How It All Started - History

Published in

The Kansas City Star April 12 – June 17, 1904


The Wyandotte Herald April 4, 1904 - October 12, 1905

April 12, 1904 - Tuesday - The Kansas City Star


Roy Martin a student of the Kansas City, Kan high school was shot and killed at Kerr Park in  that city at 4 O 'clock this afternoon by a Negro boy, Gregory by name.  The bullet went through Martin's heart.  Martin and several other high school boys were practicing running on the track in Kerr's Park and were annoyed by several Negro boys on a hill near by.  The Negro boys made insulting remarks to the white boys and the latter advanced toward them.  Gregory drew a pistol and fired into the crowd of white boys, hitting Martin.  The Negro boys fled and none was captured. The dead boy lived at 953 Minnesota Avenue with his mother, Mrs. Emma Martin, the owner of the Home Hotel.

April 13, 1904 - Wednesday


The murder of Roy Martin, a freshman in the Kansas City, KS.  High School, by Louis Gregory, a Negro, at Kerr's park yesterday afternoon, caused a demonstration by  the white pupils at the High school building at Ninth street and Minnesota Avenue in that city between 8 and 9 o'clock this morning.   There are eighty Negro pupils regularly attending the high school and when these pupils went to school this , morning they were prevented from entering the building by the 700 white pupils.  The building was surrounded by the boy pupils, while the great doorways were blocked by the girls. Every window in the big building was filled with girls.


Out on the streets a crowd of several hundred persons had gathered.  There were Negroes as well as white people in the crowd and fifteen or twenty policemen, some of them in citizens clothes formed a line along the curb between the high school boys and the crowd.

On the stone steps at the southwest entrance to the building, .M. E. Pearson, superintendent of schools, Mayor B. Gilbert, Prof.  W. C. McCrasky, principal of the high school and several of the men teachers on his staff were assembled.  They realized the gravity of the situation and counseled the boys to moderation.  "It's no use, no Negro pupil can enter this building, at least until Roy Martin is buried," the boys declared.

It was useless to argue with the boys. The 8:30 o'clock bell rang as usual, but nobody paid  any attention to it. "We are not accusing the Negro pupils of the high school with being responsible for Roy Martins death, but we want to show how we feel about cold blooded murder," one of the boys told a reporter for The Star.


The greatest demonstration, however, was by the girls.  They formed in lines at the front entrance determined, as they said, not to let a Negro inside the building, They did not  want the white boys to go inside, either.  The demonstration' on the part of the girls came when Prof.  A.A. Brooks, one of the oldest teachers in the school talked to the boys from the front steps about being more careful in their expressions of resentment and conduct towards the Negro pupils who were innocent of any crime towards the whites.  This angered some of the hot headed youths and they wanted to pull Prof.  Brooks from the steps.   Besides Prof.  Brooks, other teachers had been doing quiet work and members in the senior class decided they had better go inside the Study hall, They started up the steps, but were met by the lines of girls who declared that the seniors stay outside with the other students and help "drive the Negroes away" in case any should try to enter the building.


The seniors resorted to football tactics and rushed through the line of girls into the building. The
girls jerked them and stamped their feet and some of them struck at the seniors with their fists.

The action of the seniors in entering the building did much to quiet the feeling among the other students. The professors assured the more radical white scholars that no Negro students should enter the building that day.

Some of the citizens in the crowd went among the Negro students who were standing in groups on the outside. The Negro pupils were advised to go to their homes, and by so doing it was suggested that the trouble would blow over in a few days. Most of them took the advice readily and quietly walked away. Only a few, however, remained, and these withdrew several blocks. The crowd then dispersed.

After that the pupils were grouped together with their teachers in the classrooms, but the first hour of the school had been lost and many of the pupils were too wrought up to pay much attention to their studies.


Many of the girls who had passed through all of the excitement were now in tears, being unable to longer stand the strain. Prof. McCrosky, principal at the school, went from one room to another. He is well liked by all of the pupils, and when he talked to the boys and girls his words had the effect of quieting them. Still, they were firm in their determination to keep the Negro pupils from reentering the school.

In Kansas City, Ks., there has never been a separate school for Negro pupils, although movements in that direction have been made repeatedly, but without success. The demonstration today is the first open rupture between white and black pupils.

"The situation is very grave," said Superintendent Pearson at noon today. "We are doing everything to allay this excitement and I think we will succeed." A delegation of Negro preachers and lawyers called on Superintendent Pearson. He told them they could help the situation wonderfully by counseling, moderation among the Negro people of the City. They agreed with him that that was the thing to do.


Chief of Police Murray of Kansas City, Ks. is prepared to suppress any serious demonstration an the part of either white persons or Negroes. The action of the Negroes last night around the jail after the Negro Louis Gregory had been taken there has caused Chief Murray to issue orders against allowing armed bands of Negroes to congregate on the streets. The white persons who passed the courthouse and county jail yard between 2 and 4 o'clock this morning were insulted by Negroes with shotguns and Winchesters, who demanded to know why they were passing in that direction.

This condition of affairs became so aggravated that Sergeant Hedrick with a squad of police went to the jail yard to drive the Negroes away. He was met with armed resistance. About fifty Negroes with guns and revolvers drawn defied the officers. Some of the leaders among the Negroes will be arrested today if they can be found and charges of felonious assault and resisting officers placed against them.

