KanColl: The Kansas  
Historical Quarterlies

The Diary of Anna Webber:
Early Day Teacher of Mitchell County

Edited by Lila Gravatt Scrimsher

Autumn, 1972 (Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3), pages 320 to 337
Transcribed and composed in HTML by Cynthia Richardson;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.
NOTE: The numbers in brackets are links to footnotes for this text.


ANNA WEBBER was born in Breckenridge (now Lyon) county, September 16, 1860, the daughter of William Ellsworth and Thankful Delila Webber. Economic circumstances forced the family to leave Kansas shortly after Anna's birth. They moved to Iowa where Anna's mother died and her father remarried. In 1872 the family returned to Kansas, settling in Center township of Mitchell county. The county had been organized in 1871 and was settled rapidly in the following years.

     Early schools in Mitchell county were irregular, dependent upon the number of children in an area, the desires of their parents, and the availability of a schoolroom. Terms were often for only three months, and then in the summer. Teachers' certificates -- first, second, or third grade, with a preponderance being third grade -- were granted applicants upon their passing examinations in required subjects.

     In the spring of 1881, Anna Webber passed the teachers' examinations given in Beloit, and was hired to teach the district school lying adjacent to the little settlement of Blue Hill, Center township. The term was for three months, May through July. The following were her pupils and their ages:

Anderson, Chester


     Gravatt, Harry


     "     Edwin


          "     Willard


     "     Charlie


     Skinner, Obe


Bruce, Charlie


     Whitaker, Hettie


     "     Frank


          "     Theodore


Gatewood, Alice


          "     Annice


     "     Oran


          "     Minnie


     "     Frank


          "     Maggie


     "     Lillie


     During the term Anna conscientiously kept a diary. It is here published, with original spelling and punctuation maintained.


MONDAY, MAY 9, 1881.
     Well, here I am at my first school. I realy wander if I'll like it. I arrived at the house about eight o'clock. It is a very pleasant looking place. I wander how I'll get along. My anticipations are great. -- I am going to try to make rapid improvement. I hope the next three months will not be lost. And I trust they will not be if I continue with the effort I've made today. There is something in which I am bound to improve, and that is in speaking low (tho it is as natural for me, as it is to see). The Supt gave me such a desperate look while I was reading at the examination, that I resolved to "learn to read loud." I think if hollowing will do any good I'll overcome that fault entirely. I have a scholar that is some deaf, and I've "hollered" and talked today until my throat aches. I am among entire strangers, not knowing before I came here a single person.

     DESCRIPTION. -- The Country is right in the midst of the Blue Hills, [1] and is a very pleasant place. The school house is in a little valley, surrounded by hills. It is a small frame house, facing the South-west (or I guess it is, I can't tell one direction from another here.) It has three windows and a door. There is no benches, seats, black board or writing desks. I am now sitting on the floor with my paper on "the Teacher's chair," which is as high as my chin, (almost.) For seats we have two boards placed on rocks. I think if I had more scholars, and things more convenient I should like teaching very much.

TUESDAY, MAY 10, 1881.
     Well, school is out. And I'm awfull tired, and hungry enough to eat a stewed cat, if it was cooked tender, and I didn't know what it was. I have got along very nicely today. The wind has blown very hard. I have ten scholars. I must go down to supper or I'll starve, sure. [2]

     The wind has blown a perfect hurricane today. We have had to keep the door shut nearly all the time. Nothing unusual has happened. We are doing well.

     It has been dark and cloudy, but cool and suitable to study. I am getting along splendidly. Now if I only had seats and a black board, it would be so nice. I know I am improving, and think the scholars are. I have not such a school as I wanted, but I'll do the best I can. Well I'll have to go down and get Mrs. McPeak's broom, and sweep the school-house.

     One of the twelve weeks is gone. I am not realy settled to school-teaching yet, because I expect more scholars, and new furniture. I hope it will come soon, for it seems allmost impossible to get along with nothing to write on, or no place to put books. If a person wants to write, they have to sit down on the floor and lay their paper on one of the old board seats, or place the paper on a book and hold it on your lap -- of which either one is a very uncomfortable writing position. We have had no company yet. There has been no one from Center to see me, and I expect there won't be this summer. It is so far I fear none of my Central [Center] friends will get here. I should like to know whether they miss me, or not. I know I should like to see them any how. But I must stop writing in this manner or I will get home-sick, I must study and try to make myself worthy of their respect.

