1910 Indiana Science Test

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 17 Sep 2015.

The Back to Basics movement in the U.S. likes to emphasize the teaching of only Reading, Writing and Arithmetic as harkening back to early American education’s curriculum.  By the early 1900’s, however, Science, History, Geography and Music were also taught.  Today I’m going to share with you Elsie Johnson, my husband’s maternal grandmother’s 8th grade end of year Indiana state assessment in science. Evidently, the area of physiology was the curriculum focus.

In middle school today, physiology is a part of both science and health.  The exam questions were glued to the upper left hand corner of the exam:

Elsie’s answer to question 1 about smoking is:  “Tobacco dulls the mind and it affect the beating of the heart.” Wow!  I always heard that the dangers of smoking were not known until the 1960’s.  I remember when cigarette television commercials were banned. The tunes were so catchy we used to play “Cigarette Tag” as children during recess.  Someone was IT and IT chased all the players.  When a player was tagged the player had to sing a commercial cigarette jingle. Jingles couldn’t be repeated.  If the player couldn’t think of an original jingle than that player became IT.  Those songs are still stuck in my head!  “Winston tastes good like a (boom, boom) cigarette should,”  “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” and Virginia Slims “You’ve come a long way baby, to get where you got to today.”  I never smoked so clearly the advertising didn’t win me over.

I’m not sure how Elsie received a 100% as she skipped answering question 2 about narcotics, which I really would have enjoyed reading.  Sadly, these problems still exist and we still teach the dangers in school today.

I have not included a chapter test on the skeleton which we also have.  Interestingly, the chapter test is in the same format as the end of year exam.  That’s important as the students were well aware of how the material would be presented and had practiced the format throughout the year.  Today, our students are taken to a computer lab to complete their end of course exams.  It’s the only time of the year that exams are given in that format which INMHO influences their score.  Next time we’ll take a look at Geography.

Elsie’s Exams Continued – 1910 Grammar Exam

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 13 Sep 2015.

Today in U.S. schools, Grammar is incorporated with writing, which along with reading, is taught through Language Arts in middle school and English in high school.  In the early 1900’s, however, Reading and Grammar were separate subjects.  Think of the old song,

School days, school days, 

Dear old golden rule days. 

‘Readin’ and ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic, 

Taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick.” 1

My husband’s maternal grandmother, Elsie Johnson, had an 8th grade final grammar exam that I would have difficulty completing as I don’t recall most of it.  The questions appear on the upper left hand corner of page one and were glued down.  Check out Elsie’s 3 page test:

Elsie would have been considered an English Language Learner (ELL) today.  Although born in the U.S., Elsie’s parents spoke primarily Swedish in the home and in her community.  Elsie attended a church that had services in her parents’ native tongue and many of the shop keepers in her small town of Miller spoke Swedish.  No special classes were offered to Elsie; she learned English through total immersion.

In the 1990’s, an educational movement occurred as a result of a dire prediction that students no longer wrote because of the increase usage of cell phones.  Hence, many states adopted a writing assessment in key grade levels to measure writing ability.  In Florida, that test was named Florida Writes and was given in grades 4, 8 and 10. Elsie’s short narrative about how she spent her Saturday reminds me of an 8th grade prompt from about 1999.  Certainly not original but it is a topic in which students can relate.  Clearly the prediction of the end of writing was unfounded.  Young people today prefer to text and tweet over making phone calls but I will give the movement credit as today’s messages are succinct!

Now that cursive handwriting isn’t taught either, concerned groups are bemoaning the next generation will be at a loss.  I disagree as I think would many genealogists – looking at writing styles from old records it is often nearly impossible to read what was written.  I much prefer students print neatly than use illegible cursive.  I do wonder what today’s children will do when they’re supposed to place their signature on the line and then print their name under it, such as when they’re getting a mortgage or purchasing a vehicle.  Maybe the signature line will be obsolete!

