The History of Cheney State Normal School

History of the State Normal School
At Cheney
Chapter 1


By Holice, Pam, and Deb

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing book.  The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers!  Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!


Page 1

Chapter 1

Antecedent Conditions

Nearly a generation and a half ago, when the economic development of the region known to inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest as the Inland Empire was in its infancy, the town site of Cheney was surveyed. It was believed by some that the foundations of a city of considerable importance were being laid; that a favorable location had been selected, upon which, in the years to follow, would spring up a city destined to become the economic center of Eastern Washington. Work was proceeding apace on the Northern pacific railroad, and no superior acumen was needed to foresee that when rails of steel united the middle western states with the tidewater of Puget sound there would be a constant influx of settlers to the old Oregon Country. The richness of the agricultural lands of Eastern Washington had been demonstrated, and, as the American people continued to crowd the frontier toward the Pacific Ocean, it was not reasonable to suppose that these fertile hills would be passed by. Somewhere between the Cascades and the Rockies, in response to the economic needs of the country, would develop an important commercial center, a point on the new railroad toward which all the products of the region would flow, a point from which all of the manufactured commodities brought in from the East would be distributed. So reasoned the men who "promoted" Cheney, whose site had been located on the crest of the divide that severs the rich Palouse country which extends to the south and southeast from the semi-arid stretches of the Big Bend, which reach westward to the Columbia River. But the hopes of the early builders were not realized.

Despite certain advantages possessed by Cheney in its infancy; among which was the favor of officials of the Northern Pacific railroad, the little village which was springing up at the falls of the Spokane River, a short distance away, possessed the natural advantages which have since made it the metropolis of the Inland Empire. Spokane has grown into a city within a generation; Cheney has stood still. Even before Washington was elevated to the dignified status of statehood it was apparent that Cheney would forever remain a village. Thoughtful men and women of Cheney, who were interested in making the most out of the situation, therefore turned their attention in another direction. They planned to make Cheney an educational center of the Inland Empire; and, to a large extent, their hopes have been realized.

Cheney's claim to educational supremacy has been, like the name of the town, a progress of evolution. Favored in the beginning with an academy through the generosity of an official of the Northern pacific railroad, to whose honor the

Page 2

town has been named, the pressing educational needs of the people of Cheney were temporarily solved. In the 'boom' days which followed the location of the county seat at Cheney by the election of 1880 the growth of the academy was accepted as a matter of course. For the people of Cheney the academy served the purpose of a public school. It prospered as the community prospered. But Spokane Falls grew so rapidly that in 1886 it won back the county seat of which it had been deprived by its rival. There followed a shifting of economic interests, and Cheney fell upon evil days. Internal dissensions resulted in the dissolution of the merger between the academy and the local school district, and in 1887 a public school was organized in Cheney. For three years the academy waged a losing fight with the public school, and was on the point of closing its doors when the admission of Washington Territory to the Union in 1889 brought a new hope to the academy and to the people of Cheney. Why should not the moribund academy be offered to the state on condition that the legislature locate and maintain a normal school in Cheney?

Around the establishment of the Normal School, and the efforts and sacrifices of the people of Eastern Washington to retain and upbuild it in the face of fires, internal dissensions and political manipulations, the history of Cheney has

Page 3

revolved since the beginning of statehood. Striving in the face of adversity to build up an institution that has now become the pride of the commonwealth struggling against forces--natural as well as political--which would have daunted men and women of less courage and vision, the efforts o the pioneer citizens of Cheney in behalf of the Pacific Northwest. There have been few dull moments in the history of the State Normal School at Cheney. It has run the gamut of adversity. From its inception almost to the present day it has been a storm center of politics. Twice it has been destroyed by fire, and three times it has been brought low by the veto power of the governor. Yet it has withstood all of these misfortunes and justified the faith of the citizens of Cheney and the Inland Empire. Today the institution is known throughout the nation. It is attracting students from all of the Northwest states and training them to fill positions in the elementary schools of these states.