The cool and deliberate way in which Sergeant Hedrick and other policemen faced the fifty armed Negroes gradually drove from the courthouse and jail yards was probably the cause of averting a race riot early this morning. No Negroes will be allowed to congregate around the jail today and tonight.

The Negroes were in groups on the streets last night and were insulting to the white people. At Fourth street and Minnesota Avenue two white men were standing talking. A crowd of Negroes came up and demanded to know what they were talking about and used threatening language. The Negroes seemed to want trouble.

Chief of Police Murray this morning distributed several Winchester rifles among his men and the city will be closely patrolled by policemen armed with rifles tonight.


The killing of Roy Martin at Kerr's Park was cold blooded The boy with several other students of the high school, had gone to, the race track to exercise running.   R L Ward one of the teachers was with them and took a great interest in their sport.

A crowd of fifteen or twenty Negroes were standing in the enclosure beside the track and as the boys passed the judges stand the Negroes would jeer them using insulting remarks.

The white boys paid little attention to the Negroes until finally Martin, who was captain of the team, told them to stop.   John Alpine, a student, had just made a circuit of the track and at the judges stand the Negroes renewed their taunts.  Martin told them to let the boy alone.  Then someone in the crowd of Negroes said "Shoot him" Lewis Gregory then drew a revolver and fired at Martin.   Martin threw up his hands and fell.  He did not speak The Negro kept on firing and the next shot, aimed at Clarence Mook missed.  Another was fired as Mook fell to the ground, but it missed him also.  In the excitement Louis Gregory, the Negro who fired the shots, escaped, but he as found by the police last night at the home of a brother.


Dr. D.M.  Shively, coroner of Wyandotte County, Dr. C.M.  Stemen and Dr. P.M Tracy  made a postmortem examination of the body of Roy Martin this morning at Raymond's undertaking rooms, where the body is being prepared for burial The bullet from a 38-caliber revolver passed through the heart and ranged upward into the left lung, shattered the right rib and lodged in the muscles behind.

Coroner Shively says no inquest will be held as the Negro Gregory admits doing the shooting and for the further reason that the race hatred is so strong just now that trouble is feared.

Louis Gregory this morning, in a confession to Oscar Haner, jailer of Wyandotte County, said that he shot at another boy and missing him, hit Martin.  An hour later, in a statement to Dr. D. M. Shively, coroner, Gregory said the shooting was purely accidental.

"I had my hand on the trigger," said Gregory, "and was pointing the pistol towards some boys to drive them back, when someone rushed up behind me and made me jump and I pulled the trigger and shot accidental".


The police of Kansas City.  Ks. arrested two of the Negroes this afternoon who took part in the demonstration at the jail last night.  The Negroes arrested are W.  M. Napper, 826 New Jersey Avenue, and M L Williams, 923 Everett Street.  Napper was armed with a rifle and led the crowd of Negroes last night.  More arrests will be made.  

April 14, 1904 - Thursday


Louis Gregory, the younger Negro, who murdered Roy Martin, the high school boy at  Kerr's  Park , Kansas City, Ks. last Tuesday afternoon, was this morning charged with murder in a complaint filed before Judge Donoho in the North side City court.   In that city by James S Gibon county attorney of Wyandotte County the date for the preliminary hearing has not yet been set, but will probably not be held for several days on account of the race excitement which followed the cold blooded murder.

The trial of Gregory by a jury in the district court, should he be bound over, will not be held until the June term of the court.   He probably will remain in jail until that time.


Complaints were also held in the North side city court charging six Negroes with inciting a riot and resisting officers, which is a felony under the Kansas law.  The Negroes which surrounded the jail Tuesday night armed with Winchester rifles and revolvers; Philip Scott, W.L. Wilson, Albert Anderson, James Black and Will Cunningham.  All of these were with Napper.  Other Negroes will be arrested today and such a vigorous prosecution made as will probably prevent a repetition of the scene around the county jail Tuesday night.

The better class of Negroes in Kansas City, Ks, have done much to prevent the riot which at one time was threatened.  There was no demonstration of mob violence on the part of the white people towards the murderer of Martin.

The better class of Negroes deplored the fact that some of their race took upon themselves to fly to arms and utter insults which in many places would have caused a race war.

April 15, 1904 - Friday


There is some fear that when the Negro students try to enter the high school Monday Morning there will be similar trouble to that which occurred yesterday morning when the white boys and girls refused to allow any of  the Negroes to  enter t he building The feeling among the high school boys and girls seems t be as strong today against the Negroes as it was yesterday.  The white students do not agree on the best plan to be pursued.  Some think it would be the proper thing refuse to allow the Negroes to enter then the white students should leave the school in a body  and return to their homes and await the development of some plan to provide a separate high school for whites and blacks.  Most of the students favor the latter plan.

Many of the citizens will attend the meeting of the board of education in rooms in Carnegie Library building tonight, when the plans to settle the race differences will be discussed.  It is a question which has been discussed many times by the board of education and the Mercantile Club, but financial difficulties and the law have prevented a solution.


