. That we have too many schools
2. That we are spending too much money for each school thereby not being able to reach every school every year
3. That the number of teachers examined should not necessarily constitute the list of teachers for work
4. That the superintendent should have control of the actual force of teachers, while the local directors the supervision while
5. It is a fact that we have too many schools, but owing to many circumstances to reorganize the school districts at this time be
almost out of the question. Therefore, I suggest that the means to the credit of each ward be so divided, that each school in
said ward receive its prorata for the year, with the understanding that the means be expended, the term not be less than
In the directory of teachers
at Lake Charles College, a private institution operated at Lake
Charles during the early nineties, Mr. McNeese was listed as a teacher
of school organization and discipline. (51)
How much teaching he actually did and what compensation he received,
if any, there are no records to show nor is it clear how he reconciled
his action in teaching with the agreement not to teach while Parish
Superintendent, an agreement which, as he reported at the Fifth Annual
Convention of Parish Superintendents, he had entered into with the
At a special session of the School Board held in October 1891, the Lake Charles city school district was enlarged to include territory outside the city corporation lines in order that children living on the outskirts of the city might have the privilege of attending the Lake Charles schools. (52) An additional teacher, Miss Susan B. Bradley, was elected to care for the increased enrollment resulting form the enlargement of the district. At the same meeting, bills for the sum of thirty-eight dollars for the purchase of office furniture for the office of the superintendent were approved.
The Board met in December 1981, for the purpose of passing rules and regulations for the governing of the Lake Charles school. (53) There is nothing remarkable about this set of rules, dealing with the employment of substitute teachers and establishing the authority of the principal, until rule eight is reached and it is remarkable only because of it consequence. It is as follows:
"Each teacher shall superintend the sweeping and dusting of his or her department in the afternoon, after dismissal for the day.
Each teacher shall detail two or more (pupils) from each department for said purpose to be made by rotation form register of
Rule twelve might be of interest to teacher of this generation, in that it positively forbade the carrying of dangerous weapons by the pupils. Judging from contemporary newspaper accounts this rule was probably highly desirable as most of the youth of Louisiana of that time began to feel acute pains of “pistolitis” as soon as he had graduated into “store” pants.
The method of cleaning the building seems to have continued in use until February 1896, when it was brought to an end in this manner. (54)
A Miss Davidson, a pupil of the Kinder school, refused to take her turn at sweeping and dusting the schoolroom and was suspended by the Board of Local Directors of the Kinder School. Someone, probably the parents of Miss Davidson, appealed to the Parish Board against the ruling of the Kinder Board. After some discussion by the Parish Board a motion was placed to sustain the action of the Kinder Board in suspending Miss Davidson, and was adopted with two votes against it, those of Superintendent McNeese and A. M. Mayo.
Miss Davidson remained suspended until the meeting of the Parish Board in March when a resolution was passed reinstating her as a pupil of the Kinder School. (55) Following immediately after this resolution the following was adopted:
"Adopted, That it is hereby declared to be the sense of this Board that no manual labor of any sort can be required of any of the pupils of any school in this parish. Any labor performed by any pupil shall be voluntary on the part of the pupil."
The financial report at the same meeting carried
an item of one hundred dollars of expense for a janitor at the Lake
Charles Central and High School. Evidently, Miss Davidson’s one pupil
strike had taught the progressive school board of Calcasieu another
lesson in progress.
The same session of the Board, which passed the set of rules and regulations, made provisions for Arbor Day to be observed on January 8, 1892, by setting out trees on the school ground of Lake Charles school. (56)
This meeting of the Board also took steps to raise funds for the school in a manner that would be considered unique in this day and time. This was by arranging with the Kansas City, Watkins, and Gulf Railway Company for a benefit excursion to the Bay on January 9, 1892. The date first set for the excursion was later changed to February 22, 1892. There is no record in the press files or elsewhere that the excursion ever took place, nor are the exact terms of the agreement with the railway company given.
At the regular meeting of the Board in January 1892, Superintendent McNeese presented his annual report of the year ending December 31, 1891. The report is as follows: (57)
"To the President and Members of the Parish Board of School Directors.
I beg leave to submit for your consideration, the following report as to the condition of the public schools during the past year.
This is the fourth year of the workings of the schools under the supervision of the Board through a superintendent, each year bringing forth encouraging results.
The past year had been fruitful of much progress in many ways. The results tonight show it, clearly indicating that we have entered upon a new era of educational progress.
At least one-half of my time has been spent in visiting schools, and my experience while doing so will be instrumental, I hope, in causing my report and recommendation to be duly considered.
There are but few districts, now, but what have school houses especially for school purposes. With few exceptions the character of the school houses throughout the parish has been becoming better with very encouraging prospects that the spirit will become more manifest every year.
The people are now individually and collectively giving more attention to the educational demands of the times; they are beginning to acknowledge the necessity of good teachers, both intellectually and morally qualified.
The organization of local directors for each school throughout the parish was a necessity, demanded as soon as the need of a superintendent was brought into requisition, to act as an executive in carrying out the desires of the Board.
The publishing of circulars of instruction with ready and elaborate correspondence with this office, and my visits, have been instrumental in causing local directors to carry out with intelligence all the requirements of law applicable to their responsibilities.
The very liberal spirit of the people in supplementing the public means has been steadily increasing. Never exorbitant in their demands, only asking that they get their prorata during each year, in most cases willing to make up the deficiency on a term.
The new arrangement for apportioning the means in meeting with general approbation and will be instrumental in the funds being more regularly expended than before.
For the better organization of my institute work, I have brought about the organization of a Parish Teacher’s Association. The first session adjourned in few since and was well attended and a most excellent program rendered, dealing with the principles and methods of teaching, most energetically carried out under the direction of Prof. Bucher, the president of the Association and the principal of the Lake Charles public school.
Lake Charles, Welsh, Jennings, Merryville, Sugartown, and Dry Creek are becoming educational centers with no small pretensions, though little of our educational means is applied to help then along to better results. The good is not local, the entire parish is the gainer, and by proper and efficient help these schools could accomodate (sic) the benefit many educationally that now have to leave our parish to seek this benefit elsewhere.
1. That in the north and northwestern part of the parish the schools be opened during the summer months because of the indifferent conditions of the schoolhouses in many districts.
2. That the Board recognize the efforts of the Parish Teacher’s Association in the direction of organizing itself into a training school for the teachers, for the term of six weeks, and that this board recognize certificates issued by said training schools subject to the co-supervision of the parish superintendent and the committee on examinations.
3. That some action by the Board is necessary by which the superintendent can have the power to start all schools for which there is means at once.
4. That there be such changes made relative to the committee on examinations and the committee on teachers that each committee act in its capacity as the law provides.
5. That the teachers without previous experience in the theory and art of teaching be granted certificates of primary grade only.
With much feeling, I sincerely thank you both as gentleman and as a body in my official capacity, for the kind manner in which you have directed my course so pleasantly throughout the work of the year.
Parish Superintendent of Public Schools"
The year 1892 was evidently spent in hard work by the superintendent and the Board carrying out the routine in organizing new schools, supervising those already organized, and paying bills as best they could under the circumstances. The newspapers of the year make little mention of the school system and it was not until we reach the superintendent’s annual report at the close of the year that the minutes of the Board reveal anything of interest. The report was tendered at a regular meeting of the Board in January 1893. It follows: (58)
"To the Honorable
President and Members of the School Board of the Parish
I respectfully submit the following report of my work during the year ending December 31, 1892.
|Number schools in parish, white||103|
|Number schools in parish, colored||11|
|Number pupils enrolled, white males||2167|
|Number pupils enrolled, white females||1917|
|Number enrolled, colored males||263|
|Number enrolled, colored females||258|
|Average attendance, whites||2069|
|Average attendance, colored||397|
|Number teachers employed, white males||68|
|Number teachers employed, white females||43|
|Number teachers employed, colored males||7|
|Number teachers employed, colored females||5|
|Average teacher’s salary, white males||36.02|
|Average teacher’s salary, white females||29.40|
|Average teacher’s salary, colored males||24.01|
|Average teacher’s salary, colored females||29.42|
|Length of schools term in months, white||421|
|Length of schools term in months, colored||43|
|Number of teachers employed in 1891||62|
|Number of teachers employed in 1892||123|
|During the year 1891 I visited schools||63|
|During the year 1892 I visited schools||123|
|Average length of term 1891||3 23/32|
|Average length of term 1892||4 1/3|
|Enrollment for the term 1891||265|
|Enrollment for the term 1892||4605|
|Average number of pupils per teacher in 1891||43|
|Average number of pupils per teacher in 1892||47|
|Average number of pupils to each school 1891||42|
|Average number of pupils to each school 1892||40|
|In 1891 enrollment was 37% of scholastic population|
|In 1892 enrollment was 65% of scholastic population|
|In 1891 in the average attendance was 70% of enrollment|
|In 1892 in the average attendance was 75% of enrollment|
|In 1891 school officers visited||437 times|
|In 1892 school officers visited||1104 times|
I think you will
consider the forgoing statistics very encouraging as compared with
The average term for the last year shows progress with the other statistics; but if new school districts are added in the same proportion as within the last few years, the increase of means will not keep up in the increase of schools.
Four years ago there were forty schools, now I have one hundred and twenty, the country districts being one hundred percent more than in the towns.
If schools be allowed to organize without some regard to the extent of territory each school must become more expensive with no increase in term.
The cost of last year to run one hundred and fourteen schools reached about $17,000. The average term being a little over four months.
If the number of schools does not increase next year spending $20,000 will enable us to average over five months. By this I mean that in a few years by keeping the number of schools about what they are, with a gradual increase of means as within the past few years, we could reach a minimum term of six months throughout the parish.
With this object in view and every advantage intact, by the time our system evolved to this end, it would be commendable to an extent of which the people of Calcasieu would be proud.
We are beginning a career of progress, the relaxation of which would be detrimental to the people. The fact of being able to reach every district last year with public means with a few exceptions has discontinued private schools.
Public schools have fought for and gained popularity, the people accepting the results, knowing that the interests educationally will be better and more economically maintained.
You will see that our percentage of children enrolled compared with the number of educable children in the parish lacks only 2% of being with the national standard, this is not bad and next year with continued educational interest, will show a high percentage in this direction.
Because of the great size of the parish and the different occupations of the people my work has been continuous. Last summer I had fifty schools in operation, when almost every parish in the state was in vacation.
I have visited several times the ward schools, many times making special to adjust matters requiring immediate attention. Because of the extensive business of this office I have not been able to reach each school as often as possibly necessary, but never failed to visit when my intervention was necessary.
Aside from institute work, in visiting school I met the people when they could spare the time, talked with them concerning the need of the schools. Gave the teacher such instructions in the methods of teaching, which I thought, could be put in immediate practice finding the teacher in need of such.
In every case I have found the patron ready to take my advice and help along with the teacher, but there is much work of this kind to be done in many parts of the parish.
My institute work is accomplishing much good. The people regard them as special occasion in which to gather up enthusiasm for the cause of education.
Institute work among the people as well as with the teacher as one of the means by which Horace Mann accomplished so much in up building educational systems.
During my late institute resolutions of thanks were passed thanking the School Board for the providing for the holding of a Summer Normal for the benefit of the teachers in Calcasieu.
Our state institutions are turning out more Normal graduate every year which placed at the head of our better schools will cause our boys and girls, already with an average intellectual training to especially train themselves in the theory and art of teaching - removing the common fallacy that anyone can teach school when there is nothing else to do.
Lake Charles, Jennings, and Welsh, also a few other points, are growing fast in importance - and it should be so - as gentlemen visiting from the North and South seeking new homes, first ask us as to the condition of the schools among us.
It is said by the Rev. H. D. Mayo and from the facts of history that the forces which operate and improve educational institutions, beginning at the top and work downward, colleges and universities were established before academies and academies before primary or common schools.
If we are to ever evolve a good system in the state, it must be done by the men educated in good institutions maintained by the state. The better the high schools are, the better the teachers will be.
It seems to me that this fact is beyond doubt, for how could a system of public education grow from and through its own means. There must be additional force to cause growth from the beginning.
If I find the schools in every direction prospering, everywhere better schools are being built, in the woods frame buildings are in demand, though far from mills.
The houses are better furnished now by two hundred per cent than a year ago, both by means of comfort and facilities for good work.
Many donations have already been made of land and school houses, to the President of the School Board, and before the end of the year every school site will be owned by the Board.
The schools are doing much better work now because of better classification, due to a near approach to uniformity of schoolbooks. A teacher can do more now with fifty pupils than two years ago with twenty-five.
As you will see, I have kept a record of the number of times patron and school officers have visited their respective schools.
The fact is a most encouraging feature of our work in this parish. We are gradually drifting to the point from which we can begin to evolve a school system, that point in the united energy of every school district moving as a unit, along the line of educational reform.
The appointment of local directors took place some four years ago, through my recommendations, the sub-directors, five in each ward, were discontinued. Since that time my work and experience in trying to cause the local directors to represent the Board intelligently and faithfully have been by no means enviable, but it is bringing results for schools never manifested before.
So you can see from the shape of this office, toward which the Board has been very liberal, many means have brought about for the betterment of schools, and the direction of facilitating the work of the parish superintendent and all school officers throughout the parish, in the shape of blank forms and instructions.
I have in many ways caused the people in townships, having accrued interest to the their credit, for the sale of Sixteenth Section to take the necessary steps by which they could use the same either to build new school houses or employ teachers. $1000.00 has been spent during my time as superintendent before which time not one cent was spent, and yet the people are too indifferent in this respect.
Considering the great area of territory in this parish, so much of it thinly settled, and in many respects similar to a frontier country, far from railroads, the teaching force will, I think, compare favorably with any parish in this state.
Yet the late requirements of the Board for raising the standards of teaching were well chosen, and the teacher cannot plead surprise. I have warned them that more would be expected of them. I have worked hard to build up the teachers at hand rather than change or plan for better ones not at hand.
I feel I have done much in the way of labor in visiting and superintending schools in this parish, but now being the opportune time, there is much more to do, I hope I may be able to do the task.
In making these, I feel in my judgement (sic) that your deliberations are required.
Some regulation is needed by which the grade of each school may be kept up. That the local authority shall act for the best interest of their school district. Now, many times, primary teachers are selected and recommended to teach schools previously taught several terms by grammar grade teachers.
I would, therefore, recommend that this Board take into earnest consideration the necessity of redistricting the parish and allow no school house to be erected until the location is passed upon by the board, in all cases the superintendent to inspect the character of said location.
And gentlemen, allow me before concluding to say that though much has been done for Calcasieu within the last year educationally, as the executive officer of the board I claim no credit to myself, but have been the mere servant to act, directed by the wisdom of this honorable body, taking up and carrying on to the best advantage of the good work of our profession.
I thank you very sincerely for your earnest and undivided support, along my line of duty and efforts for the cause, and cannot too highly appreciate you kind and courteous treatment in every respect.
Superintendent Public Schools
Parish of Calcasieu
At the close of the year 1892, Mr. McNeese completed his first four years term as the superintendent and was reelected for an additional four at the same meeting that accepted his annual report. (59)
McNeese’s Second Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Schools - 1892-1896
The records of the first part of Mr.
McNeese’s second term are rather meager. Some of the School Board records were
doubtless burned in the great fire in Lake Charles, which destroyed the
courthouse in 1910, and the newspaper of the time did not print a great deal
concerning him personally, not did they print news of the school system.
Perhaps the best view of the work done during the year 1893 can be found in the
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education in which
is printed the report from Calcasieu. (60)
John McNeese – Superintendent
The institute during the past years has been kept up as it should be in advance, as a means by which a growing system should be kept in tact as being productive a living growth with increased effort. The work in addition to my own general supervision is under the charge of a first class educator, Prof. J. E. Keeny. Each ward has an organized institute, work being held monthly in Lake Charles.
Arbor Day was observed January 8, 1892 in several parts of the parish. The 24th of January was set aside for the dedication of the annex to the Parish Central High School.
His Excellency the Governor, the State Superintendent of Public Education were invited to participate by resolution of the Parish Board of Directors.
The work of the year has not only been kept up to the general expectation, but in addition has so far advanced the sentiment for public schools that the irresistible will of the people will cause the Police Jury to increase their donation from $15,000 to $20,000.
This sentiment in the parish has been the result local organization in each school district, there being 147 in the parish institute, serving as means by which to express their wants educationally.
Outside the city of Lake Charles, there are no private schools. Where ever private means are supplied for educational purposes they are the supplement of public means for longer terms.
In the city of Lake Charles the public school economy has grown in extent so that in four years of the present system the enrollment has grown from two hundred and fifty to six hundred and seventy.
For a total of one hundred and thirty five, I had in operation one hundred and twenty schools with an average term of four and one-half months, being six more schools than last year, being an increase of one half a month on an average’s term.
The enrollment of educable children for the year was: Boys, two thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, girls, two thousand five hundred and seventy-six, total, six thousand three hundred and sixty-three, this being seventy-five percent of the educable children of the parish.
The average attendance for the year l893 was three thousand eight hundred sixty-six, being seventy percent of the pupils enrolled during the year.
For the one hundred twenty schools for the year 1893, I reported three thousand two hundred eighty-nine visitations by patrons and one thousand two hundred and thirty-eight by the local boards.
Each school district has its own local organization and the growing disposition of local interests, because of this local organization, is very encouraging indeed.
The work of the schools during the past year compared with the previous year is remarkably appreciable, because of better service on the part of the teachers and better classification and grading in part made available by the uniformity of text books.
Throughout the parish there has been an increased upward tendency for better houses and better facilities to enhance the work for teacher and pupils. Still there is much to be done in the respect.
During the past year many donations for school sites, with schools thereon, have been made by school districts, the people being willing to conform to the conditions enjoined by the Board that all schools be the property of the parish.
The grade of the teachers for the year 1893 is a fact that greatly contributed to the success of the work in every respect. This has been brought about not so much by increased requirements in the examination as by what the parish and board has done by Normal and institute work, examinations being more to find out the teacher does not know, while normals and institutes add to his ability to do more and better work than he has done before.
The summer normal of 1893 was a great success. It was a means of better methods bringing about better grading and classification throughout the parish; at the same time it tends to make more permanent the teaching force of any section.
My institute work has been growing into general favor, so much so, that I am increasing and systemizing the work that the interests now manifested may be kept intact.
At present the Teacher’s Association of the parish meets once a quarter in the institute work under the direction of Prof. Keeny, principal of the Parish Central High School.
I am now preparing to organize institute work in each ward of the parish in order that throughout this large parish every teacher may be enabled to attend without expense, to himself or district where he may be teaching.
Have licensed throughout the year eighty-five teachers, including those re-examined. The examinations are being held from period to period, but not beyond what the growth of the system requires.
In visiting the various districts, I find the people growing in disposition to cause the pubic schools to conserve more to the educational interest of their communities and commend in every direction, the efforts made by the Board in their wants in extent of what can be expected.
While the year 1892 was everything that I then expected, 1893 is short of my expectations as I had hoped to make it a signal year for my period as superintendent, but whether the failure was through my inability or not, I know it caused me twelve months hard work – yes, twice more hard work than any one man could well do.