I expected to see diagramming on Elsie’s exam as that was part of our 8th grade grammar test.  My mom attended Lake County, Indiana schools in the 1920’s and 1930’s and had to learn to diagram. That means the curriculum change occurred sometime between 1910 and the mid 1920’s.  I had to do it in the 1960’s and 70’s but it was gone by the late 1980’s when my children started school.  Guess that comes and goes out of style, too!

Next time we’re going to take a look at Elsie’s science final.

1Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, “School Days” Web. 30 Aug. 2015.

More of Elsie’s Exams – An Indiana 1910 End of Course Math Assessment

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 10 Sep 2015.

Last time I shared my husband’s maternal grandmother, Elsie Johnson’s, 8th grade Indiana end of year reading assessment from 1910 and promised to post the math exam.  I’m fascinated with Elsie’s math test as math was always a difficult subject for me in school.  In Florida, 8th graders take Algebra I, a high school credit course, unless they have scores at a low level on the 7th grade math assessment.  Since Algebra is considered a gateway math course, meaning it is the basics of all higher level math, success in that class is important.

Take a look at Elsie’s Arithmetic exam page 1:

This would be a part our 7th grade curriculum today but only a small portion. I suppose the limited problems did show variation in using order of operations, fractions, decimals, and interpreting a story problem but I’m surprised there was no geometry, measurement, probability or graphing.  Clearly, being able to calculate a discount was considered of prime importance. I also find it interesting that Roman Numerals were used to differentiate the problems.

Elsie was administered an algebra test but with a score less than 75%, the state of Indiana would not consider it to be passing:

(See my blog of  6 Sep 2015 for the exam cover page which highlights rules to pass.)

I wonder if algebra was taught to 8th graders and if they did not pass, a more basic exam was given to them so that they could be promoted to the grade level. None of Elsie’s exams are dated, other than the school year on the front cover, and the pages are loose leaf so I have no idea in what order the exams were administered.

I love the handwritten note circled at the top after the formula to solve is given stating “That old story.”  Makes me laugh every time I see it! Clearly, Elsie was over the story problems using marbles in the scenario.

Elsie’s Exams – An Indiana 8th Grade Reading Assessment from 105 Years Ago

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 6 Sep 2015.

Tests and schools go hand and hand.  Lately there has been much parent backlash regarding the number of and amount of time spent on school assessments.  The validity and reliability of the assessments are also an issue.  Last spring in my state, students were still completing their online state required end of course assessments when the legislature decided that the results couldn’t be used as they had not been normed.  Duh!  Teachers and administrators had been complaining about how unfair the tests were but no one listened until the 12th hour.

Another major educational concern is the use of a common core curriculum.  States rights advocates complain about Federal meddling.  Some educators complain that the common core doesn’t address what’s most important.

Personally, I’m over all of the testing requirements – it’s way too much and I wish politicians could witness the stress their mandates are causing children.  I’m glad I never had the pressure at 8 years old that today’s kids have.  For the past 15 years in Florida, if a child didn’t score high enough on a standardized test administered in the spring, the student can be retained even though the child had performed adequately all year in class.  For many students, the test was the first time he/she ever was given a test formatted in that particular way so the unfairness of the retention is even greater.

I truly am an advocate of a nationwide curriculum and testing program with regional elements added.  Genealogists know that families don’t stay in one place for long and transitioning for children is hard enough without having to adapt to a new curriculum.  I’m not saying every child in America should be on the same page in the same book every day.  Children learn at different rates; humans are not automated and differentiation is necessary and beneficial.  Comparing learning, however, does need to be uniform. When I first started teaching in Florida I was appalled at the standardized test questions that asked about tobogganing and ice skating.  Seriously, most of my students had no experience with northern winter weather.  How unfair!