     Well, now for another week of school. It is cool, and will be nice for studying. I expect some new scholars this morning. There comes some of the scholars now. I am anxious for school to begin. It seems a long time since Friday, altho' I have spent the time pleasantly. Yesterday I went with Mrs. Mc[Peak] to see Mr. and Mrs. [C. W.] Cambridge. I haven't explored the hills yet, I have that laid out for Saturday's work.
     Yesterday (Tuesday), I did not stop to write, I was to tired. I made out a programme tho. I have 31 classes.

     My! it has been so cold that I have wore my cloak all day, and then nearly froze. I hope it won't be so cold tomorrow. Charlie Anderson broke a window light today. He was playing ball (with a rock for a ball.) I was playing with the scholars today, and fell down, flat as a flounder . It all ways makes me so provoked to fall, and I'm most sure to if I try to run. When I go to a play party, I allways watch and try not to take a tumble, but generally nearly, if not quite, succeed in going down. it is so cold that I will not stay tonight to study.

     It rained and was so cold yesterday (Thursday,) that I did not stay to write in my diary. It rained stedy all day I don't think it stoped at all, and was so cold I shivered all day, and part of the night. We had company for the first time today (Thurs.) We had one consolation in the cold. We heard the seats had arrived at Cawker, [3] and are waiting for them. A poor consolation I am afraid, for I don't expect We will see them for two weeks, or more.

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 1881.
     O, Dear! Almost two weeks of my school gone. And how do I like teaching by this time? Well, I hardly know. I think I like it. I know I would like it better if things were different. As it is I do not make the progress I had [expected] to. About all I learn is in studying after school is out. And then I am so tired and figety, I can do nothing scarcely, unless it is to walk about, or go to sleep. perhaps that will wear off tho' as I get more used to teaching. If I only had large scholars that were farther advanced, I would like it. But I haven't so I'll have to make the best of it. If I can get to Beloit I will get me a grammar, and some kind of a writing system. But I am so far from town [4] that I don't expect to get there until after school is out. You can't get your mail here, or get a letter to the office -- any to often. I have a letter now I should like to send to the office, but I guess that is all the good it will do me. And I want some ink, yes and something to write on. Before I began school I thought I would write an Essay every day, and I haven't written one yet, -- but I must try, it will be a failure I expect, but I can't do more than fail though. I guess I'll take Nature as the subject. It seems as if there is enough to write on that. I am surrounded by nature, about all I see is the hills, and all I hear is the noise of the birds, and a dozen or more of children. Today is Flontie's [5] birthday, how I should like to see the little rogue.

     This is the commencement of another week. One of my scholars is absent today. I have so few if one is gone I miss it. The children have brought me some pretty flowers, some of the first roses I have seen this spring. I took a walk on the hills yesterday. I saw quite a number of new plants. I gathered my pockets and hands full of curious stones and flowers. Saturday Eve. and Sunday until afternoon I was certain some of My folks would come to see me, So I kept watch of the road over the hill all the time, but I did not see any of them. I think they might have come. I should like tolarable well to see 'em. I should like to see Nellie, I haven't seen her for over four weeks, it is the longest we were ever apart.
     Nothing unusual has occured in school today. I have the worst headache today that I have had since school began.

     Well I have it down on my programme to write an essay [6] on Tuesday and Thursday Even., and tonight is Tuesday night so I suppose I have one to write or have an imperfect lesson for the first Eve., And as I don't want that I will make a 'try' at it. An essay is something I could never write well. I have never tried to write many, never wanted to, I never knew how or where to begin. I allways thought it something terriable and grand. Something I was not capable of doing. I do not know how to begin now, but I am just going to commence and write any and everything I can think of on the subject, then if I ever have a chance to get anything that teaches how to place writing under heads and sections, I can learn to do better. It will do me no hurt, if it does me no good, to write all my thoughts. I think it will have a tendency to improve my intellect and enlarge my small store of knowledge, if I take the right subject to write on.

     I have had rather a dull school today, or it seems that way to me. perhaps it is because I have had so much trouble with Charlie A. It seems impossibility for him to learn the alphabet. He is such a careless, lazy little rascal. He seems to take no interest whatever in trying to learn. I don't know what to do with him. A little boy came to visit our school this afternoon. I do wish those seats would come! They are not going after them now until they get their corn planted. Then perhaps it will be, "not till after harvest," and I wouldn't wonder if by that time it would be "Let's build a good house first." Nothing extraordinary has happened in school today.