That the efforts of the superintendent may be more available in upbuilding a good system of public schools in the parish, I very earnestly recommend that the Board arrange to employ a secretary for the superintendent to enable him to give entire time to more actual supervision of the schools in the parish, and that unless such relief is furnished the present favorable progress will be checked, after which follow a reaction in public esteem.
The system has grown to such proportions that a further want of means to keep the growth well in hand will bring about a decline and decrepitude, a condition to which this progressive Board cannot afford to be a party.
I again call your attention to the very unsatisfactory result of apportioning the means from both the state and parish, because of the very indifferent means of taking the enumeration of educable children.
Would further recommend that the Board in a formal way, take steps to establish a Central High School for the Parish of Calcasieu in the city of Lake Charles, and that said Central High School be controlled by a joint Board of Directors, one-half from the city of Lake Charles and one-half from the parish.
The Normal for the year 1893 proving a success, the year has brought around such interest in favor of a four weeks session each year that a desire on the part of the teachers and people is manifest in every part of the parish; and believing the work will be redoubled both in extent and effect. I most respectfully recommend that a parish normal institute be made a permanent and prominent feature of the school system of this parish.
As follows is the statistical report of my work for the year 1893:
|Building and furnishing supplies||3,477.45|
|Rents and repairs||250.05|
|Cost of Instruction of Colored Youths|
|Building and furnishing schools||150.00|
|Rents and repairs||40.00|
|Cost of Supervision|
|Per Diem School Board Member||100.00|
|Tax Collector’s Commission||287.03|
|Amount extra services of superintendent||125.00|
|Amount for parish normal||300.00|
|Expense for institute work||77.00|
|Lake Charles, white and colored||1,025.48|
|Total expended||24, 904.61|
|Total amount disbursed and unexpended||31,512.63|
Statistical Report, Parish Superintendent Year 1893
|Number of schools in the parish, white||103|
|Number of schools in the parish, colored||17|
|Number of pupils enrolled, white males||2,314|
|Number of pupils enrolled, white females||2,123|
|Number of pupils, colored males||373|
|Number of pupils, colored females||463|
|Grand Total, white and colored||5,273|
|Average attendance, white||3,229|
|Average attendance, colored||645|
|Teachers employed, white males||64|
|Teachers employed, white females||39|
|Teachers employed, colored males||11|
|Teachers employed, colored females||6|
|Average salary per month, white males||35.85|
|Average salary per month, white females||32.44|
|Average salary per month, colored males||33.18|
|Average salary per month, colored females||26.67|
|Length School Session in months, white||471|
|Length School Session in months, colored||70|
|Length daily session in hours, white||6|
|Length daily session in hours, colored||6|
While the foregoing statistics are quite elaborate from a parish Superintendent,
while statistics are not generally entertaining, still I feel it my duty to
speak mostly through figures as they deal with plain and solid facts.
And to conclude I will say that though my duties have been many and onerous, I still have performed them with happiness and satisfaction because I knew and appreciated the sincere and undivided support given me as your executive officer and whatever has been my success in the work, I claim no reward or credit but only as being a successful servant in your charge.
Most respectfully submitted,
Superintendent Parish School
Parish of Calcasieu"
Mr. McNeese was probably among the first, if not the first, parish Superintendent to attempt actual class room supervision, the evidence of which is given in the following paper, which he read before the Convention of the Louisiana Public School Teacher’s Association in December, 1893:
My treatment of this subject will be under the following enumerated heads:
First - Practical supervision as a result.
Second - The ways and means to the result.
Third - The influence back of these.
Fourth - Applications of supervision.
Sound practical supervision is a condition to an end, and that end is a good system education, working out for each student the best possible way to harmonize every requirement to the end of a successful life.
But my purpose is to treat the subject as an end, every case leading up to a condition, supervision is not a mere exercise of power, it is an art, and always well carried into execution if the master of the science be well at hand. To successfully supervise there must be an organization well systemized – the ability to build up and systemize being a necessary prerequisite to he executive ability to economize the system for the best ends.
It may be admitted that one able to systemize might be a poor one to execute, and the reverse of this, but the state cannot afford to be effected by such misapplications. She must build her system and carry it out by one and the same agency.
This is the constructive age in our educational life, and the men that supervise must possess ability beyond mere empiricism. They must be able to comprehend the last experience of educational progress that their to supervise be broad, their judgement (sic) sound, with desires to be great in the good work.
Ways and Means
We could scarcely expect to find much effort of inclination to supervise, allowing that there is ability, without the ways and means to support good strong supervision. By means is meant money, while ways applies to the method of obtaining and disposing. Hence, we find that ability to economize the ways and means is a mixture of principles and applications and the part of the make up of practical supervision – for the extent of ability of a superintendent should not begin and end with the mere hiring and contracting of teachers, his ability to influence should read back, if necessary, along the every part of the line leading up to ways and means.
Where a state in its fundamental law provides for no adequate ways and means to carry on a good system of education; and where the popular will expresses its inclination to furnish the means, all degrees of supervision should work to build up and educational system by cultivating ability to apply the ways.
Influences back of the ways and means may include principle, sentiment and the manner of bringing about positive sentiment and how public sentiment can be retained – to all of which a great practical supervision should lead back, bring forward at every time for fresh supplies for renewal.
Executive ability, character, firmness, with will power and tenacity of purpose are conditions natural to practical supervision, while living principles, living sentiment and enthusiasm are the essence of practical supervision.
Under our system of government, where the more direct power of control belongs to and is exercised by the local government, supervision will be modified more or less by public opinion, where the power to control is more centralized, supervision can be more independent.
Therefore, we appreciate the differences in character and extent of supervision under the two systems of organization. Where the system is the result of local organization, supervision to succeed must be in accord with public opinion. Where centralized, supervision can be carried out more independently. So, our estimate of supervision must be based on the former of these conditions.
To control successfully teachers, local boards, and educational sentiment the patrons in each district are the only means to bring about successful supervision. The ambition of a good supervisor is to keep everything pertaining to a good system intact that supervision will follow as a matter of course.
School supervision should not confine its control alone to mere details of controlling teachers. Supervision should be spread out to educate the generation going out, as well as the one coming in. Long and deep set prejudices must be displaced by confidence gained through the very progress of education.
Applications of Supervision
To assure confidence supervision must reach beyond authority. A good system – the result of wise legislation is the authority needed. In every case where the right to exercise authority is called in question, refer parties complaining to the authority empowered to decide.
The work of supervision is purely executive, any effort or disposition to exercise functional duties will sooner or later prove detrimental to the executive exercises.
Direct supervision over the teacher must have back of it the sanction of the people, for if a teacher be able to make a common cause for discontent with the people, supervision will become weak and formal being merely nominal. Such characteristics should be eliminated at once.
Institutes will successfully educate the patron along proper lines of school economy. These occasions should be shared alike by patron and teacher - both stand in need of what can be done.
The teacher may complain that he may not learn much grammar, arithmetic, geography, history, etc., pertaining to educational advancement, such a teacher wants to be narrow while the patron is becoming broad. The patrons will be the first to crowd such a teacher out of the profession.
School supervision should demand professional work. If a teacher seems satisfied with his status and believes he can teach when you know he cannot, convince him that the future will demand more of him. Mere intellectuality will not be enough, he must cultivate methods to guide him with soul and will power to make the acquirements available.
You can do little for a teacher while teaching under your supervision. You cannot afford to find fault with him in the presence of the pupils as such would mar the confidence the pupils must entertain. The superintendent should meet his teacher at least once a year on such occasions as summer schools. There, besides the direct gain of the school, the superintendent could deal with them in a way of shaping their work for the coming year, imparting his plans and all rules, regulations and laws to carry out said plans.
For without this power of supervision how can a superintendent do good work? The teacher and children of the commonwealth are, as it were, the rank and file of an army, carrying out a campaign against ignorance. Their superintendent is the commander; and to be successful in his work, his supervision must be strong enough to enable him to summon every teacher to meet him in solemn counsel that the best means may be devised for continuing the campaign.
Another application of supervision is that the powers of school authorities should be kept adjusted so as to work coordinately, ever becoming complex. Never allow a teacher to do what a local officer should do, and by no means allow the local authority to assume the right to do what is your duty to do.
The superintendent should not be a party to the making of rules and regulations he is to enforce. He should not be a party to his own authority.
The superintendent of schools should not be identified too closely with committees and in no case assume their functions; but at all times demand prompt and judicious deliberation that supervision may always be effective.
While the superintendent should not be a party to making rules that he is to enforce, his experience with his knowledge as an educator should serve to make needful recommendations to those authorized to make rules.
To conclude, I will say that an ability for practical supervision in this state must necessarily include all the prerequisites to begin to evolve an educational system.
The work of the school supervisor is pleasant and remunerative work. Educational interest is the darling of the age. Political agitation is not relished, socialistic extravagance viewed with distrust, theological speculations discreditable to Christianity; but education is the popular theme, the age feels that popular education will unify all that is best for humanity."
There are few records or reports for the year 1895 available, evidently, Mr.
McNeese made and annual report to the Board at the end of the year, but it
either not copied into the minutes of the Board or the record lost in some
manner. The newspaper files of the year do not record anything of
At some meeting of the Board in 1895 or early 1896, the records do not give the exact date, a committee was appointed to examine the Treasurer’s reports for seven quarters beginning with the last report of 1893 and ending with the last quarter of 1895, inclusive. At a meeting held in April 1896, this committee reported back to the Board. The following is a summary of their report. (62)
"To the Honorable President and Members of the Parish Board of School Directors, Parish of Calcasieu.
We, your committee on finance, most respectfully submit the following report:
We have examined seven quarterly reports, beginning with the last quarter of 1893, and ending with the second quarter of 1895, inclusive.
In checking up the items of receipts during the aforesaid period, we find the items correspond with the amounts as shown by the secretary of the School Board, received from the state current fund, the 16th section fund and the donation from the Police Jury; with amounts shown by the sheriff and ex officio tax collector, being poll taxes, fine and forfeited bonds; with amounts shown by the tax collector, corporation of Lake Charles, with small amounts collected from different sources.
To satisfy ourselves as to the correctness or incorrectness of each item of disbursements as shown by the treasurer’s quarterly report; received and referred to the committee on finance by this Board, as well as find under what items of disbursements and difference might appear, we proceeded to compare each voucher presented us by the treasurer of the school fund to verify his report against each entry on his books after comparing and checking each voucher against stubs of warrant book in the office of the Secretary of the School Board. Under the foregoing proceedings we find results of each quarter as follows:
|For quarter ending January 13, 1894, the treasurer’s report shows disbursed||$8,258.01|
|We find vouchers for||8,261.35|
|Leaving a difference in account, incidental||3.34|
|For quarter ending April 9, 1894, the treasurer’s report shows disbursed||6,497.30|
|We find vouchers for||6,497.50|
|Leaving a difference, teacher's pay||.20|
|For quarter ending July 9, 1894, treasurer’s report shows disbursed||6,073.98|
|We find vouchers for||6,078.06|
|Leaving a difference, building and incidental account||4.68|
|For quarter ending September 30, 1894||7,464.89|
|We find vouchers for||7,464.99|
|Leaving a difference, incidentals||.10|
|For quarter ending January 12, 1895,||6,977.25|
|The treasurer’s report shows disbursements||6,977.25|
|For the quarter ending March 10, 1895,||10,026.98|
|We find vouchers for||10,030.04|
|Leaving a difference, teacher’s pay||3.95|
|For quarter ending July 9, 1895,||3,339.65|
|We find vouchers for||3,339.65|
To conclude this report we will further state that the differences aforesaid were adjusted in the treasurer’s books in our presence, with the items and accounts occurring entirely to our satisfaction and the third quarter for 1985 conform to said adjustments.
The Lake Charles Daily American in commenting on the summer normal held in Lake Charles refers to it as the best and most largely attended ever held in Lake Charles. (63) The reporter speaks of having called at the meeting and finding the conductor busy at the board explaining an arithmetic problem to a class of teachers. Evidently, these summer normals taught the common branches as well as methods of teaching. The article concluded with the usual compliments to the teaching force of the parish schools and expressed the opinion that a better normal will not be found anywhere in the United States.
The Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Convention of Parish Superintendents revealed that Superintendent McNeese delivered an address on the subject of Reports, Records, and Statistics Necessary in Evolving a School System. This address follows: (64)
"In treating this subject I propose to deal with it as a matter of theory and practice – my own ideas and my own practice gathered and carried out within a period of some twenty years as a teacher, school commissioner, and superintendent.
I wish you by no means to infer that I intimate or suppose that this theory and practice under existing circumstances could be insinuated into or adopted into your supervision.
So, in complying with the request of our esteemed State Superintendent, in giving you an address on this subject, I desire it be understood that what I wish most distinctly to be advanced throughout this subject both as to my ideas and practice that I advocate and plead for the disposition on the part of every head of supervision, to bring forth and conserve every way and means to accomplish the best possible and educationally; therefore reports, records and statistics are a conservative means by which a system is planned, made progressive and sustained being just as necessary to a school system as digestion, respiration, and circulation to the human system.
As the State Department of Education is the head of the educational life in the state the general plan of the reports, records, and statistics should set forth, made operative so that the reports from the district and parish organizations made to the parish superintendent to be collected and formulated by the State Superintendent to enable him to report to the General Assembly the condition of the system, that said body may be instigated either to enact new laws or to improve existing ones.
As the genius of our form of government guards against concentration of power in the administration of our laws – each state being left to itself as to establishing, regulating and maintaining public schools – there of necessity cannot be instituted a recognized plan, either national or sectional, or by any two or more states by which the common school system of the different states can be regulated or economized. Therefore, the supervision in each state tends to proceed along lines found inclining here and inclining there, as to the results characteristic of the country itself, or its people. Under such circumstances the plans of supervision as to report, records, and statistics vary much as to minor details, but resulting in bringing about general good throughout our country.
With us the state department has and does stand ready to exercise its power of invention as to the needs of reports, records, and statistics, and has been inventive and punctual for eight years even beyond the means supplied.
Whenever the demands of public sentiment are met by constitutional provisions and legislative enactments the ability of the educational departments will never be found wanting in spirit and power to be responsive to every provision and requirement – for without organic law upon which to build and upon which to maintain a system, how can there be efficient state supervision.
If we were allowed under out organic law the right of local taxation for all purposes pertaining to public education then local supervision more general throughout the state could be included within a strong and deliberate condition of state supervision, instigating adequate requirements and discipline as to reports, records, favorable statistics being the consequences.
Having thus dealt with the need of reports, records, and statistics in general way, both as pertaining to the state and local supervision, I wish to maintain that without the desire and power to invent forms upon which to report results and records, by which to aggregate and consolidate a system will never assume such proportions to need much supervision. Instructive forms upon which local authorities and teachers are required to report their work, with such as a matter of record in the office of the head of supervision cannot fail to give satisfaction.
Besides the fact of sending out blanks promptly for every purpose of acquiring information causes the local authorities to be continually reminded of what is required of them in the system in force. It keeps them as it were in the swing between expectations of the patrons and the requirements of the officers exercising supervision.
For if the local authorities are left to themselves and expected to invent and make returns promptly according to their judgement (sic) and inclination, the extent of statistics will soon indicate a backward tendency.
For some eight years, our method of local organization in Calcasieu was not favorably considered in parts of the state by those who claim to have had experience in trying to enforce a like method. They failed, and others are failing today, because they expect this auxiliary force to live and thrive without any sustenance.
Local authorities must never be left to themselves as to inventing forms to make up records and statistics. The head of supervision must invent forms, devise the best plans of obtaining returns for records and statistics.
A supervisor controlling a system where in every duty and responsibility is known to be a systematic method of sending out suggestions and ample supplies of blanks upon which are to be returned all the data and information necessary is at once indicative of exercising the executive function conventionally and not in an arbitrary manner.
During the time of the first efforts in sending out blanks upon which the date is to be returned must extra work and expense may be needed from the office of supervision to insure promptness in receiving returns. This extra work and expense will appear in sending out with every blank a return envelope with a stamp thereon, for a man in a remote country district will wait a week before getting a stamp to send the letter to the office. The return envelope being already addressed insures against going astray in the mails.
I am now able in the large parish of Calcasieu to obtain returns from 150 districts showing the scholastic population within thirty days, said report showing more children by 2000 than is obtained by the assessor. Among the many needs of legislation in this state, relating to educational wants, I know of no need more glaring than a more successful way of obtaining statistics necessary statistics of scholastic population, a fact well known to all of you.
Every parish superintendent should keep in tact statistics along three lines: reports from the Commissioner of Education at Washington, reports from the State Department of Education, and the statistics necessary to be collected from his own work in the parish.
For statistics to be properly appreciated they should be compared and contrasted in a way to show whether the work is above or below the standard of comparison. And the work in any parish cannot be well estimated until compared with reports of the state and general government.
Data of every kind should be arranged to serve the public well as the officer collecting and adjusting them. One a thorough set of books for the office itself. The other of exhibits of the original documents themselves, spread out to open view, that any one may be enabled to inspect each original document in detail.
I do not wish to infer that my office is a model, but it is so arranged as to show in open view by wards and districts every report received during the year. All contracts issued during the year can be seen showing length of term and salary paid. Exhibit department of monthly report of teachers under contract shows every report by wards to correspond with contract as to time and salary, serving as vouchers for every cent paid out to teachers. Department for enumeration of educable children in 150 districts is divided into eight departments or wards. Data from this department enables the office to apportion the means for each school for the year.
Department for the recommendation of teachers by local boards is shown by wards and no teacher can contract until this document is on file.
Besides the regular blanks furnished by the state department of education, blanks for contracts, monthly report, daily record, certificates of qualifications of teachers. I have for my office as follows: large posters, as notice for election of local board with letter of advice to returning office holding the election.
Second-Blank upon which the returning office reports the local board elected.
Third-Blank for deed of school sites to parish directors, with circular of advice.
Fourth-Enumeration blank upon which each district is required to report the number of educable, with circular letter of advice.
Fifth-Petition to parish treasurer to hold election to decide how accrued interest shall be spent.
Sixth-Report of attendance, classification and advancement, to be filed in the parish superintendent’s office after each term to serve as a record for succeeding teacher, to serve him in continuing the same classification and grading as arranged and established by the former teacher.
Seventh-Descriptive list and registering blank, required of each teacher before examination.
Eighth-Circular letter, general instructions to local officials.
Ninth-Petition to president and members of the Police Jury asking for an increase of school revenue, with letter of advice.
Tenth-Circular letter giving Section 10, Article 10, Act No. 81 relating to the $1.00 per annum to be assessed and collected from each parent and guardian sending children to school.
Eleventh-Recommendation blank upon which to recommend teachers.
Twelfth-Commission issued to local officers.
Thirteenth-Certificate of attendance of summer normal institute showing percentage made on examination.
Fourteenth-List of teachers required by local officers.
Fifteenth-Receipt for dollars of tuition fee.
Sixteenth-Certificate of attendance of local institute.
Seventeenth-Seventh annual report of the schools of Calcasieu.
Eighteenth-Eighth annual report of the schools of Calcasieu.
Nineteenth-Teacher’s manual including superintendent’s sixth annual report and course of study of the district public schools of Calcasieu, with course of study for Lake Charles Central and High School and city district schools.