My husband’s grandmother, Elsie Wilhelmina Johnson attended school in Lake County, Indiana in the first decade of the 20th century.  A first generation American with Swedish spoken at home, I am amazed at how well she performed academically.  We have copies of her graduation exams and they were tough!.  Take a look at the testing rules:


Rule 10 states that a student needs a 75% on the exam AND classwork above 60% to pass for the year.  A 60% today equates to a grade of F so in Elsie’s day, good test takers who slacked throughout the school year could pass.  We had that problem in middle school and the way our district fixed it was that students had to gain a minimum of 2 points a semester, which at the lowest, is two D’s. Prior to the change we had darlings getting an A first grading period and then failing the next 3 grading periods.  The old rule was a student must earn 4 points a year in a subject to pass and the A equaled 4 points.  Our rule change eliminated slackers.

Elsie’s exams were for completion of the 8th grade which was the highest grade she attended.  High School was available through 12th grade but was not mandatory.  Exams, though, were state mandated with the final test question “to be determined” by the local district.  Wish we still did that today!  This would allow for local differences yet still give educators a better idea of how a child had progressed in comparison with a broader group.

When I first began to teach I was a reading teacher so Elsie’s reading tests are of particular interest to me.  My husband and I attended school in the 1970’s in the same district as Elsie and we did not read the selections on her exam until high school.  In Florida, only Don Quxiote is still read and that is at the high school level:


Elsie’s reading test was in two parts.  Here’s the 2nd section:


I particularly like how the reading selections crossed curriculum areas, Pilgrim’s Progress with US History, Burn’s with science and Longfellow with philosophy.   In that case, the crafty teacher could have easily taught reading through the other core classes.

It appears that Elsie had one teacher all day who taught all lessons.  WOW! This would certainly not occur today unless it was through a homeschool environment.  Teachers are prohibited from having to develop more than 3 different plans for levels or classes.

Think also of how much time was saved in not having students transition from room to room.  Five minutes passing time for 7 periods would save 30 minutes a day!

Next time we’ll look at Elsie’s math…

Correcting Records Is A Feat!

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 3 Sep 2015.

Recently I’ve been ranting about the problem of looking for a record that never existed or once existed and has since vanished.  Today, I’m going to share a frustrating story about trying to correct an error in a record.

As genealogists we know that it’s common to find discrepancies in records.  One census may show a person born in one year and the next census may show a different birth year.  A marriage record may state a person was born in one state but the census record may show a different state.  We know it’s a best practice to try to find primary sources but sometimes even a primary source isn’t correct and it becomes a herculean task to try to fix the error.

Daughter recently moved and was trying to have her power turned on.  Power company told her they couldn’t do it because she had a discrepancy in her birthdate through one of the credit services they used.  She called the credit service (and I use the term service loosely!) and they refused to tell her which company had reported her birthdate wrong.  She was told to fax 2 of the following 3 documents to the credit card company to prove her correct date of birth:  a birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or social security card.  Since daughter didn’t have power she couldn’t fax the documents (duh) so she took a picture of them on her phone and emailed them to me to fax.

Immediately I thought this was a scam but I checked and found that the number she was supposed to fax to was legitimate and lots of other people have encountered the same problem.  I faxed and got confirmation that the documents were sent.  Daughter called the power company back and informed them the information had been faxed but it could be 10 days before the situation was investigated.  Power company turned on the power (hooray!).

A few weeks later daughter received via US mail a letter from the credit service stating she had to refax the documents as they were not readable.  Daughter refaxed and then sent a hard copy via US Mail.  Another few weeks went by and daughter received another document from the credit service in the mail stating they had re-investigated and would update the record if she sent them either a birth certificate or driver’s license.  This will be the fourth time they received copies of those documents.  Frustrated, daughter again tried to find out which record was in error so she could go directly to the source to get it corrected.  Although it is her credit record, the credit service again refused to divulge the information.  Daughter contacted her bank and credit card companies to see if they had the birthdate wrong.  Nope, their records were correct.  So, for the fourth time, daughter resent proof of her birthdate.

I’ve noticed when looking at US Public Records Index that too many individuals have conflicting birthdates in comparison to my other sources.  I don’t know if you’ve notice this, too, but I’m guessing there must be a date of birth field where someone is entering the digit 1 instead of the actual date of birth.  Since the month and year are correct, I don’t know if all the fields must be complete and if they don’t have the day of birth they enter a 1.  No way to correct the error, either!