     It was very warm after noon until three o'clock. It was so still and sultry that it made a person feel lazy. The scholars were all sleepy, and one did go to sleep. It clouded over near three o'clock, and a little after school was out (long enough for the pupils to get home,) it rained hard. I was at the S. H. thru' it all. I am doing better since I made a new programme to study after.

     This is another pleasant morning. I do wish that it wasn't so quiet tho'. It is certainly the most quiet place I ever was in, that is a place having as many inhabitants as this has, yet it is one of the most pleasant. You may go a quarter of a mile from a house, and I don't believe you would see a person, except in the fields at work, or hear a sound besides the singing of the birds, and the noise made by the wind. I hardly [know] whether it is the most quiet on the Sabbath or the week day. To me the Sabbath Day seems different from all other days. There is a calm, soothing, peacefullness in the very air, the Sun seems to shine brighter and all Nature seems trying to remind us of the Great God.

     The wind blows again today as if it had the intentions of blowing the house down. I am in hourly expectation of those seats and black board. They went to the depot for them yesterday, And if they get them, they will be here this afternoon. The S. S. [?] will look so much better then. We have so many flowers here. There is so many and such pretty ones to. There are some of the prettiest wild roses I ever saw. There are large yellow lillies, and larkspur, Solomon flowers, cactus, and innumerable others. The children bring them to me by the armfuls, I can hardly find room for them all. Last night I should have written an essay, but I did not think about it being Thursday until this morning.
     Later, I have just got back from a gooseberrie hunt. (Mrs. Mc. and I went over the hills after berries, but found more caterpillars than berries.) I have been looking for some of my friends to come after me today. But I guess they are not coming. So I'll not look any longer. I wanted to have school tomorrow, but some of the children can't come. I don't know what I can do with myself all day tomorrow, and the next day. I don't see why people can not have things the way they want them. But I expect it is best the way it is.

MONDAY, MAY 30/81.
     School-day has arrived again. And I have six new scholars. It makes my school nearly twice as before. But the best is, they have brought a table for us to use. They did not get the seats Friday. The table makes it seem like a different place. I feel real tired tonight, something like I did the evening after my first day's experience. I was very busy this forenoon. So busy that I did not have spare time to turn around in. Did not get through until a quarter past twelve, but got things so I [will] not be in a "rush" this afternoon. I spent a disagreeable day pleasantly yesterday. I wrote a letter to Nellie in the forenoon, and spent the afternoon in reading. I did intend to attend Quarterly Meeting, [7] but it rained so as to make that impossible. Saturday I had laid off as a day of general study. But I studied very little, I did a little sewing, and that was about all I did do. Mrs. Mc. had a housefull of company. It rained half of the day, and the house leaked a perfect riddle. We had a lively time, tho,' in keeping out of the dry. I think now that we have a table, I shall do more writing. One reason that Saturday seemed so pleasant, I was the recipient of a letter from Nellie. It cheered me up immensely for I was beginning to have a slight touch of homesickness. Well, I must stop writing, for Miss Martha has come home, and I want to see her. It has been an hour now since school was out, and she will think me impolite if I don't go down.

     I am so tired and hungry tonight. I've been as busy as a bee today. One of the scholars was absent. We had company this afternoon. Mrs. McPeak was here. I have quite a large school now, And I tell you it keeps me busy, but I like it better than haveing so few. I have a chance to go home Saturday, I guess I'll not go tho', for fear I get the mumps.

     It has been a beautiful day, it has been clear and nice. May has gone for this year. Yesterday was Decoration Day. If flowers are as plenteous in all parts of the U. S. as they have been with me, it has been a real florial day. I had nearly a bushel basket full, I have five large bouays (? I don't know how to spell that word) and they were beauties to. I saw a tobacco worm today, and I have seen (or imagined I have) it squirming before me, ever since. It is almost dark, and I must be getting home. it is tiresome work to teach, but I believe I like it.

     Well, Another day is done. And another day of my school is gone. Well, It is so dark I can't see to write or read, so I guess I'll leave. I wonder if any of Our folks will be after me tomorrow night.

     This is another beautiful Morn. and will be another warm day. I have just one dozen scholars today. I have not studied as much this week as I generaly do, 'the reason why' I do more visiting and talking. Mattie, Orza and I spent the Eve at Mr. Skinner's, had a pleasant time. I have to go home early, tonight, and wash.