Twentieth-Certificate of promotion.
Twenty-First-Teacher’s report to parents.
Through the foregoing report blanks and circulars, I am able within a short time to get returns, these when systematically adjusted are not only available for inspection by the public but serve the office in making returns to the State Superintendent as well as serving for data from which to compile statistics for any purpose.
In my work these reports received and arranged for public inspection give a story of the report in every district. When one is in a position to have reports made punctually and entirely in line with every requirement pertaining to making returns, the superintendent cannot be implicated with any irregular transaction, as the favoring of one district to the detriment of the other; for should anyone so accuse him he can confound such with the records of his office. The system of reports and records from which statistics are to be derived should be so carried out that every local authority should be required to certify to the correctness of every report before receiving it in the office. And no report should be received until properly made out by local officer or teacher. At first a strict discipline to enforce such will cause additional work, patience and delay, but in the main end there will be remuneration by way of satisfactory results.
Before concluding I wish today to suggest that out need of an established method through our reports and records of obtaining and rendering statistics and avoid diverse methods of computation.
What is intended by out education department to be computed as enrollment for the month and enrollment for the term with averages pertaining thereto is not understood and agreed upon by all parish superintendents of the state. It may be that in many parishes each enrollment for the month is added together showing the actual enrollment while those discontinued from month to month are left out of calculation.
The true statistics in these respects should account for every pupil enrolled if it be for but five days, and accounted absent for the balance of the term or until again in school. In making our statistics from the parishes it seems to me we should have results rather to estimate for an average length of attendance rather than average length of term in months.
In reporting the enrollment and average attendance of the parish are apt to include the different school terms of the town with the school term of the parish. That is the total of months kept in the parish is divided by the total number of schools to get the average time each was kept. By this plan in finding the average term for the state the school is taken as the unit instead of the pupil.
To illustrate; the town of Welsh with its 100 pupils counts for as much as the city of New Orleans with its 25,000. Welsh with sixty days when added to the 180 for New Orleans and divided by two gives an average for Welsh and New Orleans of 120 days.
To illustrate, the pupils as a unit, I will instance it by my report of 1895. Average term of 5 months, or100 days, multiplies by the average daily attendance 4,471 equals 447,100 days. Now, 447,100 forms a basis for calculation against which there is no objection. The aggregate days stand as the only dividend through which proper calculation can be made.
Again, when adding the country schools with the large town and city schools and dividing by the number of schools, we cannot show as to the average number of pupils to each school as it should be. The large graded schools should be given by grades. They show average enrollment and average attendance for each teacher in the different parishes all over the state, are statistical facts of no little importance.
Statistics, being vouched for by authentic reports, give plain and simple truths, that stand out against any effort to modify. A disregard of reliable statistics disqualifies any one who appreciates the character of his surroundings and relations thereto as whether there is real progress or falling back. In fact, such a man is himself inert. He is only moved at the expense of his environments."
The year 1896 brought to a close Mr. McNeese’s second four-year term as Parish Superintendent. The board met in September for the purpose of reorganization for the new term and reelected Mr. McNeese as secretary of the Board and ex officio parish superintendent. (65) In the minds of the Board at this time the duty of secretary was still considered paramount to that of superintendent and some time was to elapse before the titles were to be reversed and the chief executive of the Board was to be called Superintendent and ex officio secretary.
Mr. McNeese evidently filed an annual report with the Board at the close of his second term but if he did, a copy of it is not available, possibly not in existence.
The Lake Charles Weekly American gives a brief summary of the enrollment of the session just opened. (66) The Central School had enrolled six hundred and twelve, Gooseport one hundred and fourteen, South Lake Charles fifty-six, and Lake Charles Colored School had two hundred and fifty-eight. The article referred to the city schools as the best of any city of its size in the United States and gave Mr. McNeese and Principal J. E. Keeny of the city schools the credit for this excellence.
There are no other records for the remainder of 1896 nor for the opening months of 1897 available.
McNeese’s Third Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1896-1900
institute for 1897 was held in Lake Charles at the Lake Charles Central and High
School building with a hundred teachers present the first day and two hundred
the second day. (67)
On the first day Superintendent McNeese made a short talk and was followed by
Judge Gorham who painted a rather gloomy picture of the financial outlook for
The program for the second day was as follows:
2. Lecture - Professor McNeese
3. The Recitation - Professor Keeny
4. Geography - Professor Landis
5. Arithmetic - Professor Keeny
6. History - Professor Landis
7. Reading - Professor Keeny
1. Lecture - Written School Work, Professor Landis
2. School Programs - Professor Keeny
3. Examination of teacher for Certificates, 3:30 p.m.
The preceding program is given here as an example of what the institute of that time was like. Mr. McNeese seems to have valued them highly as a means of teacher training, perhaps it was the most practical devise for the times and conditions.
There seemed to be some doubt in the minds of the public during the summer of 1897 as to whether or not the schools of Lake Charles would open at all that fall. (68) The news story cited mentions that at a joint meeting of the School Board, the President of the Police Jury, Mr. Adolph Mayer, and representatives of the banks, plans were worked out whereby the banks of the city would advance enough month to operate the schools for two or three months, or until taxes began to come in. It was decided to open the schools on Monday, October 1, 1897. Principal Keeny of the Lake Charles Schools having resigned, Charles Grant Shaffer was elected to the position.
Most of the news stories relating to the public schools system deal with the Lake Charles schools but in the Lake Charles Daily American we find this editorial regarding the parish: (69)
"A correspondent of the American yesterday voiced the complaint that is becoming stronger each year, that the school year is entirely too short in the country districts of the parish. In the larger places - Lake Charles - the school year has been lengthened until we can rely on eight to nine months; but in some of the country districts there are but three or four months on the average.
In inducing people to settle in a community and become factors in its building there is no greater inducement than that of good schools. People who have had the advantages of sufficient schooling for their children, simply will not locate where they will be deprived of such advantage, however promising the field for investment may be.
The schoolhouse is the recognized center for every rural community. The association of children draws neighbors more closely together, not alone socially, but for other things demanding mutual action. All these considerations are outside of the permanent interest - that of the welfare of the children - themselves - the extent of which is so apparent that it is scarcely worth arguing.
We trust that the suggestions of the American’s correspondent will be taken up. A little concentrated action is all that is needed to largely increase the usefulness of our schools."
The Daily American took up the fight for better schools in earnest with the publication of an editorial and news story on the date cited. (70) At this time Principal C. G. Shaffer speared before the Police Jury and urged that something be done about the crowded condition in the Lake Charles city schools. He presented an array of facts and figures and urges that the Police Jury take steps to build two detached additions to the present Central School building to be connected to the main building with covered galleries. The American commented on the crowded condition with considerable vigor and demanded in the name of the schoolchildren of Lake Charles that the Police Jury do something to relieve the intolerable crowded conditions. The same news story mentions that a new school building on South Ryan Street had been contracted for. This was to be a frame building twenty-four feet by thirty-six feet.
A news item from DeQuincy states that work on a new school building was due to start sometime the following week. (71) This building was to be of frame construction, twenty-four feet by forty feet.
One of the most important meetings of the School Board for several years was mentioned by the Daily American in April 1899. (72) A petition of the Gillis community for a school was granted provided the people would donate the land for the site. A memorial was sent to the Police Jury inquiring as to the fate of some twelve hundred dollars due the schools from a fund of twenty-five hundred dollars collected from parts of the city, which had later been cut off form the city by a charter revision. At the time the charter was revised, it was agreed that this money should be delivered to the School Board for school funds. An appropriation was made for the Teacher’s Institute and provision was made for the opening of the summer term of rural school.
Perhaps it might be well to quote a paragraph from the American news story already mentioned.
"The most important action of the Board at this session was a declaration in favor of a central graded school for each ward of the parish, where all children of the ward who desire a more extended education than afforded by the district schools may be taught. These central ward schools would be graded and improved in every way and many ambitious children would be afforded an education, which otherwise they would miss. The idea of a central war school for each ward or township has been thoroughly tried in some states and proven to be a good thing. Calcasieu will be the first parish in Louisiana to try the system and her school interest will feel the effect of it. The Police Jury will be asked to appropriate a sum for an extra teaching force and a longer term."
A number of citizens met with the Board to discuss ways and means of financing the schools. Among the arguments for urging that something be done was the reading of the Shaffer Report, which follows:
Report of C. G. Shaffer, Principal of the Lake Charles Schools
To the Honorable Parish Superintendent and Board of Education
I hereby submit my report of the Lake Charles Public Schools for the session of 1898-1899.
Our school system is divided into our departments, the primary including grades 1, 2, and 3, the intermediate consisting of grades 4 and 5, the grammar consisting of grades 6, and 7, and the high school consisting of grades 8, 9, 10, and 11, making in all a complete course in eleven years.
Our course of study is a thoroughly modern one, arranged after a careful study of the needs of the school. In the primary grade, frequent use is made of kindergarten methods. The good effects of this introduction are very marked. The Spear method of teaching numbers has been tried this year with flattering results. Vocal music is taught daily in all grades. Special attention has been given to drawing, claying, modeling, brush work in black as well as in color. The manual training feature has not been neglected, though owing to cramped conditions no very great strides have been made in this very important line. The beginning was, however, made in primary grades in the line of paper folding, paper cutting, and mat weaving, card board, and needle work. We trust that the time is not for off when we shall have the complete system of manual training in our schools.
The physical welfare of the children has received due attention. Shades have been arranged so as to admit light from the upper sashes of the window. There has been a uniform temperature in all the rooms as far as it has been possible to secure it with imperfect heating devices. Pupils have been seated with a view to their bodily comfort, eyesight and hearing. With proper ventilation and frequent physical exercise both in and out of doors, the body receives its full share of development along with the mind.
As a precaution against fire we have instituted fire drill by which the pupils are taught to leave the building quietly and orderly whenever the fire alarm is sounded. This drill has been sufficiently often and at the lest expected times to remove any unnecessary excitement and confusion. The longest time it has ever taken to dismiss the entire school in one of these drills is one and one-half minutes, while the record time is 45 seconds. This fact being known there is little fear that there would be panic in case of actual fire.
I cannot refrain from calling attention to the marked improvement in penmanship by the instruction on the vertical system. It is truly the natural system, as has been shown by the case with which children just beginning to write acquire it. In the primary, intermediate, and grammar grades all pupils pursue the same course of study, except when excused for physical disability. In the high school they may select the course best suited to their needs. The pupils are graded in all work, a record of which is sent monthly to the parent or guardian. This record, together with the mid-year and final examinations constitute the basis upon which all pupils are promoted to higher grades. It is presumed that a pupil spends one year in each grade, but meritorious pupils are promoted whenever their standing justifies a change a change of grade.
Someone has said, “The High School is the citizen’s college”. With a view to fulfilling this mission our courses of study have been improved and enlarged until in the words of one of the prominent Louisiana educators, “The Lake Charles High School ranks at the head of our state high schools”. Three courses of study, the Latin-Scientific, the modern languages, and the English course are new. The Latin-Scientific embraces grammar, rhetoric, English and American Literature, arithmetic, algebra, plane and solid Geometry, plane trigonometry, physical and commercial geography, zoology, botany, physics, and chemistry, general history, civil government, music, drawing, elocution, and three years of Latin. The English course has neither Latin nor French, but aims more especially for business life, giving a full course in bookkeeping and other commercial subjects, besides extra work in English. All sciences are taught in a fine laboratory that has been set up at a cost of $550.00. It contains a full set of apparatus for physics, needles, knives, and microscope for botany and zoology and a chemical table fitted with lockers for twenty pupils. The laboratory is supplied with water from the water works. Regular class work in music, drawing and elocution has made the most marked improvement in these branches. The normal music has been used for the past two years with marked results. The work in geography and history has been much benefited by the purchase of fine sets of relief maps. Additions have been made to the library to the amount of $125.00. These include among a history of the world in thirty volumes and Rodpath’s Library of Universal Literature in twenty-five volumes. There is no feature of the school in as much need of assistance as the library and we trust that the friends of education will come to its assistance with liberal donations. Quite a little progress has been made in the collection of specimens for a museum, through the interest of pupils or their friends.
For the general welfare of the pupils, the school maintains a literary society, which meets every Friday afternoon, a reading circle, which meets once a week, a choral society which meets for the purpose of studying high grade choruses, a boys’ glee club and a military company.
For two years, there has been no corporal punishment in the schools and although there has been an increased attendance over the preceding year (last year having a total enrollment of six hundred and fifty-eight and this year seven hundred and sixty-five) there have been but seven pupils suspended in two years. The pupils are taught to govern themselves so that there is little need for discipline on the part of the teacher. The relations of pupil and teacher throughout the school have been one of mutual confidence and cordial support.
The morning exercises of the school, consisting of the singing of a hymn and some instructive and entertaining exercises furnished by the grades. These exercises continue through fifteen minutes and aside from the educational value, remove all tendency on the part of the pupil to be tardy.
During the current year by private contributions and entertainments the school has raised the sum of $963.14. This amount has been expended in fitting up a laboratory, supplying the same with running water from the water works, making a shell drive through the grounds, lighting the building with electric lights, purchasing books for the library, all kindergarten materials for the primary grades, all writing and drawing materials for the entire school, painting of several rooms, papering of the principal’s office, purchasing of pictures for the entire building, making all necessary repairs on the building as well as incidental expenses of the school, in addition to paying the last $75.00 due on the piano.
The total enrollment for the year is as follows:
|South Ryan school||68|
You will see that there is a total enrollment in our Central School of seven hundred and sixty-five and averaging thirty-five pupils to the teacher there should be at least twenty teachers and yet we have but fourteen teachers.
The total seating capacity of the school is five hundred and seventy. You will see what a large percentage are without proper seating. Three pupils to a seat are too many, yet we have been forced to this method of meeting the increased attendance. Steps should be taken to meet this growing demand for popular and public education and next year should see our teaching force increased and new buildings provided. You can readily see how of necessity the school must suffer under cramped conditions. I have prepared plans and specifications for additional buildings and have presented the case before the Police Jury asking them for an appropriation of $5000.00 to meet the present needs. I ask a hearty cooperation in my efforts to secure this amount. Should I fail of securing the necessary funds from this source, immediate steps should be taken by the School Board to raise the necessary amount.
As an additional feature to our school system, I recommend most heartily the establishment of a public kindergarten for children from ages four to six years. The benefits are too well known to you to need any comment from me.
I also heartily recommend the employment of a trained specialist in vocal music. We have reached the stage of progress in music where such a need is absolute. I urgently appeal to you for an early introduction of the manual training feature into our schools.
In submitting this report I cannot pass over the part which the pupils have taken in the improvement of our school premises. A visit to the school will convince the observer of their interest. The grounds are clean and neat, the driveway, the walks, the flowerbeds, the various plants and shrubs are all evidences of their interest and love for their school.
For those of my associates – the members of my faculty – I have only words of praise and commendation. By their hearty cooperation, earnest and faithful work they have sustained me in my efforts to improve and elevate your school.
In closing I desire to thank our worthy superintendent and parish and local boards for the cordial support you have always given me in my efforts to build up our school. To your cooperation, as well as that of my faculty, is due whatever success has marked the past two years and must of necessity determine our success in the future.
Charles Grant Shaffer,
The Lake Charles Daily American reported the results of a meeting of the citizens who met at the call of the School Board to consider the matter of the welfare of the Lake Charles Schools. (73) At this meeting a committee of twenty-five citizens was appointed to discuss educational matters and meet for report on April 26, 1899.
The meeting called, mentioned in the previous paragraph, met in the office of Superintendent McNeese at the time scheduled with Honorable George H. Wells as chairman and Superintendent McNeese as secretary of the meeting. (74) The general discussion centered around the ways and means of providing additional room and more teachers for the Central School. It was generally agreed that something must be done. It was proposed either to erect a building in Ward Two of the city or to build the two additions to the Central School building as suggested in the Shafer Report. The debate was very earnest but it was the general sentiment that in view of the high price of real estate, and since the Board already had ample room on the Central School campus it would be best to accept the plan outlined by Shaffer. It was estimated that twelve thousand dollars would be required to maintain the Lake Charles Schools for the school year of 1899-1900.
A committee of five was appointed to draw up plans for submission to the people, showing the number of mills necessary to levy and the length of time, which the tax would need to run to provide sufficient revenue to establish and maintain the schools. When the committee was ready to report a mass meeting was to be called to discuss the question.
On May 2, 1899, Superintendent McNeese and Dr. James Ware of the School Board met with Police Jury and laid before that body the plan for the central ward schools, discussion followed, but no action was taken on the matter. (75)
The new school building at DeQuincey, referred to earlier, was destroyed by fire on May 18, 1899, just as it was completed and about to be opened to the public with a dance. (76) The fire was thought to have been of incendiary origin but no proof to that effect was ever produced.
Later in the same summer Superintendent McNeese made a visit to the Iowa community and discussed with the citizens the prospect of voting a special tax to build a school. (77) The citizens agreed that a tax was needed and were willing to assume it, but there was some question among them as to how much territory should be included in the tax district. A committee was appointed to meet with the School Board and discuss the legal phases of the question.
The mass meeting to discuss the voting of a tax for the maintenance of the schools in the city of Lake Charles was held on the night of October 20, 1899, at the Central School. (78) H. B. Milligan was selected chairman of the meeting and J. Sheldon Toomer, secretary. Principal C. G. Shaffer repeated his report on the conditions prevailing in the Lake Charles schools. After the report was read there was no difficulty in securing a majority vote of those present favoring a proposition to ask the people of Lake Charles to petition the City Council to call the election for voting the tax. (79)
At the close of the year 1899, Superintendent McNeese made a report to the State Superintendent to be included in the latter’s Biennial Report. (80) In this report he states that his work had been less satisfactory than he had hoped for, but taking into consideration the many disturbing influences it was equal to the possibilities. He expressed the hope that with the increased appropriation from the Police Jury, the special taxes in the wards, and the efforts of the incorporated towns the outlook was better for the coming year. The prospective receipts were expected to reach $75,000.00 for the coming year. He suggested that by decreasing the number of schools he could increase the length of term but that the attendance and hence the real benefit of the school to the children, would decrease. Hope is expressed with the increase in revenue all districts will be able to have a full term.
Early in the year 1900 the plight of the city schools was laid before the City Council by City Attorney D. B. Gorham and Alderman J. H. Poe, who were also members of the Parish School Board, who stated that the schools would be forced to close if something was not done within the next month. (81) There were apparently no funds in sight until a suggestion was made that the city divide with the schools the license fees collected by the city. A motion by Mr. Poe was carried that the city donate to the schools a sum equal to three-tenths of the money collected form licenses during the year 1900, the amount to be paid from the contingent fund.
