Based on an article written in 1935 by Edith Springer McCullough and
the 2005 All School Reunion and Alumni Banquet.
The oldest record of Wapello schools known to be extant is the secretary's book of the Board of Directors for the years 1868-1890. Earlier records were destroyed in a fire that destroyed the Garrett building.
One of the early schools was the Wapello Academy located on the corner of today's Van Buren and Main streets. The academy was run by Professor Eastman (years unknown.)
Board members through the early years included Thomas W. Reiley, L. W. Myers, J. F. Grimes, J. S. Hurley, L. P. Wells, F. M. Ong, George Keller, J. H. Hicklin, Julius Johann, Dr. W. S. Grimes, C. P. Lacey, J. B. McCullough, H. R. Christie, and A. Garrett.
From 1858 to 1871, the south section of the Wapello Hotel was used as a public school.
In 1868, the school year lasted five months. The principal was paid $50 a month. According to the minutes of the Sept. 23, 1868 meeting, the following teachers were elected for a school year of five months: L. W. Watler, principal; Mrs. Addie Jenkins, intermediate department; Miss Rhoda Lacey, assistant; Miss Gertrude Coulter, primary. In December 1868, Miss Laura Hornsby replaced Miss Lacey. Miss Hornsby later married H.V. Hunt.
The first Wapello school building was made of brick. In 1869-70, was a two-story frame building, built by the firm of Archibald and Stewart for $950.
In 1871 Charles Horace Greeley Frye was principal.
By 1878, the school had outgrown the 1869 building and that summer another brick structure was erected at a cost of about $12,000. It was an eight-room building. On the second floor on the south side, one room was made larger than the other rooms and used for the high school. It was located on the corner of today's Franklin and Main streets. When the school opened in January 1879, students discovered a "colored janitor, H. C. Bean." His duties were to make fires, sweep, dust, prepare the wood and carry it to each room. He received $8 a month and lived in the basement. In 1960, that building was razed. The bell and cornerstone were saved.
O.I. Jamison was a popular teacher and in 1869 became principal. He was again principal from 1878-1883. Mrs. L. A. Reiley, assistant principal; Miss Lizzie Hurley and Miss Addie Jenkins, grade school teachers; Miss Emma Massie, primary.
Miss or Mrs. L. A. Reiley was assistant principal 1879-1883
In the early 1870s the primary teacher was Miss S.J. Paris who later married William Cilley. Other early teachers were Mary Herrin, Libby Joy, Emma Massie, Mr. Thompson and Joseph Higbee (a Civil War veteran).
Other teachers included Ida Gillette and John Dunn; in 1877 - Elizabeth Hurley; 1883 - Alice Hurley and Eleanor Hurley. Mrs. O.I. (Mollie) Jamison taught at Wapello 1884-1885. Art Wilson was born in the basement in 1884. His father was the school custodian and the family lived in the basement. (Art is the grandfather of June Hardin.)
From 1890 to 1905, high school consisted of three years.
In 1890, the first high school class graduated after completing 12 years of school. The ceremony was held in the second story of Myron Hall (most recently Johnnie B's. The building burned in 2008) The graduating students were Mamie Heins, Elizabeth Carrigan, Minnie Myerholz, Michael Carrigan, and LeRoy Reilley. Josiah Cline was the principal 1889-90.
The graduates in 1891 were Della McKay and Stella Anderson.
Miss Mollie McCullough taught primary grades 1893-1907.
The Wapello Alumni Association was established in 1894 "in order that our friendly relations may be continued and that sociability be encouraged."
A teacher was sued in 1903 because she left before her contract year was completed. After that, teacher contracts read "any day missed shall be deducted from the salary."
In 1905, Audrey Cooper was elected music teacher. She also taught kindergarten. In 1911 domestic science was added to the curriculum. It was later called home economics, then vocational homemaking. In 1913 manual training was introduced with L.C. Wonnell as the teacher. The next year agriculture was added and John Joor taught it and manual training.
J. L. Packer was superintendent 1909-1913. H. A. Greene was principal 1911-1914.
Domestic Science was added to the curriculum in 1911.
An intermediate building was constructed in 1912 at a cost of $19,000. It became the high school, and was later used as an elementary and finally was used as band building.
The salary of the superintendent in 1914 was $1,350 a year. Teachers received $70 to $95 a month.
L.C. Denslow was superintendent 1915-1917, and at that time seventh and eighth grades became the junior high school.
Agriculture was added to the curriculum in 1914.
On February 23, 1918, a teacher was drafted in the last two months of the school year. Senior student Kenneth Wiederrecht took over the physics class.
