Charles F. W. Seitz 1888

The day St. John’s Military School opened, my brother Theo. B. W. Seitz, Charles J. C. Teague and I drove the two miles to school in a two-wheeled cart. We had built a small shed on the grounds joining the school barn. When we left, it became the property of the school. On one occasion there was a small twister which took our shed and placed it on the other side of the hedge, which is now the street north of St. John’s. Of course, we had to get it back over the hedge, but we had to have it rebuilt. I well remember the first day. Everything was new and carpenters were still working on Vail Hall. There was no sidewalk not even a street. Santa Fe Avenue had the finest soil you could ask for, but when it rained it seemed bottomless.

There were about thirty-day pupils from Salina. We had a dinner bucket brigade, as we carried our lunches with us. The contents of those buckets made every day seem like a picnic. There were just six or eight regular boarding students, who lived at the school. Prof. Clinton, from Shattuck School, was the Headmaster. He looked like Pres. James A. Garfield to me. Cpt. W. H. Miller, a retired Army officer, was Commandant and looked like Gen. U. S. Grant to me. I well remember on many an occasion while on drill, Capt. Miller would call out to me “Back up, Seitz. Where do you think you are going? This is no horse race!” Prof. H. H. Morrel was a teacher of languages. Prof. Gates was our penmanship teacher. Prof. Nathaniel S. Thomas taught history and English.

The out-of-town students were Wm. W. Doane of Winfield, Kans.; Lesley Truesdale, Fairbury, Neb.; Frank Crane, Topeka; Carey L. Gray, Leavenworth; C. W. Stowe, Topeka; W. C. Snow, Topeka. Harry Zimmerly, Wichita, was at the end of the line Private! The first year I was 2nd Sgt. and the next year, 1st Lt. of the Artillery Co. B. Martin Addison of Salina was Lt. of Co. A.

Many a time we could blame our tardiness on the balky horse we had bought from Dr. M. G. Cockey. We paid $175.00 for this horse and when we sold it later, we got $9.00 of which one-half went to the auctioneer. This was the best horse in reverse you ever saw, as the horse walked backward to town and never hit anything. Of course, we had other excuses for being late, trains switching and blocking the road–or very muddy roads. After we went to school it was necessary to take a shower bath to be able to attend classes.

All the nice large trees in front of St. John’s school were planted on Arbor Day by the cadets. I planted six of them myself and used to keep track of them with a mark on each. In the second year, there were at least 85 students. Among them were Frank Doster, son of Judge Doster, and Burr Lakin of Topeka, Harry Hazlett of Abilene, and John Small of Topeka.
On the occasion of the death of Bishop Vail, First Bishop of Kansas, St. John’s School sent an escort to Topeka to attend his funeral. I was one of these cadets, and well remember the trip as quite an experience for youngsters at that time. We were permitted to go into the State Capitol, it was a big thrill back then. — Charles F. W. Seitz 1888