When the School Board made an attempt to collect the amount voted the schools by the City Council they found that the treasurer and collector did not feel free to pay over the money without explicit instructions from the Council. (82) Attorney Gorham asked that the authority to pay the money be given these officials at the present meeting. Mr. Winterhaler moved that the authority be granted. Some of the Councilmen objected on the ground that the money might not be still in the city treasury. Mr. Gorham then “read them the riot act” for “giving with one hand and holding back with the other”. He intimated that he believed that the Council was deliberately attempting to keep the schools from obtaining the money. Then the question arose as to whether or not the money could be legally paid without an enabling act by the Council. The city attorney held that no enabling act was needed. A motion was then made that the city treasurer pay to the school funds twelve hundred dollars, being all that was left form the license funds. There was no second to the motion and after a recess, it was withdrawn and a substitute offered providing that the city appropriate fifteen hundred dollars to be turned over to the school funds from the city contingent fund. After the motion was passed, it was discovered that there were no funds left in the contingent fund. An effort was made to saddle the bill upon the street railway company, but the attempt failed. After fighting bugs and listening to speeches for three hours the Council adjourned leaving the schools no better off.
The schools of Lake Charles went into the summer of 1900 facing a rather dreary prospect for the following session.(83) Principal C. G. Shaffer; disgusted with the bickerings between the Board and the Council, at the failure of the people to support the schools and because of an unpleasantness arising between himself and one of the members of the Board, resigned and accepted the principal ship of one of the schools of Newark, New Jersey. At that time, the only funds in sight were the city’s three-mill tax, yielding about five thousand dollars, the state aid and the poll tax. For the payment of teachers about five thousand dollars, about half the amount needed, was all that was available. The unhappy experience of the year before of running the schools on promises was one that the Board did not care to repeat.
In August 1900, Honorable J. H. Poe attended a meeting of the State Board of Education in Baton Rouge, at which meeting the new parish school board was appointed. (84) The new board consisted of Daniel Iles of Oberlin, A, B. Reaves of DeRidder, L. A. Perry of Vinton, Dr. R. R. Arceneaux of Welsh, John McNeese, L. H. Moss, and Dr. James ware of Lake Charles. It was stated that it was an open secret that Superintendent McNeese should be reelected and that such election would be eminently satisfactory to the people as a whole. (85)
Mr. Moss refused to accept appointment on the parish board as the appointment was made without his consent. The public, according to the American was expecting great things from the new board.
On August 25, 1900, the Board net for organization purposes with J. H. Poe in the chair.86 Superintendent McNeese was nominated and unanimously reelected Secretary of the Board and Parish Superintendent of Schools for a term of four years. The words ex officio were eliminated from the title of superintendent for the first time. The Board had progressed to the point that they were willing to admit on record that the superintendent might be a real superintendent and not a keeper of records who filled in his spare time at supervision.
At the same meeting the following resolution was passed:
"Adopted: That the salary of the parish superintendent be fixed at $100.00 per month and that the salary of an assistant secretary be fixed at $30.00 per month."
This new Board was indeed the superior of any that had preceded it. They were willing to pay the superintendent a salary that would justify his giving his whole time to his work and - marvel of marvels – they were willing to give him an assistant to relieve him of the routine office work.
McNeese’s Fourth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1900-1904
Daily American in September
1900 published an item from the New Orleans Picayune to the effect that
Superintendent John McNeese of Calcasieu was in the city making arrangements to
employ an assistant principal for the Lake Charles High School. (87) In this interview he is quoted as saying the city system was entirely
self-supporting. He also stated that a college was to be opened in Lake Charles
under the direction of Professor Barret.
Following the above statement there is no further mention of the schools system in the paper for some time and nothing of importance in the minutes of the Board until January of 1901 when the Board passed a resolution providing that no schools except Central Ward schools, graded schools, and high schools be permitted to teach high school subjects. (88) Apparently before this time each school had been more or less of a law unto itself in this matter, each teacher teaching the high school subjects if he felt qualified to do so. At the same time a resolution was passed to the effect that the Board would neither build not accept from the local districts any more log schoolhouses.
The Board still had no power to levy and collect taxes for school purposes and were dependent upon the Police Jury for donations of funds in the country districts and the municipal governments in the incorporated towns. In February 1901, an effort was made to get the Police Jury to increase their annual donation from $25,000 to $30,000, but failed. (89)
At the regular adjourned meeting of January 15, 1902, Superintendent McNeese made his annual report covering the work of the year 1901. (90) The Board accepted this report and appropriated $100.00 for the purpose of having the report printed. The writer is unable to find a copy of this report, but it must have been rather elaborate as a printed copy of a later report is still in existence from which it is clear that these printed reports went into considerable detail as to the condition of the schools. At the same meeting, the Board appropriated $125.00 to pay the traveling expenses of the superintendent while visiting the schools of the parish.
The Board at the same meeting acknowledged receipt of a donation of two hundred and fifty dollars from State Senator H. C. Drew of Lake Charles, which represented his salary as a senator. Senator Drew was a public-spirited capitalist who ran for the office of Senator because he thought that he would be able to render a service to the people of the Twelfth District. In keeping with a promise made while a candidate, he donated his salary to the public schools of the parishes in his district.
A step toward raising the standards of teaching was made at the September 1902 meeting of the Board when upon the recommendation of Superintendent McNeese the Board passed a resolution requiring that thereafter all principals of center ward schools be required to be graduated of Peabody Normal, Louisiana State Normal or some other institution authorized to confer degrees. (91)
The routine affairs of the Lake Charles city schools were enlivened in the autumn of 1902 by the Reiser Affair. (92) The first mention of this incident is found in the newspaper cited above. Mrs. Tina Reiser, through her attorneys Toomer & Sompayrac, sought and obtained a temporary injunction restraining Principal James N. Yeager of the Lake Charles schools from suspending her daughter from school. The trouble arose the question of a part in a dialogue, which had been assigned the daughter to be used as a part of a school entertainment, which was being directed by Miss Zena Thompson, expression teacher of the high school. The pupil rehearsed her part in the dialogue and then refused to appear in it on the ground that the lines to be spoken by her were indelicate.
A committee appointed by Judge E. D. Miller read the part to be spoken by Miss Reiser and reported that they found nothing indelicate or indecent in the lines. (93) At the hearing held by Judge Miller to determine if the injunction should be dissolved or made permanent, Principal Yeager testified that neither he nor the teacher assigned the parts in the dialogue but that a committee of pupils, of which the Reiser girl was a member, selected the dialogue and assigned the parts to the cast. He stated that after practicing the part for several days, she, on the morning the play was to be given, appeared before Miss Thompson and announced that she would not take part in the program. Pressed for a reason she said that she would not be in it “With that little Sheenie”, referring to some boy of Jewish parentage who was also in the dialogue. Miss Thompson sent her to the office to talk the matter over with Mr. Yeager. While in the office she repeated the statement quoted above and for thus speaking contemptuously of another student, she was suspended. When she reported at her home, a brother sent word to Mr. Yeager that his sister was coming to school if it took twenty armed men to see that she did and if necessary, he would clean up the entire faculty.
After listening to the evidence, Judge Miller sustained the action of Mr. Yeager and ordered the temporary injunction dissolved. The erstwhile belligerent brother of Miss Rieser then wrote a very nicely worded note to Mr. Yeager asking that his sister be excused from taking part in the dialogue. Mr. Yeager responded with an equally courteous note granting the request and re-in-stating the girl as a pupil in the school.
When Superintendent McNeese returned from a visit to the East and the Board convened for its regular October meeting the following resolution was passed by a unanimous vote: (94)
"Resolved that as the public schools of the State of Louisiana are non-sectarian and non-denominational, animadversions will not be allowed in the public schools of Calcasieu Parish reflecting upon any religion or sect while in attendance at said schools, and that anyone who shall speak in a contemptuous manner of any pupil or teacher on account of their religious views shall deemed guilty of gross breach of discipline, and shall be subject to suspension from said schools."
Dr. James Ware presented the following resolution:
"Resolved, that we as a body sustain the principal and faculty of the Lake Charles Public Schools in their action to maintain discipline in said schools and hope that they will continue. Seconded and passed unanimously."
In January 1903, Superintendent McNeese presented his annual report in which he recommended the employment of an assistant superintendent to devote his time largely to supervision of teaching. The matter was referred to the next meeting of the Board. (95)
At the same meeting Mrs. M. M. Vincent, a teacher in the Lake Charles school appeared and asked that her salary be raised form fifty dollars to sixty-five dollars a month. She contended that at the close of the last session she had warned the Board that she would not be a candidate for reelection to a position in the schools unless such a raise in salary was granted her, and that she assumed that her request had been granted when she was reelected. After some discussion on the part of the Board, it was voted that all teachers who were receiving fifty dollars a month or less would be increased to sixty-five dollars.
In spite of the interest created in the conditions of the Lake Charles schools by the Shaffer Report, nothing was done to relieve the situation. The Reverend G. B. Hines, Pastor of the Simpson Methodist Church of Lake Charles, visited the schools and in a vigorous sermon reported what he saw. (96) He reported that he found seven hundred pupils in the Central High School crowded into buildings designed to care for four hundred, windows were kept open at all times to enable pupils to get into the buildings, seventy-five to eighty pupils were crowed into one room, and in one case he found three teachers attempting to teach three different classes in one room at the same time. He denounced these conditions in vigorous language and declared that the citizens of Lake Charles were guilty of sin when they allowed such conditions to exist, when it was within their power to remedy matters.
The sermon of Mr. Hines helped to produce results but from an unexpected source. Superintendent McNeese and the Board had become disgusted with waiting for the citizens of Lake Charles to do anything to relieve the situation, so they took matters into their own hands in the following matter.
A committee composed of Superintendent McNeese, D. B. Gorham, and Leon Chavanne called upon Mr. J. B. Watkins and entered into negotiations for the purpose of the old Lake Charles College property. (97-98) When Mr. Watkins learned what the property was to be used for he set a very nominal price of $7000.00 on the building and the thirteen acres of ground upon which it was situated. The committee immediately accepted the offer and made arraignments to loan the Lake Charles district $7000.00 from the sixteenth section funds of the Parish School Funds for the purchase. These funds presented the sale price of the sixteenth section of each township, granted by Federal government to the state for school purposes. The principal could not be spent but must be invested and the interest used. I was a part of this principal, which was loaned the Lake Charles district and was to be paid back with interest at a later date.
Anticipating the opposition that would develop among some of the citizenry over this bit of “extravagance” Superintendent McNeese issued in the American of April 23, 1901, a statement explaining the purchase of defending the action of the committee. He said that the only possible objection that could be raised was that the new property was a little far out but reminded his readers that it was no further out from the center of town than the Central School was at the time it was built, yet the town had long since grown far beyond it. He predicted that the town would grow out to the new property as it was impossible for it to spread to the west on account of the river. His judgement (sic) has subsequently been vindicated.
In May 1903, the Board passed a resolution that beginning with the session of 1903-04 no third grade teachers would be employed in the schools of Calcasieu. (99)
In June, the American announced that Principal James N. Yeager of the Lake Charles school had resigned to accept a position with the Martin Tram Company and that Mr. E. F. Gayle had been elected to the position held by Mr. Yeager. (100) The same news article announced that the Singer school had been made a central ward school to serve all schools within a five-mile radius and would operate for a term of eight months.
In September, Superintendent McNeese announced that the newly acquired high school building would be ready for occupancy with the beginning of the new term, the black boards and science laboratory having been installed ready for use. (101) It was planned to add a one-year Normal course to the high school department for the purpose of training teachers for the rural schools of the parish. The old Central High School building was made an elementary school with the grade of a central ward school.
In the fall of 1903 for the only time in Louisiana history, the parish superintendent was required to stand as a candidate for election to his office by the popular vote of the people. The first reference to this in Calcasieu Parish is found in an editorial published in the Daily American in October 1903. (102) The editorial in full follows:
"In the appropriate column, the American announces John McNeese the present superintendent of education for the endorsement of the people before the primary. Mr. McNeese may be called the father of education in Calcasieu Parish and as such is entitled too much credit.
His work for the good of the schools began a decade ago when the public school work was in its infancy and the public support for it small and sporadic. Year by year Mr. McNeese coaxed and threatened alternately, gradually increasing the support of the schools, obtained better schoolhouses, and evolved a system of school government and management, which placed Calcasieu in front rank of the country parishes.
Mr. McNeese’s friends believe that, now that the schools have been placed on their feet and enjoy an endowment of prosperity more in proportion to their importance, he should be left in possession of if the office in which he has done so much good in the past. The public schools of Calcasieu can either be immeasurably aided or ruined by the men placed at their head and great care should be taken to choose the right.*"
The report mentions that he had recommended to the Board the employment of an assistant superintendent. Regretting the fact that the number of Normal School graduates in the parish was small he suggested that a two-year Normal course be added to the high school courses to supply teachers for the rural school. The tendency was to centralize the schools and build for the future needs. Three years before twenty-five percent of the enrollment was in the ten largest schools and now (1903) forty percent were in the ten largest schools of the one hundred and seventy schools. The improvement of roads and the building of railways had made consolidation of schools possible.
Several of the towns, Vinton, DeRidder, and Oberlin had constructed or were constructing school plants that would be a credit to the parish. DeRidder pledged her new building to be the largest and finest between Lake Charles and Shreveport.
The summer normal of the previous year, in which the State University cooperated, was said to be the best that had ever been held. There were teaching in the parish one hundred and ninety-two teachers who thought the session before two hundred and seven terms of school.
Primary elections in Louisiana are held in January of all even years which are divisible by four. In the campaign, which closed in January 1904 three men, were candidates for the office of parish superintendent. The results are as follows: (105)
John H. Poe------------------------1,812
M. E. Shaddock----------------------701
It will be seen from the foregoing that no one of the candidates had a majority of the votes cast, so under the Louisiana system of double primaries, the two candidates having the highest number of votes ran again in a second primary. There was therefore a secondary primary. Mr. McNeese was elected over John H. Poe, member of the Parish School Board. The following year the power of appointing parish superintendent was restored to the parish school board. Mr. McNeese never ran for office again.
In March 1904, a two-story school building was erected at DeRidder. (106)
The Welsh High School was destroyed by fire early in April 1904. (107) The building, which had cost fifteen thousand dollars the year before, was insured for fifteen hundred dollars, after the agency had reduced the face of the policy from five thousand dollars because it was considered a poor risk.
Having solved the problem of space for the Lake Charles schools by the purchase of the old Lake Charles College property the Board found themselves facing the problem of raising money for the operating expenses for the year 1904-05 or not opening the school at all. In July, Superintendent McNeese submitted the following statement of the financial condition of the schools of Lake Charles to the city Council and asked for relief: (108)
In and for the interest of the school children of the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and representing the School Board of the Parish of Calcasieu, I most respectfully submit the following statement of facts for your consideration, showing the cost of each school in the city for the session of 1903-04 and the approximate cost for the session of 1904-05. The statement appended will show the amount received from the state, poll taxes, and parish bonds and fines.
The amount of revenue derived from all sources to meet the expanses of last session was $15,870.01. The amount necessary to pay the teachers was $15,878.01. The amount assumed by the Board and outstanding to build, repair, and supply the meet and demands of the system was $6,479.55.
Added to the foregoing outstanding liability is $7000.00, the purchase price of the college building necessary to relieve the congestion of last session, (the obligations incurred for the college building are to be retired in five years) causing a total outstanding obligation of $11,479.55.
The approximate cost of the session of 1904-05 for the payment of teachers will be $17,720. The revenue from the state, poll, and parish tax will be $5,878.61. The children of the ward schools are demanding additional room and additional teachers, which will require a complement to the $17,000 to make $20,000. These figures are conservative estimates to meet the actual wants of the year and to pay part of the outstanding obligations.
Now, gentlemen, with these premises before you, it is for you, as representatives of the people, to give relief. The school board is without power to raise One Dollar for revenue. Then all we can do is beg for the children and the people every cent that we disburse, Early in the history of help for the city schools from the town council, the revenue from the schools was placed upon the annual budget to the extent of three and three-tenths mills of the licenses, though the growth of the schools had assumed proportions equal with all other development.
Last year the school system lost its identity as a part of the budget, a definite amount of $10,000 being given with no express ratio of the license, the $10,000 being in the form of a donation. There was a great increase in the receipts from the licenses, thus greatly increasing revenues, but benefiting in no way the schoolchildren of Lake Charles.
In consideration of the above, the school board most respectfully and at the same time most earnestly protests from being hung up on a mere limb of the budget - a mere part of the contingent expenses - and on the part of the school children, we most respectfully demand being reinstated on the budget as heretofore, to be a legal component part of it, at no time to be cut down, but kept intact if not advanced, the growth of the public schools over to be kept apace with the growth of capital and wealth, ever to be characteristic of Lake Charles.
John McNeese, Superintendent of Schools"
This statement was presented by Judge Gorham and action deferred until next meeting of the City Council.
At the meeting of the City Council on July 16, twelve thousand dollars was budgeted for the city schools. (109) This was merely a trifle, however, and the problem of adequate finances for the city schools was to arise again.
On August 1, Superintendent McNeese announced that the city and parish schools would all be open on the same date, September 19, for the first time in history. (110)
At a called session of the Board held in August of 1904, held for the purpose of reorganization, Dr. D. S. Perkins was elected president and Superintendent McNeese Secretary of the Board. The salary of the Superintendent was placed at eighteen hundred dollars a year and that the Assistant Secretary at seventy –five dollars a month. (111)
With reopening of school in September, the same old bug-a-bear of inadequate space and too few teachers appeared, and on September 24, the Board met to consider what should be done to remedy the situation.(112) The additional rooms and teachers added since last session proved to be inadequate and it was decided to add one room and teacher to the South Side School. Principal Ward Anderson of Central School reported that the school was crowded, but the work was proceeding successfully.
In October, a resolution was passed by the Board assessing all people of Central Ward and High Schools tuition at the rates of one dollar per session for the former and two dollars for the latter, the funds to be used for fuel and incidental expenses. (113)
In a statement to the press in December, Superintendent McNeese said that the city schools would in all probability not reopen after Christmas holidays. (114) He stated that ten thousand dollars of the expected fourteen thousand dollars revenue was owed to the Calcasieu Bank. He suggested as a remedy that the City Council levy a special tax of three mills to finish the session and pay seventy-five hundred dollars on the back debt. Little interest was taken by the people as a whole in this statement, and it looked as though the city schools were doomed. The editor of the American, in commenting on the situation, remarked that the Civic League might as well drop their plans for the civic improvement of a town where the people had so little civic pride as to allow their schools to close when they were in position to prevent it.
The financial statement given out by Superintendent McNeese on December 24, regarding the condition of the city schools of Lake Charles is as follows: (115)
"To the directors of the City School of Lake Charles.
Financial Statement of the condition of the schools on December 14, 1904.
|School warrants at Calcasieu National Bank||9,071.06|
|16th Section funds to April 29, 1903||7,000.00|
|16th Section funds borrowed September 12, 1903||1,500.00|
|Due as follows|
|On $7000.00 borrowed from 16th Section fund||1,400.00|
|Interest on same to September 1903||330.00|
|On $15,000, principle was due September 12, 1903||300.00|
|On the $15,000, interest was due September 12, 1903||75.00|
|On the $7000, principal will be due April 29, 1905||1,400.00|
|On the $5,600, interest will be due April 29, 1905||280.00|
|On the $1,500, principal will be due September 12, 1905||300.00|
|On the $1,200, interest will be due September 12, 1905||60.00|
|Cost to the end of the term||14,000.00|
|Available resources to October, 1905|
|From state, poll tax, bonds and fines||5,500.00|
|From the parish||500.00|
|From the city||12,000.00|
The foregoing statement from the parish treasurer of school funds shows the present condition of the schools of Lake Charles as to finance.