It’s important to remember that clearly, even today, record accuracy isn’t going to happen 100% of the time.

More Inaccessbie Genealogical Records

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 30 Aug 2015.

I’ve been mentioning that several events occurred recently that really brought home the connection for me between education and genealogy, along with the impossibility of trying to find a nonexistent record.  The records that I’m looking for today did exist once but is not easy to find.

The illustrious Florida legislatures (and I mean that with all the sarcasm that I can muster) passed a bill called Florida’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship last spring which is not the best or brightest idea IMHO!  Eligible teachers can earn an additional $10,000.00 bonus.  Florida teachers are way underpaid compared to most of the rest of the states so this is a big chunk of change.

To “earn” the scholarship a teacher must be considered “highly effective.”  Hubby and I get a great big check mark on that requirement.

Next eligibility condition is “…by October 1 official ACT or SAT documentation either that their score on the ACT was at or above the 80th percentile based on the rank in effect when the assessment was taken or that their scores on the SAT were at or above the 80th percentile based on the rank in effect when the assessment was taken” be provided to our school district.1

Hubby and I can’t find our Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) documentation.  We took that exam, which wasn’t a requirement to enter college back in our day, about 43 plus years ago.  I found copies of our Graduate Record Exam, National Board Certified Teacher scores, middle school achievement test results, report cards for every grade beginning in kindergarten, opened and sealed transcripts, and lots of awards but I can’t find our SAT scores.

This post isn’t about how idiotic it is to base a bonus on a test that was designed to measure success in college that was administered almost a half century ago.  Not to mention how that particular test has been shown to be historically biased against many of the test takers, particularly minorities, women and those raised in lower income households.  Nor is this post to discuss why the results of an obsolete test could demonstrate how accomplished at work an individual is today.  Nope, this post is just about the difficulty in trying to obtain the record.

I called the College Board to see if I could get another copy of our test results.  The automated message said the cost was $15.00 and for a $30.00 investment, hubby and I could receive $20,000.  Wow, what a deal!  After 45 minutes on hold I thought maybe we should just retake the exam so I looked up the next test date.  Problem is, the next administration is October 3 so it’s too late for the October 1st deadline.  I continued to wait on hold.

Finally, Russell #443 answered the call and was clearly confused when I asked him how far back records were kept.  He didn’t know.  I told him I need a copy of an exam I took in Spring 1973 as I wasn’t sure if I took the test in March or April.  He stuttered a bit, clearly taken aback that someone would need the test results from that long ago, especially since no college would accept a test that old.  I explained why I needed a copy.

Russell said the cost for an archival search was $31.00 with $11.00 for mailing and would take a minimum of 4 weeks.  That might not make the October 1st deadline, either.  Money is not refunded if they can’t find the test results.

I hate to spend money for the archiving fee because the College Board lost my son’s entire junior class’ PSAT scores a few years ago.  I still don’t understand how that happened and I was really not happy that he wasn’t able to qualify for National Merit Scholar.  School blamed College Board and College Board blamed school.  Just another example of a record that should exist that unexplainably doesn’t any longer.

I can understand missing records due to war, fire, flood or other disaster but I can’t understand why an entire school’s paper records just vanishes.  I bet they’re out they’re in cyberspace with the delayed text messages, lost  postal mail and missing socks.

The State of Florida will be able to hold on to the bonus checks as I suspect few will be able to come up with their requirements.  Laws like this just make me long for my next career as a full time genealogist!

A Family’s Change of Mind

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 27 Aug 2015.

A few weeks ago I blogged about the decision of one of my clients to pull the plug on further research because of adverse pressure she was receiving from her children (see An Update on Becoming a Certified Genealogist 30 Jul 2015).  I had uncovered preliminary information that had unsettled the family and the client requested that no further research be done.  I offered to meet with the family members who were upset but she refused.  I then informed the client she could contact me whenever she was ready to move forward. Next, I began searching for another client to fulfill one of the portfolio requirements to become a Certified Genealogist.