There is little excitement in Kansas City, Kan., today because of the race troubles resulting from the murder of Roy Martin, a white pupil, by Louis Gregory, a Negro.  The situation, however, is still grave and many citizens, white and black, are engaged in a calm discussion as to the best means of remedying the trouble and preventing a further demonstration.  There is a strong sentiment in the city in favor of separate high schools, but under existing laws the board of education is powerless to provide separate schools.  Many citizens favor the plan of suspending the high school for the balance of the students attempt to enter high school for the balance of the term, as it is feared that should the Negro students attempt to enter high school with the white students Monday morning further trouble will occur.

"It would be wrong to attempt to have a mixed school Monday morning," said a business man today who is well acquainted with local conditions.  "The Negroes must not be forced into the schools at this lime.  Everything should be done to allay this feeling between the races and the more we force matters the more serious the situation will grow. "While we must uphold the majesty of the law as much as possible, at the same time we must deal with local conditions in such a way as not to bring disgrace on ourselves by precipitating a race war.  Let the white people and the Negro work together in trying to solve this problem for the best interests of all concerned."

This view of the situation seemed to prevail among all classes.  Both the Negroes and the whites admit that the only way to avoid serious trouble is to close the high school to both whites and blacks for a while longer, at least.


Agitation has been started in Kansas City, Kan., to secure the passage of a special Bill by the Kansas Legislature providing for separate high schools for the whites and blacks.  The white people favor the separate high school plan and many of the better class of Negroes realize it is the only solution of the racial differences in that city.  The Republicans are the only ones who have yet nominated a full legislative ticket, and this morning each candidate was asked to express himself on the separate school proposition.  Dr. S.S. Glasscock, candidate for representative said: "In my opinion there should be separate schools for the two races.  It becomes more apparent every day.  The more intelligent class of Negroes appreciate that fact, and if the majority of the people demonstrate that they want a separate high school, I will Introduce a bill in the next legislature making such provisions if I am elected."

James F. Getty, candidate for state senator said: "I don't think it's the proper time to discuss this matter while both sides are very much worked up over the situation.  If I am fortunate enough to be elected to the state senate I shall try to do what the majority of the people want me to do.  If they went a separate school, I shall do my utmost of secure the passage of a law to that effect."

C.K. Robinette, candidate for representative said "If I am elected to the legislature and the people want such a bill passed, I shall work for it with all concerned and what that is will have to be determined.


The funeral services over the body of Roy Martin will be held at 2 O'clock Sunday at  M. E. Church, South corner of State Avenue and Seventh Street.  The body will be buried in Woodlawn cemetery.  The detailed arrangements for the funeral have not been made. The students in the Kansas City Kansas High School will probably attend in a body and several of the student's friends and classmates will be selected as pall bearers. A large floral offering has already been ordered by students and there will be many other evidences of the high esteem in which the young man was held. 



The Rev. E. T. Green, the Negro minister of  the Baptist Church on N. 3rd Street, between State and Nebraska Avenues in Kansas City, Kansas,  was arrested by police in that city yesterday on charges of being one of the leaders in the mob demonstration at the jail Tuesday night.  It is said by the police that the minister not only carried a rifle but made speeches inciting the Negroes.  He was locked up on a charge of investigation in the city jail.  

 April 18, 1904 - Monday


The Kansas City Kansas High School reopened this morning without a demonstration on the part of the white students against the Negroes.  From 8:00 this morning until the ringing of the second bell at 8:30m the white students and the Negroes went up the steps to the assembly hall together.  The white and black students ignored each other, but there was no show of feeling on the part of either race.

A crowd of people, white and black stood on the sidewalks on Minnesota Avenue, State Avenue,  and  Ninth Street to see what was going on, but the police were on hand to prevent any disturbance.


About 8 o'clock a crowd of students began collecting on the northeast corner of  Ninth and Minnesota Avenue, just across from the high school building.  By 8:15, there were probably 200 students in the crowd.  They were orderly and were discussing the nest plan to pursue.  Some declared that they would not enter the school with the Negroes.  Others argued that there were only six weeks more of school and as they had endured Negroes in the high schools for several years, they ought to be able to stay with them six weeks longer.  The great majority of the boys seemed to take that view of it, and after the  ringing the first bell, began to enter the school building.  At 8:30 only about twenty-five boys and perhaps a dozen girls remained outside.  However, many white pupils returned home when they saw the Negroes entering into the building, and many did not leave home fearing trouble.

To the senior class of about seventy-five students who are due to graduate within four weeks, much credit is due. for an amicable settlement for the race troubles.   They are just at the point where they are completing their high school  education, and any show of rebellion or demonstration on their part would deprive them of the honors of the graduation exercise and the much sought "sheep skin."  Then there were a hundred juniors who within the next few weeks will have to make their "points" before they are admitted into the senior class next year. Many parents accompanied their children to the school and compelled them to enter.


Among the first to conduct his boy into the building was Colonel Charles Wood, who in 1883 left West Point because of a Negro student there.  Colonel Wood was adjutant general in Tennessee under  ex-Governor Taylor and commanded a volunteer regiment during the Spanish American War.  He is a Southerner and went to Kansas City, Kansas from the South in March.  He is part owner of the T. C. Creel lumber company,  His son is 13 years old and had only been in the High school three weeks.  Colonel Wood said his son would finish the term.

