A to Z Challenge: Wildwood School

Alzina Boone, widowed at a young age and with a family of four children to support, finds herself struggling to be a teacher at school, and a mother at home. In the early days of Kansas settlement, life was not easy for anyone, much less a single parent. Her faith in a caring God, and sheer necessity kept her going when others might have given up. She was my great grandmother and these are her true stories.

1906

Another move. Alzie, still searching for a school for that term, was convinced to uproot the household and go to Iowa. The promised job there in Trenton, was not at all to her liking and they agreed to pay her way to Tabor, a nearby town, where she had friends. Stanley stayed in Eskridge, supporting the family with his newspaper job until he was sent for.

“We went, “not knowing whither we went” or what welcome awaited us. Another adventure of faith. But I was borne above any fear by a supernatural assurance that God had a place for us there, and I reasoned that each of us could earn at least our board somewhere.

We arrived at Tabor on a cold, snowy day when snow was about two feet deep. We found paths made to the Faith Home and were given a Christian welcome there. Friends we had known in Eskridge who now lived across a ten acre pasture from the Faith Home offered to rent to us two rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs.

Folks told me that the Wildwood School, three miles west of the Faith Home wanted a teacher, and Elder Weaver recommended me to them. They came into town to meet me and gave me their contract for the school, which was to begin the next Monday, at $35 a month for three months. A horse and buggy was loaned to me by a friend of the Faith Home. The Training Home offered to give Stanley a job in the printing office, no salary, but board and lodging, so I sent word for him to come, using his money for fare. I promised to give him money later to buy a camera which he had long wanted. Both of my boys disliked to leave one place for another.

That three month term of school was pleasant and I was engaged for the next year, eight months at the same salary. During the summer vacation I found work easily in the homes of Tabor and so did the girls. John got steady work on farms near town, and Stanley got work in the Tabor Beacon newspaper office at $5 per week. My mother wrote to me “you are eating your white bread now”. It was marvelous to all of us the way God had opened for us and prospered us. “They that trust in the Lord shall not be confounded.”

Along in July 1906 we rented a seven room house from the same man who loaned us the horse and buggy. That was a happy year. Fruit was plentiful and we secured enough to can more than 100 quarts, beside a lot of glasses of jelly, We gathered apples on shares, and had ten or twelve bushels of apples stored in the cellar – Jonathan, Winesap, and Grimes Golden. We had potatoes and pumpkin and vegetables also stored, enough for more than a year.

Ethel had become quite proficient in cooking and ventured on many a new recipe to our great delight in eating. Both girls were neat housekeepers and very careful with their clothes. They earned most of the money they used for clothes. Esther’s joy was almost unbounded when she could dress with “everything new that she wore” one Sunday. They did much of their own sewing too.

John kept the yard and garden clean and neat, and took care of the horse and chickens. He also kept the wood box filled. All this besides working by the day for neighbors on vacation, or in occasional jobs.

Stanley used his out-of-office hours either in camera work, or studying telegraphy or engineering, or in some kind of athletics. He was growing so tall and yet was so thin that he was ashamed of it, and exercised a great deal to develop more muscle. He had established a five mile run that he made two or three times a week in good weather. He was ambitious to become able to support the family without my having to teach school or work out so much. He liked telegraphy and corresponded with some schools about taking a course. “

A to Z Challenge: Very Tough Times

Alzina Boone, widowed at a young age and with a family of four children to support, finds herself struggling to be a teacher at school, and a mother at home. In the early days of Kansas settlement, life was not easy for anyone, much less a single parent. Her faith in a caring God, and sheer necessity kept her going when others might have given up. She was my great grandmother and these are her true stories.

1904 – 1905

Alzina moved the family 45 miles away to Eskridge for this fall term. Her brother-in-law, Ora, was trustee on the board of Eskridge Bible School and she contracted to teach there in return for $15 a month and room and board for herself and the four children. She was not always paid when it was due and things got tough.

“The trustees failed to pay me the $15 agreed upon, and the matron of Faith Home objected to my discipline of her twelve year old daughter and tried to get the trustees to dismiss me. Two trustees stood for me, so the matron and her daughter left about the middle of the year. I had become inspired with the vision that more than half of the supporters of the Eskridge Bible School had for the future of the school, and I decided I would stay with the work as long as I had evidence of God’s approval and of these good people. I had the work of the Faith Home to take care of after the matron left. There were four children beside my four, all near the same age as mine. In addition to this was my work as teacher of four grades.

Alzina (far right) and a group of her students.

There were times when we didn’t know where we would get anything for the next meal. It was truly an adventure of faith for me, but I had felt that God wanted me there, and would see me through. So I didn’t complain to my parents, or to Ora, my brother-in-law, though he was a trustee, but was having his own tests and persecutions and adventures of faith, of which we may write later.

