This history document is to be utilized for purposes of the requirement to complete a 500-1000 word essay as part of the St. John’s Military School Scholarship in memory of Tom Orton.

Timeline of St. John’s Military School

June 1871

William Muir purchased 111 acres of land from the US government to use growing crops but shortly after he set aside a part of it for a private military school operated under Church auspices. A group of prominent citizens banded together to purchase this land from Muir for $9,168.75 and they called the school, The Episcopal Military Institute. The school was dedicated to boys -their growth, their education, their development, mental, physical, and spiritual. This school continues under the name of St. John’s Military School with the same goals.

The Right Reverend Elisha Smith Thomas might well be called the founder of SJMS for it was through his guidance and leadership that prominent Salina citizens became interested in establishing such an institution. The charter for the school was created in March 1887 under the name of The Episcopal Military Institute Association of Salina, KS. The corporation and charter were to exist for 20 years under the Board of Directors: J. Prescott, J. Antrim, M. Teague, A. Claflin, A. Harsh, W. Hogben, and A. Dodge. The actual value of the land was declared at $65,000.

April 1887 — July 1887

Hugh King was hired as architect and superintendent of construction for $1,000.

July 1887

Board accepted a bid from RD Allen of St. Joseph MO for the building.

Summer 1887

The board accepted the bid from CW Courtright for tin plate roofing–groundbreaking.

September 12, 1888

First cadets reported for admission -with buildings still under construction. Two boarding cadets and several area cadets attending classes — Among the first students were Charles and Theodore Seitz -who remained close to the school until their death in 1962. The year ended with 38 Cadets in attendance.

October 1888

Building completed.

October 15, 1888

Name changed to St. John’s School operated on behalf of The Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Kansas.


First graduating class with two graduating Cadets, John H. Huntington and Henry B. Ober, the latter was St. John’s first valedictorian.


Little change, growth fluctuated from as little as 25 to as many as 85 cadets.


Founder Bishop Thomas died while on a visit to the campus, Bishop Millspaugh succeeded him as acting president of the Board of Trustees. He hired Rev. Robert Mize to serve as Chaplain and teacher. He eventually closed his house and moved to campus.


The board rented all the buildings to Mize for $1,000 for the first year with the hope of making money to fund upkeep and furnishings. For the next 7 years, the school grew from 29 to 100 students.


Griswold resigned and hired A. Heard in June 1906. New policy: no boys under 14 yrs. of age — 59 Cadets in 1907


Heard resigned, hired W. Colton, enrollment down to 40 Cadets in 1908


Pledges and fundraising of $20,000 — The Board wanted SJMS to be a school of Ministry but when they did that only a meager few enrolled.

1913 — 1914

When it looked like the school would close, Trustee Griswold offered to accept the school and its indebtedness, so they deeded the property to him to continue the school. The name was changed to “St. Martin’s School” for that school year only.


St. Martin’s Church closed and there was no funding so there was no school for the 1914-15 school year.


School opened again, after much cleanup, with W. Ganssle at the helm. The school was leased to him. 26 Cadets enrolled in Lower school ages 8-13 — Higher school 14 Had a daily printed routine with 8 hrs. to work, 9 hrs. to sleep, and 7 to refreshments and recreation. Drill Squad was formed.


Name changed to St. John’s Military School Association.


One-hundred-seven enrolled.


Summer session was added.


Father Mize returned to SJMS. An elephant got loose from the circus and the mayor called to have SJMS people shoot him.

1922 — 1923

New additions: Ganssle promoted to Colonel, efficient radio receiving capabilities, acquisition of St. Barnabas Hospital as the new home for St John’s Junior School. Hospital deed worded that it would be returned to SJMS if hospital would close, and it did. Allowed younger boys to have own dorms, classrooms, and mess hall.


SJMS Association ended as per the agreement with Griswold and control then went to trustees and Mize became head of the school.


School opened with 73 Cadets because of depression, floods, and tuition had to be paid in advance but in May had grown to 85 — junior school closed and housed all together.

1928 — 1936

Years of Transition – daily life modified military system with military uniforms, formations and drills, family atmosphere, natural gas installed, renovation of the physical plant, and teachers had to have certificates and credentials.


Football Field named Perkins Field after Lt. Col. Roy W. Perkins who was Commandant since 1933. Only 30 boys enrolled – employees took lower wages to keep the school open.


Under the direction of Bishop Mize SJMS is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the Kansas State Board of Education and is also a member of the Private Schools’ Association of the Central States.

1936 — 1968

Growth and Progress years.


Maj. Clem arrived — campus included: Vail Hall, barracks, gym, & junior school – he focused on enrollment and modernizing the plant — longest service as head of the school.


Fifty-six cadets enrolled, Mize retired, started his ministry and was ordained in 1939. Boxing great Jack Dempsey visited the school.