Previous to the expenditure of the purchase price of the Lake Charles College with amount expended to repair and supply it and other schools of the city, the school board with inadequate buildings, equipment and maintenance, was working within its means.
But when the congestions and intolerable conditions for city schools were confronting the board with the cry of the people for relief, the board felt justified in the risk to give it at once, as best it could, by involving itself beyond its means, sufficiently to do so, believing then as now that when the people of Lake Charles became aware of the absolute necessity and the extent of means necessary to meet the same they would be met.
The sentiment, long intact, peculiar to Lake Charles, in favor of public schools, and the extent of patronage because of such, has kept our growth of patronage far in advance of the existing sources of revenue, the school authorities hardly being able at any time to approximate the increasing demand for each succeeding year.
The school resources of Lake Charles have been for some years such amounts as could be sparingly dealt out, not being a constituent part of the budget from year to year, growing with increasing valuation. During the past two years, our revenues form all sources have been less then the amount necessary to pay the teachers, with no means of purchasing supplies and deficient funds. We have ventured to borrow and invade to some extent its teachers’ funds to relieve present and pressing needs.
The term of 1903-04 cost for teacher’s pay $15,440.00 while the term of 1904-05, if completed will cost $18,768.00, showing an increase in one year of $3,328.00, while our revenue from all sources cannot exceed $18,000.00 for the current year.
So aside from what has already been done for the purchase of buildings, repairs and supplies, the system as best administered will cause liabilities of the enterprise to exceed the resources, a condition on the verge of desperation.
The very least to be done within the next few years, and only adequate for a few years, will be to levy a special tax of three mils with the surety that the town council will give an amount not to be less than $12,000.00. With such provisions within a few years, the present indebtedness can be liquidated, leaving the system at that time still needing increasing funds.
John McNeese, Secretary,
The issuing of this statement closed the year and the fourth term in office for Mr. McNeese.
McNeese’s Fifth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1904-08
With the situation as outlined in the
preceding chapter, facing the city schools at the beginning of 1905 the Parish
Board met in regular session January 6, 1905. (116)
Dr. D. S. Perkins, President of the Board, issued a statement to the press in
which he remarked that he understood the local advisory board of the Lake
Charles schools would ask the Parish Board for a free hand in handling the city
schools. They wished a free hand in the matter of financing the school and in
the control of the teachers. Dr. Perkins went on to say that while it had
always been the intention of the Parish Board to grant the Local Board all of
their powers there had never been any formal action taken in the matter.
In regard to the financial condition of the city schools he stated that he understood that the Local Board had made arrangements with the banks to operate the schools for six more weeks or until a special tax could be voted, in the event that the tax passed then they could be operated for the remainder of the term. Such an arrangement would be agreeable to the Parish Board. He further stated that various private individuals had offered to come to the aid of the city schools but that such help, while greatly appreciated, would only make matters worse in the long, as the people whose duty it was to support the schools would come to rely on such aid rather than support the schools by uniform taxation.
No formal action was taken by the Parish Board at this meeting to relieve the city schools of their embarrassing predicament.
The Board met again on January 12 for the purpose of meeting with the local Board and discussing plans for financing the city schools. (117) The exact terms of petitions to the City Council calling for a special tax election was subject to some discussion and difference of opinion. A resolution was passed giving the Local Board full control of the city schools as far as possible under the state laws.
The day following the above mentioned meeting the City Council met, with Superintendent McNeese present, to discuss with them the problems of the schools. (118) The reporter of the American described the meeting as “long and prayerful”. Members of the Council wanted to know why the school should come out all right in previous years and yet in such sore straits now when the revenues had been increased. He explained that the purchase of the high school building had created a debt that must be paid. Some of the Councilmen mentioned that they had already increased their donation by two thousand dollars and that there had been an increase in revenue form the state and poll taxes also. They hinted that the emergency was not as great as they had been led to believe and that the matter of paying the debt to the sixteenth section fund was being pushed by one member of the Board because of a personal interest. It was also intimated that the two thousand dollar increase in the conation from the city had been absorbed by an increase in the salaries of the teachers and administrative officers.
Superintendent McNeese’s reply to this last intimation was that he did not know what portion of his salary came from the city funds but that he would gladly return it to the school funds, if by that means the schools could be kept open. The discussion continued until late, in spite of the attempt of Mayer Winterhaler to get the Council to come to some decision in the matter. The finally adjourned without taking formal action.
The same news article stated that some warm discussion came up in the session of the Parish School Board. Mr. Samuel Kaufman, who was a member of both the Parish and Local Boards, had been advised that he must resign from one or another of the Boards, since he could not legally hold two offices at once. He had first planned to resign from the Parish Ward, since being a resident of Lake Charles, he felt more interest in the city schools, but a disagreement between him and Superintendent McNeese arose over the question of the approval of a bill for traveling expenses to the amount of one hundred and twenty-five dollars. He and the superintendent had disagreed earlier in the year over the question of allowing teachers full pay for time spent in attending the session of the Louisiana Teacher’s Association and the bitterness engendered at that time was still present. Mr. Kaufman resisted the approval of the bill for traveling expenses, unless it was itemized and Superintendent McNeese replied that since it had not been customary to demand an itemized account, one had not been prepared. The bill was finally approved over the protest of Mr. Kaufman who announced that he would resign from the City Board and remain on the Parish Board for the purpose, as he stated, of fighting the matter out. He mentioned that there was already “a howl in the streets’ about the salary of one hundred and fifty dollars a month paid the superintendent.
There were times when Superintendent McNeese became disgusted with keeping the school system of Lake Charles open. In a statement to the press he said, “I feel like wiping the high school right out of existence and like saying, Gentlemen, let us sell it and get our money out.” (119) The common opinion in the street seemed to be that it was the debt created by the purchase of the high school building that was keeping the school system in such financial straits, but Mr. McNeese denied this, saying that if the credit of the school board had not been attacked they would have been able to pull through, that the purchase of the high school property was a good investment, the land a long being worth the money. The Local Board was supplied with petitions addressed to the Council calling for a special tax election to which they, the members of the Local Board, were to secure signers.
As the matter of securing signatures to the petition became more and more urgent, the American sent representatives to interview members of the Board on the matter of school finance. (120)
The first one interviewed was Dr. Howe, who was of the opinion that the whole difficulty as caused by the abnormal growth of the city in population and consequent increase in school attendance without a proportionate increase in school revenue. His suggestions were to borrow sufficient money to operate the schools for the remainder of the full term and then vote the tax to take care of future needs. He was an enthusiastic supporter of schools and the tax.
Mr. Muettersbaugh was another supporter of the tax who cited the increase in population as cause for the need of more school funds. He urged that the tax be voted by all means and urged that the schools were of prime necessity if the private business concerns of the city were to continue to operate. If the schools were closed, the banks and other business concerns might as well close their doors as for as the future growth of the city was concerned.
Mr. Samuel Kaufman was only lukewarm in the support of the tax, if not really hostile to it. He took the position that the Board ought to try to operate the schools on a reduced budget first and see if they could stay within their present income before asking for the special tax. He suggested a plan of salary reductions of twenty-five percent. He was of the opinion that teachers as good as the present faculty could be found who would gladly work for the reduced salaries. If this plan did not succeed then he was in favor of voting the tax. He reported that he had not been able to secure any signers to the petition in his ward.
Mr. James Kinder was against the plan of reducing salaries, taking the position that when salaries were reduced efficiency was also reduced to the same extent. He stated that there was only one way out; to have the schools, money would be required, to secure the money the tax must be voted, there was no other way.
The Local Board met in special session and canvassed the situation in regard to the tax. (121) The reports were that the Fourth and Second Wards were almost a unit in favor of the tax, but that the First and Third Wards were backward in reporting progress. This was partly due to the fact that the members from this ward had been ill and not able to campaign actively in favor of the tax.
The Board saw no need to change their sentiments in favor of tax, they must have the tax or close the school, which they were very loathe to do.
The citizens of the Fourth Ward reported that if the tax failed over the city as a whole that they would, from their own district, vote a tax, build a building and operate an eight grade school for a full term. Progressive citizens from other parts of the city indicated that is such happened they would sell their property and move to the Fourth Ward.
The City Council met to review the situation and Mr. Rock reported that he had examined the books of the Parish Board and was satisfied that the money had not been wasted but he was of the opinion that a mistake was made in the purchase of the college property. (122) Mr. Muettersbaugh reported that the Local Board had money to run about one more month and would finish the term about forty-six hundred dollars in debt. One member advanced the theory that the buying of the property was contrary to law and unconstitutional and that the maintenance fund should have been kept intact for the purpose of meeting the operating expense.
A resolution was passed pledging the support of the Council to the Board in their efforts to keep the schools open for the full term.
In an interview with a representative of the American, Superintendent McNeese stated that there were some parish schools in operation most all the time. (123) In a parish as large as Calcasieu with widely varying population and occupations, it did not suit the convenience of the people to have the schools open all the same time. Most of the children in the rural districts worked in the fields at home and different crops grown in different part of the parish required labor at different seasons so the custom had arisen of opening the schools during the season of slack farm work, determined by the crops grown in the particular locality. Some times the term was divided. The yellow fever scare had had some effect on the attendance of schools.
The same issue of the American carried statements from Mr. Kaufman and Judge Gorham in regard to the tax. Mr. Kaufman stated that he might support it and Judge Gorham stated that he was in favor of the tax and higher salaries for the teachers.
Some of the people of Lake Charles seem to have assumed that the schools of Lake Charles would open in the fall of 1905 regardless of whether the School Board had sufficient funds to operate them. This idea called forth a statement from Superintendent McNeese, which he addressed to the editor of the Daily Press on the subject: (124)
I wish it to be understood by the people of Lake Charles that when affirming that the schools would open in October 1, I presumed that as to financial conditions Lake Charles would be ready in common with Jennings, Welch, and other points.
The teacher’s committee will meet on the 8th of this month to receive recommendation from the various Boards and no recommendation will be made to the Parish Board as to contracts until funds are guaranteed for a full term.
Especially as to the beginning of the schools of Lake Charles, no contract will be made until the local Board recommends the teachers; the same rule applying to all high schools and center ward schools in the parish.
To affirm what seems to be already understood, the parish board wishes the local Board of Lake Charles to exercise every right as to the election of teachers and fixing of salaries, and what ever may be agreed as to the length of term and the beginning of the same, must be approved by the local board, and the school cannot begin until all means are available to constitute contracts.
In the issue of the Press of September 4, Alderman King stated that the schools must go on if the city had to do without electric lights. (125) The schools with brick buildings, high salaries and efficient teachers come first.
In the same issue Superintendent McNeese stated that he wished to reiterate his position in regard to local central of the Lake Charles schools, that the parish board had always wished that the local board have full control of the city schools, that the parish board had all that they wished to do to administer and care for the rural schools of the parish. He favored an amendment to the charter that would give the local board full legal control of the schools.
On September 5, an editorial appeared in the American urging the people to sign the petition calling for the election and support the tax with all their means. (126) It was stated that a petition would not be ready to present to the Council at its meeting that night but hope was expressed that it would be ready at the next meeting.
At the meeting of the City Council, the local school committee appeared and asked for a donation of $25,000.00 for the city schools. (127) The Council stated that they could give only $10,000.00 and keep the other city departments running. The school committee stated they would still need $17,000.00 to pay back debts and operate a full term the next session. A total of $32,000.00 was needed. The editor gave it as his opinion that the people had not kept up with the rapid growth of the public schools and that a five mill tax must be voted or the schools would be lost.
The local ministers were almost a unit in the support of the tax and Reverend G. B. Hines of the Simpson Methodist Church, as well as most of the other Christian ministers and the Jewish Rabbi of the local synagogue, preached vigorous sermons urging support of the tax. (128) The same issue of the Press that mentioned the sermon of Reverend Hines also carried an editorial favoring the tax.
On August 14, Mr. L. Kaufman in an open letter to the Press demanded that the school authorities show figures of comparison with other cities of like size who maintained a school system like that of Lake Charles and show that money was not wasted on the school system. (129) If the authorities could show that money was not wasted he would support the tax.
In the same issue of the Press was printed a letter from Honorable Winston Overton favoring the tax.
In the Press of August 22, the School Board complied with the demands of Mr. Kaufman and published a statement of the financial condition of the Lake Charles city school system. The report is as follows: (130)
"Financial Report of the City Schools of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Beginning October 1, 1904, and ending August 19, 1905.
|First Ward or Gooseport School|
|Teacher’s salaries (3)||1,260.75|
|Janitor, for eight months||40.00|
|Addition to school building||300.00|
|Second Ward School|
|Janitor, for eight months||40.00|
|Placing desks and blinds||9.50|
|Third Ward or Central School|
|Janitor, eleven months||300.00|
|Cleaning, eight chimney flues||8.00|
|Placing desks and moving same||7.25|
|Janitor, eleven months||402.00|
|Payment on piano||136.00|
|Furniture, blinds, desks, and stove||800.20|
|Hauling freight and lumber||30.00|
|Seating at opening of schools||33.35|
|Lumber for all school repairs||20.99|
|Total disbursements by treasurer||14,937.42|
|Receipts of Treasurer|
|Balance on hand October 19, 1904||305.80|
|Received from state to date||3,740.43|
|Received from fines||527.57|
|Received from parish||800.69|
|Received from damage by fire||91.69|
|Received from poll tax||1,396.34|
|Received, error of treasurer||.06|
|Received from city||14,000.00|
|Paid old school warrants||5,864.55|
|Paid warrants for school term 1904-05||14,937.42|
|Balance on hand||60.91|
|Outstanding warrants to date||7,614.28|
|Due 16th Section funds payment 1905||2,040.00|
|Deduct cash on hand||60.91|
|Total debt August 19, 1905||9,993.37|
(There is a missing page here - manuscript says it was
omitted from the original.)
Marshall Texas. State aid per child 5.25; city aid, what city can spare; special tax, 5 mills; bonds for building 70,000.00
Beaumont, Texas. State aid per child 5.25; city aid, none; special tax, 2 ½ mills; bonds for building 77,000.00
Orange, Texas. State aid per child 5.25; city aid, what city can spare; special tax 2 ½ mills; bonds for building 25,000.00.
Alexandria, Louisiana. State aid per child 1.17; city aid, what city can spare; parish wide tax 3 ½ mills; bonds, none.
Welsh, Louisiana. State aid per child 1.17; city aid, what city can spare; special tax, none; bonds, none.
Lake Charles, Louisiana. State aid per child 1.17; city aid, what city can spare; special tax, none; bonds, none.
Lake Arthur, Louisiana. State aid per child 1.17; city aid, what city can spare; special tax 3 mills for ten years; bonds, none.
To make the comparison still more odious, Beaumont, Orange, and Alexandria each have fine brick buildings and Marshall with a smaller population then Lake Charles has a fine brick building worth $100,000.00.
The School Board sent out “flying squadrons” of speakers to speak in behalf of the tax.133 The ministers of the churches again preached sermons in behalf of the tax. For several days previous to the election the Press carried streamers across the top of the front page urging the people to vote for the tax. Some of them were:
Welsh gives her children five mills for schools. Lake Charles gives none. (134)
Does it pay to become a rich ignoramus? If not vote the tax. (135)
The moneyed men of Lake Charles will vote the tax. The small property owner gets the benefit. (136)
Five mills means $15,000 for schools. If your home is worth $1,000.00 you pay $5.00. (137)
Close your schools and watch the “for rent’ signs go up. (138)
If you want Lake Charles to grow vote for the special tax. Defeat it and kill your town. (139)
The same issue of the Press, October 30, stated that Representatives Toomer and Rhorer and Senator Drew would sponsor a bill in the General Assembly at the coming session to give Lake Charles full and complete legal control of her own schools.
The election was held on October 31, as scheduled and on November 1 the results were published in the Press as follows: (140)
|Popular vote total||51|
|Popular vote for||33|
|Popular vote against||18|
|Property vote total||50,100|
|Property vote for||33,660|
|Property vote against||13,440|
|Majority vote for||23,229|
|Popular vote total||351|
|Popular vote for||258|
|Popular vote against||93|
|Property vote total||781,220|
|Property vote for||560,570|
|Property vote against||220,650|
The Parish Board met in regular session January 19, 1906 at which time the annual report of Superintendent McNeese was received and approved. (141) The most important act, perhaps, was the drafting of a resolution to the State Board of Education relative to a resolution of the State Board stating the professional qualifications required for a parish superintendent and requiring the Parish Boards to report whether the parish superintendent had met these requirements. The Calcasieu Parish Board adopted a resolution in which they gave notice to the State Board that they had received a copy of the resolution and in turn adopted the following:
"That it be resolved at this regular adjourned session, that it is the sense of this Board that the competency of the parish superintendent of the parish is beyond question, and that we most respectfully assure the State Board of Education of the same.
Resolved that the president be authorized and requested to send a copy of this resolution to the aforesaid."
At the request of the city Board of School Directors, City Attorney Overton drafted a bill providing for complete, separate control of the school affairs of the city to be vested in the City Board. (142) The bill, in substance, provided for a board of five members, to be elected at large form the city. All members were required to be able to read and write the English language, and to be qualified voters of the city. They were elected under the general election laws of the state.
The Board was to have power to elect a superintendent and fix his salary, and the superintendent was to have the same general qualifications as a parish superintendent. He was to be secretary of the City Board and treasurer of the city school finances. The City Board could create no debt and no city official could be a member of the Board.
In November, 1906, the first school Board for the city under the bill was elected. Its members were J. J. Nelson, F. H. Haskell, H. W. Rock, Leon Locks, and James A. Williams. (143)
In April 1907, Superintendent McNeese attended the annual meeting of the Louisiana Teacher’s Association where he introduced and had passed a resolution favoring the establishment of night schools for persons over the legal age for attendance at public schools. (144) He stated at this meeting that he intended to try out the idea when schools were opened in the autumn.
At the meeting of the Parish Board in April 1907, a resolution was passed putting into effect the bill passed by the recent session of the Assembly creating a separate school system for the city of Lake Charles independent of the Parish Board. (145) At this meeting, the Parish Board transferred to the City Board all school property within the limits of the city. The Parish Board retained all funds belonging to the city schools still in the hand of the Parish Board to be applied on the debt owed for the purchase of the high school building. The insurance policies covering the school property within the city limits were transferred to the City Board.
From this time, the schools of Lake Charles were not under the jurisdiction of Superintendent McNeese. This thesis will from this point be concerned with Lake Charles schools, only to the extent they were involved in Parish Board matters.
Superintendent McNeese presented his annual report covering the year 1906 at the close of the year but it was not published until May, 1907. (146)
"Annual Report of the Parish Superintendent
The eighteenth annual report of the parish superintendent has just been issued. The final statement shown is the total receipts for the year 1906 to be $120,251.40 and a balance on hand January 1, 1907, of $109,366.67.
