Biography of Ira I. Cammack
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Ira I. Cammack, who has devoted the greater part of his life to educational work, has done valuable service in the capacity of superintendent of schools in Kansas City, which position he still holds. He was born at Deming, Hamilton county, Indiana, on the 16th of February, 1858, his parents being James and Edith J. Cammack, who were pioneer settlers of eastern Indiana, taking up their abode in Randolph county. They held birthright membership in the Friends church and were prominently identified therewith throughout their entire lives. The father brought the first steam sawmills to central Indiana. Joseph Pearson, the maternal grandfather of Ira I. Cammack, had the first station of underground railroad north of Cambridge City, Indiana, where Levi Coffin, the reputed president of the underground railroad, lived and operated.
Ira I. Cammack obtained his elementary education in the country schools and subsequently became a student in the Union High Academy, which was conducted under the auspices of the Friends church of Westfield, Indiana, and from which he was graduated in 1879. During the following year he attended Valparaiso University. His first teaching experience was gained in the rural schools of Hamilton county, Indiana. Following the completion of his high school course he took charge of the Sugar Plain school west of Thorntown, Indiana, a combination of public and Friends school. Later he assisted as a student in the Union high school and in 1881 entered Earlham College as both student and teacher. He served for two years in that capacity and during one year as librarian and student, being graduated in 1884. The following year was spent as a student in the Johns Hopkins University. In 1885-6 he had charge of the Union high school and in June, 1886, was elected to the position of elementary school principal in Kansas City, Missouri, where he has since been located. After serving in the latter capacity for eleven years he was made vice principal of the Central high school, a position which he held for four years, on the expiration of which period he was chosen principal of the Central high school, remaining in that capacity for a decade. Subsequently he served as assistant superintendent of schools under J. M. Greenwood for two years and on the latter’s retirement became superintendent of schools, which position he now holds. In 1896-7 he was a student In the Kansas City Law School and pursued courses to within one month of graduation, preparatory to discontinuing teaching and entering the profession of law. At that time he expected to enter into partnership with a college friend in Indiana, but he received appointment as vice principal of the Central high school and this promotion induced him to remain in the teaching profession. For two summers he engaged in public work, building public sewers in Colorado and Kansas. He had expected to discontinue teaching and become a contractor in public work but was prevented from following this course by the fact that the man with whom he was associated met death by drowning. With these exceptions he has devoted his entire attention to the work of teaching, making every endeavor to keep abreast of educational development. He was a student and visitor at the University of Chicago for four summers between 1896 and 1910 and also spent two short periods at the Teachers College in New York in an endeavor to ascertain the best ideals and methods in modern public education. He has been a member of the National Education Association since 1891 and also belongs to the National Educational Council and the National Society for the Scientific Study of Education. His property holdings have included residences in Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, where he erected three residences and became the owner of a fourth.
In 1886, at Westfield, Indiana, Mr. Cammack was united in marriage to Miss Lulu King Dove, daughter of Dr. S. C. Dove of that place. The latter was one of the pioneer physicians of central Indiana and enjoyed a large practice until his death in 1909. At the time of her marriage Miss Dove was a teacher in the public schools of Frankfort, Indiana. She early displayed marked musical ability and for some time gave her attention to that art, but domestic duties later caused her to abandon it. She has since engaged in club work, being a member of the Athenaeum and City Clubs of Kansas City and particularly of the P. E. O. Sisterhood, in which she has been u member of the state board for three years.
Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Cammack, one of whom died at the age of eleven years. The other is now the wife of Dr. F. C. Toulon, one of the high school inspectors of the state of Wisconsin.
Mr. Cammack has given his political allegiance to the republican party since east ing his first vote when in college. He has always adhered to the liberal branches of the party, was an ardent follower of Roosevelt, and at the present time styles himself an independent republican. He has served as a delegate to conventions but has never been a candidate and has never taken active part in speaking in any political campaigns, believing that as a public school teacher one should not engage in partisan politics. He has not aspired to any official positions other than in the public schools. He has been identified with the Masonic order since 1886 and has also joined two other fraternal organizations for the benefit of the insurance which is obtained through their membership. During his residence in Kansas City, Missouri, he has held membership in the Commercial Club, the Rotary Club, the Automobile Club, the Kansas City Athletic Club, the City Club and a number of other organizations of similar nature from time to time. He has always adhered to the religious faith in which he was reared and has what is known as the birthright membership in the Friends church in Hamilton county, Indiana. He is widely and favorably known throughout the community in which he resides and his name has long been an honored one in educational circles of the state.