1940 — 1941

Sixty-five cadets — opened mountain summer school camp — Bishop Nichols became head of Trustees


Junior school opened again with 93 cadets.


Old gymnasium was demolished, new facilities were complete. Association with the Civil Air Patrol started in 1945.


WWII ended and Camp Phillips army training base was closed. John Bradford Armstrong who was stationed at Smoky Hill Army Air Field near Salina loved the Salina people. After his death there was a movement to have the chapel moved from Camp Phillips to the SJMS campus for $2000, and is known today as Armstrong chapel. More buildings moved from Camp Phillips: gym, guest house, general’s quarters, officers club, latrine. Attendance numbered 110 cadets.


All buildings moved and remodeled, attendance 115 cadets.

March 1948

FIRE — discovered on 4th Floor Vail hall — insured — $60,000 damage including water damage. The next day fire started again and it was suspicious as to now it started. Never has been determined. At the time the fires started by a workman on the roof doing repairs.


Renovation of building for school in the fall. Back in operation, Duckers was hired as recruiter and to promote SJMS. Attendance down to 79 cadets.


Broke ground for new barracks — 119 cadets — growth! — floor one done.


Barracks floor two encouraged by Walton C. Ferris whose son attended SJMS. His enerous donations led to another new building, the Ferris Mechanical Arts Building and Ferris also donated the equipment, all completed fall of 1954.


Largest enrollment 132 — increase faculty need facilities for them — alumni involved — responsible for Remey Leland Clem Library.


One hundred forty-one boys enrolled — a second floor added to Ferris Hall for science labs — Clem started fund raising drive raising $20,000 Clem Ferris Hall


Enrollment increased to 150 boys — named changed from St. John’s School to St. John’ s Military School


Over 170 boys — addition of physical fitness program — Prof. of Science Hardy died. Cadet George Bartley Jr. class of 1953 presented an elaborate saber to the School in the name of Col. Hardy. Hardy Saber to be worn by Cadet Commander at ceremonial functions. Cadet John Dawson class of 1961 presented a beautiful trophy known as the Hardy Rifleman Trophy and plaque recognizing the Cadet Rifle Team member with highest academic record.


Two houses for faculty built.


Enrollment to 197 cadets — addition of dining hall — Library was dedicated in September of 1962.

1962 — 1963

Formation of drum and bugle corp again — Alumni Office established.


Tear down old build new Junior School. Barracks. Called Mize Hall after Bishop “Herbert Mize Dining Hall — Nichols Hall, after Bishop Shirley Nichols Old Barracks — Griswold Hall after Bishop Sheldon Griswold New Barracks Sage Hall after Bishop John Sage. Vietnam war — adults called to war — Lt. Col. Paul Kellogg named Commandant. ROTC program begins uniforms changed from Air Force Blues to Army Greens.


Recreation building erected — Built an Armory parallel to Ferris Hall and named the John Galen Spencer Cadet Center — Muleskinner club was formed — Dick Bergan proposal revealed — muleskinner statue based on his drawing.

1973 — 1974

Enrollment to 124 cadets — James Irwin visited campus and cadets (Apollo 15 astronaut) — the” bull ring” otherwise known as the ”teardrop” was redone with fountain, seating, and lights.

1974 — 1975

Start of year with 161 cadets then grew to 193 second semester — commencement weekend activities began. Cummings died — new drapes and stained-glass windows in chapel, Chapel was re-consecrated — construction of a new gym began.

1976 — 1977

Enrollment drop to 135 boys — addition of Parents weekend Nov 1.

November 6, 1978

FIRE — in Griswold and Vail halls. Fire started on the 3rd floor of vail hall where drama supplies were kept. Starting at 11 am finally under control at 2:30 pm. 1948 fire had destroyed the turrets and towers. Thirty years later Vail and Griswold were determined a total loss. Linger Hall to be built Lyman Linger Benefactor — Browning in charge of Linger Trust of 1.5 Million — cornerstone opened at commencement containing mostly newspapers and documents.


Announcement to build a new academic center at a cost of one million, renovation of Sage Hall, renovate Clem Library and Ferris Hall into barracks for 1.3 million with completion set for 1980.


Warner Brothers Film “Up the Academy” (The Brave Young Men of Weinberg) on location at SJMS. Placed a new cornerstone at Vanier Academic Center.


Enrollmeent reaches 240 cadets.

1983 — 1984

Chapel renovations.

1984 — 1985

Added Nursing quarters made possible by gift of $25,000.00 from Hougoton Foundation and Wallace Gillroy. Lt. Col. Paul H. Kellogg retired.

1987 — 88

Big Centennial celebration headed by D. Dale Browing. Announcement of more renovations. New mess hall, Stevens Cadet Center. New barracks, Jack Vanier Hall, Lower school Parkview Hall demolished.

May 11, 2019

SJMS is decommissioned after 131 years of faithful service.