Sources of Revenue
|Common School fund||17,339.49|
|16th Section interest fund||5,384.68|
|Bonds and fines||9,158.02|
|Donations for libraries||1,118.75|
|All other sources||196.77|
Superintendent McNeese makes the following remarks:
Report herewith shows that nearly $10, 00, being 22 percent of bounds and fines after being turned to the School Board by the district attorney and a sheriff, is to me indicative of a great burden that cannot cause us to welcome it as a resource. It explains to in a sad and humiliating way that it costs our courts too much to battle against crime and ignorance. It means that while the parish pays but $25,000 for schools it pays out between Forth and Fifty Thousand Dollars to keep down crime.
While our receipts and disbursements have been quite large, they are so in a relative way. Calcasieu’s progress as to schools has not kept pace with industrial development; and the money invested for school supplies has been insignificant compared with the amount invested to develop resources generally.
It has been calculated that the amount of revenue form the state and poll tax is not more than enough to give than one month’s school in the entire parish. The $25,000 from the Police jury has stood without increase for some years, some seven or eight, though the number of school children has increased from 8,000 to 15,000; and were it not for the compensating influence of the special tax, now amounting to $40,000 the character of the school work could not have grown in strength, because of the falling off of the term in length and less valuable service of the teachers.
The advance of spirit among the people for a special tax has possibly been in advance of that of any other parish in the state. Next year the special tax will exceed $50,000. There are now a half dozen districts paying a second special tax to be used specifically for buildings, the Merryville district paying eight mill special tax, the terms are not less than eight months and in most the term is nine, while in wards without , the term is from four to six months.
The enrollment for the year was 7,935 whites and 1,260 colored. Outside of these 900 attending private schools and 45 pupils attending schools of higher learning."
In October of 1907 the Board took steps to put into effect the resolution passed by the Louisiana Teacher’s Association regarding night schools. The following resolution was passed: (147)
"Be it resolved that this Board shall establish night schools in every district where there are five or more enrolled for the night classes and where the regular teacher of the public schools will undertake this work.
Be it further resolved that the compensation for this teacher shall be based on the amount of salary received in day school, being at the same rate per hour as received in the day school.
Be it further resolved:
1. All persons over 18 years of age are eligible for membership, persons under 18 years of age, may, upon approval by the parish superintendent, be enrolled as students. A class may be formed where there are five or more applicants.
2. The sessions shall be held three nights per week, the minimum length of session being two hours.
3. Classes may be formed in English, which shall include literature, composition and spelling with special attention to business forms and letter writing in business, arithmetic and bookkeeping, accounts, penmanship and common and commercial geography. Other branches included in the state course of study may be added at the discretion of the superintendent."
These night schools were to be established principally for those who did not have benefit of an education in childhood. Those who could not read and write were especially urged to attend. It was hoped by this means the standards of literacy in the parish night be raised.
The first of these night schools was at Oakdale under the direction of Mr. Fuller Hamilton, principal of the Oakdale school, who reported an enrollment of ten pupils. Two of these were under 18 years of age who were admitted because they had to work during the day. Mr. Hamilton did not wait for the approval of the board, but evidently getting the idea from Mr. McNeese, started his night schools in September when the school opened.
The Biennial Report of the State Superintendent for the years 1906 and 1907 contains the report of Superintendent McNeese for those years. (148) The report follows:
"I shall first give a brief outline of our assets, which include revenue, equipments, teaching force, and the school spirit among our patrons. First as to revenue; the Police Jury has set aside:
|For payment of teachers||35,000.00|
|The revenue from State, Corporations polls, fines and bonds||47,000.00|
|Interest on the 16th Section funds||5,000.00|
|The revenue from the special tax||67,000.00|
|Total for the year 1907||154,000.00|
Our second asset, equipment, including buildings, sites and furniture in school districts. We have been constructing new houses, repairing old and furnishing to the extent of $20,000.00. The most notable building being that of the Merryville district at a cost of $12,000.00 complete with furniture.
It has not been our policy to locate new sites, it being thought best to build up districts already established and encourage attendance by transporting children. We have therefore only constructed one new building in a new district and have had four building and sites donated along the new railroad (Colorado Southern). Have rebuilt nine schoolhouses and repaired ten. Have equipped over forty with new furniture.
Have one hundred libraries in the parish, forty-five being added this year. A number are taking advantage of the new law allowing an increase in library the second year, hence we have about 7,500 volumes in the parish.
Our third asset, the teachers, have responded to fair treatment, a graded and uniform salary system, and better environment, and are displaying an interest in schools, never before equaled. I think one cause for this or rather means by which this latent interest was awakened and put to work was the work on the one-week institute held at the beginning of the session. That seems to unify the work of the parish, it gives the teachers an idea of the problems to be met and together they were discussed and plans made to meet them.
The School Improvement Association idea has been adopted as a panacea for all troubles and this prescription has been applied with telling effect. School grounds have been drained, fenced, and good walks have been made to the school, globes, dictionaries, maps and even in one instance where the funds were insufficient, a complete order fro desks, blackboards, etc., was made through the improvement association.
When such work as that is going on in the parish, when we have Mother’s clubs, Civic Improvement clubs all in connection with our schools, working and getting such splendid results for their for their schools, I cannot but wish but to give these last to assets, good teachers, and a strong interest among the patrons, great credit for what has been done, and my heartfelt thanks for an earnest support.
Concerning consolidation, have little definite results to report, owing to the scattered settlements, bad roads and a general prejudice against giving up the local schools. Have established transfer routes to two center ward schools for which three wagonettes will be used. Have arranged for its establishment in their other districts, but shall not get them to work before next year, 1907. In connection with this shall say as our country is not old in sense that it has been settled a long time, public highways are very poor and little attention has been given them, so to bring about consolidation we have to start with the road first and work back to our main purpose. The members of the Police Jury, seeing the relation between road building and school building have appropriated 45,000.00 to be spent on the road and schoolhouses of the parish. In the wards where there is already a road tax, this will materially assist in repairing and refurnishing schoolhouses. It will be our work to have the road leading to the school houses repaired first.
Realizing the illiteracy among the men and boys of our parish, we have by resolution of the Board established night schools where the principal of the day school will undertake the work, and there are ten applicants. Seven such schools have been established, being largely composed of men who had no advantages when young and of boys who have to work for the support of families during the day and who are ambitious to improve themselves through this means. Results are so far encouraging but only been in session two months.
Two difficulties have I encountered in my work have been the lack of good teachers and the lack of good boarding places in the remote districts. The first has been overcome to some extent by running the rural schools during the summer, seventy-two schools have been in session during the past summer months. That has enabled me to supply remote districts, where it is impossible to send good teachers during the winter because of the demand for them in the better places, with excellent normal and first grade men and women who desire employment during the summer.
The second difficulty, poor accommodations or in some instances, no accommodations, have been controlled to some extent by having the school districts fill out the file with us form stating where board can be obtained, distance form the school houses and price of board. We make the director responsible for the boarding place; he must meet the teacher at the nearest railway station and convey her to her boarding place, already arranged for.
My plans for the year to come are along the same lines of work as that done this year. I shall continue building, repairing and furnishing, shall work for special tax in districts where we have none, shall continue consolidations wherever practical, shall give night school a fair trial, shall continue working with and through patrons, thus encouraging the feeling that the schools are theirs and if they want improvements they must assist in getting them.
Superintendent of Calcasieu"
In order to encourage professional growth on the part of the teachers the Board passed a resolution provided for an increase in salary for those who attended the Parish Educational Association meetings. (149) For those who had perfect record of attendance for the previous year an increase of five dollars per month would be granted beginning with the session of 1908-09. Further providing that those who had missed not more than two meetings might have the privilege of making up the loss at the discretion of the superintendent. All teachers who attended the summer normal at either Lake Charles, New Orleans or Baton Rouge should also receive an increase of five dollars per month. All teachers attending the summer normal should have the preference in employment over those not attending.
One of the problems of any loosely organized system of rural school has been the recognition of the work of one school by another school when pupils transfer or move. At the close of the session of 1907-08 Superintendent McNeese settled this problem by sending out all final examination questions from his office. These questions were based on the State Course of Study. (150) Students passing the examinations were given a certificate, which permitted them to enter any other school in the parish of the same or higher rank without further examination.
One of the problems that arose after the separation of the Lake Charles schools from those of the parish was that of the pupils who lived outside the city limits of Lake Charles and so were not entitled to attend its schools.
(Remainder of this page and next page missing. Manuscript says omitted from the original.)
The autumn of 1908 was marked by the settlement of an old dispute with the Union Sulphur Company over the question of the taxable evaluation of the company’s property. (153) This company had become one of the richest corporations in the South. The School Board took the position that the company should pay taxes on a much higher rendition than they had been accustomed to paying. After several years of dispute and the filing of suit in the courts, the matter was finally settled by adopting the following scale of values for the years given:
|160 acres of land||2,500,000.00|
|4082 acres of land||20,410.00|
|Sulphur on hand||85,000.00|
|Building tools and fixtures||63,006.84|
|Horses and Wagons||2,000.00|
|Total for the year 1907||3,859,725.84|
|Total for the year 1908||3,348,597.17|
a called session of the Board, which met December 19, 1908, Dr. Perkins was
elected President of the Board and Mr. McNeese Superintendent and ex
officio secretary and treasurer of the Board. (154) Messrs. Booze
and DeRouen were appointed as a committee to notify Mr. McNeese of his
election, and a committee of four were appointed to make recommendations
regarding the salaries of the superintendent and the assistant secretary. The
salary of the superintendent was fixed at Two Hundred Dollars a month and that
of the assistant secretary at Ninety Dollars a month.
The Conference of Parish Superintendents of Public Education met in Baton Rouge in December 1908. (155) At this conference Superintendent McNeese made a report on school conditions in Calcasieu for the year 1908.
"It gives me great pleasure to submit for your information a brief report of the work accomplished during the present year of the twentieth session of the public schools of the parish of Calcasieu.
The year just being completed is on of solid growth in every department of school work; the teachers are more efficient and doing more systematic work than ever before; the enrollment is larger than expected, the average attendance has been especially good, the standard of work reached is more encouraging toward the further unifying of the schoolwork of the parish.
1. Our work in the construction of schoolhouses has kept pace with our increased enrollment. We have built twelve one-room schoolhouses, using the plan for a one-room school approved by the State Board of Education; one two-room school and one six-room school with an auditorium, heated by steam heart and furnished throughout with modern improvements. Funds for four of these buildings were donated by the Police Jury from the public improvement funds of the parish.
Wherever funds have been available, we have repaired school buildings, painting them and fencing the school grounds when possible. Have repaired sixteen school houses during the present year.
Have bought furniture for thirty-five schoolhouses; being assisted in this work by the Police Jury as in the buildings; $6000 having been spent by that body in buildings and $2000 for furniture. In some instances money donated was turned over to the School Board, and in other instances the bills were paid by the Police Jury. Hence the total amount received and disbursed for the school buildings will not appear in my financial report. However, in every case the buildings were constructed according to plans approved by the Parish Board and the furniture ordered was on requisition by the Board.
2. The people are more than ever realizing the need of food, schoolhouses, and equipment, and as a result we have very little trouble voting special taxes wherever needed. The Merryville schools have just voted a special tax of ten mills for ten years for the maintenance and equipment of the Merryville school, thus making 16 mills of special school tax paid by the taxpayers of the Merryville district.
DeQuincy district has also voted a special tax for five mills for ten years for the construction of a modern brick schoolhouse.
Elections have been ordered for the voting of special school taxes in Lake Arthur, DeRidder, and Singer districts and in Ward Three of this parish. There seems to be little doubt that the tax will carry in each instance.
3. We have consolidated six small schools with the Center Graded schools of the parish and have installed six wagonettes in the parish. We find that in every instance they are giving perfect satisfaction.
4. Have had no increase in revenue save the donations from the Police Jury as before mentioned amounting in all to about $8000.00. Have also received $9,349.39 being the back taxes for the year 1907 from the Union Sulphur Company on the special tax in Ward Four.
5. The receipts for the present year to date are as follows:
|From the state||20,899.03|
|From the parish||35,000.00|
|From the public improvement fund||1,200.00|
|Bonds and fines||2,367.00|
|Sixteenth section interest||6,083.00|
|Interest on deposits||1,531.95|
|Buildings and repairs||15,890.00|
|Furniture and supplies||4,347.15|
|School Board and Finance Committee||373.45|
|Tax collectors commission||640.24|
6. Relative to plans under way for school improvement will say that I have contracts for additions to be made to Merryville and Oakdale schoolhouses and for two rural schools. We also expect to build modern schoolhouses at DeQuincy and Singer during the year 1909. The town of Jennings is now constructing a two story brick building which will cost when completed $40,000. This will be ready for occupancy January 15, 1909.
We are now planning further increase in the efficiency of the high schools of the parish and make the center and graded schools more closely connected with the tributary to the high schools. Certificates of promotion based on uniform examinations given by this office will be issued to pupils who complete the eighth grade of graded schools, and will entitle the pupils to enter high schools without further examination.
7. We have further been able to secure a strong teaching force by paying salaries commensurate with the work required, the average salary for male teachers being Seventy Dollars, female teachers Fifty-five Dollars, general average of white teachers Sixty-Two Dollars and Fifty Cents. Salaries are regulated according to the number of years of experience and grade of certificate held by the teacher.
8. In conclusion will say that the present year has been the most successful one in the history of the schools. I wish here to express my appreciation of the efficient service of the teaching force, of the generous assistance of the Board of Directors and members of the School Board, and the spirit of cooperation that I have met in every community when the advancement of school interest as the object at stake.
McNeese’s Sixth Term as Parish Superintendent of Public Education, 1908-1913
several occasions Superintendent McNeese had recommended to the Board that an assistant superintendent be employed so that more
attention could be given to the supervision of rural schools. At the regular quarterly
meeting of the Board held in May 1909, a resolution was adopted authorizing Superintendent
McNeese to employ an assistant superintendent at a salary not exceed fifteen
hundred dollars a year. (156) At the same time it was resolved to offer the position to Mr.
Fuller Hamilton. The salary of Miss Gayle, the assistant secretary for the past five
years, was increased to one hundred dollars a month.
In September 1909, the Board, acting through Mr. McNeese, made arrangements for the purchase of nine acres of land at Merryville for the purpose of establishing an agricultural high school. (157) The purchase price of he land was $1165.00.
The Board seems at this time to have been definitely converted to a policy of supervision. At a special meeting held in August 1910, the Superintendent was authorized to employ two supervisors for the session of 1910-11. (158) One of these was a woman paid a salary of eighty dollars a month and the other a man at a salary of one hundred dollars a month; all necessary traveling expenses of both to be paid by the Board.
Superintendent McNeese did not avail himself in full of the authority given gracefully to him. The woman supervisor was employed for the first year, and a man substituted for the following year.
The movement for special taxes received great impetus at this time judging from the number of districts voting special taxes. Some of these districts were: (159)
Oakdale District Number Twenty. Three mills for ten years. Twenty votes for, none against. Property valuation Seven Thousand One Hundred and Forty Dollars.
Bell City District Number Twenty-Seven. Ten mills to run ten years. Forty-four voted for and property valuation Eleven Thousand Nine Hundred and Seventy Dollars. Ten votes and Four Thousand Two Hundred and Ten Dollars property valuation against.
Oberlin District Number Twenty-five. Tax of five mills for ten years. Eighteen votes and property valuation Twelve Thousand Six Hundred and Eighty-Nine Dollars for; two votes and property valuation Two Hundred and Ten Dollars against.
Chaumont District Number twenty-four. Four mill tax for ten years. Twenty-one votes and property valuation Six Thousand Five Hundred and Ninety-Seven Dollars for; no opposition.
St. Elmo District Number Twenty-three. Tax of two mills for five years. Seven votes and Two Thousand Three Hundred and Eighty Dollars valuation for; no opposition.
Vinton District Number Fifteen. Tax of five mills for ten years. Thirty-two votes and property valuation of Twenty-Four Thousand One Hundred and Sixty-five Dollars for the tax; seven votes and property valuation of Four Thousand Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars against.
In October of the same year, the American-Press reported the following special taxes in force. (160)
Ward 1. Three mills-ten years
Ward 2. Three mills-ten years from 1902
Ward 3. Five mills-ten years from 1909
Ward 4. Two and one-half mills-ten years from 1907
Ward 5. None
Ward 6. Three mills-ten years from 1909
Ward 7. Three mills-ten years from 1907
Ward 8. None
Ward 9. Three mills-ten years from 1900
Ward 10. None
At a special meeting of the Board held in December 1910, a resolution was passed demanding that the Police Jury levy the constitutional tax of three mills for the benefit of the schools. (161) The Police Jury had been donating from twenty-five thousand to forty thousand dollars a year, which was at the rate of one and one-half mills. The American Press commented editorially that this would more than double the revenues of the schools and that it would embarrass greatly the Police Jury in view of the fact that they were having difficulties in financing the building of the new courthouse.
The Police Jury replied to this demand of the Board with a request that they not insist on the full amount of the tax being levied. (162) The Board replied that there were five thousand educable children in the parish, and that thirty-five thousand dollars from the parish was not sufficient to operate the schools for nine months term which the people were now demanding. The average cost per pupil was now Two Dollars and Forty-Nine Cents per month which was much less than the Police Jury proposed to give. There were two hundred and twenty-one white teachers in the parish whose average monthly salary was Sixty Dollars and Fifty Cents. The schools cost One Hundred Fifty-Nine Thousand Five hundred Forty-Six Dollars and Thirty-Nine Cents for a nine months term. Special taxes have been voted in all but three wards. The Board insisted that the three mill tax be levied.
The Louisiana Teacher’s Association met in Lake Charles in April 1911. (163) When the time for election of officers came Dr. J. B. Aswell, President of the State Normal College placed the name of Superintendent McNeese in nomination. V. L. Roy of the State University seconded the nomination and Professor J. E. Keeny of the Industrial School of Ruston moved that the nominations be closed. A second to this motion being made, the vote taken it was adopted and Superintendent McNeese was then elected by acclamation. Mr. McNeese being absent from the city on much needed vacation a committee was appointed to wire him the results of the election and extend congratulations.
At a special meeting of the Board on May 26, 1911, Miss May Breazeale, parish supervisor, made report of her work for the year. This report follows: (164)
"Report of Supervisor
To the Superintendent and Members of the Parish School Board, Parish of Calcasieu.
I respectfully submit the following report of my visits to the schools in Calcasieu parish for 1910-11.
|Number of schools visited||98|
|Number of rural schools visited||52|
|Number of town schools visited||39|
|Number of high schools visited||7|
|Average number of schools visited in one day||2|
|Number of miles traveled by trains||2,669|
|Number of miles traveled by buggy||380|
|Total travel expenses||178.63|
Buildings, equipment, and furniture (with few exceptions) in good condition, repairs on buildings made where necessary.
Sanitary conditions of houses and grounds fairly good. Much could be done along these lines.
Water supply at all schools fairly good, bored wells with pumps, wooden cisterns, or galvanized tanks are supplied for all schools.
Fifty-seven schools visited have libraries. Since visiting, twenty-one libraries have been established and eight have been extended.
Work in town and high schools fairly good, graded and up to standard, every effort has been carefully noted and as a preparation for the continuation of the supervision work will be very beneficial.
The special report regarding schools visited have been filed in the superintendents office.
