This is a modern up-to-date building and was completed and uses for school purposes in the spring of 1914.
THE VIRGINIA SCHOOLS
Many Interesting and Historical Facts Concerning Our City’s Educational Institutions
(A paper prepared by Henry Jacobs, while Superintendent of the Virginia Schools and published in the Virginia Enquirer December 15, 1904.)
Virginia with her population of 2,000 inhabitants has nothing to be prouder of than her schools. To the founders of our public schools is due the honor of implanting the sentiment for thrift, intelligence and refinement every where present. Nowhere can a more complete system of public schools be found, thus making Virginia a place of rare educational advantages as far as free schools are taken into consideration.
Both parents and their children are awakening to a realization of the fact that the future will demand more highly trained and informed minds.
The boy and girl of today must be educated in order to successfully cope with their competitors. The time is at hand when it is necessary for one to have at least a common school education in order to forge to the front. Under these circumstances parents should see to it that their children take every advantage of the excellent facilities our schools afford to secure a thorough public school education; and when the parents do not do their duty, then, the proper school authorities should enforce the compulsory school attendance law, which in its present form is not objectionable to any class of our people.
The November report for 1904 of our schools showed 177 boys and 191 girls. A total of 368 pupils enrolled. Number on the Honor Roll 258. Percent of attendance 97. Cases of tardiness 4. Average daily attendance 348. Number of visitors, 25.
The present school year has started very auspiciously. The pupils appear to be satisfied and this means a great deal. Think how much of a child’s life is spent in a school room. Teachers should strive to make them happy while they are there. We do not mean that the teachers should not be firm and strict, for we firmly believe that “order is Heaven’s first law.”
The teachers are working in harmony and while all anticipate a year of very hard work they look forward to a year of results and hence, success.
The year that is about one-half over has been, in many respects, a most eventful one. Whatever may be said of the progress of the schools, or of their management by the Board of Education or Superintendent, no one will be found to claim that there has been stagnation in school affairs. There has been movement, pronounced activity, energetic effort to shake off the dust of time from the educational machinery, to draw it forth from the deep worn ruts of a track in which it has long circled and to conduct it forward on the highway of progress. We do not say this to criticize former methods or previous management. Such criticism would be far from just. But that school affairs tend to “ruts” and that it is our duty to strive for whatever is best and most effective in school management, we mean to emphasize.
The Board of Education is made up of our representative business men. They have shown the deepest interest in the welfare of the schools. They have made many sacrifices of time and strength to the interests of the rising generation. As business men they have given their thorough attention to the business interests of the schools. Especially are they to be commended for the cordial and loyal support given superintendents when any of their official acts have been called into question. The following gentlemen compose the Board of Education for this (1904-1905) school year: President, E. Needham; Members, Charles Wilson, G. W. Rexroat, C. A. Simmons, S. W. Bailey, J. T. Robertson and S. R. Suffer.
The city is fortunate in having in its service an excellent corps of teachers. They have been devoted and untiring in their efforts to advance the welfare of the children.
Many people do not fully appreciate the constant draft on the nervous system which the successful management of a school implies. The difficulties of teachers need not be enumerated here in order to demonstrate that they are entitled to sympathy and cooperation of the parents. An antagonistic attitude on the part of the parents to the school authorities is frequently the cause of differences between teachers and pupils.
A suspicious parent can do more damage than the best teacher can repair. In the education of the child the parent has a duty to perform as well as the teacher. The parent should be slow in condemning the teacher. A visit to the teacher undertaken in the proper spirit will do much to prevent misunderstandings. If your child is not doing well, visit the schools with the proper spirit. On the other hand do not be afraid to praise your child’s teacher if everything is going nicely. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the great majority of the teachers. Especially is this true upon those who do the burdensome work of the grades below the high school.
The list of teachers for 1904-1905 is as follows:
HIGH SCHOOL DEPARTMENT – Miss K. H. Bellersheim, Miss Ella E. Ross and Edna W. Creutz.
GRADES – Bunyan Asplund, Miss Ella Wilson, Miss Josephine Sallee, Miss Anna Suffern, Miss Ernestine Hillig, Miss Mabel Leeper, Miss Alice Suffern, Miss Harmonia Tate.
Our high school today is one of the best in the state. The course of study is one of the highest as evidenced by the fact that it is on the accredited list of high schools in relation to the University of Illinois. The standing of the school with forty-six and one-half credits, when only forty two are required is abundant evidence that the work done there is above the average. The boy or girl who graduates here after mastering all the studies has a foundation which should assure for his success in any line. Today we have more tuition pupils in the high school and grades than all the other schools in the county combined. This is simply another fact which shows the people of the surrounding country appreciate the high standarding of our school. With a four year course in the high school every parent is offered the opportunity of giving his child a good education that will fit him or her for the duties of life. This means a great deal to the vast majority of the patrons of the school who do not send their children away to school. But proud as we are of the high standing of the high school we are not unmindful of the fact that the foundation, the grades, are on a par with the higher rooms. Too many times we forget this fact and after all, the grades are more important. If the school foundation is weak, how strong is the building? The elementary schools should be as generously supported as the high school. The grades, as a whole are doing good work and in cases where success has been questioned either in the high school or grades, it is many times due to the efforts of parents who desire their children to advance too rapidly. Parents, remember that your children will get out into the business world soon enough without them being crowded and that they will have little enough preparation, no difference how long they remain in school. The world will not cease to revolve if they do not finish as soon as expected.
