In October, 1884, the town of Ashland was located within the limits of district No. 1, and, in the following summer, was made the county seat. Therefore, in more respects than one, district No. 1 is the first in the county. The schoolhouse site was changed to Ashland, and Mrs. I. M. Walker taught the next school. Sometime in the summer of 1886, bonds were voted to build a schoolhouse. The foundations were completed, when the school board decided that the rapidly growing town needed a better house than the one contemplated. More bonds were voted, and the next spring a two-story brick building, with accommodations for 300 pupils, was contracted for. In August, when the house was nearing completion, it accidentally caught fire, and became a total loss in a few minutes. The foundation was not damaged, and another house like the one destroyed was built thereon and ready for use the following January.
While the above-described building was being erected, school was held in the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. Three teachers were employed: W. L. Cowden, principal; Mrs. S. C. Donnell, first assistant, and Miss Minnie Young, second assistant. Mr. Cowden resigned before the end of the school year, and Mrs. Donnell was promoted to the vacancy. Geo. W. Carr, the next principal, served two years, followed by C. W. Mills, one year; D. A. Tear, one year, and W. L. Cowden, two years. The school is thoroughly graded, and has a high-school course of three years. It is the only school in the county offering advanced instruction, and some of its students are among the most successful teachers in the country schools.
At the first election held after the organization of the county, June 16, 1885, C. C. Mansfield was elected county superintendent, and served till the end of the year. He had J. B. Bradley and W. L. Cowden appointed associate examiners, and held the first examination for granting teachers' certificates October 31. During his term of office, and prior to January, 1886, Superintendent Mansfield organized 15 school districts, with an enumeration of more than 500 children.
At the general election in November, 1885, Dr. C. S. Williams was elected to succeed Superintendent Mansfield, and was twice reelected, serving, in all, five years. He completed the organization of the county into school districts, held a normal institute each year, organized a teachers' association, conducted an educational column in local papers, and did much in general for the educational interests of the county. W. L. Cowden was elected in 1890, to succeed Doctor Williams, and was reelected in 1892.
The first county normal institute was held at Ashland, in the Presbyterian Church, during August, 1886. Four-weeks sessions have been held each year since. The conductors have been: B. S. McFarland, C. S. Williams, D. A. Tear, and John Curran. Mrs. S. C. Donnell, Mrs. Julia A. Crane, Geo. W. Carr, J. W. Campf and W. L. Cowden have served as instructors. Each session has cost about $150, and from 50 to 60 students have been enrolled every year. As a rule, the teachers who attend the institute do better work than those who do not. District officers have learned this, and young teachers who do not attend the county normal find it a little difficult to obtain schools, when others, who have institute training, can be employed.
A county teachers' association was organized early in the history of the county, and from four to eight meetings are held each year. The meetings are held at the county seat during the winter, and at other places in the spring and autumn. The gatherings in the small towns and in the country are better attended and are more interesting than those held at the county seat. On such occasions, the farmers and friends of education turn out with their families, picnic fashion, and make a day of it.
In 1891, a reading circle was organized. Nearly all the teachers became members. Through the superintendent's office, 35 sets of the adopted books were furnished to teachers. County and township meetings were held, but not with much success.
In nearly all the districts, the first schools were taught in dugouts and sod houses most convenient to the patrons. Usually they were abandoned "claims" houses. Only a few were built for school purposes, and two or three of these improvised temples of learning are still in use. In 40 districts there are now good, substantial frame or brick buildings. All are supplied with approved furniture, and a majority furnished with dictionaries, maps, charts, and globes. A few districts have small libraries. The average cost of the frame houses and furniture is about $800. Besides the brick building at Ashland, already described, Englewood has a neat brick schoolhouse worth $5,000.
The following comparative statement will show briefly the progress of our schools: During the school year ending June 1, 1886, 32 teachers were employed, 22 being females. The average salary was $20 per month, for both male and female teachers. The enrollment for the year was 465, and the average daily attendance 328. During the school year ending June 30, 1892, 54 teachers were employed, 35 of whom were females. The average salary of male teachers was $36.14, and of females, $31.40. The enrollment for the year was 690, and the average daily attendance 531. The total expenditure during the year for all purpose was $12,858.48.
Law and government
Although the Kansas Constitution was amended in 1986 to allow the sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink with the approval of voters, Clark County has remained a prohibition, or "dry", county.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,531 km² (977 mi²), of which 2,524 km² (975 mi²) is land and 7 km² (3 mi²), or 0.26%, is water.
Clark County's population was estimated to be 2,206 in the year 2006, a decrease of 179, or -7.5%, over the previous six years. As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 2,390 people, 979 households, and 676 families residing in the county. The population density was 1/km² (2/mi²). There were 1,111 housing units at an average density of 0/km² (1/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.77% White, 0.25% Black or African American, 1.13% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 1.88% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.02% of the population.
There were 979 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.30% were married couples living together, 6.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.90% were non-families. 29.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the county the population was spread out with 26.60% under the age of 18, 4.90% from 18 to 24, 23.10% from 25 to 44, 23.60% from 45 to 64, and 21.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 95.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $33,857, and the median income for a family was $40,521. Males had a median income of $27,321 versus $20,833 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,795. About 11.30% of families and 12.70% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.00% of those under age 18 and 10.20% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Ashland, 958 (county seat)
Unified school districts
Minneola USD 219
Ashland USD 220