     I am teaching today. I have only eight scholars. The wind is blowing real hard, and it is quite warm. Bro. Birch called on us this morning. I feel to mean for any use today. I believe I have not studied a bit today. Just the minute I sit down I go to sleep. I have a dull, dizzy head-ache, I don't know whether it is sickness, or pure laziness. I wonder where I will be one month from today. I have to go down and iron this evening. Mattie and I took a walk last night.

     Well, this is the commencement of another week. It is another cool, pleasant morning. I am in a strange mood this morning. I cannot express my feelings. I am mad, yet I am glad, I am sad; yet happy. I had a nice time yesterday, and last evening. Such a time as We did have last night, I shall not soon forget it. I am afraid I shall get lonesome, now that Mattie has gone. The good for-nothing. We will miss her. We went to Sunday School yesterday. I have not heard from home. I think I ought to have got a letter Sat.

     It is so sultry this afternoon that a person can hardly breathe. There is a storm coming up from the west. the clouds are quite dark, but move slowly. I can hear the thunder now, and I must write fast, or I get caught in the storm. Alice [8], and I stayed to clean the School-house, and it was very hard work, the floor was quite dirty and it being so warm we nearly 'give out'. We had company today, Harry Gravatt [9] was here. I won't get to study much tonight. it has been so warm that the scholars could hardly study. I dread warm days the pupils are so restless and unquiet, and have poor lessons. It is rather dull since Mattie has gone. I wish I could have everything (or nearly everything) as I wanted it, I would be the recipient of a few letters, and our folks would come after me next Friday. Well, I must go home.

     It is nearly sundown. I have been writing for an hour and a half. I am nearly starved. I had the misfortune to have to keep a scholar after school today. The little chap blacked his face in school-time, and made a real jubilee. -- I don't like to punish a pupil, and I have very little of it to do. They all try to do right. And study well. Once in a while one of them takes a contrary spell, but they soon get over it and are as good as can be.

     It looks like we were going to get a terriable storm tonight, And it will storm before I can get home if I don't go. (Friday.) And I did go, not waiting even to straighten the school house.

     had a pleasant time. The pupils have had pretty good lessons, and been quiet. Frank B. came, but has been real sick, he looks bad. There are so many little funny things happen in school. I cannot keep from laughing, sometimes when I know I ought not to. I do wish I could take music lessons, [10] if I had money I would take them. It is like school teaching. I always wanted to teach, and wanted to learn music, but I am afraid like the school-teaching, it will be so long before I get the opportunity, and I will have been so often disgusted, and out of patients with my efforts, that when the time comes (if it ever does,) it will have lost half the charms. I received two letters Sat. Eve. I did not have a very pleasant time yesterday. I expect it was all my fault tho'. We went to Sunday School. It was very warm and being out so long in the hot sun and wind gave me a headache. And I heard some bad news, the Eve. before which made me lonesome, and gave me 'the blues.' I went to see Hettie in the evening.

     JUNE 14. It is going to be warm enough to roast a darkey today. It is so still and sultry that I can hardly breathe now. Well I must stop writing here for I want to write a letter. After noon. I don't see the reason I get no letter from Neb. Miss Ella Waddell [11] spent part of the afternoon with us. I am going home with Alice tonight, it has been an awful warm day. I declare if I haven't nearly melted.

Portrait of a young Anna Webber

ANNA WEBBER as a young girl, before she began her teaching career
in Mitchell county in 1881.

     JUNE 15. O, hum, it has been another roasting day, and the wind has blown harder, I believe, than any other day this spring. I went home with Alice and had a pleasant visit. We had a long warm walk. We gathered berries, and flowers, and visited all notable places on the way. We spent the evening with walks, looking at plants and flowers, and with music. This Morn. we came across the hills (and through the hollow). I saw Osborn City [12] from one of the hills. I gathered all the pretty rocks I could 'pack' uncomfortably. [13] We examined all objects of curiosity. (We went to some of the highest hills.) such as hills, hollows, springs, rocks of all sizes, shapes, and colors, flowers, weeds, wolf-dens, dead dogs, worms, anything and everything that came in our way, or that we saw at a distance.

     My school was half out yesterday. This had been a cool pleasant day. Charlie B. was absent. I miss one of the scholars if they are absent. I had to keep two after school tonight. I have no serious difficulties but the mischievous little rascals are into some mischief half the time. Charlie A. is such a funny little chap, he makes me laugh very often when I am provoked enough to spank him. Well, it is five o'clock, go home and get to washing.