The trustees sent a basket of bread to us each Tuesday, and my cow gave two gallons or more of milk each day, and pasture was provided by friends. The closest test was one day when, at noon, we had eaten the last boat of bread or any kind of food in the house. I told the children about it and said that we would meet in the dining room right after school to pray as did the orphans in the London Orphan’s Home, of which much had been read and told in the Faith Home Circle.

At 4 o’ clock, after all pupils had gone home, I put away my papers and closed my desk to go home. As I passed through the door from my room to the hallway, Mrs. Cody, who had seemed to join in opposing me, was coming down the steps, and she handed me a 25 cent piece, saying “The Lord told me to give this to you.” So I was happy to tell the children to thank the Lord for answering before we even called.

I bought a sack of cornmeal and we had mush and milk for the evening and the morning meal. And the basket of bread came before noon next day. I cannot say that God would have one teacher bear such a load of responsibility and faith with so little cooperation, but I am glad for this experience which proved that God honors those who dare to sacrifice for his cause, and trust his promises.

In the spring when school was out, we rented a four room cottage in the northeast part of Eskridge at four dollars a month, where we lived six months or more.

As Stanley had learned to set type in the office of “The Old Paths”, founded by Ora as organ of the Eskridge Bible School, he applied and secured a job at the Eskridge newspaper office at $5 a week, ten hours a day for six days a week. While Stanley had a job, it seemed best that we should stay at this place until something else opened. Thus the three other children could be kept in the Bible School. I was not invited to teach there.

John raised some garden and chickens, and took good care of the cow, and by little jobs here and there, he usually had some money in his pockets. It seemed almost magical and we laughed gaily about his always finding money to his surprise in his pockets.”

A to Z Challenge: Teacher’s Trials

A family with 9 children survives life on the Kansas prairie in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The experiences they have illustrate the joys, sorrows, hardships and everyday life of the Midwest pioneers. This faith filled series of stories is true. The eldest child was my great grandmother Alzina Pomeroy Boone.

1899 – 1904

The next few years Alzina worked hard to secure teaching contracts in schools near her supportive family in order to stay close to her children. It wasn’t always possible. Her parents were her primary help, and the children’s memories are largely of being raised by their grandparents. In 1901 it became clear that she was not going to be able to keep the farm. Her parents also had to leave their “prairie home” and go to the city of Emporia, where grandfather Emerson Pomeroy went into the blacksmith business, in which he prospered.

Grandfather Pomeroy’s blacksmith shop in Emporia

Alzie’s children went with their grandparents to Emporia, which created a painful separation for Alzie, who stayed with her contracted school. She joined them there the next summer. She taught the next few years at various schools in the Emporia area. The children were all old enough by this time to be helping with work at home. The boys even worked on farms in the summers. The following story took place in 1904. Alzie was teaching at the Waterworks School and they were all loving being together in their own house… until this happened.

“The four children had the measles that winter while I taught at the Waterworks School and we were glad that I could be at home every night. With Emma and Mother so near through the days, I did not miss a day of school. But another teacher secured that school for the next year and before the annual school meetings were held I became ill with smallpox.

My illness and the quarantine that was imposed on us took so long that all the desirable schools were taken before I could visit any. The two boys had been vaccinated at school, so Mother and Father kept them while I was quarantined, that they might be free to get employment during the summer. Ethel too, had been vaccinated, so she and Esther devoted themselves to caring for me. They fumigated the house and our clothing and obeyed all rules of sanitation. They were so successful, that even Esther who had not been vaccinated was immune to the disease.

The rash covered my entire body and all membranes of my mouth and nose and gave me such internal misery the first two days. I was relieved from pain after prayer at family worship the second night, but then broke out profusely with pox within and without. However, I was completely delivered from every pock, though I counted 66 on my face in the mirror. The rest of my body was as profusely pocked as my face, but all got well without a scar. And this smallpox proved to be one of the “all things” that work together for good, for all those picks or boils had so purged my system that never since have I been so tired and worn out at the close of the school year as I had been the previous four years.

No one had taken the smallpox from me, for which we were all grateful. Stanley and John had earned a good reputation as gardeners and farmers, beside earning quite a bit of money. Johnny had so pleased a farmer north of Emporia that the farmer offered to adopt John, and John wanted to stay with him, but the farmer cared little about God or heaven, and I couldn’t consider leaving John with him.”

This year of teaching was summed up by Alzie in a way that teacher’s today can probably identify with. Alzina’s teacher checklist:

“That year at the Waterworks School was fairly pleasant and successful. Father secured a horse and buggy for me. When I got into the buggy after my boys got “Fanny” hitched up, about 8 o’clock each morning, there were some things I learned to check to save embarrassment: 1. My school door key. 2. My glasses (spectacles) 3. My false teeth. 4. My watch. 5. My lunch.”

Alzina and her students. What were they all looking at?