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Assault By Teacher Brought To Court

[Note: This was a most difficult article to write inasmuch the DAILY COURIER was not put on microfilm, to my knowledge. This story concerns the whipping of young male student by a female teacher in the Winfield schools and the father of the boy taking her to court. His name was McAllister. One of the articles called him McAlister, which is wrong. I corrected his name. The interesting part of the story concerns George W. Miller of the “101 Ranch,” who was in Winfield at the time events occurred. The story is being told out of sequence due to no access to the DAILY COURIER. MAW]
Arkansas City Republican, December 19, 1885.
                                                               An Outrage.
From the Daily Courier we learn of a most damnable outrage which occurred in the city school of Winfield a short time since and was perpetrated by Miss Maud Pearson, a teacher, and W. J. Vizey, the janitor, upon a pupil by the name of Frankie McAllister. Frankie was a good boy, but one day he grew refractory and Miss Pearson attempted to whip him with a piece of board 18 inches in length and seven-eighths of an inch thick. Frankie objected very obstinately to being licked with such a club and the teacher called in the janitor to assist. He refused to lend a helping hand, but went and told Prof. Gridley, the principal of the schools, of the condition of things. The Professor sent back word he was busy and instructed the janitor to stand by and see fair play. As he went back to the scene of war, he picked up a hard dry stick 20 inches in length and about the size of a large finger. This is the club with which the boy was licked, and he was licked most unmercifully too. On the boy’s body there were found twenty-seven big welts caused by as many licks from the club, and he was confined to his bed for over a week in consequence of the severe punishment. The father, John McAllister, had the teacher and janitor arrested for assault and battery and the trial came off last Friday and Saturday. All the above facts were clearly proven and yet in the face of them the teacher and janitor were acquitted by the jury and cost shoved on the prosecuting witness, John McAllister. Mr. McAllister is a poor man and in cases of this kind the law provides that costs must be paid, if in no other way, by imprisonment. Mr. McAllister is as poor as a church mouse and can no more pay the costs—over $100—than he can fly. Consequently, he has to go to jail.
The REPUBLICAN would like to ask is there no justice or redress in cases of the above nature? Do parents have to stand by with their hands folded and allow their children to be brutally beaten, or go to jail, when they ask the courts to lead what redress they can? By the rendition of a verdict against the teacher, the jury thought it would have a bad effect upon the schools. By the verdict rendered, the jury has licensed brutal punishment; placed the crime of assault and battery preferable to the usual mode of punishment. The teacher retains her position in the school and the father of the brutally beaten boy goes to jail because he asked for justice. As long as Miss Pearson is retained in the Winfield schools, justice will be a mockery. Her services should be dispensed with. The REPUBLICAN does not uphold the boy in his misdemeanor. He should have been punished, but not in the brutal manner he was.
                                                 MR. McALLISTER FREE.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, December 17, 1885.

Immediately after the issue of THE DAILY COURIER Monday, citizens began to look into the office to discuss the McAllister affair and never have we seen more earnest feeling displayed than in this case. Numerous propositions were made for his release; but before any of these could be carried into effect, another had taken the matter into his own hands and prompted by the whole-souled, generous, and noble spirit which always characterizes his action toward the poor and oppressed, went immediately to the jail and pledged his individual credit for the amount necessary to secure Mr. McAllister’s release. This man was George W. Miller. On reading THE COURIER last evening, he picked up his hat and started out. In answer to his wife’s inquiry as to where he was going, he answered “to jail.” He said he would have the old gentleman out or stay there with him, and walking straight over, he secured his release. The old gentleman was profoundly grateful for the generosity and kindness which prompted the action and Mr. Miller retired to his home satisfied in the thought that he had made at least one family happy and their scanty fireside brighter. For this act, let alone the many other of like character which he is performing every week, George W. Miller is entitled to the gratitude of this community.
We believe that the law which countenances an act so manifestly unjust is wrong and should be repealed. Had the verdict been simply one of acquittal, no complaint would have been found; but how on earth a jury could find the prosecution to have been brought “without probable cause,” thereby throwing the costs upon the old gentleman, is more than we can understand. The two little McAllister boys are manly, industrious little fellows and have been carriers for THE DAILY COURIER since its first issue. They have always been prompt, respectful, and courteous. They are always at something. When not carrying papers, they are blacking boots, doing odd chores, and ever on the watch to earn an honest penny honestly, and they always give value received in return. But above and beyond all is the fact that every penny thus earned is carefully saved and cheerfully and heartily given to help support their aged parents—in fact, since their father’s health has grown poorer, they have become almost the sole and only support for the family, and the father and mother have grown to lean on them, and small as they are, they have been as faithful and loyal as any children parents were ever blessed with. Under such circumstances, when Frank came home all bruised up from a whipping such as the father had never found cause to administer, he was justly indignant. His parental affection for the boy was strong and his faith in him implicit. He at once turned to the law, visited the county attorney, and filed a compliant which he believed to be just. But the cold arm of the law is not guided by a parent’s love, and the teacher was acquitted. Then goes this jury farther and say that his prosecution of the case was “without probable cause,” and he goes to jail for trying to protect his child from treatment which he had never thought necessary to inflict.
Men have been arrested in Cowley County for horse stealing and acquitted, but we believe there is no record of the prosecuting witness having to pay the costs. There was certainly more evidence to this gentleman that his boy had been mistreated than in the mere circumstantial evidence under which men are frequently arrested.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, December 17, 1885.