     Jolly, they have gone after those old seats again. O, I do hope they will get them. I am going to clean the school house tonight. I do hope they will get those seats. Prehaps I will go home to-morrow. Frank B. was sick again today. And two of my scholars were absent. It is so horriable dull and quiet here, I feel like I had lost half my senses. (And it may possibly be that I have, I don't feel very pert). But I think those new seats and black board will rouse me up. (Yes, and they did. I delivered one of the most eloquent lectures the next day!)

     I just don't see the reason I have so much bad luck. They did not get those ugly old seats, and I don't know as they will get them while I am here. I went home yesterday, and came back this morning before schooltime. The wind is blowing real hard this morning. Ellen W. [Waddell] and I had a nice visit yesterday. Three of my scholars are absent this morning. Our table is gone this morning, and I have the floor and all out of doors to put my books on. I am completely out of patients, and probably will be for the next week, at least I feel that way now, And you wouldn't wonder at it, if you had seen me carrying in those boards and rocks this Morn. For you see I carryed them out, and cleaned the schoolhouse all up nice 'for the new seats.' Well I had my trouble for my pains. I am afraid I will get to stay at home the fourth. Well school is out again, and I am going to see if I can borrow some books this evening.

     Another day of school has gone, Another rather hard one, to. I cannot think of any thing to write. I have not got entirely over my chagrin yet. nothing unusual has happened in school today. We had a nice rain last night, that cooled the atmosphere and made it more pleasant for studying. There was a real wind storm and I expected the school house would be among the missing, but it was not.

     Today finishes the seventh week of my school. There are five more yet. It is getting monotonous. not the school, but the surroundings, just the same quietness, seeing the same objects, and going through the same performances day after day, with no merriment or changes mix in it. How I dread to see the fourth come. I don't know whether I'll get to go home, or have to stay here, or get to go any place. I don't believe it does any good to think of it, things do about as they please in spite of me. Nothing has happened in school today. O, yes they brought us a stand this morning. Harry G. [Gravatt] was here. I had only 10 scholars. Well I am hungry.

     Well, I have been and made a visit, and got back to the school house, since school was out, and it is not dark yet. And I expect supper is ready, and I had better hurry down, or I'll be "to late for supper."

     Today is [Sister] Cora's birthday. We had some company today. Hettie came to see me. We had a little trouble among the scholars to. I was provoked enough to cry. Mrs. Mc. had company, and while we were eating dinner here came to of my scholars. One came up to me and said, "Teacher, they are just raising the dickens up there." I asked what they were doing. "Well," he said, "Theo was swearing, and fighting Oran and -- ", but I did not wait for him to explain it all before company, but sent him back in a hurry. Well, Hettie stayed till six and we had quite a chat. It is time I was going, I expect.

     Today is the commencement of another week, and a beautiful morning it is. One week from today is the fourth of July and I wonder where I will be and if I will have a nice time. Yesterday was a long day to me. In the forenoon I came up here and read, in the afternoon I went on the hills, on William Brite's and gathered some rocks, and wandered over the hills as long as I could. My, it is hard work to clamber up and down these hills. Saturday afternoon We went to Salt creek after berries -- had a nice time. These rambles after berries and 'over the hills,' are pleasant, but would be more pleasant if it was not for the chigers. You get just peppered with them, and they will make you lively, I can tell you (from experience to), but I think you would prefer their room to their company, they make you wish you were in the salt Sea a few moments (a few applications of salt water will kill them.) Well I must go to studieing.

     This seems like a very disagreeable day, it does to me. I guess I must have got up backward this morning. It seems like every thing has went crooked since Sunday Morning. I expect it was because I was disapointed, I should not say everything, either, just some things. I have the honor of receiving an invitation to a picnic today. And if I had anything to wear I believe I would go. If it is a real warm day may be I will anyhow. Well, I must stop and sweep this dirty floor, and then get to studying, -- Supper time, Hettie has sent for me, and I must go, I suppose.

     My school is now two thirds gone today. It looks very much like a rain this evening. I had the pleasure of giving one little chap a whiping. I am having another time of being poisoned, and it is nearly driving me wild.

     Today is the last day of June. It is so pretty this morning. We had a nice rain last night, and the air is so pure, and cool, and everything looks fresh and revived, but it is going to be fearful warm when the sun gets higher if it don't cloud over, which I think it will. O, Dear I am tired, -- it has been warm enough to melt a darkey today, and isn't much cooler now. My school is out for four days, till after the fourth. I am going to that picnic tomorrow, and I have a good many preparations to make this evening. I hope I can enjoy myself and have a nice time, but I don't know whether I will or not.