It is the purpose of the present writer, following this short introduction, briefly to trace the steps by which one of the import educational institutions of this state has developed from a modest academy of secondary rank. It is believed that the story will unfold an interesting picture of institution-building on the last camping-ground of the American frontier.

The town site of Cheney was laid out in 1880. According to the reminiscences of H. T. Cowley, published in Durham's Spokane and the Inland Empire, the year was "famous for the rather lively discussion of the question of the permanent location of the county seat. A syndicate of railroad men and capitalists from Colfax saw their opportunity, laid out the town site of Cheney, and with some local assistance in what was then called the Four Lakes country (around Medical Lake) they succeeded in capturing the county seat by a small majority, Spokane now had a rival, backed by railroad officials and adverse interests, and, although the advent of the railroad in June of 1881 brought a temporary activity, the new county seat took the cream of the boom, and for two years Spokane rather languished."

Progress that was being made in the construction of the Northern Pacific railroad was the "opportunity which the Colfax syndicate saw." Men who composed that group were in earnest for they brought with them a newspaper, The Northwest Tribune, edited by L. E. Kellogg. This newspaper, according to the recollections of George Engel, was moved to Cheney from Colfax where it had been started, in September, 1880. The first issue in Cheney was printed on a press that stood under a pine tree, near the present Egbert house. George F. Schorr became the publisher of The Tribune after a time, and when the county seat was located in Spokane, he moved his newspaper there, where its publication was continued for several years.

Page 4

Information upon which much of this chapter is based has been obtained from the reminiscences of three Cheney pioneers of 1880 and 1881, Mrs. Laura E. Tyler, George

Engel, and Louis Walter. Mrs. Tyler's article on pioneer days in Cheney appeared in the Cheney Free Press of April 2, 1915. Information from Mr. Walter and Mr. Engel was obtained by C. S. Kingston in 1922. It has never been published.

Mr. Engel, who has been employed by the Normal School for many years as a cabinet-maker, gave the following statement to Mr. Kingston:

"I came to Spokane on March 29, 1880, and went to work as foreman on the right-of-way crew that was helping to construct the Northern Pacific railroad. We went to Cheney, and I arrived on the fourth day of July, 1880. The

Page 5

Northern Pacific was graded through Cheney during the summer and fall of 1880, and the steel was laid through here about June, 1881. There was nothing at Cheney except a log cabin, which stood in the middle of the right-of-way, near the present section house. The site of Cheney was covered with timber up as far as the brow of the hill; that is, about Sixth Street, and then the open country began. Quite a good deal of the timber was of good size. Spokane at that time had, I think, about three hundred or three hundred and fifty people. We used to call Cheney then Depot Springs, from the fine spring that was near the site of the present depot. After this there was a little whole that it was known as Billings, from Frederick Billings, one of the financiers of the railroad.

"There were some people living in the neighborhood. John Lemon had a log house southwest of the reservoir hill. T. C. Tenneson was living on his farm. George W. Cronk was also a resident out in the country a way.

"I hewed the logs for the first house in Cheney. This was in 1880, and the work was done for Charles Careau. In 1882 Lafe Harris moved this building out to where it stands at the present time and received $50 for the job.

"In '82 and '83 a great mane cheap houses were built in Cheney. In '83 the Davenport bank, which stood where the post office now is, failed.

"It seems to me that one of the reasons why Spokane got the start of Cheney in the early eighties was the building of the Canadian Pacific railroad. There was a great deal of teaming that had to be done in moving railroad supplies north to British Columbia. Spokane was the center of that business, which went up by Colville and the Columbia River.

"The first brick building in Cheney was constructed in 1883 by W. W. Griswold, and is at present occupied by the Owl Pharmacy. The flour mill was started in 1881 and was overhauled and new machinery installed in 1897. They continued to operate it until about 1900, when the machinery was taken out and moved to Paha. The big fire in Cheney occurred in 1889 and destroyed a great many of the wooden business buildings that were in the business quarter."