Several special officers and detectives were on duty early to prevent any demonstration the part of white students.  Their services were not needed except to take charge of a drunken man who was looking for trouble.  H. Rom, who lives at 1045 Barnett Avenue, while under the influence of whiskey, joined the crowd of boys shortly after 8 O'clock and began to talk about whipping the first Negro who dared to enter the high school grounds.  He had not proceeded very far in his speech when Mayor T. B. Gilbert who was present, ordered an officer to take him to the station.  The man was armed with a bottle of whiskey.

The students who remained on the grounds outside the building after school began said they did it because either expected many of the students who had gone into the building would refuse to recite in their classes with Negroes and walk out. In this they were mistaken as everything moved along smoothly on the inside and there was not the slightest show of rebellion.


The Rev. R. T. Green, William Alexander, William Guthrie, M/L/ Wilson, and W. M. Knapper were each fined $50 in POlice court this morning on a charge of  participating in the armed demonstration around the county jail last Tuesday night  just after LOuis Gregory, the young Negro murderer of Roy Martin, the Kansas City, Kansas high school boy, was arrested.  Each pleaded guilty.  For the offense a city ordinance provides for a fine not to exceed $100.

In assessing the fine, Police Judge Trembly said the demonstration on the part of the Negroes had done more to arouse the bitter feelings between the blacks and the whites than the murder itself.

William Cunningham, and James Black, Negroes were fined $100 and $75 respectively on a charge of carrying concealed weapons and refusing to submit to arrest on Wednesday night when the officers were guarding against another armed demonstration.

 April 23, 1904 - Saturday


Louis Gregory, the Negro who on April 12 shot and killed Roy Martin, a high school boy, at Kerr Park, was arraigned  this morning before Judge  M. M. Donoho in the North City Court of Kansas City, Kansas. His attorney  C. D. Sharp waived a preliminary hearing on the charge of murder in the first degree and Gregory was held to the District Court for trial at the June term.

The arraignment of Gregory was delayed until today because of the race feeling which ran so high in the murder.   He was bought to the courtroom by Jailer Oscar Hahner.  The Negro was badly frightened and trembled as he stood before the judge.  He was returned to the jail to be held without bond.

   June 6, 1904  


Louis Gregory, the young Negro who on April 12 murdered Roy Martin, a Kansas City, Kansas High SChool boy at Kerr Park, just west of that city was arraigned in the district court of that city this morning on a charge of murder in the first degree.   C. D. Sharp, the attorney appointed by Judge McCabe Moore of the district court to defend Gregory asked that a plea of not guilty be entered.  After being arrested on the day of the shooting, Gregory confessed to shooting young Martin.

    June 15, 1904  


The hearing of testimony in the case of Louis Gregory, the Negro boy who is charged with the murder of Roy Martin, a Kansas City, Kansas high school boy, at Kerr Park in that city, April 12, began in the district court of Kansas City, Kansas this morning.  Two witnesses gave accounts of the shooting and pointed out Louis Gregory  as the boy who shot Martin.  Both said he took deliberate aim at Martin and fired.  A large crowd of both Negroes and whites filled the court room. Many high school boys were present.

The first witness called was Allen M. Brooks of 1936 N. Sixteenth Street, a carpenter who was working at Kerr's Park the day of the murder.  He described the shooting and pointed out Louis Gregory as the one who fired the shot.  Mr. Brooks said the Negro boys were annoying the white boys some of whom were running on the race track.


"I saw Roy Martin, the boy who was killed, step on the terrace by the judge's stand and ask the boys to stop.  The Negroes then started across the track  and I heard Martin begging them to leave him alone.  Then I heard some of the Negro boys say, "shoot him" and one of the Negro boys reached into his pocket, drew a revolver from inside his pocket  and shot.

"Who fired the shot?" asked Attorney John Hale, who is aiding in the prosecution.

"That boy there," replied Brooks pointing with his umbrella at Louis Gregory.

Gregory showed no sign of emotion and Brooks continued.

"Martin then fell and the Negro boy, still holding the smoking revolver, ran from the park.  I hastened to where Martin lay.  As I reached him he gasped two or three times and then died."

Under cross examination by Dorsey Green, Gregory' attorney,  Mr. Brooks did not depart from his story of the shooting.

The state next introduced a plat of Kerr's Park showing where the shooting took place. J.L. Lasky who laid out the park was introduced to testify to the correctness of the map.


Wallace Hickman of 528 South Harrison Street of Kansas City, Mo. the next witness gave his account of the shooting which bore out the testimony given by Brooks.  Hickman rose from the witness chair and showed how Gregory drew the revolver and fired.  He testified that after killing Martin, Gregory turned and fired at a boy, Mook by name.

The state placed Dr. D.M.  Shively,  Dr. C.M.  Stemen and Dr. P.M Tracy who held the autopsy on Roy Martin on the stand.  They testified as to the path of the bullet and that the wound caused his death.

John Carlson, a High school student testified also, telling practically the same story as the other witnesses.  The state then rested its case.  The defense began its presentation at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

June 17, 1904


The case of Louis Gregory, the Negro boy convicted of murder in the first degree in the district court in Kansas City, Ks. yesterday afternoon will not be appealed to the supreme court.
A motion for a new trial will be filed at once, and in case it is overruled by Judge Moore, the Negro will serve a life sentence in the penitentiary.

