Research
* Request information about possible records from St. Xavier in Cincinnati about the O’Shaughnessys. I had a nice comment from a person who volunteers elsewhere, suggesting a call to ask about the possibility of research volunteers. Have to do that!
* Continue to work on updating the Denman database with information already collected and/or noted by cousin Claudia in her review. I’ve been plugging away at this, and it is a slow job with lots of files and information to integrate. Not that I’m complaining.

Organization
* Continuing the work listed above on the Denmans is also organizing files on my hard drive (and helping me establish a standard file naming process).
* Start clearing out the files in the small open box on the floor. [I didn’t really get to this one in June – I don’t know where the month went!]
* Back up the blog! Plug-ins found so far to automate this task don’t meet my needs However I just saw a review of another one, that looked worth investigating. There is always hope – in the meantime I must remember to do it by hand.

Education
* In June I watched a live-streamed presentation from the Southern California Genealogical Jamboree about the War of 1812.
* In July Judy and I are registered for the intermediate course at GRIP, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Looking forward to it – with some trepidation but a lot of excitement.

The first teaching job Laura was offered was in Homer, Licking county, Ohio.  The typed transcript I have of Laura’s memoir says it was Horner, but that was undoubtedly a misreading of her handwriting.  The very small community (an unincorporated community) she went to is named Homer (birthplace of Victoria Woodhull).  “Arrangements were made for this school to commence early in November and to continue for four months at the unheard rate of eighteen dollars per month.  My father had cautioned me not to set my price so high that they would not consent to such an exorbitant price.  I replied that my education had cost both time and money and must be rewarded by a suitable wage.”

Laura’s description of the train trip to her new teaching post described a little train that stopped at every little station and took a lot of time getting started again, so that the trip took much longer than she had anticipated.  In addition the rain came pouring down.  “Then occurred to me the prospect of arriving at my destination at a late hour of the night in a strange town with no one to guide or direct me to a hotel.  Oh horrors!  What should I do?  Not long, however, did I puzzle over the problem but just waited as patiently as possible while the train sped onward as the pace of ten miles an hour; and so at midnight she pulled into the little town of Utica.”

Homer and Utica OhioHere there was no depot, only a platform; the rain was still coming down.  There was no one to meet her since the train was so far behind time.  “I laid my case before the conductor who went out on the platform and brot in a man whom he told to show me to a hotel.”  Laura followed the man, who had her handbox, through dark streets to a house where there was some sort of gathering and the man asked another man there to show her to a hotel.  This man took her satchel and walked her through further dark alleys and streets to the main street of the town and finally to a building said to be a hotel.  Laura ended up in a large dormitory sort of room with a number of beds, and “laid down to await the coming of dawn which could not be far distant by this time.  And so, after shedding a few tears in  pity for myself in this sad plight, I quietly gave myself up to the embrace of Morpheus”

Her luck changed in the morning as she looked out on the street and recognized the store of the father of two college friends.  She went into the store, met the brother of her friends, and was speedily taken in by the family.  There she learned that the people who had been looking for her on the train had waited until midnight and then given up on the train arriving.  “In those days there was no telegraphic communication to tell when trains were due.”

All’s well that ends well, and Laura settled in to a school with about 40 pupils of all grades.  She noted that the people there in central Ohio were very different from those of New England descent who she was used to in northern Ohio.  Many were from Pennsylvania (as my mother also noted in Canton where she was raised).  Laura reported that they were mostly Presbyterians and that they observed the Sabbath from sundown Saturday night to sundown Sunday night.  This meant putting down all the usual work and going to church.  “Then at the close of the Sabbath service and the sun went down the knitting was resumed and other labors take up the same as any week day.”  During her time in Homer she was able to attend the State Teacher’s Association at Columbus which occurred around the holidays when the school was on vacation.  This refreshed and renewed her interest in her profession and she finished out this term with a last day of school demonstration for all the parents.

The next job to come her way was at a new college in Iberia Ohio, which she said was in the southeastern part of the state but was actually in central Ohio in Morrow county.  Iberia College had only been in existence one year; a young minister named Bigham was in charge along with a young woman teacher, Miss Butler.  At the end of that first year the school needed a new instructor since apparently Miss Butler had in mind a different type of school than the founders.  Laura didn’t write much about her teaching experiences here, but reported about the president pro tem, and the churches in the town.  She also told a story about a young lady who suffered the unexpected loss of her fiance to another woman.  Her disappointment and grief were so severe that they “brought her to an early grave”.

As a Denman cousin noted to me in an email, Laura didn’t include much detail in her memoir about her family of origin, usually only mentioning siblings as brother or sister but not by name.  This lack of detail extended to her meeting Joseph W. Booth and their courtship. At the end of her memoir about her childhood days, Laura wrote two short paragraphs about the end of her teaching days and their marriage.   “In the fall of 1854, I took my leave of Iberia College and returned to my northern home, there to prepare for my marriage to Joseph W. Booth of Columbus, which was to take place in the early days of November.  Busy, happy days were these, tho tinged with sorrow at thot of leaving the happy home nest.”

Family lore tells us that J.W. fell in love with Laura through the letters she wrote for her sister to her sister’s husband, Dr. Parker.  J.W. and his brother Henry had both gone West in about 1850-51 with Dr. Parker and others from Ohio.  J.W. and Dr. Parker worked the placer mines for several years and it was probably during this time that J.W. would have had the opportunity to hear Laura’s letters to her brother-in-law.

