Blog Entries: 1 to 4 of 4
Doniphan School Kids
If you were lucky enough to find a school record book with information on your ancestors, would you keep it? Fortunately for some people, someone did just that. Until last year's junk jaunt when Tammy Hendrickson, NSGS Area Rep, found this teachers record book in Cairo. She gave the book to me as it appears all the children lived in Doniphan, Hall county, which is my area. Although no specific school is mentioned, likely, this is from District #26. It covers the years 1933-1937. Meredith Haggard taught for the first two years, then Gertrude Fay Marsh was in charge of the classes. Their pay started at $450 for the 1933-34 school year and increased to $540 in 1936-37.
Some of the information included in this record book include each child's birth date, some notes of vision impairments and vaccinations. Nearly every child had some cavities in their teeth. There was an outbreak of chicken pox in January, 1934, cases of measles and whooping cough in January/February, 1935 and small pox in January, 1936. One child had the mumps in April, 1936. There are notations of children missing school for funerals or "visiting", and a year-end summary of each child's progress. At the end of the 1934-35 school year, the children went to Grand island for a picnic. At the back of the book is a list of visitors to the school.
I plan to offer this to either the Hall County Historical Society or Stuhr Museum, but before I do that, I'll post here a little of the information on these students. I have done no other research on them.
Jack Baird, son of Cash Baird, attended all four years begining in the First Grade. He took an extended 3 week vacation in September/October of 1936.
Bernard, Dolores and Naoma Graham, children of Clifford Graham. In 1934 Bernard was in Third Grade, Dolores in Second and Naoma started First Grade, but Naoma dropped from the roll in November. The family moved to Hastings in March, 1934.
Ivora Jones, daughter of Ivor Jones, was in 7th Grade in 1933-34 and graduated in 1935. She missed school twice for funerals in 1934-35. Her younger sister Jeannine, began school in 1934, but is not listed as a student in the 1936-37 school year.
Children of Howard L Marsh, Ruth, Edith and Jane Marsh, attended this school for only the first two years of this book. Ruth in the 5th and 6th grades, Edith grades 3 and 4 and Jane grades 1 and 2. There is no mention of any relationship to Gertrude Fay Marsh, who began teaching the year after these girls left.
Mary Elizabeth Laughlin, daughter of Robert McLaughlin, was a 6th grade student in 1933-34 and graduated in 1936.
Margie Trotter, daughter of Arthur Trotter, was in 6th grade in 1933-34 and moved to Grand Island in April.
New students in 1935-36 included Gene Boltz, son of August, in 1st Grade. His sister, Irene, started school in 1936-37.
The children of Nobel G Hurst, who came to this school in the 1934-35 school year were Beulah in 3rd Grade and Joyce, in 1st grade.
"Buddy" or Gerald Jones, son of W Scott Jones, started 1st Grade in 1934-35 and attended through 1937.
Bonnie Jean Montgomery, daughter of Walter, entered 1st Grade in 1935-36 and moved to Minden in March of 1936.
Elden and Jane Orcutt, children of Fred Orcutt, started school April 20th, 1937. Jane was a 4th grader and Elden a 3rd grader.
Custer County Nebraska Early Schools
Early School History Of Custer County, Nebraska
One of the first requirements in every new settlement was schools. This was the case in the location where the first school districts were organized. We will add a few notes on the beginning of public schools in Nebraska. First school in Nebraska was at Fort Atkinson in early years, where children of soldiers and other attended.
Thirteen years later a mission school was opened at Bellevue for Indians. Fifty years last in 1852 in Cass County opened the first public school in Nebraska supported by tax funds. Three years later in 1855 the Territorial Legislature made provisions for establishing a school system by taxation. Most early schools were in private homes. The first school building in Omaha was located on Jefferson Square and built in 1863. The first school building in Nebraska City was built in 1866. In 1887 the Nebraska legislature passed a law making it compulsory that all children of school age must be sent to school. In 1891 school districts began furnishing books which gave each public the same kind of a text books.
