Menomonie, Wisconsin History/kidda1438
James Huff Stout (25 September 1848 - 8 December 1910) was the founder of The Manual Training School in 1891, now known as University of Wisconsin Stout: Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. Stout’s father was one of the founders of Knapp, Stout, & Co. Company. Stout worked for his father, and later managed a lumber company. Stout didn't find education interesting until he moved to Menomonie, Wisconsin. After he settled, Stout established free libraries around the town and his name became well-known. Working as a Senator, Stout acquired most of the needed skills for starting a school. The Manual Training School was such a success that Stout expanded the school by adding different classes for an assortment of students. The school was re-named three times due to events taken place through the years. Now as Wisconsin's Polytechnic University, students are changing their lives in the small town of Menomonie thanks to James Huff Stout and his magnificent ideas and commitments.
It all started in Dubuque, Iowa, where Stout grew up. In 1867, Stout attended the University of Chicago. He did not find schooling fun and instead found it annoying and a waste of time. Luckily, Stout’s father gave him the option to either go to school or work; Stout chose to work. While Stout was working for the company, he married Kittie Morrill. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last and ended in 1879.
Ten years later, Stout moved to Menomonie, WI, and started establishing free libraries. This was a very important accomplishment in the community because most libraries required people to pay to get into them. Stout was also a chairman for the Library and Educational Society. Due to being a member at the Society, Stout was able to install a free library in the famous Mabel Tainter Theatre. Stout didn’t just move to Menomonie and create the Manual Training School, he also started to show how much he cared about Menomonie by creating libraries for the community. Stout became a state senator and used his wealth and generosity to establish many useful organizations and buildings around the town.
“As a legislator, Stout promoted the cause of libraries and rural education. He served as chair of the Education Committee and introduced a bill to provide for the creation of the Free Library Commission, funding the salary of one of the commissioners out of his own pocket. Stout also backed the building of the State Historical Society Library, and in 1895, served as the president of its Board of Commissioners.”.
After this accomplishment, Stout had managed to start traveling libraries. He not only affected Menomonie, but also affected many communities across the nation.
James Huff Stout was married to Angeline Wilson, daughter of Captain William Wilson, who was also one of the founders of Knapp, Stout, & Co. Company. Stout and his wife had three children together. The names of the children were James Huff Jr., Eveline Demling, and William Wilson. Unfortunately, Eveline and James died at very young ages. Eveline died of diabetes at the age of eight and James died at the age of twenty for unknown causes. William, the only child to survive past twenty, ended up managing the Knapp, Stout, & Co. Company in Arkansas and later moved out to California.
Stout died on December 8, 1910, of Bright’s Disease, otherwise known as a kidney inflammation. After his death, Angeline went through a tough mourning phase in her life because she loved her family with all her heart. Angeline put all her effort into her family to make sure they were well off. In 1941, Angeline was struck by a car while crossing a street in Menomonie and was declared dead. A lot of death consumed the Stout family, but their efforts and creative minds managed to live on through the extraordinary buildings throughout Menomonie today.
The Wilson Place, now known as the Wilson Place Museum, was inherited by Stout and Angeline when Captain William died in 1892. The Stout’s decided to remodel the place. The detailed renovation took about four years to complete, but the outcome was out of this world and continues to amaze people who come to Menomonie to see the Wilson Place Museum. Stout created more history throughout Menomonie through houses he inherited through his father-in-law.
Manual Training School
While managing a mill in St. Louis, Stout found another interest in education. According to The University of Wisconsin Stout, “Stout developed his keen interest in manual training schools through an affiliation with the Louis Solden Technical High School in St. Louis.”. He started the Manual Training School in 1891. The school started out as a two story building that expanded the Menomonie school system. Stout’s main objective for the school was to “promote a classical liberal education, but emphasizing practical application such as practical judgment, perception and visual accuracy, and manual dexterity over theory.”, taking learning outside the books and really focusing on life skills. It is also important to focus on the fact that the school opened for both men and women; this was very rare for schools to do back then. Most schools were only open to men because it was unlikely women would go to school. Stout made sure that there were specialized classes for women and succeeded.
In 1904, The Manual Training School won special recognition at the St. Louis World Fair. Later, in 2001, the school won the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award. It was the first four-year institution to win that award. The school has continued to grow since the Manual Training School, causing the school to be renamed and transformed many times.
Transformation of Manual Training School
Along with creating the school itself, Stout also created different types of classes within the school for a variety of people. Stout created a kindergarten class in 1894, a kindergarten training school in 1899, a school of physical culture in 1901, training schools for training teachers in 1903, and a homemaker's school in 1907. Due to the different schools within the Manual Training school itself, Stout wanted all the schools to become one. This was the cause for the school to change its name to Stout Institute.
A few years later, Stout passed away and the school was then managed by its own board of regents; this lasted until 1955 and then became Stout State College. In 1965, the State Colleges were upgraded to Universities and Stout State College was then incorporated into the University of Wisconsin system. Soon after, Stout State College transformed into the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In 2007, University of Wisconsin-Stout changed its name one last time to Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University. Although the school was renamed many times throughout its magnificent history, the main focus was manual training.
Today, Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University is filled with many intelligent students and they are reminded of the history by the scattered monuments around the town of Menomonie. Although there were many people involved in creating the town’s history, Stout is the person who stands out to most of the University’s students because they are attending the school that he created.
- A Short Biography. (2015). Retrieved November 1, 2015 from: http://www.uwstout.edu/about/history/biography.cfm
- The Man and His Family. (2015). Retrieved November 10, 2015 from: http://www.uwstout.edu/about/history/family.cfm
- Chippewa, H. (November 28, 2008). James Huff Stout inducted into Wisconsin Library of Fame: Dunn County News. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from: http://chippewa.com/dunnconnect/news/local/james-huff-stout-inducted-into-wisconsin-library-hall-of-fame/article_095798c0-5014-5f73-ab67-ed7d33b4f749.html
- Bee, D. (June 24, 2001). Back To The Future Manufacturing Engineering At Stout. Retrieved November 3, 2015 from: https://peer.asee.org/back-to-the-future-manufacturing-engineering-at-stout
- School overview for University of Wisconsin-Stout. (2015). Retrieved November 10, 2015 from: www.unigo.com/colleges/university-of-wisconsin-stout/summary
- Governor proclaims Dec. 8 James Huff Stout Remembrance Day. (December 6, 2010). Retrieved November 3, 2015 from: http://www.wqow.com/story/13624317/governor-proclaims-dec-8-james-huff-stout-remembrance-day
- WI, Recollection. (January 10, 2014). History of UW-Stout. Retrieved November 10, 2015 from: http://recollectionwisconsin.org/history-of-uw-stout