Other County Histories | Civil War | 1886 | 1913 Vol. 2 | 1916 | Depression |
Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History

by Major A. J. Roof. 1913

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Page 310

The year 1890 was a very important one in the history of Chillicothe as it witnessed the location, erection and beginning of the Chillicothe Normal School, of which the present institution, the Chillicothe Business College, is the successor.

It was quite an undertaking, a big undertaking in those days, to raise the money necessary to erect buildings adequate for such an institution as was promised and given Chillicothe. The founder of the institution, Allen Moore (senior) came to Chillicothe early in 1890 from Stanberry, Missouri, where he had successfully been conducting a similar institution, but having disposed of his interests there, he was looking elsewhere for a location. His attention was called to Chillicothe because of the progressive spirit displayed upon every hand, the great agricultural wealth of the surrounding country, the superior railroad facilities and the fact that many of his family connections lived in the adjoining county of Linn.

The proposition President Moore offered the citizens of this splendid county was to institute and maintain a normal school similar if not greater in success and reputation than the school at Stanberry. That he could do this, he asked the citizens of Chillicothe and Livingston county to organize a corporation, purchase desirable grounds and erect thereon a building for school purposes. He agreed to erect upon these premises a dormitory of three stories as a guarantee that he meant good faith and would conduct the school. He agreed further to pay a certain rental for the use of the college building.

The citizens accepted the proposition and started out with the most united and determined effort ever displayed in this section of the state. The soliciting work was directed by W. B. Leach, Thos. McNally and Moses Alexander, but committee after committee of earnest and enthusiastic workers visited every part of the county, house after house was canvassed and recanvassed and business man after business man was waited upon. It was a gigantic undertaking but none too gigantic for the determined citizenship of Livingston county. Chief among the contributors to the fund of $25,000 were the following who bought stock in the corporation amounting to $500.00 each: John H. Abshire, Jas. M. Davis, Jas. A. Grace, Wm. E. Gunby, G. G. Henry, A. Lowenstein Thos. McNally, Sidney McWilliams, Geo. Milbank, P. H. Minor and Henry Walbrunn.

Never was there a building in Chillicothe, considering its size and importance, built as hurriedly and substantially as the old Normal building. Every available space was occupied by a workman and in a few months' time the splendid edifice was completed.

The institution was incorporated in 1890 as the Chillicothe Normal School and Business Institute and the following composed its first board of directors: Jas. M. Davis., Wm. B. Leach, Thos. McNally, Moses Alexander, John L. Schmitz, Jas. A. Grace, John Morris, John Atwell, Wm. E. Gunby, John H. Abshire, Geo. Milbank, A. Lowenstein and Jos. C. Minteer.

The building was completed in the early days of autumn. During the busy summer, President Allen Moore (senior) was without doubt the most active man of all North Missouri. He had to dispose of his interests at Stanberry, overlook the erection of his buildings, organize his school work, gather about him a faculty in keeping with such an institution, give the proposition the advertising it demanded, etc. In fact, there were a thousand and one things calling upon him for attention.

The day for the opening arrived. It was a great day for Chillicothe, one which had been anticipated with much interest and enthusiasm for months. The large auditorium was packed, many of those much interested in the success of the institution could not gain admittance. Among the crowded listeners were many students, pioneers as they are called by the loyal alumni. Addresses were made by President Moore and a number of the citizens most prominently identified with the realization of Chillicothe's great hope, to become an educational center. Chief among these addresses was one by Col. W. B. Leach, who perhaps gave more time and untiring effort to this great undertaking than any other citizen.

The first faculty consisted of the folowing;

Allen Moore (senior), president.

Wm. H. Buck, professional branches.

Eugene Hart, Greek, Latin, history.

L. D. Ames, higher mathematics.

J. H. King, bookkeeping and commercial branches.

E. F. Fielding, shorthand and typewriting.

R. R. Wade asst. shorthand and typewriting.

U. G. Alexander, penmanship.

Miss Anna Golden, elocution.

Miss Williams, music.

L. Russell, band music and photography.

Mrs. Mattie Locke, matron.

John L. Schmitz, lecturer on commercial paper.

Frank Sheetz, lecturer on commercial law.

L. A. Chapman, lecturer on constitutional law.

W. B. Leach, banking.

Dr. M. H. Wilcox, dentistry.

Dr. R. Barney, Sr., special senses.

Dr. W. A. Henderson, general anatomy.

Dr. W. R. Simpson, narcotics.

Dr. S. M. Beeman, digestion.

The scope of work was at first confined to courses in the common school branches, pedagogy, science, classics, bookkeeping, stenography, penmanship, elocution, music and photography.

The school enjoyed an enrollment of more than six hundred the first year, a great achievement, a splendid reward for the untiring efforts expended during the few months before. The attendance grew, the reputation of the school spread, the faculty became larger and stronger, more courses were added, more graduates declared the institution their Alma Mater as an inevitable result, more room was needed.