During the whole trail, the court made only two rulings on the admission of testimony.  One objection was made by the defense and sustained, and the other objection by the state.  In appealing a criminal case to the Supreme Court in Kansas the defendant has to give security for costs.  Gregory's parents are not able to secure the costs necessary to maintain an appeal. Gregory murdered Roy Martin, a Kansas City Ks. High School boy, on April 12, at Kerr Park, west of that city.


"Whereas, an unfortunate incident, having no bearing on the school system of Kansas City, Kansas, aroused the ire of a number of white patrons and white friends of the Kansas City, Kansas High School and caused them to use such incident as a pretext to eject abruptly all colored students from said high school, to bar the doors against them, and to deny them the privilege of attending said school, and whereas, said act is a gross violation of the school laws of the state of Kansas, and an infringement of the constitutional rights of the colored citizens of Kansas:

Be it resolved that:

(1) We condemn such act as unconstitutional.

(2) We recommend that the colored students be restored their rights or that in the name of justice the school be closed to both races until such laws are enacted by the state legislature, repealing the law providing for mixed high schools in Kansas City, Kansas, and enacting a law for separate high schools in Kansas City, Kansas."


The WYANDOTTE HERALD April 4, 1904 - October 12, 1905

April 12, 1904


On Tuesday afternoon between three and four o'clock while a number of high school boys were engaged in preparing the ground at Kerr's Park for a game of base ball  scheduled for the day following, Roy Martin, a member of the freshman class, 17 years old, was shot and almost instantly killed by Louis Gregory, a Negro about 20 years old.  So far as we have been able to learn, it was a clear case of unjustifiable and deliberate murder.

As soon as the fatal shot was fired, Gregory fled from the scene of the crime pursued by a number of Martin's companions, when he turned and fired another shot at one of his pursuers, which failed to hit anyone.  Gregory made his escape, but police were notified and began as search for him at once.  His father, Emanuel Gregory, turned him over to the authorities later in the evening under the promise  that he would be protected from violence.  In justice to his father it is proper to say that he is peaceable, industrious, hard working man.
Young Martin was the only son of Mrs. Eppa Martin, proprietress of the Home Hotel at 953 Minnesota Avenue who has been striving hard to educate him.  He had the reputation of being a good boy, devoted to his mother and very popular with his school mates.  His sudden and uncalled for death was a great shock to his widowed mother who evidently hoped to lean on him in her declining years.

Great excitement prevailed and lynching was talked openly by a number of persons.  A mob of armed Negroes gathered on Seventh street near the jail and a number of whites assembled near the corner of Seventh and Minnesota, and it looked very much as if a race war was imminent.  Fortunately better counsel prevailed and the crowds thinned out and dispersed without blood-shed.

June 23, 1904

Louis Gregory, the Negro who shot and killed Roy Martin a pupil in the High School at Kerr's Park  on the afternoon of  April 12 had his trial in the District Court last week.  He was ably defended by I. F. Bradley, but the testimony against him was too strong to be overcome and the jury, after deliberating two or three hours returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree.


September 1, 1904 

Separate schools and higher taxes was the slogan of the Kansas Association of School Boards of cities of the first and second class to maintain separate schools for Negro pupils; also for a law granting powers of levying a tax f 20 mills instead of 15, when necessary for general purposes.

February 15, 1905

About 200 people convened at the High School building on Monday night for the purpose of discussing the matter of having separate high schools for the white and Negro races.  No doubt the small number in attendance had to do with the fact that the temperature hovered near the zero mark.  The meeting was called to order by the superintendent of schools, Professor Pearson, and George Strumpf, ex-president of the mercantile club, presided.   A large delegation of Negroes were in attendance.  Speeches in favor of separate high schools for the white and Negro race were made by  W. F. Barnhart who was a member of the board of education for a period of nine years;  Kenneth D. Browne, cashier at the Mercantile Bank;  Dr.  E. L. Harrison, T. C. Russell and J. H. Judy.  Separate high schools were opposed by in talks by the Negroes who had as spokesmen B. S. Smith, deputy county attorney, Rev. Jackson, Attorney I. F. Bradley, and other members of their race.  A motion was adopted in favor of  separate high schools for the two races.  Petitions asking the legislature to amend the law so that the board of education may have authority to carry out the provisions of  motion adopted will be circulated and forwarded to our senator and representatives  in the legislature.  There is no disguising the fact that an overwhelming majority of citizens are opposed to the co-education of the races.  It is also a fact that many excellent citizens have moved across the state line rather than remain here where their children must either go to the high school with Negroes or be deprived of an education and others who desire to settle here have declined to do so for this very reason.  The idea of mixing the two races in the school where the children are compelled to meet on the grounds of equality to a certain extent is repugnant to the mind of many persons.  Personally it makes no difference to us whether we have mixed or separate schools as we have no children to educate but we believe in the good of the public that separate schools should be maintained and we are willing to pay our portion of the tax to carry out the view of the case.  It will be better for both races and insure a marked improvement in our schools.  

June 8, 1905


Elsewhere in the columns of the Herald will be found the vote by precincts on the proposition to vote $40,000 in bonds to be used by the Board of Education for the purchase of a site and the erection of a manual training school  for Negro children.  The bonds carried in every precinct in the city save the fifth precinct of the First Ward, where there was only three majority against the bonds.

In the sixteenth precinct of the third ward, at M & O  Hall, the majority for the bonds was only seven; and in the eighth precinct of the Second ward, Alexander's Hall,  the majority was only one for the bonds.  These are the two largest Negro precincts in the city.