Judge Buckman is much incensed at our article of Monday on the McAllister incarceration as doing him, the officers, and the jury gross injustice. He instructed the jury that they might bring in either of four forms of verdict, embracing “guilty,” “not guilty,” and “not guilty and the prosecution was malicious or without probable cause.” The jury selected the latter form, striking out the words, “malicious or” and leaving it reading, “not guilty and the prosecution was without probable cause.” The verdict made it the duty of the justice under the law to tax the costs to the prosecuting witness, and to commit him to jail unless he should pay the costs or give sufficient bond that the cost should be paid in thirty days. Both of these McAllister positively refused to do. This was Saturday night. The justice took the risk to release him on his parole to appear before him on Monday morning. On Monday McAllister still refused and the justice had no other way but to pay the costs himself or commit McAllister to jail. He did the latter. The jury seem to have intended, by striking out the word “malicious” in their verdict, to release the prosecuting witness from the costs and yet to emphasize their verdict of acquittal. When we suggested to the justice that he ought to have instructed the jury as to the effect of their verdict in case they found “without probable cause,” we were answered that “the jury had no business to know what would be the effect of their verdict. It was their business to find the facts in accordance to the evidence and without reference to the consequences.” This may be law but it is not common sense or justice, and we observe that district courts instruct juries in that particular and that it is a cause for peremptory challenge if a juryman believes the effect of a verdict of guilty will be too severe on the defendant. We hold that the sole object of the law concerning such verdicts was to enable the jury to pass upon the question whether the prosecuting witness should be taxed with the costs and jail until he paid them, and they should have been instructed as to the effect of each form of a verdict. They needed to know the effect of the words “without probable cause,” as much as they needed to know the effect of the words “guilty” or “not guilty.” We observe, too, that it is getting to be the style in some states and cases that the jury shall not only find the verdict but pass the sentence.
But we did not intend to reflect on Judge Buckman or do him injustice. We have every confidence in his judgment, his devotion to justice and duty, and in his kindness of heart.
The jurymen were among the soundest, most intelligent, and honorable men in the community, but they were not lawyers and did not profess to be versed in the law. We do not believe they intended to tax the costs to the defendant to the amount of seventy-seven dollars and send him to jail until paid. In fact, some of them have told us so. They merely intended to emphasize the verdict of not guilty by using the form they did and struck out “malicious” to avert the costs from the complaining witness; but it did not have that effect, and the old man went to jail. It is probable too that if any of the jury did know the effect of such a verdict, they did not know the condition of the man and family of the complaining witness, but all agreed by their verdict that it was not a malicious prosecution and, presumably, that he ought not to be taxed with the costs.