In 1920, the Consolidated Independent School District of Wapello was established. It comprised one-third of the area of Louisa County and about one-fifth of the population. Because of the increase in enrollment from the country schools, more room was needed for classes.
The McCray Building, north of the Commercial Hotel, was leased and converted into a high school and fondly called McCray University. It was used from September 1920-June 1924. One classroom and the assembly room occupied the first floor and three classrooms were on the second floor. Each room had a heating stove. Miss Lela McClurkin (later Mrs. John Betts) was principal the first year and Mrs. Edna White Ernst was principal the other three years. Teachers were Irving Finger, Mrs. Millicent Winter and Mr. W.G. Warnock.
The first Wapello High School yearbook, the "Ollepaw" was published.
On Jan. 26, 1923, a bond was passed to build a new new junior and senior high school and gymnasium building. The building was erected at a cost of $150,000 and dedicated on June 2, 1924. After attending their classes at McCray University, commencement exercises were held for 29 students on June 5 on the new building. The first classes held there began in the fall 1924. The building is still in use.
A. R. Morledge assumed the duties of superintendent in 1930. Principal C. A. Bedford began his duties the following year and taught high school math and science.
Graduates from 1916-1921
Source: ALUMNI listed in the 1922 OLLEPAW (Wapello High School Yearbook) Towns listed are where the graduates were in 1922.
CLASS of 1915 - Nellie Carey, Frank Diehl, Inez Eversmeyer, all of Wapello; Gladys Friend, unkown; Estelle Foster Wiederrecht, Mary Foster Wiederrecht, Nellie Graves, all of Wapello; Lucille Graham Parsons, unknown; Gladys Guthrie Rogers, Mike Herrick, both of Wapello; Ray Hammond, Douglas, Ariz.; Carter Hamilton, unknown; Charles Hixon, Camp Bragg, N.C.; Frank Hook, Wapello; June Hawkins, Michaelsville; Capt. Leon Hammond, Camp Statsenburg, Manila, PI; Harry Jamison, Berkley, Calif.; Nellie Kallenberger Tanner, Keokuk; Maurice Keck, Los Angeles, Calif.; Mildred Menefee, Wapello; Roy Murphy, Burlington; Paul Nichols, unknown; John Otto, Wapello; Florence Potter, Iowa City; Donald Rogers, Wapello; Harold Redmile, Des Moines; Ben Swartz, Boston, Mass.; Dessie Sheafor, Oskaloosa; Rex Thomas, (deceased); Bertha Torode McCulley, Washignton.
CLASS of 1916 - Jennie Bates, ___; Marguerite (Dick) Allen, Columbus Junction; Estella (Dickson) Peters, Wapello; Earl Eversmeyer, Wapello; Edgar Froeschle, Granite City, Ill.; W. B. Herrick, Chicago, Ill.; Albert Hook, Wapello; Mildred Kelly, Burlington; Russell Marshall, Los Angeles, Calif.; Ona Nyemaster, Nichols; Hazel Pfeifer, Oakville; Elma Syphrit, Wapello; Everett Wagg, Wapello.
CLASS OF 1917 - George Austermann, Boston, Mass.; Mildred Bailey, ___; Vertie Bailey, Oakville; Kenneth Baker, Fairfield; Esther Ball, Morning Sun; Marion Barnes, Wapello; Emma (Beik) Kemp, Grandview; Marie (Bridges) Downs, Wapello; Leona (Brown) Crow, Wapello; Hortense Davis, Chicago, Il.; Helen (Havenhill) Johann, Wapello; Clarence Hicklin, Chicago, Ill.;Jean Hicklin, Oklahoma City, Okla.;Mary Hicklin, Wapello; Alma Hook, ___; Kenneth Hunter, Iowa City; Bernice (Jamison) Herrick, Wapello; Merritt Johann, Wapello; Paul McLaughlin, Wapello; Pauline Perkins, Cedar Rapids; Paul Schafer, Wapello; Dewey Small, Wapello; Nellie Smith, Toolesboro; Dorothy (Thomas) Grimm, Morning Sun; Irene Torode, Wapello; Paul Verdow, Wapello; Marion Walker, Wapello; Thelma (Warren) Schwob, Wapello.