     Well, it is recess. -- it seems a long time since Thursday. Those long-expected seats are here! they are nice-looking ones. O, how I do wish We could have got them before. Four of my scholars have left this morning. Mr. Whitaker's have left this part of the state. I have only nine scholars left. I went to the picnic Friday, and had a pretty nice time. It was my Fourth-of-July celebration. I enjoyed the day immencely, if I was among strangers. I expected to find some of our folks waiting for me when I came back, but I didn't. Well, I guess I can stand it as long as they can. Saturday I worked, and recruited up, and made preparations for the fourth. Sunday I had company, Miss Cambridge came to see me. We took a walk on the hills and made a tolerable day of it, still Miss C. is very quiet, and I had, as usual, my mind full of wondering where the Young folks of Center were going the fourth, and who Nellie was going with, and where, yet we made the day bearable. Then came the fourth, the longest day, I believed I ever experienced. And how did I enjoy it? Well, I'll not try to tell. The forenoon I spent in ironing tucked skirts (You can imagine how appropriate that was for amusement on the fourth), in the afternoon we called on Mrs. J. Anderson. [14] Sunday Eve. We heard the bad news from the President, of course that had the tendance to make the day gloomy, and out of place. [15] Well, that day of all days of the summer is past. The day that I have looked forward to for a long time, with mingled feeling of hope and evil forebodings. Yes it is past, and nothing serious has hapened, as I know of. I am so far from home though, that I know little concerning anyone beside myself. I do wish I could hear what their prospect for raising something was, that worries me a great deal. It was so much dryer there than it is here, I should think I might hear that any way.

     Mr. Mc. went after the seats the fourth. It was quite late when he got back. I went up to the school house alone, to see them. Wasn't I brave? I scrubed the house (as I had done several times before, and been disapointed,) before school time, and they got two seats put togather, and We commenced school that morning on a new scale. (they didn't get the black board, that was to bad, to) the children was nearly as proud as I was, and acted like a mess of little crazy bedbugs.

     Well, it is so dark I can scarcely see to write, but I will scratch a little. I went with the children up on the hills to gather cherries. [16] I got back just in time for supper . . . and came up here to the school house. I have been here about an hour and a half. We had lots of fun tonight. I have one more enemy I expect but I couldn't help it. The old school house looks so nice with the new seats. I have had one of the best schools today! Well, I will have to stop I can't see the lines at all. Well I think I made some nice work last night. [Last line added next morning.]

     My Land! The wind blows hard enough to take a persons head off. I'll declare if I don't just dread these hot windy day[s]. We have had to keep the door shut most of the time today. I have only nine scholars now. The children are playing, and shake the house till I can't make a straight mark.

     Three weeks from today, if not before that time, my school will be out. I hate to have the time come. My school is small but it keeps me busy talking all the time, to keep them in order. It seems to me as if some of our folks were coming after me tonight. I dreamed last night that a party of the young folks from Center came after me and I was getting ready to go when Mrs. Mc. woke me. -- (Monday) I did not get my dream finished for Hettie came up to the door just as I was telling it, and we sat and talked for a long time. And before she left Ma and Nellie came after me.

     I have made the commencement of another week. I feel considerably revived. I went home Friday. I feel like I might possibly stand it till school is out. The wind has blown hard today and it has been very warm too. The black board is here, it is a little tiny, mocking thing, but is better than none. yes lots better. I am going to see how much I can learn before school is out. O, yes We had company Friday afternoon. A. D.

     O my, this is certainly what might be called a warm day. yes it is warm enough to roast a person. I do not believe I ever saw a much warmer day. There will be a storm I believe. a big black cloud is rising in the west.
     After Four o'clock. It is raining, and I hope We will get a good rain, every thing needs it. I did intend go to Mr. Skinner's this evening, but it is raining so I can't go. Well I must get to studeing.

     Well another day of school is nearly gone. It has been rather a hard day to. the scholars have been so restless. Orza was here to I was provoked. I am going up to see Hettie tonight. Well school is out and I must go.

     And another day of school is gone. I wish I had more time, -- I dont have half the time I should have. I have to go down and iron this evening, and I wish I didn't have to but it won't be much longer till I'll have to study hard enough. [17] I had a rather pleasant visit last night.

     Yesterday was a dreadfull warm day. It was speaking day. [18] the speaking was not very good. The weather is so warm that the scholars can hardly study. but school is almost out. Mattie came home at noon. Alice and I went to Pitsburg. [19] We had a nice ride in the hot sun, it was pleasant in the evening tho'. We did not get back till after eight O'clock. We saw two wolves, and they frightened us some.