The first schools in Custer County were what were called subscription school in which patron gave a little towards the support of teacher. This generally consisted of meat (mostly wild game) flour, potatoes and other foods they might be able to spare.
The first school in the county was taught by Mrs. Ed Eubank, in her home in a log cabin in the kitchen, about two and half miles north of Douglas Grove. This was the fall of 1875. Her husband Rev. Eubank would start the school, while she did up-the house work and then she would take over the rest of the day. This was a three month school. The next year there were two subscription schools in the county. Mrs. James Wagner taught school in a dugout about half mile west of Douglas Grove. Miss Callie Dryden taught a. school in a dugout near New Helena. In order to secure a certificate Miss Dryden
was required to go to North Loup in Valley County, where the superintendent of the organized county had supervision over schools in what was then organized territory in which New Helena was located. This Miss Dryden refused to do and to over this inconvenience, Judge Mathews developed a plan of his own. He decided to conduct the examination himself and drew up the questions and submitted them to the teacher. She wrote the answers as best she could, considering the writing material at hand, the Judge carried the papers to North Loup and laid the case before the County Superintendent Mr. Oscar Babcock, who decided this was a very unusual case and issued the certificate. It is thought no other certificate ln Custer County was ever issued in a like manner Miss Callie Dryden has the distinction of being the first certified teacher in Custer County secured a regular certificate from Custer county first superintendent of, schools Mr. Eubank.
The first school districts in what is now Custer County was numbered eleven and fifteen and were organized, and numbered by Valley County. Number eleven became District number one and number fifteen became district number two after Custer County was organized. Taxes were collected in unorganized territory and turned over to Valley County for expenses of these schools. The first public school supported by taxation was held in 1877 in the spring. Miss Callie Dryden as teacher in District fifteen and Helen Shemmel in district eleven. In the fall of 1877 Custer County was organized and these districts became districts numbers one and two.
A search of the tax records, by County Superintendent Weekly in an effort to give some facts of interest in connection with the beginning of Custer county schools. Disclosed that in 1878, there was only two pieces of land in the territory were assessed. These being the only tracts proved up on, and deed received. These were Charles A. Hale on the southeast quarter of section fifteen and Nimrod Capel a tract in sections thirty three and thirty four. Both of these could be in the Douglas Grove neighborhood. Those charged with personal taxes were; Samuel Wagner, William Wagner, William Kates, Frank Ingraham, A.A. Higgins, S. F. Harrod, L.R. Dowse, William Edwards, E. D. Eubank, J. W. Comstock and M.M. .Bray.
A search of the tax records, by County Superintendent Weekly in an effort to give some facts of interest in connection with the beginning of Custer county schools. Disclosed that in 1878, there was only two pieces of land in the territory were assessed. These being the only tracts proved up on, and deed received. These were Charles A. Hale on the southeast quarter of section fifteen and Nimrod Capel a tract in sections thirty three and thirty four. Both of these are in the Douglas Grove neighborhood. Those charged with personal taxes were; Samuel Wagner, William Wagner, William Kates, Frank Ingraham, Aaron Higgins, S. F. Harrod, Lewis Dowse, William Edwards, Edwin Eubank, John Comstock and M.M. Bray.
Found in the archives, there were tax receipts for payment of taxes to Valley County in the spring of 1877 by Mr. James Oxford. Personal taxes were $7.47, and thirty two cents of this was for the University of Nebraska. Mr. Oxford taxes for 1880 were his real estate and came to $3.58 and personal taxes were $10.13 and of this eighty six cent for local school and twenty six cents for the university
Johnson History of Nebraska printed 1880 but the material gathered in 1879. That gives the population for Custer County as 696 people. With the population split being; 415 males and 281 females. That there were 1,308 acres assessed.
This would mean only ten or eleven parties had proved up on their land by the spring of 1879. Land was assessed-at $1.50 an acre. There were two school houses with a total of sixty one pupils.