CLASS of 1918 - Merle Bissinger, Wapello; Arthur Brown, Wapello; Marie Courtney, Columbus Junction; Beatrice Davison, Mount Vernon; James Dickson, Hollywood, Calif.; Gloris (Fisher) Lowe, Letts; Ina Gore, Riverside; Merle Graves, Wapello; John Hale, Iowa City; Frances Dunham Konkright, Des Moines; Orlyn Kelley, Wapello; Leola (Kemp) Verdow, Wapello; Emma Jamison McKinney, Wapello; Ina Jamison, ___; Pauline Johnson, Wapello; Harry Marshall, Wapello; Dale McLaughlin, Wapello; Ruth (Rice) Smith, Wapello; Mable Swank, Louden; Joe Torbert, Wapello; Miriam Verdow, ___; Tessie Vollmer, Ames; Kenneth Wiederrecht, Ames.
CLASS of 1919 - Esther (Kramer) Jarvis, Morning Sun; Minnie Johnston, Oakvill; Christena (Brauns) Miller, Wapello; Alta McAfee, Wapello; Martha Peters, Cedar Falls; Maxine (Wright) Carver, Wapello; May McDill, Monmouth, Ill.; Florence McDill, Monmouth, Ill.; Irene McDill, Monmouth, Ill.; Dorothy (Hesse) Cline, Wapello; Emma (Brauns) Eversmeyer, Wapello; Dorothy Foster, Burlington; Grace Potter, Elmo; Robert Wright, Elmo; William Kemper, Wapello; Glen Mellinger, Iowa City; Harold McChesney, Wapello; Otto Stokes, Iowa City; Dow McKinney, Port Louisa; Lester Hicklin, Grandview; Quentin Schneider, Wapello; Erma (Erwin) Sheridan, Oakville.
CLASS of 1920 - John Brauns, Iowa City; Glen Bretz, Iowa City; Lucille Edwards, Fairfield; Herbert Eversmeyer, Wapello; Gladys (Graves) Shafer, Grandview; Gladys Hammond, Wapello; Catherine Hicklin, Iowa City; Helen Lischer, Cedar Rapids; Laura Oliphant, Wapello; Lillian Schaper Small, Wapello; Conrad Huddle, Mount Pleasant; Hattie Westerman Briggs, Grandview; Floyd Miller, Iowa City; Verne Dunham, Chicago, Ill.
CLASS of 1921 - Elizabeth Archibald, Wapello; Merle Ball, Wapello; Ralph Ball, Wapello; Irene Winter, Wapello; Frances Jessup, Union; John Beane, Iowa City; Gerald Fitzgibbon, Wapello, Ethel Foor, Wapello; Goldie Marshall, Wapello; Lois Peters, Wapello; Nola Dotson, Wapello; Alice Limbocker, Wapello; Paul Kallenberger, Wapello; Verne Small, Wapello; Theodore Myerholz, Iowa City; Linda Ecklund, Mount Pleasant; Helen Jones, Mount Vernon; Myrtle Herrick, Wapello; Marie Herrick, Wapello; Charles Bates, Wapello; Alma (Hank) Jarvis, Burlington; Helen McChesney, Wapello; Dorothy Menefee, Wapello; Bruce Rogers, Mount Vernon.
CLASS of 1922 - Hattie Ayde (Adams), Eulah Bishop (Malone, Nelson), John Courtney, Kathryn Courtney, Mabel Courtney, Cecil Cover, Henry Deppey, Harry Edwards, Capitola Erwin (Brown), Alice Foster, Celia Gardner (Lichtenberg), Nola Grasham (Archibald, Laackmann), Walter Grimm, Marion Guthrie, Hazel Hamilton (Hemphill), Lena Havenhill (Small), Otis Hicklin, Pau Huddle, Dorothy Jameson (Harper), Florence Johnson, Marie Kreiner (Schafer), Lela Marshall (Nailor), Ruth McKinney, Galen Mellinger, Earl Meyerholz, Raymond Mohlie, Nellie Oliphant, Sharon Pease, Marioin Schafer, Chester Schaper, Agnes Schmeiser, Vera Schmeiser (Melson), James Small, Mary Stone (Wagg), Miriam Shipman (Cooper), Twyla Shipman (Edwards, Gilkey, Isett), Robert Wilson.
"The seniors of 1922 spent their last year of school life under the protecting roof of McCray University. Martha Wilson was elected president and Dorothy Jameson, secretary and treasurer. One of the accomplishments of the year was publishing the "Ollepaw" (Wapello spelled backwards), the first Wapello High School Annual (yearbook). Our beloved president was taken from us and a few weeks later Alice Brown joined her in eternity. The final High School days were crowded full of events, among them the class play, reception, baccalaureate and, last, but greatest of all, Commencement." ~ From Florence Potter scrapbook.