The corporation did not feel able to erect the additional building necessary, so finally consented to sell the property to President Allen Moore (senior) so that the third building could be built and the growth of the big institution not hampered. The third building was erected in 1900, ten years following the founding of the institution and fully eight years following its urgent need.

The work done in the Chillicothe Normal School was of the highest merit, as shown in the readiness with which the state university, state normals and colleges accepted its grades and allowed full credit for its work.

It was a sort of pioneer in the normal field and hence during its early days the normal work predominated. Many a successful teacher points with pride to the work done in this noble institution and to the assistance it proved to be to him.

But conditions changed. The spirit of progress influenced matters educational as well as industrial. Our state university received a large income from the state; biennial appropriations were largely increased; the university introduced more academic and normal work; and state normal schools received more liberal appropriations from the state. Not only this but two new state normals were erected. Colleges aided by liberal endowments introduced more academic work into their curricula. But this was not all. High schools enlarged, became more efficient and offered better courses than they had been offering before. All this tended to supplant the private normal.

Again, the spirit of commercialism rapidly grew. The commercial spirit of the people manifested itself in the increased attendance of the commercial departments in this and all private normals. Not only this, but there was a demand for telegraph operators, and the Chillicothe Normal School, true to its progressive spirit, introduced telegraphy and railroad work into its curriculum, the first institution to introduce telegraphy into a normal college.

During the years following the beginning of the institution, many teachers gave a good part of their life work to imparting knowledge to those who came in quest of truth. Many of their names have become as a part of the walls of the gallant and revered old building that still occupies its place upon the old campus, as impressive as of old. Among these teachers may be mentioned: G. A. and E. H. Smith, Fred B. Brady, D. S. Robbins, G. M. Billmeyer, W. F. Canaday, Lee Maupin, J. D. Carter, E. E. Reed, R. E. Moss, Jno. D. Rice, W. W. Chenoweth, F. L. Maxwell, Elmore Lail, Geo. W. Becker, F. W. Hallett, W. A. Vandegrift, Misses Viola Millay, Neva Hunt, Margaret I. Wilson, Sadie Bradford, Carrie M. Brant and Minnie B. Hale.

On January 9, 1907, Allen Moore (senior), founder of the institution and to whose untiring effort and unsurmountable energy may be attributed the glowing success of this school known throughout the nation, passed to his reward. His whole life was centered in the institution he had founded and had built to its great proportions. He had planned for its continuation and had reared his sons with this idea ever before them, that they should continue his life work. Consequently following his death, Allen Moore, Jr., became president and Roy Moore became vice president.

Upon assuming these duties, the faculty which had labored so faithfully with their father was retained and much of the responsibility was borne by Professors Fred B. Brady and F. L. Maxwell, two of the teachers most intimately associated with the management of the school prior to this sad change in management.

The institution continued for almost three years along the lines originally laid out for it, but as the demand for business education grew, the business departments became more and more important until in the fall of 1910. the normal department was abandoned and the institution turned into a strictly business college. At first, only the advanced work in the normal department was dropped, classes still being maintained in all the branches required on the different grades of certificates in Missouri, but with the opening of the school year in September, 1911, this work was also dropped. With the changing of the big sign upon the tower over the entrance to the main building, the transition of the Chillicothe Normal School to the Chillicothe Business College, the style of the present institution, was completed.

The Chillicothe Business College is concerned with training its students in those branches of study best calculated to fit young men and women to cope with the business world.

Since the change was made, the institution has taken unto itself a new and marvelous growth surpassing the fondest hopes of those most interested in it. The growth has been such that during the two years it has been running as strictly a business college, its attendance has increased to such proportions that an additional building became a necessity. This led to the erection of Dryden Hall, a thoroughly modern dormitory of twenty-four rooms for young men.

The college enjoys the distinction of occupying the largest plant in America devoted exclusively to business education. Its patronage has not only become national in scope, but each year a few students are enrolled from foreign countries.

The following courses are now offered: Banking, bookkeeping, auditing, stenography, stenotypy, typewriting, court reporting, civil service, telegraphy, railway mail clerk, agriculture, salesmanship and pen art.

The course in agriculture is just being installed and has been added to meet the demands of the times for more information to enable the farmer to make the best use of his natural resources and his labor. So far as we know, this is the first agricultural school to be conducted without aid of public funds.

Looking over the big institution during its twenty-three years of history, it has meant much not only to the city of Chillicothe, but to the educational interests of the central west. On an average 1.000 students have been enrolled annually. This means that approximately 25,000 men and women throughout the nation point to this school as their Alma Mater. Many of them have attained positions of no little renown, many have become prominent in the professions, while others have become powers in business. The institution is a towering monument to the efforts of one man, Allen Moore (senior), aided by the cooperation of a faithful and loyal citizenship

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