The cornerstone of the new building was laid September 1st, 1892, by the Masonic fraternity with appropriate ceremonies. One year later the building was formally opened and dedicated to the purpose for which it was erected. The highest expectation has been fully realized in this new structure. In its erection the future as well as the present was considered. The verdict of the future will be “IT WAS WELL DONE.”
A brief history may be appropriate here. The citizens of Virginia have ever been alive to the importance of education. In the very early history of the village there existed no large commodious and appointed school houses like the one we now have, but the young were instructed in churches and other obtainable buildings, indicative of the frontier life. Yet in those schools were found many able and earnest teachers whom many of our citizens will kindly remember. The schools then were not free but all who attended had to pay tuition.
When in 1845 Beardstown became the county seat, the old courthouse located in the western part of town was obtained by Virginia for school purposes. The original building was so used until 1867 when it was torn down and rebuilt. (In the spring of 1911 this building was destroyed by fire.) In this building, which at that time was sufficient for the entire school, are now the first and second grades only. Up to the time of its destruction by fire it was in a wonderful state of preservation and promised many years of usefulness.
The church is an institution of divine inspiration to let light into the hearts and consciences of men and thus secure righteous living. These it can only reach through the mind. Hence the primitive church founded schools on the virgin soil and as settlements moved westward the examples of the country’s fathers have been laudably emulated. Accordingly, Jan. 6, 1852 there was conveyed to the Sangamon Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church by the Hall heirs a tract of land in the s.w. part of town upon which to erect a seminary. This was built and first opened for students in the fall of 1853. Although it seemed to have been provided with a scholarly and able faculty, students were few in number. After a brave struggle of several years during which many of our influential men and women were being trained in its halls, it sank too hopelessly in debt for continuance.
In the spring of 1871 meetings were held which resulted in the enlargement of the school district, then comprising only the village, by the addition of several districts and parts of districts bordering thereon.
This new district received the name of Union District No. 1. This new name it retained until 1901 when the legislature required the renumbering of the school districts and today the Virginia School District is No. 32. Much of the added territory has been ceded back to the original districts.
The increased school population consequent upon this enlargement demanded additional facilities. To meet this demand Virginia Seminary of the C. P. Church was conveyed by its trustees to Union District No. 1, T. 17, R. 10, for $5,000 which amount was used to strengthen a similar institution located at Lincoln, Illinois.
The first board of directors of Union District No. 1 were: Dr. G. W. Goodspeed, John H. Wood and Henry Davis.
At first this building was used for high school purposes only, but the growth of the city demanded the successive occupation of the other rooms, so that up to 1893 it contained the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades besides the high school. The first four grades being located in the building in the western part of the town. At this time a part of the 8th grade work was done in the high school.
In spring and summer of 1890 two vigorous attempts were made to establish in Virginia a township high school. Two elections were held and one resulted in a majority vote being cast for such a school. For various reasons, however, a township school was not established. Out of the chaos of failure, however, arose a demand for more and better school facilities. Our city papers, The Enquirer and Gazette, boldly advocated a new school building. They were ably supported by the courageous spirits who are ever anxious to see Virginia measure up well with her sister towns. The sentiment of the district finally found expression in a petition laid before the Board of Education in regular session in March, 1892. This petition bearing the required number of names prayed that the question of issuing bonds to construct a new building be laid before the voters of the district. Accordingly it was ordered that an election be held in Virginia District No 1 on the 22nd of March for the purpose of voting on the issuing (of) bonds to the amount of $13,000 to build a new school house on the site of the present building. The election was held and resulted in a handsome majority in favor of the bonds and a new school house. The school board very properly ceded to the wishes of the voters and completed the building in 1893, at a total cost of $20,000.
The Board of Education at that time were: Dr. C. M. Hubbard, President; Members, Chas. Wilson, Matt Yaple, J. F. Robinson, Uriah Hutchings, Robert Widmayer and W. M. Gordley.
The names of the men and the years in which they served as superintendents are as follows:
F. M. Tyler 1870-1872
R. H. Beggs 1870-1875
J. H. Johnson 1875-1878
J. W. Prince 1878-1880
A. C. Butler 1880-1882
John Lomis 1882-1884
J. F. McCullough 1884-1886
Joseph Trenchard 1886-1890
T. W. B. Everhart 1890-1895
C. V. McReynolds 1895-1897
Benj. H. Schuuder 1897-1899
W. S. Bixler 1899-1901
M. J. Alkire 1901-1904
Henry Jacobs 1904 –
The first class to graduate consisted of one boy and one girl. The present class of 1905 consists of ten girls and five boys. The grand total of graduates is over two hundred. It is the intention of Supt. Henry Jacobs to form an Alumni Association before the present school year is over. In this he should and will have the hearty cooperation of the alumni.
