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The old court house - now so called in contradistinction to the new - was burned on the 5th of October, 1872, but fortunately the public records were saved. It was rebuilt the next year, better and in improved form, principally by the insurance companies who sustained large losses, which amounted to over $25,000. The new court house, like the former one, stands in the centre of a large and splendid square, which has a higher elevation than any other site in the city. The grounds are ornamented with fine walks abd beautiful shade trees, which are fit accompaniments to the sightly edifice that lifts its stately dome far above them and above the surrounding city - an object of interest that may be seen for many miles around. It is built with the celebrated Kankakee limestone, and is without doubt the best appointed count (sic) house in Northern Illinois. The basement, strong and massive, is the county jail.The first Methodist Episcopal church is also massive and imposing edifice, which cannot fail to attract the attention of a stranger; but it is a matter of regret that it has been permitted to become so much dilapidated exteriorly as to be less an object of interest than it was when first built in 1867. Other churches have their claims to notice and admiration, such as the First Baptist, St. Paul's (Episcopal), German Lutheran, Germam (sic) Catholic, German Reformed, and the new, beautiful and stately St. Rose (R.C.) now about completed and which will cost from $ 25,000to $30,000. It may be stated here that perhaps no place in the West is better supplied with churches than Kankakee according to its population, there being 13 in all. It may also be stated that perhaps no place in the western country is
|1876 ||KANKAKEE CITY DIRECTORY || (page) 112|
more liberally supplied with schools than Kankakee, considering its population. As it has been called a "city of churches," so may it appropriately be called a city of schools. With regard to what is termed the public schools of Kankakee, as they are now graded and systematized, controled (sic) by an interested board of education which employs none but the ablest talent for the departments of instruction, it is believed they will compare favorably with any schools to be found in any of our western cities.The High School building will accommodate form 1,500 to 1,800 pupils to rooms and seats. The course of studies extends over a period of four years and embraces all the higher English branches usually taught in high schools, together with French, German, and Latin. The attendance, enrollments etc., for the year 1876, as furnished by Superintendent Rowell, are as follows: number between 6 and 21 years of age, 1,802; number enrolled in schools, 1,000; average daily attendance, 621. The total valued of the school property of Kankakee is not far from $55,000.There are also in the city several church or parochial school, so called, as follows:The Brothers of the order of St. Viateur opened a school here about six years ago, in connection with St. Rose (Catholic) church. It is named the Catholic Parochial Brother's school. All the branches of a English education are taught, as also the languages. The attendance per term averages from 75 to 199. It is an excellent educational institution, and received, as it deserves, a generous patronage. J. C. Whittaker, S. V., is at the head of the school, and is a ripe scholar and a devoted teacher. A similar school is connected with the German Catholic church, which has a
|(page) 113 ||KANKAKEE CITY DIRECTORY || 1876|
good reputation for the thoroughness of instruction imparted. The number of pupils in attendanceis about 75. Another parochial school is that of the German Reformed church. It was first opened some six years ago, and is now under the efficient management and tutorship of Rev. Hugo Stamer. It is distinctively a German school, yet includes English reading, writing and speaking.The German Lutheran church also sustains a school of its own, which as an average attendance per term of 100 to 125 pupils. Mr. Wm. Schmidt is the principal of this school. The forenoon exercises are exclusively conducted in German, those of the afternoon in English.St. Joseph's is one of the most prominent educational institutions in the city. The building is very large and commodious, being three stories high, not including the basement, and built at a cost of over $40,000. This excellent seminary for young ladies was founded in 1865 and incorporated in 1874. It is directed by the Sisters of the Congregation de Notre Dame.Many of the most accomplished young ladies of the city are graduates from St. Joesph's Seminary.And, finally, we come to that deservedly popular and flourishing institution, which has so intimately allied itself with the public interestof intelligence, morality and refinement in this city: -- The Kankakee a Ladies' Library Association. It was organized in the fall of 1872, and incorporated in February, 1876. It was originated and has been entirely managed by the ladies ofthis city, and its success was evident form the commencement. The Secretary of State gave it as his opinion, when its charter was issued, that
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this was one institution of the kind in the State that is exclusively managed by ladies, so far as his knowledge extended. The library now contains 700 volumes, all of which are standard and choice. The present officers of the Association are as follows:
Mrs. A.E. Rowell, President; Mrs. Joseph Rickey, Vice President; Mrs. H. C. Clark, Secretary; Mrs. Dr. Way, Treasurer; Mrs. H. Loring, Librarian; Mrs. James Dickson, Ass't Librarian.
The Association is governed by 15 Directors, who are chosen annually by the stockholders. It is in a very prosperous condition, with a bright prospect of accomplishing much more than was expected when it was organized.Having now presented a plain, unvarnished and straight-forward statement of matters and things connected with the past history and present condition of Kankakee, we think her claims to recognition as one of the thriving, enterprising and progressive cities of the Great West will be at once admitted without argument or a doubt. Her future looks bright and cheering. Her days have been busy ones, but full of promise and fruition. And they are the same common days in the march of time and progress in which larger cities have grown up to their proud stature in the green prairies and by flowing waters of the Western Land, and in whose advancing footsteps, so to speak, she is fast traveling onward to
be like them in the days to come. --Who can doubt it?
Kankakee, ILL. Oct. 18, 1876.