EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
Over the years, school authorities and parents alike, it seems, have been concerned about matters that interfere with the attention of pupils to their studies.
In the manual of the Findlay public schools for 1897-98, the superintendent, John W. Zeller, in his report spoke quite frankly on the topic. The manual was made available by the late Earl Wall to George K. Barrett, who recently retired as a member of the Findlay Board of Education, and is being reviewed in several articles in this column now (1970).
Under the topic “The Greatest Foe to Educational Progress,” Superintendent Zeller said: “I feel that our patrons are not doing all they can do in urging their children to devote their evening hours to the preparation of their lessons for the next day. Our course of study assumes that grammar grade and high school pupils devote a few hours each day, outside of school hours, to the preparation of their lessons. It is the testimony of our teachers that three-fourths of all our low grades and failures in the upper grades are due to social parties and social dissipation.
“Our young people’s social parties were the greatest foes of their educational progress during the past year. May I ask the patrons of our public schools to have their children defer this party dissipation till the close of the school week, or better still, till the close of their school life? It is not only the time spent on the evening of the party, but the time spent at school planning the party and the reaction the next day, and the diverting of the mind from study that makes these parties a foe of educational progress.”
Then high school principal John F. Smith, in his report in the manual, echoed the same sentiment.
The principal also spoke of the increasing interest of boys in attending high school in the late 1890s. There had been a steady gain in the number of boys going to high school in the half-dozen years starting with the early 1890s.
There was observed a growing realization on the part of boys that “those who wish to achieve success in any pursuit in life must have not only trained hands, but also well-disciplined minds,” said the principal. In 1897 there were 107 boys in Findlay High School as compared with only 68 in 1891. The girls in 1897 outnumbered boys by 124 to 107.
The financial report of the schools is interesting. In 1897, the total revenue of the public schools amounted to $89,226.53. The expenditures included $30,192.36 for teachers. In the elementary schools, the teachers received a total of $26,192.36, while the high school instruction cost $4,000.
Teachers’ salaries were very small in those days. Administrators also were not paid very much. The school superintendent received the sum of $1,800 per year and the high school principal $1,350. The high school teachers got $600 a year. Principals of buildings that had all eight grades received $585 annually. Teachers’ pay was in the $400 or $300 bracket, depending upon length of service and experience. The manual lists the specific amounts paid each individual.
A list of high school alumni was included, from the first graduates in 1873 down through 1897. There were 286 graduates through that period, of whom 86 were or had become teachers, according to the manual. Of the classes, that of 1895 was the largest, with 33 graduates.
The custodians of the Findlay schools in 1897-98 are listed as follows:
Central, James Byal; Crawford, George Carpenter; Taylor, J.J. Nusser; Huber, John McGuigan; Howard, S.W. Shuler; Strother, I.S. Chamberlin; Gray, John P. Hazel; Bigelow, E.A. Sheffield; McKee, Henry Lowe; Adams, J.B. Maxwell; Detwiler, N. Bidinger; Firmin, Conrad Miller.