Surprise, surprise!  Former client and I passed each other last week and we said hello.  After a little small talk (we’re in the deep south, it’s how we do things here!) client stated she had really thought about the kernel of information I had provided her and was ready to learn more.

I was greatly surprised.  One part of me wanted specifically to ask what made her and her family members change their minds but I didn’t.  Although as a genealogist we work in the past, my query wasn’t pertinent to moving forward.  Maybe I’ll get that answer later.

Before she changed her mind again, I obtained her signature on death certificate forms that I just happened to serendipitously have with me and the following day, I submitted the paperwork.  Those documents are needed to obtain the medical records we will ultimately be securing.

After watching Sunday’s Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) episode with Bryan Cranston I began to think that my client and her family must have been processing information similarly.  If you didn’t see the show, Mr. Cranston was first informed that his grandfather had deserted his wife and child to enlist in World War I and then claimed to be single, probably so he didn’t have to share his earned income. Initially, Cranston scoffed at the divorce documents that the soon to be ex of his grandfather submitted to court.  Cranston tried to defend the man’s action and then remarked he knew he was doing so even though he hadn’t met him.  That’s interesting since his father had also left the family and this looked like the beginning of a family pattern.  It’s also pertinent that Cranston felt the need to defend a relative he didn’t know.  Reminds me of the stink about Ben Afflek’s difficulty in dealing with the idea he had slave owning relatives so that information was not disclosed on his Finding Your Roots episode.

What I believe both Cranston, possibly Affleck, and my client were experiencing was a grief reaction outlined by Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969.  Kubler-Ross identified the following process that one experiences after a loss:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining/Compromise
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Initially, Kubler-Ross’ work was in regards to only death but was later expanded to include losses of any kind, such as job, divorce, health or incarceration.  There’s no studies on the grief process as it relates to genealogy but I believe it’s applicable.

If you’ve been actively researching your family tree for years think back to how you felt when you identified your first Black Sheep relative.  EVERYONE has one, most have more than that.  I have many.  Some are more benign than others; such as their poor choices hurt themselves and their close loved ones while others negatively impacted a larger number in their community.

My first Black Sheep was a great grand uncle on my paternal side that was imprisoned in Indiana for performing an illegal abortion in 1905.  He was also a notorious alcoholic and abusive which resulted in his first wife divorcing him.  His relationship with his second wife wasn’t much better.

I remember discovering this information and being in disbelief.  The newspaper articles of the day were sickening.  I didn’t want to be related to him. My father had proudly mentioned that he had a great uncle who was a physician but he never told me the rest of the story.  Here’s what my thinking was at the time I discovered the newspaper articles and how I processed the info:

  1. Denial-There’s got to be a mistake here.  There’s two sides to every story.  I bet the “victim” wasn’t telling the whole truth. (Much like Cranston, I felt the need to defend the relative I’d never met and discount the victim’s statements.) When I learned about the alcoholism and abuse, though, it became impossible to defend the man (Think Bill Cosby and Jared Fogle).
  2. Anger-Why didn’t my dad tell me about this?  He spoke fondly of the man’s accomplishment of being a physician.  How could dad have been proud of this man’s character?  My anger was displaced from the man I didn’t know to the person I did.
  3. Bargaining/Compromise-Maybe dad didn’t know about what happened since his great uncle would have been imprisoned before he was born.  Perhaps the sordid details were withheld from him as a child.
  4. Depression-I stopped looking for new information about the man.  I “withdrew” from searching.  I wasn’t ready to deal with more bad news.
  5. Acceptance-After discovering that my 2nd great grandfather, the grand uncle’s brother, also made some poor choices I realized I wasn’t the one who had made those decisions and I certainly wasn’t accountable for their actions.  No big deal that we shared a similar gene pool! Coming to the realization that I am not responsible for someone else’s choices, especially someone who died long before I was born, allowed me to move forward in this line.  It was interesting to discover there were quite a few “bad boys” who had difficulty following norms of the times in which they lived and experienced problems with alcoholism.  Discovering family secrets is part of the fun of genealogy, right?  The more I discovered, the easier it was to see the family pattern and accept what I was finding.

