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.

A Brief History Timeline:

The History of St. John’s Military School

June 1871-William Muir purchased 111 acres of land from the US government to use growing shorts but shortly after he set aside a part of it for a private military school operated under Church auspices. 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 though 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 was to exist for 20 years under 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 $65.00.

1887, Apr 1887, July        Hugh King hired as architect and superintendent of construction for $1,000.

1887, July                            Board accepted bid from RD Allen of St. Joseph MO for the building.

1887, Summer                  Board accepted bid from CW Courtright for tin plate roofing – groundbreaking.

1888, September 12       First cadets reported for admission -with buildings still under construction – 2 boarding cadets and several area cadets attending classes – Among first students were Charles and Theodore Seitz -remained close to the school until their death in 1962.  The year ended with 38 Cadets in attendance.

1888, Oct                             Building completed.

1888, Oct 15                       Name changed to St. John’s School operated on behalf of The Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Kansas.

1890                                       First graduating class with two graduating Cadets, John H. Huntington and Henry B. Ober, the latter was St. John’s first valedictorian. 

1890’s                                   Little change, growth fluctuated from as little as 25 to as many as 85 cadets

1985                                       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.

1899                                      Board rented all the buildings to Mize for $1,000 for first year with hope of making money to fund upkeep and furnishings. For the next 7 years the school grew from 29 to 100 students.

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

1907                                       Heard resigned, hired W. Colton, enrollment down to 40 Cadets in 1908

1913                                       Pledges and fund raising of $20,000- Board wanted SJMS to be a school of Ministry but when they did that only a meager few enrolled

1913-14                               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. Members of St. Martin’s Church and the Rev. Sparks.

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

1915                                       School opened again, after much clean up, with W. Ganssle at the help. The school was leased to him. 26 Cadets enrolled 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.

1917                                       Name changed to St. John’s Military School Association.

1919                                       107 Enrolled

1920                                       Summer session was added

1921                                       Father Mize returned to SJMS.  An elephant got loose from circus and mayor called to have SJMS people shoot him.

1922-23                               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

1926                                      SJMS Association ended as per the agreement with Griswold and control then went to trustees and Mize became head of the school

1927                                      School opened with 73 Cadets because of depression, floods, and tuition had to be paid in advance but in May hey had grown to 85 – junior school closed and housed all together

1928-36                               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.

1931                                       Football Field named Perkins Field after LTC Roy W Perkins who was Commandant since 1933.  Only 30 boys enrolled – employees took lower wages to keep the school open.

1932                                       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

1936                                       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.

1937                                       56 cadets, Mize retired, started his ministry and was ordained in 1939.

1937                                       Boxing great Jack Dempsey visited the school.

1940-1941                            65 cadets – opened mountain summer school camp – Bishop Nichols became head of Trustees

1942                                       Junior school opened again with 93 cadets.

1944                                       Old gymnasium was demolished, new facilities were complete.  Association with the Civil Air Patrol started in 1945.

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 numbered110 cadets. 

1947                                    All buildings moved and remodeled, attendance115 cadets.

1948 March                     FIRE – discovered on 4th Floor Vail hall – insured – $60,000 damage – and water damage as well. The next day fire started again and it was suspicious as to now it st art ed. Never has been determined. At the moment the fires started a workman was on the roof doing repairs.

1948                                    Renovation of building for school in the fall.

1948                                    Back in operation, Duckers was hired as recruiter and to promote SJMS.  79 cadets attended.

1952                                 Broke ground for new barracks – 119 cadets – growth! – floor one done

1953                                    Barracks floor two encouraged by Walton C Ferris whoes son attended SJMS.  Generous donations led to another new building, the Ferris Mechanical Arts Building and Ferris also donated the equipment, all completed fall of 1954.

1956                                    Largest enrollment 132 – increase faculty need facilities for them – alumni involved – responsible for Remey Leland Clem Library

1957                                    141 boys-add another floor to Ferris – Clem financed it Clem Ferris Hall

1960                                    157 boys, named changed from St. John’s School to St. John’ s Military School

1961                                  171 boys – addition of physical fitness program – Hardy was prof of science – died -Cadet George Bartley Jr 1953 class 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.

1962                                    Two houses for faculty built.

1962                                    197 cadets – addition of dining hall – Library was dedicated in September of 1962.    

1962-63                              Formation of drum and bugle corp again -Alumni Office established.

1965                                    Tear down old build new Junior School

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- Paul Kellogg named Commandant _ OTC started uniform changed from Air Force Blues to Army Greens

1967                                    Recreation building erected – Built an Armory parallel to Ferris Hall and named the John Galen Spencer Cadet Center – Muleskinner club was formed – picture revealed – muleskinner based on his likeness.

1973-74                              124 cadets-James Irwin visited campus and cadets (Apollo 15 astronaut) – the”bull right” otherwise known as the ” t eardrop11   was redone with fountain, seating, and lights.

1974-75                              161 cadets-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.

1976-77                              Enrollment drop to 135 boys- addition of Parents weekend in Nov 1.

1978, Nov, 6                  FIRE – in Grisswold and Vail halls- fire started in 3rd floor of vail hall where drama supplies were kept. Started at 11am got under control at 2:30 pm – previous fire had destroyed the turrets and towers in 1948 now 30 years later Vail and Grisswold 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 – contained mostly newspapers and documents.

1979                                   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.

1980                                    Film “Up the Academy” location at SJMS.  Warner Brothers September-November- placed a new cornerstone The Brave Young Men of Weinberg

1981                                    240 cadets enrolled.

1983-84                              Chapel renovations

1984-85                              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

New barracks

                                             Lower school demolished

2019, May 11                  SJMS is decommissioned after 131 years of faith service.