The fact that the mutilated ballots as prepared by City Clerk Foerschler  did not comply with the law, and the further fact that  the ballots were not in the possession of that officer five days before the election, as provide by law, as published last week in the Herald,  undoubtedly lessened the opposition to the bonds on the grounds that the election was illegal in any event.

It is to be regretted that through the blundering and incompetence of the city clerk, the validity of the boards will be bought into question and cause delay and probably a new election, on a proposition that should have been settled long ago.

      September 14, 1905

The public schools of the city opened Monday morning for the fall term.  The High school for white pupils will open at 8 o'clock a.m. and close at 1 o'clock p.m., and the High school for Negroes will open at 1:15 o'clock p.m., while the ward schools for both white and colored, although held in different buildings, will open and close at the same hours, 9 o'clock a.m. being the opening hour and 4 o'clock p.m. for closing.

The white and Negro high school will meet in the same building and will continue to do so until the new High school for colored pupils is erected, the white pupils attending in the forenoon and the colored in the afternoon.  Over $100,000 is spent for the education of the children in this city annually to say nothing about the amount expended for the erection of new buildings and for the repair of old buildings.  This vast expenditure of money should  furnish exceptionally good advantages to every youth in the city for securing an education , if judiciously expended  but unfortunately much of it will be squandered in the employment of incompetent teachers and this will always be the case until such time as the people see fit ot eliminate politics from the conduct of the schools.

October 12, 1905


Topeka, Oct. 11, - The validity of the law enacted last winter segregating the races in Kansas City, Kansas High Schools is to be tested in the supreme court.  The question was bought before the supreme court  this morning in a mandamus proceeding bought by Mamie Richardson, a Negro, against Thomas J. White, president and members of the Kansas City, Kansas school board.  It asked that the Richardson girl be admitted to the HIgh School for white children.  The petition says:

"That about September 12, 1905 she went to the High school at 9:00 in the morning and presented herself for admission; that she was informed that she could not be admitted into the school with the white children., who had exclusive use under the order of  the board of education, of the building  from 9:00 in the morning until 12:00 in the afternoon of each day and that colored children would be admitted to the school separately, and apart from the white children between the hours of 1 and 4 o'clock p.m. each day and that it is the intention of the superintendent under instructions from the board of education to prevent colored children from going to school with the white children.."

The Richardson girl contends in her petition that the High school is ample for the admission, instruction, and grading of all children of Kansas City, Kansas and that she should be admitted at that school without discrimination on account of her color.   She also says that the conveniences offered by the board of education for the instruction of the Negro children separate from the whites  are not adequate and that the board is discriminating against Negroes in favor of the white children, and that the board has not made proper provision for the education of the Negro children in the same manner that is adopted for the education of white children.  She also says that the attempt to separate the colors so far as an educational institution is concerned is against the laws of Kansas and the Constitution of the United States, and that it is an attempt to abridge the privileges and amenities of a citizen of the United States.

The new colored manual training school seems to have struck a rocky road. On account of the stupidity  and blundering of George Foerschler, Jr., city clerk, in preparing  and having printed ballots  for the school bond election, it is said the board of education has been unable to dispose of those bonds.    And now comes this suit in the supreme court attacking the law on the ground that the conveniences offered by t he board  of education for the education and instruction of colored children separate from the white children are not adequate and show and are a discrimination against the colored children.

Had the ballots been properly printed, the validity of the school bond election would not have been questioned, the bonds probably would have been sold, and the contract for the new building  let and by the time the above case comes on for hearing in the supreme court, the board could have answered that the colored children  had equal facilities with the white children. A competent man filling the position of city clerk would have been of great benefit to this city.



The following information was obtained with the help of Mr. Orrin Murray, noted Kansas historian.  We salute you Orrin Murray, a Sumnerite to be proud of.

Naturally there are different versions of the story of the incident.  However. even though there are several tales about the reason for the murder, one thing rings true, the fatality was the cause of blacks and whites being separated in the city's school system.

In a special interview with Orrin Murray, noted Black Kansas Historian, he pointed out that things didn't really happen exactly the way the newspapers printed it.  Our staff could not find records of any Black publication during that time (1904) and the only Black version can only be obtained from those who lived during these days.

According to Mr. Murray, who obtained the information from Lura Gregory, the brother of the accused slayer, Louis Gregory, the lad (Louis) was only defending himself when the fatal shot was fired, killing the white boy, Roy Martin.

Murray said it was not unusual for a fisherman to carry his rifle while snaring frogs or fishing, because they could shoot the large frogs before they jumped back into the water.  Since Gregory, 18, had gone to the pond to snare frogs, he too had carried his rifle along with his fishing pole, a gallon of drinking water and a sack of flour to put on his "catch".

The pond, which was located at 14th to 16th Street, between Ann and Barnett, was the rear part of what is now Ward Athletic Field.  Armstrong to Ann was then known as Nugent's Ball Park.  It was there that on April 12, 1904, that some whites had arrived early for athletic activities.  The boys were on the team of the Kansas City, Kansas High School, which at that time blacks and whites attended together, and is now Wyandotte, which was located at 9th and Minnesota.

