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S. M. Nees. Thirty-two years of continuous association with the public schools of Independence gives S. M. Nees probably a unique distinction in the State of Kansas. For the larger part of this time he had been principal of the Montgomery County High School, the largest county high school in the state, and prior to that he was principal or superintendent of the public schools of the city proper.
During all these years he had been a real leader in educational affairs in his home county and his influence had done much to give vitality and uplift to the work of public education throughout the State. Many will be found to say that the splendid county high school, which had trained so many young men and women for useful careers, is in an important sense a monument to the educational leadership of Professor Nees.
The family to which he belongs came originally from Pennsylvania, and was established there, probably of German lineage, prior to the Revolutionary war. Samuel Michael Nees was born in Poland, Indiana, May 25, 1863. Just after his birth his father, Samuel Nees, who had enlisted in the Ninety-seventh. Indiana Regiment of Volunteer Infantry early in the war, was killed in the battle at Jackson, Mississippi. Samuel Nees was born in 1842 at Poland, Indiana, was reared and married there, and followed farming until he entered the army. He had gone to the front shortly after his marriage to Emeline Reed, who was born in 1841 and is still living at Poland, Indiana.
The only child of his parents, Professor Nees grew up in his native town, attended the public schools there, and found opportunity to secure an advanced education. In 1881 he was graduated in the normal course from the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, now Valparaiso University. In 1882 he completed the scientific course in the same institution, receiving the dagree B. S. On leaving college he was principal of the schools at Poland, Indiana, for two years, and in 1884 came to Kansas. He taught one term in a district school in Montgomery County, and then in 1885 took the principalship of the Independense High School. He was its principal five years, following which he served as superintendent of the city school system of Indspendence for nine years. For the past eighteen years he had been principal of the Montgomery County High School, an institution that serves the entire county.
This high school was established in 1899, and the first year its enrollment was about 200 pupils. The original building was erected in 1899, and a large addition was made in 1912. At the present time the county high school had an enrollment of 560 pupils. Four regular courses are maintained: Commercial, normal training, college preparatory, and a general course. Professor Nees had under his superintendence a faculty of nineteen teachers, most of whom are graduates of colleges or normal schools, and also a librarian. The high school is located at 507 North Tenth Street in Independence.
Professor Nees had also been a careful business man, and had acquired considerable property in Montgomery County. He owned a 125 acre farm, and had city property, including his residence at 703 North Tenth Street, and a house and lot adjoining his home.
During the administrations of three different governors he had served on the text book committes, had been for a number of years and is president of the library board, is treasurer of the Kansas State Teachers’ Association and a member of the National Educational Association. Politically he is a democrat. Professor Nees is perhaps the oldest living past master in Independence of Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient, Frco and Accepted Masons, and is a member of Keystone Chapter No. 7, Royal Arch Masons; St. Bernard Commandery No. 10, Knights Templar; Eva Chapter No. 18, Eastern Star, and belongs to Lodge No. 17, Ancient Order of United Workmen. He was recently elected an elder in the Presbyterian Church, of which he had long been an active member.
In 1887, at Independence, Professor Nees married Miss Lizzie Londry. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Londry, her father being practically retired from business and a veteran Union soldier of the Civil war. Mrs. Londry died in 1911. Professor Nees’ only son, Paul Bertram, is a graduate of the Montgomery County High School, finished a classical course in the Kansas State University, also received the degree LL. B. from the law department of the university, was admitted to the bar in 1913, and is now bookkeeper in the Commercial National Bank.