“The 7th of November, 1854, soon rolled round and we were united in marriage by Prof. Munrow of Oberlin College in the presence of about forty relatives and friends.  Our honey-moon was enjoyed in fitting up our cozy little home in Columbus, where we spent one year of happiness before entering upon our pioneer life—the following chapters of which will give the reader some idea of the trials and hardships we encountered as we made our way toward the setting sun.”

 

Having been freed from taking care of her sister and young nephew, Laura was ready for other employment.  She was fairly quickly able to find a job teaching, first the summer term at a school district in one near-by place and then the winter school of another near-by district.  She was pleased to do the winter school.  “.. entered upon its duties with more enthusiasm as the more advanced classes were in attendance upon the winter schools and teaching the higher branches was more suited to my taste.”  Laura’s goal was to teach this year to replenish her purse, and then to go back to Oberlin for another year in College.

Laura described the changes she found at the college having been away for two years.  “…some of my acquaintances for former years having graduated and gone out into the theAView_of_the_ladies_boarding_hall_at_Oberlin_College,_by_Platt_Photograph_Co. world to take up their life work while others, in the last year of their course, would soon depart, some as missionaries, others as teachers, and all with some definite idea in view of being useful citizens.”  Laura boarded in the Ladies’ Boarding Hall for this year.

Likewise she found “many changes have taken place in the boarding hall during the past two years.  Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild who had charge fore several years had been excused from further labors in that line on account of advanced age and their places filled by Mr. and Mrs. Wright; while the baker who make the bread and pies for the boarders, including the ladies who roomed in the hall and the young men who roomed in the dormitories and came there for their meals, had left and his place was filled by a young man from New York City by the name of J. Dolson Cox.”  Laura went on to describe the career of this young man, who married the College president’s daughter, studied law, went into the army in the Civil War and became a prominent general.  He then had a long career in government, serving as a Governor of Ohio, and Secretary of the Interior among other positions.  Laura concludes: “This incident is related to show that a young man of high ideals and ambitions may attain the height of his ambition altho hampered by want of means to carry out his educational desires.”    Her third year at college ended, Laura went home and spent her winter vacation nursing family members who were down with typhoid fever.  She was more than ready to return to college in the spring, concluding that nursing would not be her choice for her life work.

She boarded this last year at the home of Mr. Wyatt, rooming with his “lovely daughter Ann”.  This young lady was described as “one whose virtue might well be imitated and woven into the character of any young person.  Being slightly deaf she declined the marriage relation and in later life accompanied her niece and husband to China.  They were missionaries and were there just before the Boxer troubles.  She returned to Ohio where her last days were spent.”  The specific names and details of this young woman’s life made me curious.  I did a bit of research and discovered that the Wyatts were from England, having migrated to Ohio fairly recently when Laura boarded with them.  Anna Wyatt was a teacher for a number of years before going to China, showing up in the 1880 federal census as a dancing teacher, living in a household with a younger couple who may have been the niece and her husband.  The Boxer “troubles” were a rebellion against foreign influences which began about 1899 so Miss Wyatt  and her niece and husband probably returned home to Ohio shortly thereafter.  I found her death in 1902 indexed on familysearch.org, and sure enough she was listed as a missionary.  I have not yet found her entry (or the niece and husband) back into the United States and she doesn’t seem to be enumerated in the 1900 federal census.

Oberlin 1853 SeniorsBut I have digressed.  Laura went on describing her last year as a student:   “…wishing to make the most of my time, I took up as many studies as I felt able to carry thru. …The usual routine of study, recitation, chapel exercises, and so forth occupied the time of this year until near its close the task of writing the commencement essay loomed heavily over the horizon.  The idea of reading an essay before the thousands of people who congregate in the the great Tabernacle Church at Oberlin on commencement day was terrifying in the extreme, but it must be done!”  Laura described struggling to come up with a topic for her essay and then struggling to write an acceptable product.  Her advisor/mentor, Dr. Monrow*, was a strict taskmaster by her description but she finally met with success in producing an essay.  I wish she had noted the subject of her essay but she did not.

“Soon the eventful commencement day rolled round and the class of 1853, consisting of ten members†,Graduates_Ladies_Course_1853_3 was called upon to read those essays, so laboriously prepared, before the assembled multitude who had gathered to listen to the efforts of this class.” …”One of our number being an ardent women’s rights person (as the suffragists were called at that time) requested the privilege of delivering her essay in oratorical style, but was denied the privilege as being an infraction of the rules of the college.  So she quietly yielded, but on commencement day, but lo! when called upon to read, she rose and with paper in hand delivered an oration (occasionally glancing at the paper) which for originality and depth of thot had not been equalled by any of the masculine orators for years.  Coeducation, it must be remembered, was in its infancy and it took time to work out the new ideals pertaining to such a change.”

And with that, and commencement days over, Laura returned once more to her home “there to await a call to teach.”.

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*Note that Laura spelled his name Monrow but the listing in the Oberlin Annual Catalogue 1820-1862 spelled it Monroe.

† Note that Laura said there were 10 students who graduated, and the composite picture, kindly provided by the Oberlin Archives, shows 10 young ladies along with Dr. Finney the College president and Mrs. Dascomb, the Principal of the Female Department.  However, the listing of the 4th year students in the Oberlin Annual Catalogue 1850-1862 for 1852-1853 shows 9 young women.  A mystery to be solved in the future, I hope.

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