Also noted in this was that Custer County had plenty of government land (to homestead) that would be suitable for either stock raising or farming. We had 835 horses valued at $14,395, mules were 20 for the value of $536, sheep total 4161 with the valule of $1 each, swine total was 183 for $218.25. The cattle total count was 23,900 for the value of $150,231 and these were listed as meat cattle.
We had a few post offices like: Tuckerville, Lena, Georgetown, Douglas Grove, and New Helena. in 1879 the county seat was on the South Loup River and served numerous cattle ranches and was a busy place.
In this report two school houses are mentioned. In the fifth anniversary report for school district the county. Some other claim to have had a sod school building before this data, but no school district had been organized in those districts at that time. Shortly after district number one was organized the people wanted a regular school house. Efforts were made towards securing this school building. A number of men went to the cedar canyons near New Helena, and cut and hauled cedar logs. These were hued and ready to begin the building. An argument arose as to the details and location of the building. It was decided not to build until an agreement was made. The logs were piled up and the men went home. But before the question was settled a prairie fire came along and burned the logs. It was then decided to build a sod school house. School was continued in the dugout until a sod building was erected. Mr. Will Wagner was given a contract to build the sod building for $125.00. This was ready in fall 1882.
District three was the first district organized in the south part of Custer County. Dist #3 was organized in 1880 and the first school was held upstairs of David Sprouse home. This was northwest of Callaway. Mr. Alfred Scheryer was the teacher. The children were from the Scheryer, Decker and Sprouse families.
Soon afterwards a sod school house was built and was located at the foot of the hill west of Callaway. A frame school house was built likely by Mr. Sam Idell, a builder of the pioneer days. Many of the old timers at Callaway had a home built by him too.
History tells us in 1882 the county had grown to the population of about 3000 people. One of the challenges of pioneer life was that were many wild animals that roamed this land and this made one wonder with the children walking many miles to school. The schools were place in populated areas and later they were about ever six mile apart. By 1890 have a total number of residents of near 20,000 in the area that have homesteaded and later some come with the railroad.
1885 school year had the following: (in school district and were listed, to age 20 years)
The following items were taken from the record called the School Census, which was taken every year. This recorded all children in the district that were under the age of 20 years. This document is helpful in telling where they lived, who was in the house, what was their age or birthdays. And the families often knew each other and traveled together or were related when they came to homestead.
School District ONE, called Wescott had a school building that was made of sod. And the district did not provide textbooks for the school work. They did receive $500 from the county treasurer. The teacher was Eliza C Westcott, paid $25 per month for 2 months; they bumped to $30 per month for the other 5 month of the school term. They had 178 days for the year for the total of $200 for the teacher. (this is similar to the 180 day we have in 2021)
School district TWO was named New Helena and the families all lived in Township 19, range 21. They started school on 31 August 1885 for a six to seven month term. They now furnish the textbooks for classroom. The district had a total of 53 students in this area. Funding came from the $1.50 in non-resident tuition and $500 from county treasurer. They had a school house made of logs at the value of $300 and the land value was $28.
The teachers were: (none were did a whole year)
Addie Cooper at $25/ mo. – for 3 mo.:
John L Klepper at $30/ mo, for 2 mo.;
Hattie M Jeffords at $30/ mo - for 1 month;
and Anna L Gordon at $25/ mo – for 3 months.
School district THREE, named Delight or Whaley, was the first district organized in the southwest part of Custer County. Near what was later to become Callaway. This was organized in 1880 and the first school was held upstairs in the David Sprouse home. Mr. Alfred Schreyer was the teacher. The children were from the Schreyer, Decker and Sprouse families. Soon afterwards a sod school house was built and was located at the foot of the hill west of Callaway. One of the early teachers was Miss Della High.