     There is only nine days more of school. It seems a long time since I left home, but it does not seem like I had taught nearly three months. The school-house looks so nice that I hate to leave it. Well I have to go down and iron, or else make out the teachers report, this evening. I have had a pretty good school today.

     0, My! This is the next to the last week of my school. O, I dread to have the last day come. Half Past Four. School is out for this day. We had Company again today. Mattie came up with me at noon, and s[t]ayed all the afternoon. her and I are going down to Mr. Andersons this evening. It does not seem near as lonesome, or dull since she has come. We went to Sunday School yesterday, and from there to see the Misses Goodykonts. [20] I met more young folks there, than at any other time since I have been here. We had quite a pleasant time, if we didn't have any dinner. There is a picnic next Saturday, and I would like to go, but I don't know whether I can or not. I have to many irons in the fire. I don't have half the time I could use, or it seems that way.

     Now if I don't have my hands full, I never did. it keeps my brains busy. Had company again. Harry has been here all day, Hettie since school was out. I am in trouble again. I do wish there was not so much quarling I could have so much more pleasure. Well it is late and I must go down. I expect they will be waiting supper for me. So goodnight old school-house.

     The wind blows so hard this morning. It allmost takes a persons breath. I dont know what will become of Kansas. It seems awful hard to. But maybe it will be all right, yet. Well it was so warm and disagreeable that I dismissed school a little after three. And as warm as it is, I have to wash this evening. So I had better don my bonnet and hie me down to the wash-tub, so as to get through as soon as possible.

     It is nice and cool this morning, but I do not know how long it will stay so, till the sun gets a little higher, I expect. But the wind is not in a direction to make it as disagreeable as it was yesterday. The wind is from the north and I hope it will not change, but stay cool all day. Yesterday made things look 'brown' and I'll declare if I wasn't nearly cooked through. Harry is here today. Four O'clock. Well, this has been a nice day, for all it has been warm. It is clouding up for a rain, and I do hope We will get it. We need rain so bad, evry thing is nearly burned up. 0, dear this is a hard place to live, this Kansas is. I wonder what in the world will become of all of us, anyway.

     I have only four days more of school. it is cool and pleasant this morning. I am sorry school is so near out. Well I have to scrub the floor this evening, for there is preaching here Sunday. And I have to iron, and get ready for the picnic tomorrow. I had a nice school this forenoon, but it was not so pleasant this afternoon. I had to keep two scholars this evening, and that is not all I did for them, the little rascals. Well, if I dont hurry faster I won't get half my work done.

     "Well this is the commencement of another week." And it is the last time I can say that this term. I have only two days "more of school." We are learning "our pieces" and making preparations for the last day, and it keeps me just a 'humping,' I have to learn [my] own and teach the children theirs, there are not many of them used to speaking, and are very hard to learn. But I think we will succeed in getting some nice peacies, and having a nice time. I hope so, any how -- and will try hard to make it so. If I can only keep my self controll, I think I can get along all right. but I tell you it is going to be a severe trial, the hardest in that respect, that I ever passed through. but perhaps I stand it some how. I am gaining ground on bashfulness every day. I would like to get out of this tho' I tell you I would. I wish I could hire some one to superintend the last day, but I can't so I may as well begin practicing, and nerve myself up to put on the best appearance possiable. I must not get confused. that is one of my stumblin blocks. When I do get into a confusion I am such a goose, I hardly know anything, I am not realy certain whether I'm myself, or one of the other girls. Well I'm tired of thinking of the `last day,' I am going to write of something else. We were at the picnic Saturday. It was a Sunday-School picnic. We had a nice time It was in the prettiest grove, that I believe I every visited in this part of Kan. The name is Brown's Grove (pretty name isn't it, I think so.). Sunday I was at preaching here at the school house. I believe I hate to leave this place, yes I do, I have nice times here, if I am among strangers. Well I must stop writing.

     It is a dark, rainy, cold day. We come near to freezing. We have had Company all day. Mattie and Arza were here. And Mrs. Mc. to, yes and Harry, to Tomorrow is the last day. I hope it will not be such a day as today is. I feel so sad and lonesome today. one reason is that school is so near out and I shall have to leave, and perhaps never see some of my scholars again. But the principal reason is the remembrance of thirteen years ago today. It was the day that my Dear Mother died. It seems a long, long time to me since that sad evening. God only knows how hard it is for a child to live without a mother.