Mrs. Laura E. Tyler, with her husband, set out from Eugene, Oregon, where she and Mr. Tyler had lived for two years, on September 4, 1880, in quest of a home in Eastern Washington. "We arrived in Sprague on or near the first of October, and found only a few tents there," says Mrs. Tyler. "We then turned north, as we were looking for land. We arrived at Medical Lake on October 13. It was a small town and we did not stop there long, but had heard, while at the Snake River ferry, of Depot Springs, and, as winter was coming in, we decided to go there. The name was changed to Cheney before

Page 6

we arrived. We camped at Meadow Lake on the night of the 13th and drove into Cheney at noon on the 14th of October, 1880. First Street had been cleared through a dense growth of small pine trees. On the corner where Mr. Blackman's store now stands some ladies were serving dinner, with only a few boards for shelter. This was afterwards the Merchants Hotel, erected and conducted for several years by Mr. Dunn. The general merchandise store of Jacob Bettenger was partly erected and had the goods in it, and was doing business, but has no roof on it. It stood east of the present garage. That winter it was the leading store, post office, and office of Dr. Hoyt, one of the pioneer doctors. There were a few tents. The printing press of The Northwest Tribune, of which Lucien E. Kellogg was editor, was located near the corner where the Security National Bank now stands. The first edition was printed under a large pine tree. The residence of George Payne was located where the post office now stands, but was only partly enclosed. The store building of Payne and Rich was enclosed but was not doing business. The St. Charles Hotel, Charles Careau, proprietor, a log house, very large for that time, and apparently finished, stood near the present site of the grist mill owned by F. M. Martin. This was Cheney when I first saw it.

"We went into camp near the railroad spring, south of the Northern Pacific grade and east of the Spangle road. There was a large grove of birch, and we camped there one week. The town grew very fast during that time. Men shingled their houses by moonlight. People arrived faster then shelter could be made or them, but it was a warm, dry fall. Wood was abundant, and camp fires burned all over the hill now occupied by homes. Women and children crowded about the fires at night, talked and sang, and were happy. One thing people talked of most was the coming election, when it was the ambition of all to poll a vote that would locate the county seat at Cheney."

The first political meeting in Cheney was held at John Lemon's place on July 10, 1880, to nominate a county seat, according to Mr. Engel. The first election was held also at the Lemon house in the fall of 1880, at which time Cheney was selected as the county seat.

Page 7

"I think the election was held on the second day of November,' says Mrs. Tyler, "but can not quite remember." Cheney had the majority vote, but Spokane refused to give up the books and records. ***** The winter was nearly past and Spokane still held the county seat. The people were getting tired of waiting for what they considered theirs, so a company of citizens organized and went to Spokane, the sheriff and other officers assisting, and took the books and brought them to Cheney. It has often been said that Cheney stole the county books, but they took what they had won by a legal majority of the voters of Spokane County. They went in the night to prevent a fight, which no doubt would have resulted in bloodshed. The editor of a Spokane paper got excited and published an article in a few days with large headlines, 'The Grand Steel,' misspelling the word steal, thus getting the joke on themselves. One of the officers, I forget his name, refused to come to the spring term of court at Cheney until ordered to do so by Judge Wingard. The people of Cheney expected that the citizens of Spokane would try to get possession of the records again, so a watch was kept for a time."

Cheney kept the county seat until the election of 1886, when the "city of the falls" succeeded in getting a majority. The county court house in Cheney occupied the site of the present junior high school building. In the same block stood the county jail, which was afterward removed, remodeled somewhat, and is now used to house the chickens of Senator W. J. Sutton. The court house, in later years, was removed from its original site to the corner at Fourth Street and Normal Avenue, where the tennis courts are located. It was used for the public schools until 1896, and then, while being remodeled to serve as a residence, was destroyed by fire.