Seeing that Louis was crippled, one leg shorter than the other, two of the boys decided to harass the black limping youth and make him run.  Since the white lads were coming after him with baseball bats, Louis did just that, ...he ran, but to where his rifle laid.  He picked it up and as the boys continued to advance on him and the fatal, shot was fired.  Roy Martin fell dead.

Orrin Murray says that still another version of the incident was published by the Gazette Globe, the only daily publication in Kansas City, Kansas, at the time The Gazette Globe stated that the school team had gone to the park for exercise, when a Negro tramp approached the white boys.  The youths asked the Negro to leave and when he did not, a fight began, ending with the death of Roy Martin.  The Negro tramp fled from the scene and was found a couple of days later hiding in the basement of his home.  The Kansas City Star printed even another version and copies of the original articles are shown on this page.--' 

Mr. Murray said that he doesn't really know which version is actually true but he prefers to believe that of the family, because he himself is black and he knows the prejudices of those days He said that he knows of only one person still alive, who was a student during those days of the riots.  Her name is Lula Ellison.

According to reports collected by Murray, Louis Gregory was taken into custody and held in the county jail (where the Ramada Inn stands today), where his life was threatened by the existence of mobs who intended to lynch him. The Kansas City Star stated that the sheriff was a fair man who handled the situation fairly and that his actions canceled a race war. However, blacks believed the sheriff to be quite prejudice.

A group of blacks saved Gregory's life by arriving on the scene. They called themselves the Springfield Rifle Immune Platoon.  Yet another account of this incident was given by a newspaper reporter who said the blacks were there to stop a riot.  According to Murray, the group of blacks was led by Rev. George McNeal who told the lynch mob that there had been enough bloodshed.  He then said that anyone to cross the curbstone would open their eyes in hell.

An order was given to shot to kill anyone who crossed the line. With this historic stand against the mob, the potential lynchers left and Gregory was not harmed. Gregory was given a very quick trial by a prejudiced judge and a biased jury and was sentenced to prison. After 30 years in 1934, he was given an unconditional pardon by the governor.  He died in 1964.

The following report of  The Kansas City Star portrays the whites to be do-gooders while blacks were of bad character and trouble makers. After reading that report, and that of Orrin Murray who spoke to the Gregory family, it is up to you to decide which one you prefer to attach to the history of Sumner.

While the incident is in the past and one should not worry about it, notes should be taken, as some of the same political schemes and biases, actions still exist.  Will we let it happen again?

The History of Sumner High School

"In 1905, a school named Manual Training High School was started in Kansas City, Kansas. The name, Manual Training High School, did not satisfy members of the Black community so much so that a meeting of ministers, attorneys, teachers and members of the Board of Education was held in the home of Corrvine Patterson.  It was in this meeting that the name of Manual Training High School was dropped and a more appropriate name of Sumner High School was selected by the group.  The name of Sumner was chosen to honor Charles Sumner (1811-1884) who was a member of the United States Senate from 1851 to 1874.  Charles Sumner was a very strong abolitionist who fought for the rights of the Black people.  Students, who first attended Sumner High School in 1905, came from the old KCKs High School and the old Central High School in KCKs.

These eighty (80) Black students began attending Sumner High School after racial trouble grew out of a fight between two youths, one was a Black youth and the other was a White youth.  The fight occurred in one of the city parks.  The White youth was killed by the Black youth who incidentally was not a member of any school.  This gave further impetus to an already growing dissatisfaction with having Black students and White students in the same school at the same time.  [Annotation:  The enrollment at Sumner Academy Arts & Science for the 2002-03 school years was 1137 students.]  

The State Legislature of 1905 was asked by the people of KCKs to pass a special law for KCKs only, which would permit the separation of the races in all the public schools.  This was promptly done by a "rush" legislation and the Kansas Supreme Court passed on the constitutionality of the new law in February, 1905.

The Legacy: Sumner High School
Johanna Sundblom

Early in 1906, a house and lot were purchased at the corner of Ninth Street and Washington Boulevard.  The frame house was moved to the opposite corner to its original location.  The old frame house was used as an orphan home for Black children.  This same frame building, owned by Dr. A. Porter Davis (deceased), can still be seen adjacent to the Davis property.  The Sumner High School was constructed during the school year 1905-1906.  It was ready for occupancy in September, 1906.  There was still some minor carpentry work which was completed while teaching in the building was going on.

During the school year of 1908-1909, the north wing was added to the main building.  The north wing contained four rooms and a basement for manual training.  In 1923-24, the building housed the junior high school while the Northeast Junior High School was being constructed.  The junior high students went to school in the afternoon.  It was necessary in 1924, to convert the auditorium into classrooms.  The Sumner gymnasium was constructed late in 1924 and it was ready to occupy in September, 1925.  About this same time it was necessary to use some of the Douglass School annex and remove the classes that were in the attic of the school which were unsafe, due to the construction of the building.

Two outstanding men, who served as principal of Sumner High School, contributed greatly to improve the northeast community.  Mr. John A. Hodge was principal for 35 years from 1916 to 1951.  Mr. Hodge would never permit young people to become inadequate.  He believed that there was a great potential in all Black youth, and he did everything within his power to see to it that his students were successful in school and successful in their daily lives after graduating from high school.  He was regarded as one of the most brilliant educators of his time.  His achievements were many, and he was an individual who was respected by all people in KCKs.  He was well known throughout the nation for his contributions to the field of education.  Mr. Hodge retired as principal in 1951.

