Thursday, March 7, 2019

Beyond Cooking and Cleaning: Cavendish Teachers

As the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) continues honoring the women who helped to shape Cavendish during Women’s History Month, this week we focus on Sandra Stearns' article on teachers that was written in 1996.

She provides an interesting overview of teaching in Cavendish, showing there was not equal pay for equal work, as men were paid more than women, and even when it came to room and board, female teachers were expected to “help out,” which was not the case for their male counterparts.

Following Sandra’s article is a Cavendish Schools Timeline.

Common school teaching in Vermont began as a male occupation, with men being the predominate teachers of both summer and winter terms till about 1802. By that time it was beginning to be a sexually integrated profession. Women quickly won the right to teach the summer term when the larger boys did not attend school, needing to help on the farm. Summer school usually ran from May to September and was attended by small children-who usually did not attend during the winter-and the girls. The average wages in 1845 were $3.00 a week for a male teacher and $1.15 for a female.

The “industrial revolution” which was on going in the early 1800s, offered many new opportunities for males.

In the early 1800’s womanhood was divided into 4 virtues-piety, purity, submissiveness and domestic talents. These virtues were the rationale for hiring women as teachers. Teaching was a way to display marriageable girls outside their own neighborhoods. Low pay and high turnover indicates that the community did not expect them to teach very long. Males controlled their working conditions and the community controlled their living conditions and behavior. Public opinion-not law-held that women could not both work and marry.

One of the big champions of women as teachers, and who helped to shape the profession, was Catharine Beecher. Sister of the author/abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, she believed it was the school’s responsibility to stress the moral and physical, as well as intellectual, development of children. With the country’s rapid growth and men leaving teaching to work in business and industry, Beecher recognized the untapped potential in the growing population of educated women and advocated for females to be trained as teachers.

In 1823, Beecher co-founded the innovative Hartford Female Seminary, whose purpose was to train women to be mothers and teachers. In 1829, her essay "Suggestions Respecting Improvements in Education," promoted women as natural teachers, but also advocated for an expansion and development of teacher training programs, claiming that the work of a teacher was more important to society than that of a lawyer or doctor.

In 1852, Beecher founded the American Woman's Educational Association with the goal of recruiting and training teachers for frontier schools and advocated for teachers until her death in 1878. Although she was influential in providing women with the education necessary to become teachers, many have viewed her efforts to transform teaching into “women's work” ultimately led to a decline in the social esteem accorded the profession.

Center Road School House as it appears today
In the Cavendish Center School in 1844 Isaac Clark received $62.50 plus board of $12.50 for 12 weeks of winter school while Harriet Smith received $15.00 plus board of $12.32, which also included a broom, dipper and glass. Board for women was cheaper as they supposedly ate less and were expected to help in the house.

The practice of boarding around was abolished by the Legislature in the late 1860s. (They stated that “all money necessary to defray the expenses in the support of schools be raised by a tax upon the Grand List.” This enabled the burden of funding education to fail proportionately on the real property rather than on the number of scholars who used the school.)

As many able young men left home to fight in the Civil War, 75 to 85% of the teachers became women. Miss Eveline Kendall taught summer school at the Center School in 1864 and received $18.00 plus $15.00 for board while Benjamin Giddings taught the winter school that same year and earned $54.00 plus $21.00 for board. The next year, however, Eveline taught the winter school and earned $60.00. Many men returning from the war did not return to the teaching profession. Eveline was still teaching at the Center School in 1868-$50.00 for summer school and $75.00 for winter school.

Proctorsville School
It remained an unwritten law in Vermont that married did not continue to teach until about 1868. (VT School Report urged married women to remain in the teaching profession in that year.) The first married teacher I have been able to find was Mrs. Emma Wiley who taught fall and summer school in the Proctorsville School “upper room” in 1876.

They have been many outstanding women teachers in this town over the years. I list only a few that I have heard about or knew.

1.    Fanny Ward Raymenton-born in Cavendish September 1859, she taught in Cavendish (Duttonsville), Chester and Meridan, Connecticut until her marriage. After her husband died in 1899 she returned to teaching. She taught first in Springfield and later in Cavendish (Duttonsville). Sophie Snarksi told me she went to school when she was five years old to this lady. Sophie ran away from home to school. Mrs. Raymenton was nice to her and let her stay and take her first grade a year early.