There are some counseling researchers who dispute that those experiencing a loss go through the grief stages outlined above.  I would agree that over time, a resiliency develops. Practice does make perfect!  In genealogy, I think resiliency occurs after you stumble upon subsequent Black Sheeps. The celebrities on WDYTYA and my client haven’t had the time to work through the loss.  Most were probably thinking that their ancestors were salt of the earth wholesome people who strived to make their part of the world a better place. Give them some time to process the negative information and the celebrities are able to move forward to learn more about their history.

Although I caution clients initially that some information may be difficult to accept I don’t think that’s enough.  Since everyone processes unexpected news differently, I’m thinking of discussing these stages are our initial meeting.  That may be beneficial and help a client who doesn’t have the grief resiliency developed better work through the newly received information.

Want to help a Ph.D researcher from the University of Sheffield, England who is studying Black Sheeps?  Complete the following anonymous survey at http://acriminalrecord.org/surveys/  It doesn’t take long and you’ll be contributing to an interesting research project.

The Nonexistent Genealogical Record

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 23 Aug 2015.

This past week I had several interesting situations occur that really drove home to me the connection between education and genealogy.

The first was an email from my division superintendent that requested everyone bring a photo of their high school graduation to post as a visual reminder of our district’s goal of increasing high school graduation rates.  Problem is, I don’t have a grad photo.  If you’re one of my loyal readers you know my parents were divorced when I was young.  I attended 1st through 11th grade in the Lake County, Indiana school district where my mom and I lived with my grandparents.  In June of my rising senior year I sat for senior picture; the custom at that time was girls had to wear a crew neck grey top- no mortar boards.  I have a copy of the photo which never appeared in a school yearbook because in August, my mother, who was employed by Montgomery Wards Department Stores, which was then owned by Mobil Oil, was given a transfer to Florida.  Mom gave me the option of going with her or moving in with my dad and step-mother to complete my senior year in Indiana.  Either way, I would have had to attend a different high school so I opted to move to Florida.

My first day of my senior year at St. Petersburg High School was a disaster.  I had to retake classes I had already passed because Pinellas County Schools did not have a work-study program that I was scheduled to take in Indiana. They wouldn’t let me attend school part time, either.  I had wanted to work my senior year to save money for college so that goal was shot.  In addition, no one spoke to me the entire day, even when I asked for directions.  I came home that evening and announced that I was quitting school.  My mother insisted I return so the next morning we met with the guidance counselor.  I don’t remember his name but I remember his complete lack of concern.  He suggested I enroll in a school for drop outs where I could complete assignments at my own pace and hold a job.  My mom drove me to the new school.  As we entered there was a fist fight in the hall and we had trouble getting into the office.  No adults were around although this was adult education.  I only needed 3 classes to graduate but the school only allowed enrolling in 2 classes at a time.  I finished senior English and Business Math in two weeks.  I then enrolled in Americanism vs. Communism.  Back in the day, the state of Florida was fairly certain Fidel Castro was going to storm the shores so every Florida senior had to be prepared by taking this ridiculous course.  Even though I finished the actual course work in another 2 weeks I was forced to sit for the entire school day in the class for an additional two weeks as there was a requirement that students must be enrolled for a certain number of hours.  The teacher was kind and told me I could bring anything quiet to do so I read a book a day.  No one spoke to me at this school either.  At the time, doctors, judges and other leaders in the community were so afraid that their children would become drug addicts that they enrolled them in a now defunct program called “The Seed.”  Anyone enrolled was not permitted to speak with anyone outside of the group.  The organization decided to enroll all of their students at the adult ed program probably because there would be less opportunity to interact with other teens.  I completed my entire senior year in 6 weeks.  When I went to the school counselor to turn in my completion paperwork she informed me the district would mail my diploma to me by the end of the semester (which they did but spelled my name wrong which is another story).