In 1885 district #3 had the teachers of S.A. Price at $25/ month for 3 months, H.C. Phillips at $30/ month for 4 months, and Chester Piece or Peidd at $25/ month for 3 month. District #3 started school on the 3rd Monday in October in a sod house that was valued at $25 and land value of $1. They had 48 students and the district did not furnish textbooks for school work. District #3 director was Ira McConnell.
School district FOUR, called Copsey, was just northwest of where Westerville was yet to be formed. The director of the district was L.O. Webster? The school building was made of sod and the building had no value listed. Funding came from the $500 from the county.
Teacher was Mattie Thomason? For the term of six months that started on first of Sept and she was paid $30/ month. There were 23 children in school in 1885. They did provide textbooks for school work.
School District FIVE, called Myrtle, was near the Lee Park area, between Westerville and Arcadia just inside the east county line. The school director was D.C. Goodrich and the Teachers were: Lizzie Wisley for 3 months and was for $90 and C.P. Russel for 3 months, for $90. They later had a teacher of Kate Wescott that was paid $25/ month and she came at mid-term. The term began Nov 15 and went to May 4th for only 6 month term and they did not provide textbooks. There were 35 children in school age in the district. There was said to have owed the teachers $46 and $20 but had no funds to pay them at the end of the year they had a balance of $1.68 in treasurer.
District #5 had a note for $50, and had a bill of $66 for teacher salary (yet to be paid), and only got $147.11 from the county treasurer for the school year. The building was made of sod and valued at $150 and the land at $15.
Just ask and see what you can find out about your family. These records have existed for each county, it's just where to find them. County records OR Historical Societies.
IT IS AMAZING WHAT THE SCHOOL RECORDS HAVE FOR RESEARCING.
Stitches In Time
So many of my ancestresses were labeled "housekeepers" or "domestics" in the federal census enumerations. "Housekeeper" being the code word for Chef-Nurse-Bookkeeper-Gardener-Teacher-HeadBottleWasher and of course - Seamstress. Those earlier times made seamstresses out of many women who maybe would not have been if there wasn't the need. Whether the need was financial or lack of access to ready-made clothing, sewing was likely a part of their job description regardless of their like or dislike of it.
I learned to sew through 4-H and took projects to the county fair, but most of them were a waste of material. How many of you have made a "smock-top", and how many of you actually wore one? For my mother, sewing is a fun pastime. To this day, her sewing machine rarely sits dormant for very long. She keeps finding ways to use up her stash of material. She told me once that she spent her first teaching paycheck on this sewing machine, the one I used
She made several articles of clothing for me and my siblings, along with every dress I ever wore to any high school dance. She made a "Gunny-Sax" style dress for me which I loved! After 40 years of it hanging in my closet, I decided that I could never sell it, certainly couldn't wear it and just couldn't get rid of it. So I found a friend who quilts and had it all cut up into pieces and upcycled into a nice lap blanket to curl up with and watch movies.
Both of my Grandmothers sewed. I still remember for Christmas one year my Grandma Violet (McGrath) Bell gave me a blue gingham flannel bathrobe she had made. There were matching blue slippers that she had knitted along with it. She had a modern sewing machine, but still had her old treadle sewing machine I saw her use once. My husband and I tried to buy it on the auction, but there was a woman there who wanted it - or could affort it - waaaay more than I could.
Many years ago my Grandma Doris (Mann) Menke made me this coat.
I've heard it said that Grandma's mother, Cora (Gaisford) Mann could sew her daughters dresses they wanted without a pattern, just from a picture they showed her. She cut her patterns from newspaper and used flour and feed sacks for material. Knowing that I found it interesting to see in the 1860 Massachusetts census that Cora's mother's aunt, Julia Bliss, was listed as a "dressmaker" at age 21. Cora's father, Charles Gaisford, was a weaver, then a spindle maker. I can't help but think he met his bride Henrietta Smith through her aunt Julia Bliss.