THE COURIER complained of nothing but the outrage of sending the man to jail, did not believe he would be sent to jail until he actually went. It was then that it kicked. It did not kick at any one in particular but at the outrage and at anyone or anything that might be to blame in any way. It does not see that it has done anyone injustice, but if it has, we want to remedy it. Its main object was to liberate the old man and in that it succeeded. The old man was freed the same evening and the costs are disposed of without depriving his family of their only means of subsistence during winter.
We approve of the verdict of acquittal. We do not think the defendants ought to have been convicted. Had the verdict been simply “not guilty” and nothing else, we think no injustice would have been done. We do not blame the teacher. We think she tried to do her duty properly in very trying circumstances. We sympathize with her in the distress which we know she has suffered on account of this trouble, more real to her than to anyone else except the father of the boy. We should be very slow to prosecute a teacher unless indeed it were a very serious case accompanied by malice. Our confidence in that teacher is not disturbed in the least. It is a tradition amounting to common law that teachers should inflict corporeal punishment on refractory pupils and it is too much to expect of any young girl to stem the tide of custom in such a case. She thought she had to do as she did. She did not understand the boy she was dealing with and we think erred in judgment as to the proper kind and amount of punishment.
                                               CORPORAL PUNISHMENT.
         Miss Pearson and W. G. Vizey Acquitted of the Charge of Brutally Whipping
                                     A Pupil.—Judge Buckman’s Jury Charge.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, December 17, 1885.
The case of the state against Maud Pearson, teacher in the first Intermediate department of the Central Ward schools, and W. J. Vizey, charging her with brutally chastising Frank McAllister, a pupil, and Vizey, with assisting, was concluded at five o’clock Saturday evening. The jury, being out only twenty minutes, brought in a verdict of acquittal, finding that the case was brought without probable cause and throwing the costs on the prosecuting witness, John McAllister, father of the boy. The trial consumed two days, was largely attended and created exciting interest among all teachers and parents. All agreed that a conviction, even though the evidence had warranted it, would have been very demoralizing to the schools. It would have been a big incentive to obstreperous pupils, and greatly detrimental to good school government. The verdict, however, would have been much more satisfactory had it been a simple acquittal and left the costs to the State. Mr. McAllister is a poor man, unable to pay the costs over a hundred dollars. The law requires jail commitment until the costs are squared. There is little doubt that McAllister was conscientious in his prosecution. His investigation was not wide enough. He took too heavily the story of the boy, as the evidence in the case was given in THE COURIER Saturday, it is unnecessary to repeat it here. The charge of Judge Buckman to the jury is one that every teacher, parent, and responsible pupil should read. It contains information that all should possess.
Arkansas City Traveler, December 23, 1885.
The trial of Maud Pearson, one of the teachers in the city schools, on the charge of beating a scholar and inflicting serious bruises, resulted in the lady’s acquittal. The father of the boy who was beaten was the prosecutor, and being unable to pay the costs of the suit, was committed to jail until the costs, amounting to $78, were paid. He was committed to jail on Monday; and on Tuesday a subscription was raised amounting to about $80 to pay the costs. Among those who donated liberally were all the teachers in the public schools, including Miss Pearson, the lady who had been tried. Winfield Telegram.

[Note: I found the above item a wee bit hard to swallow! It does not agree with the article written in Winfield Courier, which states that George W. Miller paid the $80 to bail Mr. McAllister out of jail. Further, it is hard to believe that Miss Pearson would pay to get the young student’s father out of jail. MAW]
It turns out that others did not get the story of the assault by a teacher...
                                    WHAT OUR NEIGHBORS ARE DOING.
  Newsy Notes Gathered by The “Courier’s” Corps of Neighborhood Correspondents.
                                       HACKNEY HAPPENINGS. “MARK.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, December 24, 1885.
At the risk of being considered critical, I cannot refrain from remarking that, either through inexcusable oversight or intentional carelessness, the judge’s charge to the jury, in the recent teacher’s trial, was omitted in the issue of the weekly COURIER. The country people were treated to voluminous criticism and comments on the motives and actions of the parties directly interested in the trial, and also to quite a dissertation on the injustice of the law in this special case, but the most valuable information connected with the whole matter and on a subject which every patron and officer of country schools would be glad to be enlightened upon was lightly passed over in THE COURIER’s edition having the largest circulation of any paper in the county. We would not feel so much slighted and aggravated over the matter, but, to cap the climax, our daily of that issue, as usual, when it contains important matter, failed to reach this office and not one of the daily subscribers here received a copy of that issue. Of all the papers published in the county, and notwithstanding the fact that one of them claims the exclusive right to publish an educational department and boasts of having a short hand reporter, fails also, to publish this instructive information. We depend on the COURIER for information regarding all matters of interest transpiring in Cowley County. To intensify our feelings the writer called at THE COURIER counting rooms the following day, but utterly failed to secure a copy of said issue of the DAILY—not one left to tell the tale. Now we hope the COURIER will redeem its good reputation as a newspaper by publishing this piece of valuable information in its weekly edition or it may have a few subscribers less at these crossroads. Patience and forbearance too much imposed on, ceases to be our crowning virtue.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum