Kingston School Set Early Standard

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Kingston School Set Early Standard


There is one institution that is rarely mentioned when old Madison County private schools are discussed. It was the Kingston School Joint Stock Co. In the last decades of the 19th century, free public education was not yet available everywhere. Occasionally, some public-spirited persons would raise money among themselves and establish a private school to meet the needs of the children. That was true in the case of some other schools such as Madison Female Institute in Richmond. In 1885, the members of the Kingston Masonic Lodge 315 discussed the lack of available education for children in that part of the county. They decided to combine their two interests and build a weatherboarded combination lodge hall and school house on a one-acre lot just a little north of the main intersection of their village. On Feb. 9, 1886, the state legislature chartered the Kingston School Joint Stock Company. Shares were $10, with persons being allowed to buy as little as half a share for $5. The charter provided for the Masonic Lodge to hold 95 shares as the controlling interest. After the lodge, the largest investors were William Boulware and Socrates Maupin, who each paid $100 for 10 shares. The next largest stockholder in the group of about 20 was Whitfield Moody, who paid $75 for 7 1/2 shares. The charter required that a three-member board of trustees be elected by the stockholders, with two of the three members of the lodge. In 1886, Boulware was chosen the first president of the trustees, and J.W. Blaes the secretary and treasurer. Another election in 1897 retained Boulware and selected T.C. Witt and R.T. Pettus as secretary and treasurer. Two years later it was necessary to have a called meeting to replace Pettus, who had died. James M. Boen was chosen. The lodge met upstairs on the second floor, and the school occupied the first. When school was not in session, the trustees could rent out the main floor for other activities such as religious "protracted meetings political speeches, or singing schools. The by-laws stated that "no spirituous, vinous or malt liquors should be sold upon any property held or owned by said company." Education in grades 1-12 was provided as needed, at a tuition fee of about $2 per month. The school gained a good reputation and soon students came from other parts of the county, and even adjoining counties, according to statements by Luther Todd and J.M. Terrill in the early 1930s. One of the first teachers of the school was "Prof." James Rice, who enjoyed an excellent reputation. Other notable teachers were J. Robert Boatman, the piano teacher Jennie Broaddus, Amanda Anderson, and Nathan and Henry Elliott, who later operated Elliott Institute, their own private school, at Kirksville. By 1900 free public education in grades 1-8 began to be more common as more one-room public schools were built, and the Kingston School began to operate mostly on the secondary level. Soon after 1903, the school ceased to operate altogether, for public high school education had become more readily available, and the tuition-charging private schools were not able to compete with them. The 104-year-old building still stands at Kingston, a bit tired-looking to be sure, but a surviving monument to those far-sighted leaders in the Kingston community who created a school where there was none, who with their own money and their own efforts, provided education that enriched the lives of those pupils.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “Kingston School Set Early Standard,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 3, 2024,