Millie Knudson Elkins


By Millie Knudson Elkins
I, Millie Knudson Elkins, went to Normal School, Valley City, N.D. to get my teaching certificate.
I taught in my home one-room country school, south of Taylor, for three years, 1909-1910-1911. I walked one and one-half miles from my parental home, in all kinds of weather. During the winter the cold and blowing snow was often a difficult experience. I built the fire in a pot-bellied heater every morning. I had brought the coal and wood in after school was dismissed in the afternoon. The coalshed was built on the north side of the schoolhouse. I would bank the fire good before going home which helped some to keep the building warm. During the coldest time the children were permitted to come near the stove and stand there and study.

The door to the schoolhouse was on the south, a window with four panes on the west and east sides and the blackboard was along the north. There was a low platform built along the blackboard for the smaller pupils, so they could reach to write with chalk and erase with erasers.

There were about 20 children to be taught in all grades, which made a very busy day. The discipline of the children was good as they were taught by their parents to obey and country children were taught to work which contributed to good behavior. Once in a while, if a child needed correcting he might have to stay in during recess or after school, when the teacher tried to have a talk with him letting him know he was loved, which generally helped. A teacher's kindness was a big help to good discipline. As a rule the parents were co-operative and willing to help in many ways.
A bell was used to call the children in for school.

There were two “outhouses”, one for the girls and one for the boys. Only one could go there at a time. There was also a barn by the school as some of the children rode horseback.
Lunch boxes and water or milk were brought by the children. The lunches consisted of home made bread, home-made sausage, home-made jelly and occasionally an apple.

It often seemed that the main reason the children went to school was for the joy of recess time, when they played Pum-Pum-Pull Away, Drop the Handkerchief, jump rope or baseball.
Christmas time at the pioneer school was something never to be forgotten. A tree would be gotten from one of the farmers and the teacher and children had lots of fun trimming it with popcorn and cranberries strung on long strings, also chains made of colorful paper Each link was cut by hand and pasted together. There were some candles on the tree, mostly home-made. For the evening program, kerosene lamps were used to light the building Each child had a Christmas poem to recite and Christmas songs were sung together, which required a lot of practice. The parents enjoyed so much to come and hear their children recite and sing. The evening would always end with the real story of Christmas recited by one of the older children. These were times never to be forgotten. There was something about these country schools that brought the parents, children and teacher close together which is not seen in our town and city schools today.

My last year of teaching was in the Taylor Public School in the intermediate grades. I have many fond memories of my teaching.

Written September, 1977, Age 89.

Her final report for school year 1909-1910, Taylor School Dist. No. 3, School No. 2, lists 16 pupils, all grades but fifth.

Her daily program was as follows: Forenoon Session — Opening Exercises, A-Readmg, B-Reading, 4th Reading, 3rd Reading, 2nd Reading, 2nd Reading (2nd Division), 1st Reading, A-Arith., B-Arith., 4th Arith., 2nd Arith., 1st Arith. Afternoon Session — A-B-C-Geography, A-Grammar, B-Grammar, 1st Language, 2nd Language, Physical Culture, 2nd Reading and Language, 1st Reading and Language, A-History, Writing, B-History, Primary History or Physiology, A-Physiology or Civics, Spelling-A-B-C.
There were 30 books in the library and three were purchased during the school year. She taught a nine month term for salary of $50 a month. The list of pupils include: J. P. Anderson children — Emma, Henry and Hans; Peter Christenson children — Anna, Otto, May, Otto and Alma; Millie's sisters and brothers — Knud, Annie, Warren, Roselie and John; W. Lacher children — Joe, Kunie, Magdalene and Balzer.

Information From Stark Co. Supt. Of Schools