2.    Gertrude Warren Barrows was born in Greenfield Center, VT in 1905. She later lived on Twenty Mile Stream and drove a horse to teach at Tarbell Hill School. Carmine Guica had her as his first grade teacher. I believe he told me.  Gertrude taught for many years in Amsden, Perkinsville, Baltimore and Cavendish.

3.    Bessie Thomas Morse was born in Rutland in 1878. In 1963 she received a letter from the White House congratulating her on retiring after 46 years of teaching. Many of these years were spent teaching in Proctorsville School where she was instrumental in creating an outstanding toy band.

4.    Beatrice Fairbanks Pickard taught in the Duttonsville School before her marriage. My father, Hollis Field, had her as a teacher there. After the birth of her daughters she returned to teaching at the Center School. She was my teacher for 7 years. She later taught in Chester till her retirement.

5.    Sadie Allen Bidgood was born in Reading, Tom Lazetera, her son-in-law thought. She graduated from Woodstock High School and began teaching when she was about 16 at Tyson School where she received $6 or $8 a week. She later taught in the Weathersfield area and drove a buggy to school. She went to Castleton and got her teaching degree at the same time as Stan Firkey did. Continuing to teach she went to Tarbell Hill, So. Woodstock and ended her career teaching in Proctorsville for a number of years. She continued to substitute teach till she was about 80 years old.

6.    Clara Webster Slack was born in Danville, VT. She taught in Proctorsville for 13 years, before and after her marriage. She recalled receiving $665.00 a year, teaching 35 students in 3 grades at Proctorsville. It cost her $8:00 a week for room and board. She taught in Ludlow for 20 years, retiring to care for her husband who was ill. Clara said there was never any tenure, never knew from year to year whether you had a job the next year. Also, no teacher retirement till after she had been teaching about 7 years. Took advantage of it and is very glad she did. If she had it to do over, she would still teach, as she loved working with children, especially 3rd graders such as she had at Ludlow. The pay was not like it is today. “I didn’t do it for the money! I loved doing it!” Clara said she never had discipline problems. She told them the first day what she expected of them. One little third grader to her, “It isn’t what you say. It’s how you look.”

Jane Quinn's first class at Center School
7.    Jane McFarland Quinn left Massachusetts to teach at the Center School after college. She was so pleased to be teaching in “a little red schoolhouse” and told all her friends. The school was painted white before she returned in the fall. I was privileged to have Jane as my first grade teacher and she has remained my friend ever since. After her children were born she taught at Tarbell Hill, Proctorsville and Duttonsville till those schools consolidated. She taught till her retirement at Springfield.

Hollis Quinn provided the following information about his mother, “She boarded with Sandy Field Stearns parents at their farm on East Road and walked to the Center school with Sandy's older sister, Jannette Field Carlisle.”

Cavendish Schools
Duttonsville School
From 1795 to present day, there have been 13 public schools in Cavendish. Students were assigned to the school closest to where they lived. Schools included: 

District 1 Center School (closed 1955) Building is still standing and is on the property of Hollis Quinn. Have a variety of materials related to this school, including a model. 

District 2 Proctorsville Village School (1875- 1959) Building has been replaced. 

District 3 Coffeen (Densmore) School (burned in 1922)

Tarbell Hill School
District 4 Tarbell Hill School (closed 1955) No longer standing

District 5 Wheeler School (closed 1955) Converted to a home

District 6 Hudson School (burned down in 1901)

Fittonsville School as it appears today.
District 7: Fittonsville School (Spring Mill) 1875 (School built to accommodate the influx of children associated with the Mill. The Mill did not last long nor did the school. Now a private residence

District 7 Duttonsville School (1861-1971) Home of Dan Churchill and his business, Commercial Radio. The current building replaced a stone one-room schoolhouse, which was sold as a family dwelling and remained on the property until the flood of 1927.
District 8 Gilchrist School (closed 1947)

District 9 Parker School (closed 1911)

Rumke School (closed 1923)

Stockin School (half in Weathersfield and under Weathersfield)

Bailey Hill (unorganized district)

Cavendish Town Elementary School in Proctorsville.
Cavendish Town Elementary School (1960 to present-only school operational in Cavendish)

Cavendish Academy (Private school 1812-closed in the 1850's, building was used as a drill hall during the Civil War-building is still standing)

No comments:

Post a Comment