     This is the last day. It dont seem that it is tho'. It dont seem like there is any thing unusual about it. it seems like a dark cloudy rainy school-day, and that is all.

     My school is out. It is all over and done with. And I am just a little glad, and considerable tired. I have been dreading it so long. It was not so hard after all. But there was not many here. that made the difference. it was so 'rainy' that they feared to come. We had a pretty nice time. But I cannot enjoy myself, or be lively now, it makes little difference where I am. I am going home tomorrow, and next week to school. Well school is out, I can think of nothing but that I should like to write more but have not time.
     Goodby old Diary.


     Anna Webber taught through the 1880s in Center, Blue Hills, and Custer townships of Mitchell county, in Lincoln county, Kansas and Nuckolls county, Bebraska. In June, 1890, she joined the staff of the Kansas Industrial School for Girls at Beloit, where she was placed in charge of the sewing room. Her marriage to Robert H. Gravatt, of Talmage, Nebr., followed on February 5, 1891.
     Mrs. Gravatt's death occurred April 4, 1848, at her daughter's home near Talmage.


MRS. LILA GRAVATT SCHRIMSHER of Lincoln, Nebr., is a daughter of Anna Webber. She is a former American history teacher in Lincoln High School and the author of several children's books and other articles and stories.

1. Blue Hills is one of Mitchell county's southern townships; here the land is especially hilly and good for grazing.Return to reading

2. During her term at the Blue Hill school, Anna lived in the nearby home of William McPeak (she frequently abbreviates the name to Mc. in the diary); besides Mr. and Mrs. MePeak, there were two young adults, Martha (Mattie), who married Charles Hamilton, merchant of Beloit, in November, 1881, and Arza (sometimes Orza). She refers frequently to her sister, Nellie; there were close ties between them all their lives. Only names with which the editor is familiar are identified.Return to reading

3. Cawker was eighteen miles distant.Return to reading

4. Blue Hill was 27 miles from Beloit.Return to reading

5. Pet name for her sister, Florence, three years old.Return to reading

6. Anna's maternal grandfather, Samuel Douglas McDowall, was a well-educated Scotsman, who wrote frequently to her. On February 10, 1877, he had written: "Now my dear daughter, I do sincerely wish to keep up a correspondence with you, as I believe it will be beneficial. ... As a source of improvement, I would urge you to write as much as you can."Return to reading

7. Methodists held occasional meetings in the schoolhouse, as did other denominations. The United Brethren Church, of which Anna was a member, had recently been organized (1879) near her home in Center township, and in that same year the United Presbyterian Church was established several miles north of this one.Return to reading

8. Alice Gatewood, daughter of C. S. Gatewood. The Gatewoods, Joe Andersons, and Gravatts had come to the Blue Hill area from Polk county, Iowa, in 1879, and were relatives.Return to reading

9. Harry Gravatt was the son of Johnson Gravatt, who lived in Custer township; he did not enter the school until well into the term, and since his home was four miles away there may have been an arrangement for him to come with his seven-year-old nephew, Willard Gravatt, son of A. D. Gravatt, of Blue Hill district.Return to reading

10. Among Anna's papers is a much-worn tear-sheet from a catalog, advertising "The Greatest Bargains in Accordions. We especially recommend # 15, -- of German Silver Trumpets and 1 row of Brass Trumpets with Projection Bells. Only $4.75." Also she treasured her deceased mother's list of oil paint colors: Indian and Gamboge yellows, Italian pink, Crimson lake, Prussian and indigo blues, Madder and Van Dyke browns, etc.Return to reading

11. The Waddells, Ella, Will, John, Mr. and Mrs. J. F., of southwestern Mitchell county were family friends.Return to reading

12. Osborne City was 18 miles distant.Return to reading

13. Through most of Anna's life, one of her hobbies was rock-collecting.Return to reading

14. Mrs. Joe Anderson, mother of Chester, Edwin, and Charlie, Anna's pupils.Return to reading

15. President Garfield had been shot in a Washington railway station by a disappointed office seeker on July 2, 1881.Return to reading

16. The choke cherries' dark red fruit clusters ripened in early July.Return to reading

17. She would be attending summer institute in Beloit.Return to reading

18. Frequently Friday afternoons after recess were set apart for spelling or ciphering matches, in this case for "speaking."Return to reading

19. Small town in Pittsburg township; the name later changed to Tipton.Return to reading

20. A Carrie Goodykoontz from Ingalls, Lincoln county, wrote in Anna's autograph album (undated).Return to reading

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