At the close of the school term of 1910-11 Superintendent McNeese issued a rather lengthy and elaborate printed report of the condition of the schools. The report is too lengthy to give in its entirety but certain portions of it....
(There is a missing page here - manuscript says it was omitted from the original.)
".....to consolidate the smaller schools and operate wagonettes
but the service rendered fully justifies the out lay. We had during the past
year twenty-four wagonettes, making an average of sixteen children in daily
The work of the Corn Clubs has been continued. Not so many boys were enrolled this year as last, there being no effort to secure a large membership, the effort being made rather to secure boys all of whom would be successful. It is believed to be better to take a smaller membership and have only those that are calculated to make practical demonstrations of the advantages of scientific agriculture than to have a larger number and have a great many whose efforts are failures.
During the past year Home Economics Clubs have been organized among the girls ten to eighteen years old. The purpose of this organization to more closely connect the school and home life. The girls are being instructed in sewing and cooking and it is believed the work will result in much good to the schools.
The installation and extension of libraries has been has been continued, there having been added to the high school libraries two thousand four hundred and sixty-six volumes and to the elementary grades nine thousand three hundred and ninety-four volumes. Under the provision of the Board, each grade or room having a library is entitled to receive current reading matter of Two Dollars and Fifty Cents for the session, and much has been distributed.
I am grad to report that the teaching force is regarded as one of the most efficient corps of teachers employed by any School Board in the State. A very large percent of them are attending the summer normal schools and a majority attending the monthly institutes the past season.
During the past session, Miss May Breazeale was employed as supervisor and while it was impossible for her to do much close supervision her visits resulted in much good to the system by improving sanitary conditions and by the helpful suggestions and aid she was able to give the teachers. Owing to the vast amount of work to be done in connection with this work and the difficulty of reaching many of the country districts, it was thought best to employ a gentleman as supervisor for the coming year. Mr. J. VanSant, who, the past session, was principal at Lake Arthur, has accepted the work and will on his duties in September.
Thanking you for the able support you have given me as your executive officer, I beg to remain,
Your obedient servant,
Special School Taxes 1911
|Ward||Number of Mills||Years to Run||Began|
|Special School Districts||Number of Mills||Years to Run||Began|
|13 Lake Arthur||10||10||1909|
|19 Dry Creeks||2||10||1909|
|23 St. Elmo||3||55||1910|
|27 Bell City||5||10||1910|
Financial Report (166)
July 1, 1910 to July 1, 1911
|1. Balance on hand July 1, 1910||80,172.53|
|2. State appropriation||21,570.64|
|3. High School appropriation||4,106.00|
|4. Agriculture appropriation||1,470.00|
|5. Interest on sixteenth section||6,847.48|
|6. Police Jury appropriation||35,270.29|
|7. Town Council Appropriation||9,905.03|
|8. Poll taxes||6,424.72|
|9. Fines and forfeitures||2,180.21|
|10. Interest on daily balances||1,644.03|
|11. Rent on school lands||none|
|12. Special school taxes||97,313.02|
|13. Donations for libraries||514.43|
|14. Loans from banks||none|
|15. Incidental fees||none|
|16. Sale of bonds||none|
|18. Other Sources||451.15|
|1. Overdraft July 1||none|
|2. Teacher’s salaries, white||125,148.59|
|3. Teacher’s salaries, colored||3,917.30|
|4. Rent on schoolhouses||233.66|
|5. Repairing schoolhouses||1,479.91|
|6. School furniture||11,863.92|
|7. Operating wagonettes||8,710.07|
|8. Salary of Superintendent||2,400.00|
|9. Salary of assistant Superintendent||1,500.00|
|10. Salary of bookkeeper||550.00|
|11. Office expenses||1,044.24|
|12. Assessors commission||2,046.48|
|13. Supervisor’s salary||720.00|
|14. Building schoolhouses||34,393.66|
|15. Janitor’s salaries||1,237.25|
|16. Per Diem School Board members||779.60|
|17. Insurance on buildings||1,838.00|
|19. Appropriation for agricultural farm||250.00|
|20. Traveling expenses||770.00|
|21. Seeds agricultural farm||42.00|
|23. Secretaries salary||$900|
|Lake Charles School fund||$9,296.53|
|Total disbursements for session||213,974.16|
|Balance on hand||53,923.89|
Mr. McNeese’s report if filled with interesting and valuable information, little of which can be used in this thesis.
In August of 1911 the Board took formal steps to put into execution the recommendation that a man be employed as supervisor by passing a resolution authorizing the employment of a man at a salary of not less than one hundred and twenty-five dollars a month. (167) The motion was later amended to strike out the words not less than and made to read “at a salary of One Hundred and Twenty-Five Dollars per month”.
In September, it was reported that the parish schools were opening with a much larger attendance than ever before, that financial conditions were better and very few third grade certificate teachers employed, and those were in the smaller districts. (168)
In 1912, the agricultural extension work on a full time basis was begun. (169) At that time, Superintendent McNeese announced that a man would be employed by the Board in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. The plan was for the man to spend half his time working with the boys in the schools and one-half time with the farmers of the parish. Special attention was to be paid to the work of the various kinds of agricultural clubs in the schools and the boys encouraged to carry out scientific agricultural work.
The man selected for the above position was Mr. J. A. Redhead who began his work immediately. (170) He announced that Pig Clubs had been organized at Merryville, Singer, Westlake, Oakdale, Kinder, DeQuincy, and Hayes. The following schools had corn clubs also; Fulton, Pine Ridge, DeQuincy, Kinder, Oakdale, and Westlake had Girl’s Tomato Clubs.
At the conclusion of the session of 1911-12 the Board passed a resolution stating that hereafter the Home Economics and Industrial work should be limited to those districts that voted special tax for their support with the revenue available at the time of the establishment of the work. (171) The same was made to apply to the establishment of wagonette routes. At the close of the session of 1911-12, Supervisor J. Van Sant filed his report of his work for the session. The report in full follows: (172)
"To the President and Members of the Board of School Directors, Parish of Calcasieu.
I beg to submit the following as a general report of my work as Supervisor for the school year 1911-12.
During the year, I have visited ninety-three schools, twenty-one of them the second time, five the third time, four the forth time, and three visits to closing exercises, making one hundred and thirty-nine visits to schools. I also visited Sugartown and Singer. The equipment of the rural schools has already been mentioned.
As to the work of supervision, I wish to say that it has not been carried out in detail, as it should be owing to the large amount of territory to be covered, the great number of schools and inclement weather during a greater part of the Spring and Winter months, I shall not attempt to give you a detailed account of my visits, which have been made to Superintendent McNeese and are now on file in this office, but I shall attempt to give you in a few words some idea of what I did on those visits.
1. I observed the sanitary conditions of the grounds and buildings, also the condition of the pupils’ desks, which sometimes are very poorly kept.
2. The water supply, its source, condition and distribution were investigated with some suggestions to teachers, in some cases, for a better method of distribution.
3. Libraries, their condition and uses, were carefully noticed. In many of the small schools the teachers do not know how to use the libraries and the children were therefore getting no benefit from them. In some cases I tried to tell the teacher how to use the library so as to supplement the reading course, and at the same time interest the pupil in these books so as to create in them a love for good reading.
4. I noticed the lighting and heating of each building and in six different rural schools I had the teacher arrange the seats so as to give the pupils good light.
5. Since the discipline of the pupils both inside and outside the building and their attitude toward the teacher are important factors in the school, I noticed these points carefully, giving my estimate of them in each case in my report to Superintendent McNeese. In many cases I insisted on better discipline and in some cases gave specific directions to the teacher as to how they should secure better discipline.
6. The teacher’s attitude toward the school as a whole, toward the community, the pupils, and toward the parish authorities was carefully studied.
7. In all schools, the daily program was carefully studied, and to eighty-seven teachers, I gave suggestions and directions for changing their daily program. These changes came mostly in alternation and correlation of work so as to decrease the number of recitations and to lengthen the time of these periods so that the teacher may have time for drill and definite class work. In five cases I wrote the entire program for the teacher.
8. The teacher’s methods of teaching, including the five formal steps - preparation, presentation, comparison, generalization and application - were carefully studied and reported. In eleven schools I taught one or more classes, not for the purpose of criticizing the teacher but with an effort to show her just how to proceed with the work in the way that would help the pupils most.
9. I have often talked with the pupils about general health, the care of skin, teeth, eyes, ears, and hair, which, I think, teachers should do often.
By way of conclusion I wish to recommend that the schools be more closely supervised next session, that a syllabus for a course in reading be worked out in minute detail to show teachers what should be done each day, just how to alternate and correlate the supplementary reading with the regular course. This work should be illustrated by lesson plans and model lessons, showing the teacher just how to proceed. I also recommend the standardization of rural schools.
Gentlemen, I wish to further say that taking all things into consideration, the immense size of the parish, the number of schools and the great number of teachers, Calcasieu parish has by far the best, most complete school system, more good schoolhouses, and better, equipment, more good teachers, better and more complete statistics, more industrial work of better quality than any other parish in the state.
J. Van Sant"
The Board met in special session January 3, 1913 for the purpose of reorganization. (173) After the election of a president, Superintendent McNeese announced his intention of retiring at the end of the current term. The name of Mr. Fuller M. Hamilton, Assistant Superintendent, was placed in nomination for the superintendence. He was elected to succeed Mr. McNeese to take office on July 1, 1913.
Mr. McNeese spent the remainder of his term in receiving the reports of the teachers, attending to the routine duties of his office and preparing to turn the office over to his successor.
The Board met July 5, 1913 for the purpose of installing the new superintendent. (174) After routine formalities had been gone through, Mr. Hamilton presented the following receipt showing that he had receipted the retiring treasurer John McNeese for all school funds.
"Lake Charles, Louisiana
July 5, 1913
Received of John McNeese, this day, one hundred fifty-eight thousand one hundred thirty-two and forty-four hundredths dollars, (158,132.44) the same being in full for all school revenues now on hand for the parishes of Calcasieu, Allen, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis, including the 16th Section fund, (except money realized form the sale of School Bonds of School Districts Twelve, Twenty-five, and Twenty-six.
(Signed) F. M. Hamilton
School Treasurer of Calcasieu Parish"
It will be noted that there are four parishes named in the above receipt. There had been a movement of foot for years to divide “Imperial Calcasieu” at the parish seat. This plan was carried out in 1913 just about the same time that Superintendent McNeese retired from office. One writer in commenting upon the retirement of Mr. McNeese said that it was peculiarly fitting that he should retire from office just as the parish was divided, as there would be something incongruous in John McNeese being superintendent of anything less than “Imperial Calcasieu”.
Following the presentation of the above receipt the Board immediately adopted the following resolution:
"Whereas, it has been shown this Board by the receipt from F. M. Hamilton that all the funds of the Parish of Calcasieu have been turned over to him by the retiring treasurer, John McNeese. Therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Directors of the Public Schools of Calcasieu Parish that this quietus be and is hereby granted to him for full term of office expiring June 30, 1913."
Mr. L. L. Funk then took the chair and the following resolution was presented by President Leon Chavanne, which was seconded by R. W. Vincent:
"Whereas, the retiring superintendent John McNeese has rendered long and efficient service in behalf of the schools of Calcasieu Parish and believing it due him that this Board shall recognize in some small way his devotion to the cause of public education:
Therefore, be it resolved that we present him with a typewriter, desk, and chair.
The administration of John McNeese of Calcasieu had ended but not his interest in public schools.
The Last Days of John McNeese
After laying aside the duties of the
office, which he had held so long, Mr. McNeese retired to his suburban home
south of Lake Charles where he planned to spend his declining years in writing
articles for various educational journals and engaging in such other light
occupations as his failing health would permit. He lived less than one
year from the time he retired form office. The material for this chapter
will consist largely of extracts from letters written to his daughter Emma (Mrs.
L.L. Squires). They reveal many personal traits that are not apparent from
his official acts.
The first letter written after his retirement from office gives his relation to the new situations rather well. It follows in full:
"Lake Charles, Louisiana
July 19, 1913
I feel that it is time for me to write you. We are all well, Will is to return from Lafayette and Miss Huey (his former secretary) is to discontinue in the office. She did not want to stay after I gave it up. Quite a number of teachers will not return to the profession of what used to be old Calcasieu. I can’t see why such conclusions are formed but one difference will be found in the amount of money to be used for schools.
Under me, I kept things going. I allowed overdrafts having money to draw from, kept sometimes $50,000 from rusting in the banks, kept it acting that poor children might have the money to be educated. Now, no such reserves can be found. The parishes will be too poor to progress except Calcasieu, which is rich compared with the others.
By the way, I made a jump when I began to talk about Miss Huey. She is going to California, from San Francisco to some island in the bay where there is a Marine Station. Her brother is there. In September she is to be in the office of Mr. Redhead, who is to represent the United States government in promoting agricultural experiment work. I am glad of it as she is a very deserving girl. How about the ducks, did they arrive dead or alive? Hoping they arrived in good shape, hoping all well, I am your parent.
On July 25, he wrote as follows:
"Lake Charles, Louisiana
July 25, 1913
I am home using the typewriter, so I am good out of the office. Though I get no pay, it is a change to be appreciated for many reasons, rest, and freedom to do and say what you please. I look back now and contemplate within what narrow bonds I moved and had my being, you might say, for a period of thirty years. The expression “creature of circumstances” seems to make up much of the world after all - the idea of man shaping his destiny is more fanciful than true. When I came to Louisiana I was in poor circumstances. Had I succeeded with my cattle and the financial crises of ’73 had not come on, my condition and prospects in life would have been different, but it seemed to be destined as it is; and the great consoling idea, i.e. it might have been worse.
Watermelons and other kinds of melon are not very good, too much rain. Melon crop very poor - most everyone had to plant a second and third time. We already have a great deal of sweet potatoes in, but had to rush. One can make a living but too uncertain as an investment to make money. It is too late for me to make money now, so farming the most congenial life (to) spend. It seems that the poor is to stand the blunt of civilization, having no time to do anything else but work. He gets some comfort out of the old hymn, “Work for the Night Is Coming”….
I am your loving Father"
In a letter dated August 3, 1913, he spoke of getting so feeble that he barely gets about, be dragged his feet rather than lifting them up. He told his daughter that he was going down to the Gulf for a few days in the hope of improving his condition, thought he dreaded the “roughing it” and referred to the comforts of home that he would miss. He spoke of some books that he was sending his grandchildren and requested that they read a great deal from good books in order to cultivate their minds and hearts. He seemed to be already realizing that the end was not far off; he concluded one paragraph with “I want to see as much of you and the children as possible, as I must soon make up my camp here below, I hope for a better on beyond the divide”.
The next letter is dated from the Beach Hotel at Cameron, which is located at the entrance of Calcasieu Pass.
August 6, 1913
I thought I could not forget you, being away from home and lonesome, left home Monday. I am just back form the finest bath I ever took, it was in the bath house - all nice where I could strip and enjoy it naturally without bathing suit. Will go in again during the week. We are not for from where camped some twenty years ago, before Will was born. You remember where we landed when we went on an excursion during Normal, that is all grownup now, there being a land formation to where the jetties begin. Much of the beach then is high land now. We are just opposite the Biological station. You remember the government had made the building while building the jetties….
I will go up Saturday taking fish and crabs. Hope all well, God bless you,
On August 14, 1913, he wrote again the Mrs. Squires, this time about some ducks which he was sending to his grandchildren and speaking of the heavy rains and the conditions of the crops in general.
On September 25, 1913, he again wrote telling of the success in raising chickens and the splendid garden which they had. The continued heavy rains were causing some difficulty to the rice farmers. On September 28, another letter of the same strain was written, the rain was continuing and fall gardens were just about ruined.
In a letter of January 25, 1914, he spoke of going to Kinder and seeing the teachers of the public school. The new building was to have some fourteen rooms. In discussing schools conditions over the state he added:
"Calcasieu is doing more than any of the other parishes in the state because she has more money. I spent most of the Sulphur mine money all over Calcasieu before the division, but now it is to be spent in small Calcasieu which shows up big."
He also referred to a prospective consolidation between two schools, but is rather cynical about it as it is not the first time that they have agreed to consolidate the two schools.
Mr. McNeese acted as agent for a nursery and also took subscriptions to various periodicals, notably The Youth’s Companion, to which he referred in a letter written January 10, 1914. He asked his daughter to find him some subscribers for the latter in order that he might earn a special reward that the publishers had offered.
In a letter of January 14, 1914, he mentioned that the ground was drying out and people farming. He expressed a wish for a mule to work and asked Mrs. Squires to be on the lookout for an opportunity to trade a pony for one. He also asked her to send him the names of the teachers of two schools near her home so that he might attempt to get their subscriptions to the Companion.
In a letter written March 1, 1914 he referred to his physical condition in the following words:
"We are all well except myself. Today was a bad day. I was in a state of lethargy all day. Ma went to church, I slept on the sofa while they were gone. I get in this condition once in a while. I cannot assert myself physically and not much intellectually."
In a postscript to the same letter, he again asked his daughter to be on the lookout for subscribers to the Companion and states that several companies have asked him to accept the agency for their publications but he did not feel equal to the task. The end was fast approaching.
On March 13, 1914, he wrote that he was feeling some better since the warm weather had arrived and was able to work in his truck patch a good part of the day. He mentions planting Satsuma, orange, and fig trees. A new road that was to be shelled was of interest, as it would provide better drainage for his land.
His desire to own a mule was evidently realized as on March 27, he mentioned that they were letting the mule rest. He was trying to trade for a second hand wagon but had not succeeded. His business of taking orders for school supplies was progressing fairly well but he did not feel financially able to buy a new wagon.
On April 18, 1914 he refers to the continued rainfall and the fact that corn must be planted again and that the young chickens nearly all drowned. In the same letter he enclosed a circular advertising the business of school supplies.
In a letter of April 12, he refers to having the grippe, which he acquired at New Orleans the summer before and he was failing rapidly. In another letter, he said he did not care to attend the Louisiana Teacher’s Association convention, as he did not wish to be away from home and did not care to see his old teacher friends and not be one of them. He also said he did not feel that he could spare the money since he would have to pay his own way now that he was no longer connected with the Board.
On April 25, he wrote as follows:
"I am in good health though it is painful to get around on my legs and feet. I have to use a cane now. In course of time I may have to go around on crutches. I hobble around though to a great disadvantage. My fingers are numb much like my feet. So you see I am liable to stay around close. Still, I do quite a lot of work, corresponding, I am trying to make my bread."
On April 28, he wrote that the rain was continuing so that the corn crop was almost lost but that the garden truck crops were good, though strawberries were too cheap to make anything from their sale. He expressed a wish to visit her and spend a week.
In the last letter written May 3, 1914, he seemed to realize more than ever that the end was not far off. He used these words:
"Sometimes I have hopes of regaining capacity to move by my lower limbs as when normal, but it seems the impression does not last long. It is rumored here that you are going to Indiana. Of course while I do not want to advise, not being asked, and not knowing the business of Mr. Squires as he does, I cannot say anything, but express my regrets; I may never see you again. For fear that there may be some truth in what I have heard, and wanting to see the children as often as possible, I am planning on making another visit as I did with my own conveyance."
