Young WI Teacher, 1904

Modern end but log structure. Probably larger school than she taught in (this is a file photo I found)


This letter was written by a young teacher who taught at a country school northeast of Amery. It’s a bit long, but if you read it through you’ll  get a sense of her loneliness, her frustration, and her adjustment to her environment. I’ve left in the spelling errors. A few local historians have pinpointed and named her school which is no longer standing.

Range, Wisconsin

October 30, 1904

Dear Aunt Hettie,
It is Sunday and a long lonesome day too. I thot I would write to you and that would help pass away the time. This is a terrible lonely country all the families live over two miles apart and most of them are bachelors. My school is very small only three pupils and most of the time only two. I don’t like teaching such a few but I think I would like it if I had more pupils. The school house is very small about as large as our kitchen at home.
All of the school board have been to visit the school. The treasurer can’t speak any English and he tried to talk to me but of course I did not understand him.
I have a fine boarding place with a family by the name of Swanson. They are so kind to me and I like them very much. They came here from St. Paul last spring. I guess they get pretty lonesome at times. They live near enough to the school house so I can go over there for my dinner.
There is wild game in abundance up here and hunters too. Some days it is a steady shoot all day long. We have lots of partridges to eat and they are just fine. Some hunters are camping down near the river their tent is about large enough for a dog to crawl into.
I do not teach at Range but five miles north of Range.

Aunt Hettie do you like spruce gum? There is a big swamp of spruce and I have all I want of spruce gum.
There are a good many Indians around here. I saw the old chief once. He is a very funny looking old fellow, his hair is long and he has it braided. The squaws carry their papooses on their back. Sometimes they have their pow wows and then we can hear them drumming real plain.
November 3. I will have to send my letters to-day so I must hurry up and write some more. Just think after this week is gone I will have only two more weeks and I will be so happy when they are gone that I can dance for joy.
I suppose Irving is very disappointed because he could go to the university this year. (not go?)
Mamma wrote that they had closed the school at home on account of scarlet fever.
I suppose by the time (rip in letter, words “wilderness” and “backwoods” are in the sentence.)
Well I must close and write some more letters. A family has invited me to their house next Sunday to eat saurkraut, they have a whole barrel of it. I guess I will go.
Your loving niece
Lalla Robinson
By the time this letter reaches you I’ll be 17. Don’t you think I’m getting awful old? I will soon be an old maid.

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