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Thread: John McNeese

  1. #1
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    SLII 1901-1921 John McNeese (SLII perception)

    At some point in time an attempt arose -by some- to glorify SLI's ever improving status by belittling the multi faceted history of SLII. Due to this effort, there arose a small but etched perception that originally SLII had been nothing more than a glorified high school.

    While the multi-pronged SLII educational attack did include on campus high school, it was simultaneously an advanced summer teachers college.

    Judging the past by the present is one of the few mistakes of history that can be overcome. The best way to see how SLII was viewed is to see how the people of the era viewed the school.

    We get this peak of incite in the person of state renown educator John McNeese. To understand how his perception of the University of Louisiana back when it was known as SLII is important, it pays to learn a bit about the man.

    The reason this relates is because upon the completion of high school, the son of John McNeese, was sent by his father to attend the University of Louisiana (SLII)

    John McNeese had 5 children Oswald, Stella, John T., Hawley, and William McNeese.

    McNeese State University in Lake Charles was named for John McNeese out of respect for his contributions in the area of education, as he was the very first superintendent of education in the State of Louisiana. He was connected with education until his death in 1914.

    John McNeese was born in 1843, in New York City, and would have been 55 when the Louisiana Legislature passed the bill establishing the institution if SLII.

    He would have been 60 when he physically interacted with SLII; ironically it was in the form of helping coach Lake Charles high school in a 1903 game of football against SLII. A game in which his son John T. McNeese participated in as an opponent of SLII.


  2. #2
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    John McNeese was the son of a Scottish shipbuilder who had settled in NY in the early 1800's. John served in the Civil War before heading for Texas where he was involved in stock-raising. This love of land was later continued in his son John T. McNeese as he became a cotton farmer.

    Around 1873 due to a drought that killed most of his cattle John McNeese closed shop and decided to sell his cattle, he did so in New Orleans. He started over in Southwest Louisiana. He taught school in Welsh, LA and then Lake Charles and 10 years later in 1883 he was appointed to the Calcasieu Parish School Board.

    He was appointed superintendent of education in 1888. Within two years he raised the total of public schools in the parish to 24 and four years later it had grown to 114. His greatest contribution was the successful effort to levy the first public school taxes in Louisiana.

    John McNeese was known as "the Great Farmer Statesman"


  3. #3
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    Do you know why John McNeese sent his son with a high school education to SLII?

    Because it was not a glorified high school, it was an institution of higher learning.

    An institution that fit the needs of Southwest Louisiana at the turn of the 20th Century, perfectly.

    It was in all aspects a college, that is how the State and the studnts viewed themselves.

    At first there was a younger than normal admission age, but it was only a temporary concession by Dr. Stevens to the taxpayers who voted for the school. There is no evidence that more than a handful of students of that age group were initially admitted.

    The high school that the school did -later- house internally is unrelated to the schools opening.


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