Grandma made a quilt for each of her children and grandchildren - 18 of us in all, plus other quilts and wall hangings. A few years ago I stopped to visit her one day and she needed help putting the foot feed back on her sewing machine after oiling it. To my surprise I was able to help her with that, but even more surprising was the fact that Grandma was starting a new sewing project at 93 years old.
The handi-work of my seamstress Grandmothers has my full admiration. I won't be refilling a bobbin anytime soon, but one of my grandnieces seems to like to sew. There the fibre arts may continue.
This weekend is the anniversary of one of my Grandmothers' birth and the others death. As I reflect on their memory today, I think that they enjoyed sewing for their families and took pride in their skill. I am truly grateful for these hand-crafted heirlooms.
Family heirlooms are memories you can hold in your hand.
The Value of a Stone
I love cemeteries, and I am not alone in my appreciation for American memorial gardens. Cemetery tourist, grave hunter, cemetery enthusiast – we go by many names. If you want to get technical, a taphophile is an individual who takes an interest in cemeteries, the grave markers in them, the art they portray, and the lives of those they memorialize. I usually say “genealogist” and my appreciation for cemeteries is inferred.
As a genealogist, it is the information that can be gleaned from the grave marker that holds the most value to me. Yes, the pictures are pretty, but what do they tell us about the decedent? That’s what I’m looking for.
Grave markers are first and foremost memorials. They are left in memoriam of those who came before us. There’s no real purpose to “knowing” where a grave is other than to remember the person buried there. There are countless roads, housing developments, cornfields, city parks, and yes, swimming pools, that remind us that planting a body in the ground is no deterrent for progress. It’s not the grave that we are seeking – it’s the grave marker.
Above: Emely, wife of John Brown, Sloan Cemetery, Sloan, IA
Documents are not guaranteed a long life – they are lost over time due to a lack of records management, an act of God, or they never existed in the first place. Not every cemetery had a map, an interment book, burial permits issued. In some situations it was expected that the grave marker would forever serve its purpose and mark the grave.
In genealogy we are advised to look at any possible record to help us learn about our subject. When we find a “brick wall”, we are told to think outside the box – look at records that are not obvious sources of genealogical data. One of the most interesting genealogical finds I’ve encountered was in a set of city council meeting records. But sometimes, the only record that a person ever existed is their grave marker.
Above: unknown grave, Prospect Hill Cemetery, Omaha, NE
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times – sometimes the only record that a person existed is their grave marker. More often than not, people respond to me with disbelief. They shrug off my statement as some kind of hyperbole meant to entice a dramatic response. That just can’t be. Surely there is some other record – a birth certificate, a family bible entry, an obituary, a cemetery record –there has to be something other than that hunk of stone – it just hasn’t been found yet. But it is true – whether no other records were ever created or they just didn’t survive the ravages of time, that marker is IT.
Cemetery tourists, grave hunters, taphophiles – many of the folks who visit a cemetery to enjoy its art tend to gravitate toward the extraordinary monuments – the large, intricately carved, or unique pieces of art. If their visit is prompted by an appreciation of the historical significance of the memorials, it is the entrepreneurs, the politicians, the notorious they seek out.
Above: Emma Jean, Oak Hill Cemetery, Plattsmouth, NE
I encourage you to look down. There’s a grave marker there - small, insignificant, without any grandeur or pomp, existing in the shadow of those larger than life monuments that surround them (sometimes literally), quite possibly in real danger of being lost forever. That little grave marker represents the memory of somebody’s baby – somebody’s love – somebody’s friend -somebody. A marker was placed with the intent that that person would be mourned, grieved over, and remembered.
Our memorial gardens are filled with beautiful art, interesting characters, unfathomable stories, and I will continue to visit and honor them. I would ask of you dear reader that the next time you are revealing in the exorbitant, in the extraordinary, in the benevolent and the ghastly, that you take a moment. Give a thought or two to those who left no legacy, and look down.
Above: unknown grave, Old Baptist Cemetery, Hannibal, MO