I never had a graduation ceremony so I never wore a cap and gown which is why I don’t have any pictures to contribute.  Hubby offered to photo shop my senior pic to add a mortar board but I nixed that idea.  I don’t want to fake history.  I submitted a photo of my college graduation instead.

Technically, I’m a high school graduate as I had the diploma conferred to me via US Mail but since this didn’t occur with pomp and circumstance I have no photo.  Several of my co-workers did attend a graduation ceremony but it wasn’t a custom to take a picture of the diploma being conferred so they don’t have pictures, either.

I think the practice of taking a picture as the diploma is being awarded must have occurred in my area after the early 1980’s.  My bachelor’s and first master’s degree photos were taken by my mom and husband.  By the time I received my second masters in the 90’s, photographers were on stage snapping away during the ceremony.  By the 2000’s you could get the whole event on DVD.

My point is you may be looking for a record or photo that doesn’t exist because it was never recorded. Next time you’re searching for that wedding photo or birth certificate think about the possibility that it never was!  This will save you time and frustration – just look for an alternative, like the marriage license of a baptism certificate.  In my case, I have the transcripts and diploma – just no picture.

Education Across State Lines

Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 20 Aug 2015.

Education was extremely important to my Leininger lines and I have an interesting story to share about my gateway 3 times great grandparents, Jean “John” (20 Nov 1801-1 Dec 1868) and Margueritte “Margaret” Gasse (27 Jan 1801-4 Apr 1886) Leininger who emigrated from Endenhoffr, Alsace-Lorraine, then Germany to America in 1827.  Previously, I’ve blogged about what a difficult trip it must have been for the family but the following story illustrates how quickly they acclimated to the “rules” of America and bent them for the benefit of their children.

The family emigrated with 2 sons – Theobald and John George.  Settling in Stark County, Ohio the family grew, adding sons John and Jacob.  In 1835, the family relocated to Mercer County, Ohio.  GGGgrandpa opted for a career change from blacksmithing to farming.  Sons Henry and Samuel were born after the move.  On July 1, 1839, John purchased 128.60 acres of land in Wabash Township, Jay County, Indiana with an additional 8 acres of land on the adjoining Ohio side.  John then built a home across the state line. This benefited the family greatly as they could easily relocate from Ohio to Indiana and back to Ohio without ever leaving their home.  They simply moved their furniture from one side of the house to the other.  Why would someone do this?  Family lore says it’s because of the variation in educational opportunities.  When the school teacher left Mercer, the children could easily continue schooling in Jay, and vice versa.  Personally, I think this was ingenious and says so much about how the family valued education.  They were in the forefront of the School Choice movement!

I’d love to visit the home but it was destroyed by fire in 1970.

My dad pulled the same stunt in the 1960’s.  His farm was on the county lines of both Lake and Porter in Indiana.  He preferred the Porter County school district so my step sibs were sent to Porter County schools. Technically, the house was built on the Lake County side so I’m not sure how he got away with it.

My great great grandfather, Jacob Leininger (11 Nov 1832-Jul 1908), served as town trustee and a long term school board member in Mercer County, Ohio.  I guess he preferred the Ohio to the Indiana schools after he grew up!

My great grandmother, Emma Kuhn Landfair (20 Jun 1864-21 Feb 1914) and grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger (27 Apr 1891-30 Jan 1964) were teachers for a short time before their marriages.  School must have been important to them as they saved their remembrance cards and all of my dad’s report cards.


The above school Souvenir was for my grandmother Lola’s 1st grade year.  Her teacher, John D. Kable, would become her 2nd cousin through her marriage to my grandfather, Edwin Leininger. Edwin’s parents were Theobald Leininger, son of Jacob the School Board member and Caroline Kable. Caroline’s brother, John, had a son, John, who was the teacher at Wild Cat School (above).