Settlers had located near Depot Springs several years before the founding of the town of Cheney, and one term of school was held. In a communication to the present writer in the autumn of 1921, John lemon, mentioned before as one of the early settlers of this region, said:

Page 8

"I located on the place just west of the present town site of Cheney in March, 1878. There were only a few settlers in that part of the county in that time. The settlers were threatened by the Indians in the spring and summer of 1878, so we decided to prepare for them. I helped build a fort and a hill west (north) of Cheney, known as Cronk's Hill. We were not molested by the Indians, so the building was used for a schoolhouse and church until the following winter, when a hard windstorm demolished it."

The first term of school in this part of the country, according to Mrs. Marie C. Perry, whose article on pioneer days appeared in the Cheney Free Press of April 2, 1915, was held in the old fort. The first teacher was Miss Mary Cook, now Mrs. Frank spangle of Cheney. The fort was also used for religious services.

The fort was a log house which stood on Cronk's Hill, which is about three-quarters of a mile northeast of the Normal. The cabin was built as a refuge at the time of an Indian scare. The school was organized under territorial laws and had an attendance of between 12 and 15 pupils. The first term began December 2, 1878, and continued three months and in the summer of 1878 another term was held here with the same teacher. Miss Cook received $20 a month and lived with her father, who had a homestead on what is now the Chris Betz farm.

The first school in the village of Cheney was a subscription school, taught by Tom Calloway, says Louis Walter. "It was held in the old Methodist church, which years afterward was sold and converted into the dwelling house now owned by Mrs., John Borgstrom. The first public school was ina two-story wooden building near the site of the present Roos bakery. This building was also used for a time as a court house. A. J. Stevens was principal of this school and Miss Nannie O'Donnell was his assistant. Stevens had been county superintendent before coming to Cheney. He taught on or two seasons and then left town. I do not know what became of him."

"There was a subscription school in the winter of 1880-81 ina shed building on Second Avenue, near the New England Undertaking Parlors, and in the spring of 1881 a school district was formed, with Louis Walter, R. P. Hurst, and Major Hooker as directors. I think school was held in the old Methodist church, now the Borgstrom house. As I remember it, it was held in the church until 1886. It was at that time that Cheney lost the county seat and the court house was then made into a school building. A. J. Stevens, who was county superintendent of schools, was the first public-school teacher"

"The second county superintendent of schools was A. J. Stevens, who started a private school at Medical Lake and was also principal of the Cheney School. Mr. Stevens conducted a teachers' institute at Cheney September 27-28, 1881. There were 15 teachers in attendance. Miss Nellie Muzzy of Spokane Falls was made secretary."

Cheney was named in honor of Benjamin P. Cheney of Boston, a director of the Northern Pacific Railroad. In recognition of this honor Mr. Cheney gave $10,000 toward the establishment of an academy in Cheney, and the railway company donated a site for the institution, consisting of about eight acres."

Page 9

"The Benjamin P. Cheney Academy was built in the fall of 1881, and was completed soon after the opening of the year 1882. The builder was a Portland contractor, and the material was brought from Portland over the Northern Pacific railroad, which had been finished as far as Cheney about June, 1881. The building was a wooden structure, 36 X 66, with the longer side facing the town. On the inside there was a hall running across the building and dividing both the first and second floors into two schoolrooms each. The first teachers, D. H. Felch and Miss Augusta Bunker, sent out from Boston by Benjamin P. Cheney, opened school in the building April 3, 1882. Miss Bunker later married Walter Fee of Lewiston.