He died within a month, June 2, 1914, and was buried in the Orange Grove Cemetery in Lake Charles.
Soon after his death a project was launched for a McNeese memorial of some kind. Various suggestions were made, such as a monument on the courthouse lawn, a loan fund for students, naming the Lake Charles High School the John McNeese High School, but none of these plans were ever carried out. The only memorial actually created was the naming of the street in DeQuincy on which the high school faces - McNeese Street. Though without being named as such the Calcasieu Parish system of schools is a greater memorial to his memory than any than any possible of being made by his successors.
The Progress of Education in Calcasieu under John McNeese
It has been
remarked of John McNeese that his biography would, of necessity, be virtually a history of public education in Southwestern
Louisiana from 1888 to 1913. He came to Calcasieu Parish when the section was almost
without common schools, and retired from office as parish superintendent of public
education leaving behind a cycle of common schools, which compared favorably with any in his
He found the town of Lake Charles without a public school of any kind but immediately set himself the task of establishing one. He collected money from any one who would give it, used the public means to the best advantage and was able to open a public school with three teachers and about two hundred pupils in the autumn of 1891. He fostered this school through the years, threatening and coaxing the city council of Lake Charles into donating money for its support. He fought the battle for local taxes in 1904 and was able in 1906 to turn over to the City Board of School Directors a well organized, efficient school system, said to have second to none in the state.
In the rural schools he found a few poorly trained teachers teaching one room schools, thirty of them were still in log buildings in 1890, buildings in some cases so poorly built that it was impossible to conduct schools during the winter months. He traveled over the parish wherein roads existed in name more than in fact persuading the people of the necessity of better schools.
In his first term, he began the work of raising the standards of teaching by organizing institutes and summer normals in which he was forced to teach the teachers the rudiments of the subject matter itself before turning to teaching them school methods. He encouraged his teachers to take advantage of the opportunities for improvement by offering increases in salary, chances of promotion to better positions to those who attended the sessions.
When most of the superintendents of his time were content to sit in their offices and attend to routine clerical matters he was beseeching the Board of School Directors of Calcasieu parish to provide him with an office clerk to attend to the these matters in order that he might spend his time in the supervision of rural schools.
He was convinced that the one room rural school could not afford adequate educational advantages and very early started a program of consolidation and the employment of wagonettes to transport the pupils to these consolidated schools.
He introduced into Louisiana the idea of the central ward of township school to be located somewhere near the center of a ward where the more ambitious pupils might secure more schooling after they had completed the work of the local district school.
Mr. McNeese established the custom of sending out from the office of the Superintendent uniform examination questions which has continued to the present time.
After observing the farming methods in use throughout the parish he started a campaign of improvement by organizing in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture various kinds of agricultural clubs among the school boys and girls. Later an agriculture agent was employed by these same agencies to spend half his time with the pupils of the schools teaching them the rudiments of scientific agriculture and the remainder of his time working with the men of the parish.
So great was the confidence of the Board on his ability that when the State Board of Education passed a resolution requiring the Parish Boards of the state to examine into the qualifications of the Parish Superintendent that the Calcasieu Parish Board passed a resolution declaring that the qualifications of the superintendent of Calcasieu were beyond question. When he saw fit to recommend a course of action to the Board it was generally followed to the letter.
His attempt at adult education by night schools was the genius of a statewide program which was carried out in later years.
During his last term when the financial condition of the parish had improved he had so firmly converted the Board to the ides of classroom supervision they gave him authority to employ two supervisors in addition to the assistant superintendent.
He did all of these things in spite of the fact that the public often indifferent to the welfare of the schools and the Parish Board had no power to levy taxes not to even call elections for the purpose of voting taxes. All finances beyond the state funds had to come from an often unsympathetic Police Jury or Town Council.
It is said that when he did call to see his friend Honorable Murphy J. Foster, Governor of Louisiana, in behalf of the public schools the governor asked, “Mac, what is it that you want for public schools?” Mr. McNeese replied, “I want a provision in the constitution of 1909 allowing the citizens of the parishes, municipalities and specially created school districts to vote upon themselves taxes for the support of the schools.” The Governor answered, “All right, Mac, you will get it.” The provision was placed to the constitution and retained in the constitution of 1921.
In those days when the newspapers were filled with stories of dishonesty among public officials, there was never a line written questioning the honesty of John McNeese. The only time the Minutes of the Board reveal that a member of the Board ever raised a question regarding a bill presented for payment by Mr. McNeese was when one member of the Board objected to the payment of a bill for one hundred and twenty-five dollars for traveling expenses in that it was not itemized. The objection raised did not call into question the honesty of Mr. McNeese, but was a matter of technicality, the Board having ruled that all bills paid must be itemized.
Only once during the twenty-four years of his service was there a dissenting vote cast by a member of the Board when the matter of McNeese’s election came before the Board.
Only once was his judgement (sic) on a question of major importance ever called in question. When the old Lake Charles property was purchased for seven thousand dollars some of the citizens of Lake Charles insisted that it was a mistake to buy property so far out of town. Even then, his severest critics admitted that there had been no misuse of funds; but claimed that he had made a poor bargain. Time, however, vindicated the judgement (sic) of Mr. McNeese in this matter.
Mr. McNeese was human and very close to the simple things of life. In his private letters he wrote of the trees which he had just planted, his garden, chickens, ducks, a new road that had just opened, the kindness of his old associates in schoolwork, a desire to own a good mule, and a hope of seeing his children and grandchildren once more “before making up his camp here below” as he expressed it in one of his last letters.
American, Lake Charles Weekly. January 1, 1899 - June 13, 1897. American Printing Company, Lake Charles, Louisiana.
American, Lake Charles Daily. June 14, 1897- - February 16, 1905. January 9, 1906 - September 18, 1910. American Printing Co., Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1890 - 1891. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1892.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1892 - 1893. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1894.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1898 - 1899. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1899.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1903 - 1904. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1905.
Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1906 - 1907. The New Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1908.
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Louisiana. Volume 1. The Goodspeed Publishing Company. Chicago, 1892.
Brasher, Mabel: Louisiana. Johnson Publishing Company. Richmond, 1929.
Echo, Lake Charles. October 24, 1890. Echo Publishing Company. Lake Charles, 1890.
Harris, T. H.: The Story of Public Education in Louisiana. Delgado Trades School Printing Shop, New Orleans, 1924.
McNeese, John: Twenty Second Annual Report. Jones Printing Company, Ltd. Lake Charles, 1911.
McNeese, John: Letters. Lake Charles, Louisiana, July 1913-May, 1914.
Miller, E. D.: Letter. May 8, 1933.
Minutes, Calcasieu Parish Board of School Directors. Lake Charles, Louisiana. September 8, 1888-July 5, 1913.
Perrin, Wm. Henry: Southwest Louisiana, Biographical and Historical. Gulf Printing Co., New Orleans, 1891.
Press, Lake Charles Daily. August 24, 1905-November 1, 1905. The Lake Charles Press Company. Lake Charles, 1905.
Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention of Parish Superintendents of Education for Louisiana. June 2,3, and 5, 1896. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1896.
Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Conference of Parish Superintendents of Education for Louisiana. July 29, 30, and 31, 1896. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1896.
Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Conference of Parish Superintendents of Education for Louisiana. December 10-12, 1908. The New Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1909.
Proceedings and Papers of the Second Annual Convention of Louisiana Public School Teachers Held at New Iberia. December 26-28, 1893. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1894.
Proceedings of the Seventh Annual Convention of the Louisiana Teacher’s Association. December 27-29, 1898. The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 1899.
Records of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 1887 - 1888. New Orleans, Louisiana.
Records of the Registrar, Tulane University, 1887. New Orleans, 1887.
Records, The Adjutants General’s Office, Department of War, File A. G. 201. Washington, D. C.
Register, State and County Officers of Texas. 1870 - 1880. State Library, Austin.
Wilson, H. D.: Louisiana Today. Bulletin of the Department of Agriculture and Immigration. Baton Rouge, 1924.
Wood, E. O.: Public Education in Louisiana During the Reconstruction Period, 1866 - 1876. University of Texas, Dissertation. Austin, June 1931.
1. Told to the writer by Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires, daughter of John
McNeese, April 22, 1933.
2. Records of the Adjutant General's Office, War Department, File No. A. G. 201.
3. Lake Charles American Press, July 5, 1913.
4. Register of State and County Officers, 1873-74. State Library, Austin, Texas.
5. Lake Charles American Press, July 5, 1913.
6. Letter to his daughter, Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires, dated July 1913.
7. Told to the writer by Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.
8. Told by Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.
9. Wood, E. O. : Public Education in Louisiana During the Reconstruction Period, p. 95.
10. Ibid., p. 1290130.
11. There was no citation given for this footnote in the manuscript.
12. Mrs. Squires says that she was a small child at the time her father taught in the Masonic Building and that if any unusual noises occurred in the hall above when school was not in session, her parents would tell the children that the noise was caused by the "goat," referring to the common custom of referring to the lodge initiation ceremonies as "riding the goat."
13. Lake Charles American Press, July 5. 1913. (This footnote was left out of the text of the manuscript.)
14. Letter May 18, 1933.
15. Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.
16. There was no citation given for this footnote in the manuscript.
17. Letter from the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Louisiana to the writer dated April 22, 1933.
18. Lake Charles American Press, June 3, 1914.
19. Minutes of the Board, September 8, 1888.
20. Federal Census of 1890.
21. Perrin, W. H.: Southwest Louisiana, Biographical and Historical, pp. 123 -124. (This footnote was left out of the text of the manuscript.)
22. Lake Charles Echo, October 24, 1890.
23. Brasher, Mabel: Louisiana, p. 349 f.
24. Minutes of the Board, September 8, 1888. (This footnote was left out of the text of the manuscript.)
25. Minutes of the Board, July 6, 1889.
26. Lake Charles Weekly American, April 24, 1889.
27. Ibid., June 19, 1889.
28. Ibid., October 9, 1889.
29. Minutes of the Board, January 4, 1890.
30. The item "Number of schools taught," should for
clearness read "Number of schools taught this year." The item "Number of schools
in operation" should read "Number of schools in operation at the date of this
report." The item "Number of schools organized by me and in operation" should
read "Number of schools organized by me and in operation at the date of this
It appears from subsequent reading that the terms Primary and Grammar grades had reference to the grade of certification held by the teacher determined by the score made on examination and not to the rank of the school.
31. Minutes of the Board, May 17, 1890.
32. Minutes of the Board, May 26, 1890.
33. Minutes of the Board, February 15, 1890.
34. There was no citation given for this footnote in the manuscript.
35. Minutes of the Board, April 5, 1890.
36. Lake Charles American, May 23 (28?), 1890.
37. Minutes of the Board, July 5, 1890.
38. Lake Charles Weekly American, July 16, 1890.
39. Minutes of the Board, August 2, 1890.
40. The head teacher of the Lake Charles school was referred to as superintendent and principal at times, at other times as principal and still other times as superintendent, though he was subordinate to the parish superintendent for several years after 1890 before he really became superintendent independent of the parish superintendent.
41. Lake Charles Weekly American, October 8, 1890.
42. Minutes of the Board, October 16, 1890.
43. Minutes of the Board, October 28, 1890.
44. Minutes of the Board, January 3, 1890. (Note: Should be 1891.)
45. Minutes of the Board, January 5, 1890. (Note: Should be 1891.)
46. Many stories are told of Mr. McNeese and his trips among the people while visiting and organizing schools. On the long trips, which he made by buggy, he spent the nights in the homes of the people, many of whom had never enjoyed the benefits of an education. In such cases it was his custom to gather the entire family around him in the evenings and teach them as much of the "three R's" as was possible in one evening. It was doubtless here that he conceived the idea of the night school for adults which he later organized.
47. Minutes of the Board, January 12, 1891.
48. Minutes of the Board, April 4, 1891.
49. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention of Parish Superintendents of Public Education for Louisiana, Tulane Hall, New Orleans, June 2, 3, and 5, 1891. pp
50. Minutes of the Board, July 10, 1891.
51. Lake Charles Weekly American, October 7, 1891.
52. Minutes of the Board, October 19, 1891.
53. Minutes of the Board, December 4, 1891.
54. Minutes of the Board, February 13, 1896.
55. Minutes of the Board, March 5, 1896.
56. Minutes of the Board, December 4, 1981.
57. Minutes of the Board, January 2, 1892.
58. Minutes of the Board, January 5, 1893.
59. Minutes of the Board, January 5, 1892.
60. Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1892-1893. pp 76-73
61. This footnote was left out of the manuscript.
62. Minutes of the Board, April 13, 1896.
63. Lake Charles Daily American, May 20, 1896.
64. Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Convention of Parish Superintendents of Public Education for Louisiana, July 28, 29 and 30, 1896. pp 28-33
65. Minutes of the Board, September 7, 1896.
66. Lake Charles Weekly American, October 7, 1896.
67. Lake Charles Weekly American, June 28, 1897.
68. Lake Charles Weekly American, August 7, 1897.
69. Lake Charles Daily American, February 1, 1899.
70. Lake Charles Daily American, February 8, 1899.
71. Lake Charles Daily American, March 13, 1899.
72. Lake Charles Daily American, April 14, 1899.
73. Lake Charles Daily American, April 18, 1899.
74. Lake Charles Daily American, April 26, 1899.
75. Lake Charles Daily American, May 3, 1899.
76. Lake Charles Daily American, May 19, 1899.
77. Lake Charles Daily American, July 3, 1899.
78. Lake Charles Daily American, October 21, 1899.
79. It should be kept in mind that at this time the School Board did not have the power to call elections for the purpose of voting taxes. In an incorporated town the town or city council called the election, when petitioned to do so, and the Police Jury discharged the same duty for the rural sections.
80. Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly, 1898-99. pp. 78-80.
81. Lake Charles Daily American, February 7, 1900.
82. Lake Charles Daily American, March 2, 1900.
83. Lake Charles Daily American, July 16, 1900.
84. Lake Charles Daily American, August 16, 1900.
85. By a peculiar arrangement of the school law at that time the members of the parish school board were appointed by the State Board instead of being elected by the people as now. Mr. McNeese was appointed a member of the parish board by the State Board and then elected as secretary of the parish board and ex officio parish superintendent. If by chance he had failed of reelection to the latter office he still would have been a member of the parish board, though not its secretary and parish superintendent.
86. Minutes of the Board, August 25, 1900.
87. Lake Charles Daily American, September 4, 1900.
88. Minutes of the Board, January 20, 1901.
89. Lake Charles Daily American, February 7, 1901.
90. Minutes of the Board, January 15, 1902.
91. Minutes of the Board, September 10, 1892.
92. Lake Charles Daily American, October 4, 1902.
93. Lake Charles Daily American, October 6, 1902.
94. Lake Charles Daily American, October 23, 1902.
95. Minutes of the Board, January 1, 1903.
96. Lake Charles Daily American, April 6, 1903.
97. Lake Charles American, April 23, 1903.
98. Mr. Watkins was a prominent capitalist and promoter who had promoted and built the Kansas City, Watkins, and Gulf Railway into Lake Charles. It was his plan to build a model city about one mile east of the present business section of Lake Charles. He built a sugar refinery, car shops for his railway, and a large school building which had been used for the Lake Charles College but in 1903 the building was not in use.
99. Minutes of the Board, May 9, 1903.
100. Lake Charles Daily American, June 11, 1903.
101. Lake Charles Daily American, September 7, 1903.
102. Lake Charles Daily American, October 28, 1903.
* Continuation of the newspaper article has been lost or omitted from the original copy.
103.-104. These footnotes were left out of the manuscript.
105. Lake Charles Daily American, January 21, 1904.
106. Lake Charles Daily American, March 3, 1904.
107. Lake Charles Daily American, April 9, 1904.
108. Lake Charles Daily American, July 13, 1904.
109. Lake Charles Daily American, July 16, 1904.
110. Lake Charles Daily American, August 1, 1904.
111. Minutes of the Board, August 27, 1904.
112. Lake Charles Daily Press, September 24, 1904.
113. Minutes of the Board, October 8, 1904.
114. Lake Charles Daily American, December 27, 1904.
115. Lake Charles Daily American, December 24, 1904.
116. Lake Charles Daily American, January 6, 1905.
117. Lake Charles Daily American, January 12, 1903. (Probably should be 1905)
118. Lake Charles Daily American, January 13, 1905.
119. Lake Charles Daily American, January 27, 1905.
120. Lake Charles Daily American, February 8, 1905.
121. Lake Charles Daily American, February 9, 1905.
122. Lake Charles Daily American, February 16, 1905.
123. Lake Charles Daily American, August 24, 1905.
124. Lake Charles Daily Press, September 2, 1905.
125. Lake Charles Daily American, September 4, 1905.
126. Lake Charles Daily American, September 5, 1905.
127. Lake Charles Daily American, September 6, 1905.
128. Lake Charles Daily Press, July 3, 1905.
129. Lake Charles Daily Press, August 15, 1905.
130. Lake Charles Daily Press, August 22, 1905.
131.-132. These footnotes were left out of the manuscript. Probably in omitted page.
133. Lake Charles Daily Press, October 20, 1905.
134. Lake Charles Daily Press, October 25, 1905.
135. Lake Charles Daily Press, October 25, 1905.
136. Ibid., October 27, 1905.
137. Ibid., October 28, 1905.
138. Ibid., October 29, 1905.
139. Ibid., October 31, 1905.
140. Lake Charles Daily Press, November 1, 1905.
141. Lake Charles Daily American, January 19, 1906.
142. Lake Charles Daily American, April 14, 1906.
143. Lake Charles Daily American, November 7, 1906.
144. Lake Charles Daily American, April 8, 1907.
145. Minutes of the Board, April 9, 1907.
146. Lake Charles Daily American, May 27, 1907.
147. Minutes of the Board, October 17, 1907.
148. Biennial Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education, to the Governor and General Assembly. 1906-07. pp. 55-57.
149. Minutes of the Board, April 24, 1908.
150. Lake Charles Daily American, May 15, 1908.
151.-152. These footnotes were left out of the manuscript. Probably in omitted page.
153. Minutes of the Board, November 14, 1908.
154. Minutes of the Board, December 19, 1908.
155. Proceeding of the Conference of Parish Superintendents of Public Education, December 10-12, 1908. pp. 46-48.
156. Minutes of the Board, May 15, 1909.
157. Minutes of the Board, September 17, 1909.
158. Minutes of the Board, August 12, 1910.
159. Lake Charles Daily American Press, August 18, 1910.
160. Lake Charles American Press, October 25, 1910.
161. Lake Charles American Press, December 6, 1910.
162. Lake Charles American Press, February 16, 1911.
163. Lake Charles American Press, April 7, 1911.
164. Minutes of the Board, May 26, 1911.
165. This footnote was left out. Probably in omitted page.
166. Ibid., pp. 34-35.
167. Minutes of the Board, August 11, 1911.
168. Lake Charles American Press, September 11, 1911.
169. Lake Charles American Press, January 1, 1912.
170. Lake Charles American Press, January 16, 1912.
171. Minutes of the Board, June 7, 1912.
172. Minutes of the Board, May 19, 1912.
173. Minutes of the Board, January 3, 1913.
174. Minutes of the Board, July 5, 1913.
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