My grandparents were in the same class – Eddie Leininger (1st column # 1) and Lola misspelled as Lora (2nd column #16):


My husband and I are high school sweethearts.  It’s an awesome thought to think that my grandparents were grade school sweethearts!


All grown and graduated, Eddie and Lola (above) married in 1914.

The Bakers-Kuhns-Landfairs-Leiningers all intermarried for several generations so many of the classmates were also related.


In 1904, William Kuhn was on the School Board:

William Kuhn was my grandmother, Lola Landfair Leininger’s uncle.

Below, School Board member Henry Bollenbacher was another relative – he was my grandfather Edwin’s 2nd cousin:


It’s an amazing thought to reflect on the amount of impact the Leininger line had on education at the turn of the last century!

Student Discipline

Originally published in genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 16 Aug 2015.

Just as teachers had rules in the 19th century, so did students.  What was inappropriate in the 1800’s is mostly considered inappropriate today.  What differs is the punishment method used to correct the misdeed.  Schools have banned lashing/swatting/spanking.  I used to get my hands slapped with a ruler and I ducked once when the principal tried to slap me in 5th grade due to being mouthy, though what I said that was inappropriate I have no recollection of.  We didn’t have a cafeteria so we had to eat lunch in our classroom and milk monitors would be selected to bring in the pre-ordered milk cartons for the class.  I was monitor of the day and talking while the principal was counting out milk cartons.  As she went to slap me I ducked and she hit the girl standing next to me who let out a wail like the world was ending.  The best part of the story is that the girl was a real brat whose mom was very active in the school so the girl typically got away with murder.  The principal was so upset that she immediately hugged the child and took her to the office to get her ice.  I escaped back to class with our milk and for some reason, never got called back to the office to be disciplined.  I actually became a class hero when the story got around.

Back in 1872, the following was considered inappropriate student behavior, just as it is now:


Lying/Telling Tales

Swearing/Name Calling


Drinking Liquor

Wetting each other when washing (yep, water fights in the                           bathroom are still a big deal!)

Mischief Making (spitting, vandalizing, littering, being noisy)

Tree climbing over 3 feet (don’t think we have a height limit –                     tree climbing totally prohibited)

Leaving campus

What differs is that in our country, boys and girls are now permitted to play together which was an offense in 1872.  I’m not sure why making swings and swinging on them was prohibited but I suspect it was more of a liability issue for the school than bad behavior on the part of the student.  Maybe it was tied in with not climbing trees.  Reminds me that some districts today have banned Dodge Ball and Red Rover due to student injuries.

Wearing long nails was also a no-no but could be considered a distraction or weapon today so that still may be applicable.  Back in the day coming to school with dirty face and hands would be considered a punishment for the student but if it was often, today it probably would warrant a call to Child Protective Services.

In 1872, students could be disciplined for misbehaving on the road.  Until recently, my school district couldn’t discipline a child for an infraction committed off campus – such as at the bus stop.  That’s recently changed, however, with the advent of bullying via social media.  A student may have texted/posted something inappropriate outside of school but since it’s viewable at school, school personnel can now address it.

What’s most interesting is that kids have made poor choices for a very long time.  I didn’t get into much trouble in school because I knew I would disappoint my mom and I that would have been a horrible punishment for me.  My mom told a story of stealing a box of crayons when she was in first grade.  She knew it was wrong but wanted to make a picture for her mother so she snuck them out of the classroom one Friday afternoon.  As soon as she got outside the guilt overcame her and she vomited.  The teacher came to assist her and my mom confessed.  After cleaning her up the school sent her home with three packs of crayons, extras for her two younger siblings.  Her teacher told her if she ever needed anything to just ask next time.  That nameless teacher made a tremendous difference by teaching a valuable life lesson in a kind way.  Teachers do the same every day every year often without seeing the positive results.  Developing good people is more important, to me, than any other curricula that a school tries to instill.  As teachers in my school district return to work tomorrow for a few days of planning and training before students arrive the following week, I hope the realize the impact they have on their students.  It’s an awesome responsibility not only to the individual student, but to the future!