"The building stood as described until 1891, when an addition, 24 X 60, was built at the middle of the rear end of the building, making the ground plan of the structure in the form of the "T." The addition was also of two stories, and was intended to be divided into four classrooms. It was also planned to have a gymnasium in the basement of the addition. But, while the addition was still under construction, a fire started, august 27, 1891, a short while before the opening of school, which destroyed both the unfinished addition and the main part of the school building. The fire occurred about one o'clock in the morning. Officially, it was declared that the fire started on the northeast side, ina heated mortar bed, which was too close to the wooden basement wall. The basement wall for both the main building and the addition was of wood"

The first board of trustees for the academy, which was organized in 1881, consisted of D. F. Percival, of Cheney; General J. W. Sprague of Ta-

Page 10

coma, an official of the Northern Pacific, and the Rev. George H. Atkinson of Portland, a congregational minister.

A clipping from a Cheney newspaper, dated December 23, 1881, gives the following information:

Page 11

"The trustees, General J. W. Sprague, Rev. Dr. Atkinson, and Hon. D. F. Percival, met here on the 15th inst. to complete the organization of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy. General J. W. Sprague was elected president, Rev. Dr. Atkinson secretary, and Hon. D. F. Percival treasurer. The board examined the academy building, which is nearly completed, and pronounced it a substantial structure, with large working capacity and all modern improvements necessary for the health and comfort of the pupils. Several hundred dollars have been saved through the liberality of Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific railroad, and General J. W. Sprague, general superintendent, in transporting material free of charge over the O. R. & N. and N. P. lines. The trustees of the academy and the directors of the Cheney public schools met and discussed educational interests. The trustees of the academy assured the board of directors that it was their desire to carry out the views of Judge Cheney and make this a first-class institution of learning, and would do all in their power to promote our educational interests. They believed, with proper effort, that the academy could be opened in a few weeks, and meantime it is the intention of the trustees of the academy and the school directors to make some arrangement for the future that will be entirely satisfactory to the public."

Page 12

"There was a merger of the public school and the academy from about 1883 to 1887," Louis Walter declares. "The academy was used as the school building. The district taxed itself about ten mills, and Mr. Cheney furnished the balance, which probably amounted to one-third of the cost. I was on the school district board for six years, I think. During the period of the merger, the affairs of the school were carried on by the two boards jointly. The merger became unsatisfactory because many people thought the Congregationalists had undue influence through the academy. When the merger ceased Cheney stopped his assistance, but he still continued to allow the school district to use the building and the grounds."

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin P. Cheney and other prominent officials of the Northern Pacific railroad visited Cheney in September, 1883. Their coming was the occasion for a gala day in Cheney. A special committee on arrangements was appointed, and placards, conveying the following information, were distributed.

"Upon arrival of the train with Mr. Cheney citizens are requested to close their places of business and retire to the academy. School children participating in the reception will meet at the academy at one o'clock. The committee of arrangements and schoolchildren will escort Mr. Cheney to the academy, preceded by the band. On account of the uncertainty as to the exact time of the

Page 13

arrival of the train with Mr. Cheney, teachers will retain children at the academy until notified by the committee. The committee expresses the hope that every citizen will join in the reception."

Mr. Cheney's visit, judging from the newspaper account, was highly successful. Under a Cheney date line, September 18, 1883, The Oregonian carried the following story:

"The grandest and most imposing ceremonies ever witnesses in this section have just been concluded. The occasion was in honor of Benjamin P. Cheney of Boston, one of the directors of the Northern Pacific railway, for whom our town is named, and who is the founder of the B. P. Cheney Academy here.

"Mr. Cheney arrived on a special car at 8 o'clock, accompanied by his most estimable wife; Robert Harris, one of the directors of the Northern Pacific railroad, and the vice president of the New York, Lake Erie and Western railroad; General Kane, brother of the famous Arctic explorer, and other prominent railroad men.

"The party was met at the depot by about two hundred students of the academy, brass band and citizens of Cheney and surrounding vicinity. The town was beautifully decorated with flags and evergreens, and across one of the principal streets was suspended the motto in evergreen letters: 'Greeting to B. P. Cheney.' All business was suspended. Mr. Cheney and friends were escorted to the academy by the band, students and a large crowd of citizens.

