Sowers Alternative High School

2400 E Wassall St, Wichita, KS 67216

Sowers Alternative High School is housed in the former Sowers Elementary School, named for Fred A. Sowers. 

Sowers was born in Canton, Ohio on August 18, 1839.

Fred Sowers
Courtesy: findagrave.com

In 1863 Mr. Sowers enlisted for service in the Civil War, but was discharged so he could care for his mother.

In 1864, Sowers moved to Kansas and enlisted in Company A of the volunteer regiment. He took part in the Battle of Westport and continued to serve until the end of the war. 

In 1867, Mr. Sowers married Mary L. Schattner.  They were together until her death in 1879.

Sowers worked at the Leavenworth Times before moving to Wichita in 1870. 

He was the first editor in Wichita starting The Vidette newspaper.

The first issue of The Vidette
Courtesy: Wichita Public Library

In 1872 he and David Millison started The Beacon.

Mr. Sowers married his second wife, Clara Hurst, who was 23 years younger than him.

Over the years Sowers served on the City Council for two terms. After helping organize the Board of Education, he served for three terms on it. He was one of the veteran members of the Kansas bar, and was secretary of the Old Settlers’ Association of Wichita. 

Fred Sowers
Courtesy: Kansas State Historical Society

In his later years he also worked in the real estate business. 

Fred Sowers died on February 2, 1918 at age 78. He is interred at Highland Cemetery.

Sowers Elementary School opened September 8, 1953. According to, A History of Wichita Public School Buildings, ”The school was not connected to the city gas or water lines. The children waded the creeks in wet weather. There were times of high water when the Joyland train was used to transport the children across Dry Creek.” 

In 1954 two foot bridges were constructed to cross the creeks and in 1956, Wassall was paved and a bridge was constructed over Dry Creek.

Declining enrollment closed Sowers as an elementary school in 1990. 

The building reopened as an alternative high school in the fall of 1990. Focusing on special education students and students with behavioral issues. In 1994 the school was changed again, only serving the special education students.

The Sowers site also has an undeveloped ten acre city park.  The maps list it as Gill Park, which I can only assume is named after the Gill Family that ran one of Wichita’s earliest funeral homes.  Parts of the funeral home and its carriage are on display at Cowtown. 

Upon his death, The Beacon’s story on Sowers said, “Mr. Sowers was always a quiet and good citizen.  He was an optimist from the start as to the future of Wichita and he lived to see most of his prophecies realized.”

Did you go to Sowers? Add a fond memory or a favorite teacher in the comments.

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