VIRGINIA HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING
Destroyed by fire in 1912
Since the above was written in 1904 both of the school buildings have been destroyed by fire; the primary department in 1911 and the high school in January, 1912. Not a single article on any description whatever was saved from the latter building after the fire was discovered about six o’clock Saturday evening, January 14th. From this time until April 1913, when the new building was ready for occupancy, school was held in the library room in the courthouse, in the hall over the Dailey store, on the north side of the square and in the Woodman Hall in the Taylor building, on the west side of the square. The third grade found quarters in the primary department.
A. C. Hiett succeeded Henry Jacobs as superintendent, and served three years until 1909, when A. M. Santee became the superintendent, and is now serving his sixth year in this position.
Postmaster E. Needham is now serving his fourteenth year as President of the Board of Education and it is needles to say that his efforts have always been along right and progressive educational lines and that the people of the district appreciated his work in behalf of the boys and girls.
Charles Wilson has for over thirty years been a member of the board and during that time has missed but very few meetings. He is a man of high ideals and his word, when once given, is as good, if not better, than a government Gold Bond. His main point has always been, that the grades are the most important places in the education of a child. Whenever one talks school to him he will insist in the fundamental principles and ground work being thoroughly taught first of all, and that the pushing and crowding of children through school is a mistake. He looks to the future of the child, exemplifying the old adage “To be, and not to be seen.” The good efforts of his teachings will be seen better in the years to come and then will be thoroughly appreciated by those who have benefited by his works.
Many of the older citizens of Virginia will remember vividly this building. It was used by the Virginia district as a high school building up to 1893 when it was replaced by a more modern one.
The first class of the Virginia High School graduated from here in 1875. The last class to graduate was the one in 1893 and consisted of Miss Maud Duffield, Miss Sara Chittick, now Mrs. David Fielden, Miss Bettie Way, now Mrs. H. G. Way, Miss Mame Wyatt, now Mrs. Henry Jacobs and Henry Jacobs, the present County Superintendent. The superintendent at that time was T. W. B. Everhart.
“You may break, you may shatter
The vase if you will;
But the scent of the roses
Will cling ’round it still.”
Miss Harmonia Tate
Virginia’s Foremost Teacher
For nearly two generations “Miss Monia has been connected with the Virginia schools, and as the years come and go she grows dearer and more popular in the hearts of the people.
Hundreds, yes even thousands of parents gladly testify to the wise supervision and instruction that she has given to the children.
State, County and City Superintendents change, but Miss Tate remains as the firm, solid and broad foundation of the educational system of the city.
All the children love her, the parents have unbounded faith in her real worth and recognize her ability.
She is a daughter of the late Dr. Harvey Tate, and she herself came within one vote of being nominated for County Superintendent of Schools, a position which no one questions for one moment she would have filled with broad views and rare skills.
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SERVICES ARE HELD SUNDAY FOR MISS TATE
Funeral services were held here Sunday for Miss Harmonia Tate, old and very well known resident of this city.
Miss Monia, as she was familiarly known to every one, was a teacher in the primary schools of Virginia for a period of about fifty years. She started, it is estimated, over one thousand little tots, some who have now reached the fifties and sixties, on their way to reap the benefits of the Virginia schools. She retired from her position in 1920 to be comfortably taken care of by a pension that many of her friends enabled her to get.
She was a teacher of the old schools who did her very best in the molding of our characters. She will be remembered by many as the kind loving soul who played games with us, taught us our lessons with kindness, laughed with us in our play, suffered with us in our pain. She played the part of teacher, nurse, dentist, council, companion and God-mother to perfection.
In later years, though she suffered much illness, her loving disposition was never altered and she lived to see her little friends grow into young manhood and young womanhood and she rejoiced to find that to the last they were always sincere in their friendship, which had been molded in baby days.
She passed to her final reward on last Friday morning. In the services held at the Methodist church on Sunday, Rev. D. F. Nelson paid a high tribute to her educational work and her long, friendly life.
Miss Tate, the last of a prominent pioneer family, is survived by five nieces, Mrs. Amy Plummer Strole, of Bloomington, Mrs. Maricia Tate Ruby, of Peoria, Mrs. Dena T. Arnett, of Canton, Mrs. Arloe T. Mathes, of Seymour, Ind., and Miss Hilma Samples of Los Angeles, Calif.
Interment was made in Walnut Ridge Cemetery.
Favorite Hymns were sung by Mesdames C. E. Ericson and I. S. Yaple, with Gladys Howard, accompanist. The casket was borne by I. S. Yaple, Henry McDonald, F. W. Bristow, W. G. Lang, G. H. Widmayer and R. C. Wilson, all early day pupils of the deceased, and a wealth of beautiful flowers testified to the love and veneration of the entire community.
The Enterprise – Friday, November 16, 1928 – p. 1, col. 1