"Hon. George E. Cole, formerly postmaster of Portland, presided over the ceremonies at the academy. Hon. D. F. Percival delivered the address of welcome ina brief but appropriate speech, after which Mr. Cheney was introduced amid great applause. Mr. Cheney related some of the incidents of his visit to the Pacific coast, but said this occasion was the most pleasant circumstance of all. He concluded by saying that when the academy should be found insufficient to accommodate the demand he would make it larger.

"Robert Harris of New York was next introduced and said in substance that Mr. Cheney had made a great many good investments, but he thought that the Cheney Academy was the best investment he had ever made. General Kane was then introduced and spoke of Mr. Cheney's excellent wife as a lady possessing every rare quality found ina lady of the highest order.

"Mrs. Cheney appeared before the vest audience and pleasantly bowed, and three rousing cheers went up for the noble lady. Appropriate remarks were made by Dr. G. H. Atkinson, Rev. Father Eells, W. R. Andrews, and others. The party were all evidently much pleased with their visit, as were the citizens, who feel grateful to Mr. Cheney. They were all interested in the display of vegetables and grains at the railroad office and were much pleased with the town of Cheney. As the train departed they were entertained by the band until out of hearing, and handkerchiefs were waved until the train was out of sight.

"The day will long be remembered as the most pleasant in the history of Cheney."

Page 14

Meager sources which are available, coupled with the recollections of a few persons who lived in Cheney during those years, tend to show that the academy was kept in operation with varying success until Washington Territory became a state. During that time five principals served the school.

D. H. Felch, the first principal, remained with the school for about two years. trouble of some sort developed, and he withdrew. Events of that time, as recalled by Mrs. Imogene Carraher of Seattle, widow of Mortimer M. Carraher, were recounted ina letter to the present writer, dated April 29, 1922, as follows:

"Mr. Carraher took charge of the academy in September, 1885 (1886), and was identified with it until February, 1889, when he resigned, leaving shortly after for Seattle. Mr. Felch was the first principal and was assisted by Miss Bunker of Boston. Mr. F. V. Hoyt, Congregational minister of Cheney,

Page 15

succeeded Mr. Felch for a short time. Then professor Dow of Spangle was principal for a year or more, assisted by Mrs. Merriman and Miss Tucker, who remained as assistants when Mr. Carraher took charge in 1885 (1886). A little later W. E. Gamble succeeded Mrs. Merriman as assistant and was joined by Miss Mildred Meyers from Valparaiso, Ind."

According to the data available, it appears that Mrs. Carraher made a mistake of a year in the date her husband took charge of the academy. In The Northwest Tribune for July 30, 1885, in advertisement for the academy announced that J. W. Dow was principal and that his assistants were Mrs. J. A. C. Merriman and Mrs. E. F. Tucker. One year later the same newspaper, under date of July 29, carrying a similar advertisement, announced a faculty without change. As the wording of the two advertisement was slightly different, some changes in the rate of tuition being shown, and as intervening numbers of the newspaper contained no such advertisement, it is assumed that the advertisement appearing in July, 1886, had been corrected to date. It is likely that Mr. Carraher began his work in 1886 rather than in 1885. Mr. Dow became principal in 1884, succeeding the Reverend F. V. Hoyt.

During the several years the Cheney Academy was maintained money for its operation came from three sources: tuition, district school taxes, and contributions from Mr. Cheney. It is not known that any official records bearing upon the details of this matter are now extant, and the statements of those who participated in the activities of the academy, made nearly forty years afterward, are contradictory in some respects. This, however, is not to be wondered at. Whether or not tuition was charged in the beginning, whether or not Mr. Cheney's donations stopped with original gift, it is a fact beyond dispute that a note of an annual tuition charge of $30 for the Cheney Academy is recorded in the Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1882-83, p. 514. As the Cheney Academy was not opened until April 3, 1882, it is apparent that it could not have continued long without charging tuition, else the record would not be shown so soon in the reports of the United States Commissioner of Education. Tuition rates for the term beginning August 24, 1885, were advertised as follows: Primary, $6.40 per term; common English, $9.50 per term, higher English, $10.50 per term; language, each extra, $2.00 per term. Pro-

Page 16

vision was made whereby lessons in instrumental music might be obtained from competent teachers in town.