The second outstanding individual was also the second principal of Sumner High School.  Mr. Solomon H. Thompson, Jr., served the community and Sumner for a period of 21 years from 1951 to 1972.  He succeeded Mr. Hodge as principal.  Like the previous principal, Mr. Thompson exhibited great capabilities as the principal of Sumner High School.  The school continued to be a strong outstanding institution just as it was during the past 35 years.  The Black community was very fortunate to have two strong leaders as head of the high school.  After the 21 years of his untiring dedication, Mr. "Sol" Thompson retired as principal of Sumner High School in 1972.

In 1924, the Sumner High School Division of the KCKs Junior College began.  Classes were held mainly in the annexed building.  Mr. John A. Hodge was appointed the Assistant Dean of the junior college division.  Part of the Sumner High School faculty, G. B. Buster, Scottie P. Davis, George Green, Edna Hoffman, Harry Thornton, and G. A. Curry taught in the junior college unit.

Construction on the Sumner High School athletic field began in the summer of 1931.  After the field was completed, a dedication of the field was held on October 28, 1932.  In addition to purchasing the land for the stadium, the Board of Education decided to purchase the plot of land on the northwest corner of Eighth and Oakland Avenue to Eighth Street and New Jersey Avenue.  Construction of the new Sumner High School began in the summer of 1938.  By 1940, the construction of the new building was completed.  Classes in this beautiful landmark began on January 2, 1940.  On January 9, 1940, the new Sumner High School was dedicated.  Dignitaries from all over the State of Kansas and from the State of Missouri attended this dedication, since this school was considered one of the most modern high schools to be built in the mid-west region.  Moving from the old building was done by students, teachers, and members of the Board of Education shops in December, 1939.  Only the latest equipment was brought over from the old building to the new building.

By the time the new building was occupied, Sumner High School had grown large enough to have 26 teachers on the faculty.  Throughout the years of existence of this famous high school, the names of many of the outstanding faculty members will be remembered by the community and the students in KCKs, such names as:  G. B. Buster, G. A. Curry, George Mowbray, A. T. Edwards, James Thatcher, Eugene Banks, Beatrice Penman, Rebecca Bloodworth, Scottie P. Davis, Edna Hoffman, Vera Reynolds, Clarence Thornton, Roberta Jeltz, Grace Stevens, George Green, S. H. Thompson, Jr., Paul Mobiley, Christine Sears, Rostell Mansfield, E. A. Taylor, William W. Boone, Clarence Turpin, Rosemary Daniels, E. A. Charlton, Edward Beasley, T. H. Reynolds, Oryama Tate, Robert N. Clark, John Henderson, Charles Terry, James Harris, Doris Moxley, William J. Smith, and above all, the most honored principal of Sumner High School, John A. Hodge.

Sumner High School produced many outstanding Black citizens during its years of existence.  The Sumner High School song was a school song that was known and sung by Blacks throughout the entire nation.  The song carries great historical significance and reverence for the school it represents.  The words of this song will always be remembered.



In the northeast part of old Wyandotte,
Stands a building that's tall and wide,
It received its name from the famous man,
This building is Sumner High.

Sumner was a man despised in the land,
For his kindness towards the Blacks,

And for this same cause without fear or laws,
He, while unarmed, was attacked.

Oh dear Sumner High; Dear old Sumner High!
How we love the name of Sumner High!

We will always sing as the birds in spring,
Praises to our dear old Sumner High.

And we must gain fame to add to our name
of Sumner which we love:

Men will sing its worth throughout the earth
The name of Sumner, dear old Sumner,

Sing the name of Sumner High.

Words by T. H. Reynolds - Carrye Whittenhill


The new Sumner High School is a building that is considered to be a fire proof structure of modern architectural design.  The exterior walls of the entire building are of mat-faced brick in various shades of cream and tan.  The corridors have asphalt tile floors, glazed tile wainscots and acoustical plaster ceilings.  The woodwork in the drama room is cut from natural redwood trees from the farm that once was owned by a member of the Board of Education.  The heating plant is in a separate unit.  The building is heated by steam boilers mechanically fired with coal (presently, the coal heaters have been converted into natural gas heaters).  The ventilating system provides for air circulation throughout the building.

The building contains twelve classrooms, four science laboratories, three commercial rooms, five home living rooms, five industrial arts shops, two music rooms, one dramatic arts room, two study halls, one gymnasium with two dressing rooms, a swimming pool, a library, an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1,100 people, a cafeteria that accommodated 380 people, one health suite, restrooms, and administrative offices.  The entire building has a working capacity of 1,250 students.  The Federal Works Agency, Public Works Administration made a grant of $378,000 for the building and equipment for Sumner High School.

In the spring of 1978, Sumner High School ceased to exist as one of the greatest high schools for Black students.  It was closed by the Courts as part of the mandate to integrate the public schools in KCKs, USD #500.  This court order enraged the Black people of this community.  They made a gallant effort to keep the existence of Sumner High School, but the Courts would not yield to their demands.

The school was reopened in the fall of 1978 under the name of Sumner Academy of Arts and Science.  The building has been remodeled with additional classrooms, library, cafeteria, and gymnasium.  Both Black and White students, who are academically talented, now attend the Sumner Academy of Arts and Science.