George Victor Buchanan


George Victor Buchanan, whom that veteran American educator, Professor Greenwood, for forty years superintendent of the Kansas City public schools, pronounced as one of the best superintendents in the school work of the United States, came to Oklahoma City in 1913 to take charge of the public schools as superintendent. Both the city and state are fortunate in securing a man of such reputation and ability, since in matters of education as in other things Oklahoma is still new and plastic, and the services of such a man as Mr. Buchanan will prove invaluable in laying the proper foundations and will be reflected in benefits for many years to come.
George V. Buchanan was born on a farm near Bellmont in Wabash County, Illinois, in 1859, a son of Hiram Bell and Helen (Blood) Buchanan. His father was a native of Illinois and a civil engineer by profession. He was connected with the construction work of the Illinois Central Railway on the Chicago branch, and on finally retiring from that service located on a farm in Wabash County, where he was engaged in agriculture until his death in 1863. The mother, left with the heroic task of rearing the five small children on the little farm, met the obligation nobly and lived to see all of them educated and independent and then passed away in May, 1913. The Buchanan family is of Scotch descent. The first American ancestor arrived in Pennsylvania early in the eighteenth century, and the family afterward moved to Virginia and from there to Kentucky. The great-grandfather of George V. Buchanan was a pioneer of Lawrence County, Illinois, while the grandfather, Walter Buchanan, was born and reared in Lawrence County, spent his life as a farmer, and died at the age of seventy years. Though he had but six weeks schooling, Walter Buchanan was a natural mathematician and never found a problem which he could not solve. Walter Buchanan married Jane Gillespie, a native of Ireland, and thus the family stock of Superintendent Buchanan is largely Scotch and Irish.
George V. Buchanan attended the country schools of his native county, the high school at Olney, Illinois, and in 1880 graduated from the Teachers College in Danville, Indiana. At the age of eighteen, he began teaching in the country, and had three terms to his credit when he finished the course of the Teachers College. In 1880 he became principal of the Mount Carmel Grammar School in Illinois, served one year there, and then entered the State Normal University at Carbondale, where he was graduated in the classical course in 1884.
From 1884 to 1886 he was principal of the public schools of. Salem, Illinois, and in 1886 was made professor of mathematics at the Southern Illinois State Normal University, a position he held for seven years until 1893. Within that time, in 1888, McKendree College at Lebanon, Illinois, gave him the degree of Master of Arts. From 1893 to 1908, a period of fifteen years, Mr. Buchanan was superintendent of the public schools of Sedalia, Missouri, and while there took post-graduate studies in the University of Chicago. It was his work as superintendent of the Sedalia public schools which brought him prominently to the attention of educators all over the country. While at Sedalia Mr. Buchanan was chosen by the Missouri World’s Fair Commission to superintend the educational exhibit of the state in the St. Louis World’s Fair. The commission placed $75,000 at his command and the exhibit abundantly justified their generosity. The liberal space allotted was filled with specimens of school work representing all classes of schools in the state. The arrangement of the exhibit was unique; an attendant could locate the work of any pupil in the state within a moment’s time. Light and motion were attractive features of the exhibit. This was clearly the largest and most popular state educational exhibit ever set up. Careful estimates made by those in charge indicate that more than ten million people visited this Missouri educational exhibit within the life of the exposition. In 1908 the City of Joplin, Missouri, secured Mr. Buchanan’s services as superintendent of its city schools, and he remained there until 1913, when he took his present position as superintendent of the public schools of Oklahoma City.
During his twenty-two years of work as superintendent of city schools Mr. Buchanan has the unusual and perhaps unique record of never having a vote cast against him at any election or reelection by a member of the boards which employed him. In every case his election to a city superintendency has been unanimous. Since 1891 Mr. Buchanan has been a prominent member of the National Education Association, is a member of its educational council, had charge of one of the departments of the National Superintendents Association that met at Chattanooga, has served on various committees of the national bodies, and is now a member of the Committee of Superintendents of the National Council of Education, besides being active as a lecturer on educational matters before teachers’ associations. He is also a charter member of the National Society for the Scientific Study of Education, and has always been active in the State Teachers Association while engaged in the work of his profession in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma. During his residence at Sedalia Mr. Buchanan organized the “Nehemgar Literary Club,” an organization for strictly literary purposes. Hon. Walter Williams, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, in an article in the St. Louis Globe Democrat has said that the “Nehemgar” is probably the most important literary club ever organized in the West. Mr. Buchanan became president of the club at its beginning, held that office all the time he was a resident of Sedalia and since leaving that city has been made honorary president.
Mr. Buchanan takes an active interest in the Masonic fraternity, is affiliated with Oklahoma City Lodge No. 36, A. F. & A. M., King Cyrus Chapter, No. 7, R. A. M., Oklahoma Commandery No. 3, K. T., the Lodge of Perfection, fourteenth degree, of the Scottish Rite and a member of the Shrine. He is also affiliated with the lodge of Elks at Sedalia. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and belongs to the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma City Men’s Dinner Club.
In December, 1887, Mr. Buchanan married Miss Hattie Starr, daughter of Judge Charles R. Starr of Kankakee, Illinois, who for twenty-five years was circuit judge of the Kankakee District and one of the ablest lawyers and jurists of Illinois. To this union have been born seven children: Helen, wife of Leon MeGilton of Sedalia, Missouri; Agnes, wife of H. L. Smith, formerly of Kansas City but now a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina; Raychael, a kindergarten teacher in the St. Louis public schools; Richard Bell Buchanan, a member of the class of 1916 in the University of Illinois; George V., Jr., a student of journalism in the University of Missouri; Marjorie; and Katheryn. The family reside at 515 West 11th Street, while Mr. Buchanan has his offices in the Oklahoma City High School Building. For a man of his numerous distinctions in the educational world, it is all the more creditable that he has carved his own destiny and largely educated himself. It was through his own efforts and the savings of hard work that he acquired it higher education, and not only accomplished much for himself but helped two of his sisters attend the State Normal University at Carbondale, Illinois, and all three of them graduated in the same year, 1884.