School was maintained for three terms of twelve weeks each, and special inducements were held out to those contemplating teaching to attend. The board of directors in 1885 was the same as when it was organized in 1881.

In 1886 tuition fees were advertised as follows: Primary (three lowest grades), $5. per term; intermediate (the next three grades) $7 per term. It was announced that freehand drawing would also be taught incidentally, without extra charge.

In a recent exchange of correspondence between the present writer and B. G. Cheney, the last principal of the academy, Mr. Cheney said:

"I was in charge of the academy during the fall and winter of 1889-90. As to the management of the institution at that time, as I recall, Mr. Percival, Mr. Walter (?) and one other were trustees. My services were compensated by tuition fees. There was no connection between the academy and the public school at that time. Benjamin P. Cheney was second cousin to my father."

Frederick V. Hoyt wrote in October, 1922, of his association with the Cheney Academy:

Frederick V. Hoyt wrote in October, 1922, of his association with the Cheney Academy:

"I was principal of the B. P. Cheney Academy about three months in the winter of 1883-84. I was succeeded by Professor J. W. Dow, now residing at Chewelah, Wash. The other teachers were Miss Augusta Bunker and Mrs. J. A. C. Merriman.

"The work of the academy in those days was that of an ordinary public school up to the eighth or ninth grade. The academy was employed by the Cheney school district to do its teaching work. There were about one hundred students, among them being Dr. Ralph Hendricks of the board of health, Spokane; James Fitzpatrick, proprietor of the Union Iron Works, Spokane; Miss Jennie Bigham, now Mrs. Nash, Spokane; Mrs. Ida Wagner Glass, Bremerton; Sidney Wagner of Wagner Bros. Transfer, Spokane; Mrs. Harry Baer, Spokane; Nettie Bingham (deceased); Bertha Dennis, afterward a teacher in the Cheney public school; Anna Doolittle, daughter of the Cheney postmistress at that time; the Ledgerwood Bros.; Miss Johnson, daughter of the pioneer Cheney Banker; Ray Peterson, and several members of the Webb family. There were also Emma Walter Shearer and her sister Lillie Walter, Willard and Allie Bigham, Mary and Edgar Ellison, William, Louise, and Francis Tucker. Mrs. Tucker, mother of the three young person last mentioned, was afterward the very efficient teacher of the primary department. Francis Tucker afterward graduated from the University of Nebraska and is now Dr. Francis Tucker, in charge of the Williams Hospital, in China."

Commencement exercises for a graduating class of the academy were held for the first time on June 15, 1888, while Mr. Carraher was principal. Diplomas were presented by Mr. Carraher to Mary De Brun, Mary Allison, Allie Dale and Ralph Hendricks. The Cheney Sentinel, under date of June 8, 1888, says:

"Professor Carraher, in order to test the abilities of his pupils, placed the

Page 17

examination in the hands of the following board: Professor Sutton, Reverend Howell, Miss Mildred Myers, and Hon., D. F. Percival, trustees. Out of the five that took the examination, four acquitted themselves quite creditably."

In The Sentinel for June 22, 1888, the following account of the graduation exercises is given by a person signing himself (or perhaps herself) :Spectator:"

"The first annual commencement exercises of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy was held at the Congregational church, Friday evening, June 15, 1888. An immense throng had assembled long before the hour to begin had arrived, and many were obliged to stand during the entire service on account of lack of accommodations. The church was very elegantly decorated with the innumerable amount and kind of flowers that the good women of Cheney could furnish at this time of year. the decorating and flowers added considerably to the pleasantness and liveliness of the occasion * * *

"The efficiency of Professor Carraher as an instructor and principal of the academy is well know in this community. The inhabitants of Cheney and vicinity are not insensible to his excellent qualifications as a teacher, and their enthusiasm Friday evening indicated the high esteem in which he is held and their thoughtful appreciation of his invaluable services as principal during the past two years of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy * * * Miss Mildred Myers, the able assistant of Professor Carraher during the past year, has also endeared herself to the scholars and the people of the community that have had the pleasure of her personal acquaintance. * * *

"Toward the close of the exercises Professor Carraher, in a very effective and earnest speech, presented the graduates with their diplomas. The graduates will long remember the words of earnest counsel and heartfelt sympathy tendered them by their teacher as he bade them farewell upon the verge of actual life. His interest in their future welfare will ever remain a green spot in their memory. An address was delivered by Rev. A. H. Howell to the graduates upon the subject: 'What Should be the Great Aim of Life?'

"The following resolution was passed:

:Resolved: That we, the citizens of Cheney and vicinity, by a standing vote, recognize with profound gratitude the valuable services by Professor M. m. Carraher and Miss Mildred Myers during their past year of toil and excessive labor in their official character as instructors in the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy:

"Resolved: That we also, by a standing vote, voice an expression of our good wish and interest in the future welfare, health, happiness and prosperity of the graduates that are now about to enter upon the duties of active life."

Page 18

Public school work in Cheney was begun in a systemic manner in 1887, at the time of the dissolution of the merger between the academy and the local school district. Trustees of the public school at that time were J. T. McFerron, T. C. Tenneson and N. w. Garretson. In that year also W. J. Sutton arrived from Michigan, and was elected principal of the public schools. The old court house abandoned a few months before, was fitted up for use as a school building. One other teacher, Ida Wagner, began the year's work with Mr. Sutton. Before the close of the year a third teacher, Mrs. Bernard, was employed. The fourth teacher, Mary De Brun, came at the beginning of the school year in 1887.

Work was offered in all eight grades of the Cheney public school in 1888, and the following year Mr. Sutton set out to build up a high-school course. Interest in this work became so pronounced that students began to leave the academy to enter the public school, and, as a measure of protection for the academy, a tuition fee was imposed upon all high-school pupils living outside of Cheney. Enough money was collected from this source to pay the salary of the principal.

In 1889-90, the last year that Mr. Sutton was principal of the public school, high-school work was offered after the regular school day. It had been found that the school could not legally offer the high-school course during the day.

Page 19

One of these students who completed his high-school course under such difficulties, was Harry Hirst. Without further preparation he passed the entrance examination of the University of California, was graduated by that institution and at the time of his death was employed there as assistant professor of mathematics. Others who tool the high-school work were Lester Andrus, business man of Portland, Ore.: Frank H. Mobley, Prince Rupert, B. C.; Cora Salnave, Vinnie Holcomb, Andrew Johnson, and Richard Walden.

The academy struggled on in competition with the public school, but lost ground rapidly. The last term of school held in the academy opened on January 6, 1890. Scientific, literary, elementary, and primary courses were offered. These courses were offered on a tuition basis. During the last year B. G. Cheney, a distant relative of the founder of the school, was principal. His wife had charge of the primary and the elementary grades. After the close of the term Mr. and Mrs. Cheney moved to Montesano, where Mr. Cheney is now practicing law.

Interest in the academy had virtually ceased. The development of the public school left it little excuse for existence. When the Territory of Washington was made a state on November 11, 1889, and various communities started "gunning" for state institutions, a plan to have a normal school in Cheney was conceived. Provision for such an institution had been made in the Enabling Act. The proposition was carried to the legislature at Olympia, acted upon favorably, and the building and the grounds of the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy became the first home of the oldest state teacher-training institution in Washington.



You are the Visitor to this USGenNet Website Since September 6, 2004

Html by Deb

This book is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

[Index Page][Books Project][Mardos Memorial Library]