My grandmother, Dorothy (Harris) Weller, on the right, with two of her friends in about 1921.
My grandmother, Dorothy (Harris) Weller, on the right, with two of her friends in about 1921.
One of the ways I find to connect to my ancestors is by having items they may have used in their daily lives. These could range from an old typewriter or camera to kitchen items or tools. Some of these I’ve been lucky to have had handed down to me, while others I’ve acquired by antiquing or from sites like eBay or Amazon.
My grandmother, Dorothy (Harris) Weller, was a primary school teacher in Appleton and Clintonville, WI before she married my grandfather. I have many pictures she took when she was a young adult. A couple of them were taken of her classrooms. One, from the mid-1920s, shows the children reading from the Cyr Readers by Grades reading primers.
Ellen M. Cyr (1860 to 1920) was an educator and author and was born in Montreal, Canada. She published her first reader in 1896.
According to The History of Reading News: “Like teachers throughout time, 18-year-old Ellen Cyr saw a problem in her primary classroom: “The stilted, uninteresting style of text books which she was obliged to use in drilling her young charges was not the very best kind for her purpose.” Also, like teachers throughout time, Ellen found a solution: “She set about writing a primer according to her own ideas.” (The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1911, p.4). What was unique about Cyr, however, was that she was among the first women in American history to have a widely sold reading series marketed under her own name. Additionally, she was the first author, male or female to have a reading series that contained eight books; previous ones consisted of only five or six readers.“
Ellen Cyr wrote her first book in 1886, a combination primer and first reader, while a teacher at the Holmes Primary School in Cambridge, MA. A comparison between her primer and the others used in Cambridge schools at the time makes clear the instructional components she found lacking: (a) word recognition and (b) comprehension activities. Cyr provided opportunities for significant practice with new words before adding more words. Her books also contained many pictures and were quite different from the more popular McGuffy Reader. An excellent biography of Ellen Cyr can be found at this link.
I could see in the picture that my grandma was teaching using the Book Three reader, published in 1901.
I decided to see if I could find one. They proved to be fairly common and I was able to find a Book Three reader on Amazon and it is in great shape!
My grandma passed away when I was only 11, so I was too young to have talked with her about her childhood and early adult life. It would be fascinating to listen to a conversation between my grandmother and my daughters, who are also teachers, about how teaching reading has change over the last almost 100 years!
Having items like this book help me to both feel closer to her and understand the life she lived.
Frank Weller, my great grandfather, was born on this date in 1858. He was born on the family farm in Little Wolf Twp., Waupaca Co., WI.
My paternal grandmother, Dorothy Louise Harris, grew up in Appleton, WI, the daughter of Orville and Katherine (Katie) Harris. She obtained her teaching degree in 1920 from Oshkosh Normal school, and taught first and second grade in Clintonville, WI from 1920 until 1923. She then taught 2nd grade at McKinley school in Appleton from 1923 until 1929, when she married my grandfather, Russell Weller, and moved back to Clintonville.
I’m very fortunate to have found many mentions of my grandmother in the Appleton Post-Crescent in the years from 1925 to 1929. Dorothy was very involved in her church, and seemed to be a very energetic school teacher.
The following newspaper excerpts are listed in chronological order and give a special glimpse of my Grandma’s early adult life. I’ve added some photos taken of her during that time period.
Mrs. O. D. Harris and daughter, Dorothy, 224 E. Winnebago St., left Tuesday for Omaha, Neb., where they will spend a few weeks with Mr. and Mrs Harold Cook. Mrs. Cook is a daughter of Mrs. Harris.
149 TEACHERS SIGN NAMES TO 1925 CONTRACTS
Teaching Staffs of City’s Schools Are Almost Completed Now
Fourth District Schools – Pearl Fellow, Dorothy Harris, Marjorie Hood, Agnes Tracy, Katherine Tracy, Margaret Stebensohn, Dott Smith, Elizabeth Wadsworth, Aurilia Whittlinger. Ungraded Room – Esther Rock, Lydia Schottler. Deaf Room – Edna Aderman, Ida Gleason.
Mrs. O. D. Harris and daughter Dorothy have returned from a three weeks’ visit at the home of Mrs. Harold Cook, Omaha, Neb. Mrs. Cook formerly was Miss Belle Harris of this city.
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Virgil Bryant Scott, Minister.
Sunday school 9:45 A.M.
Morning worship 11 o’clock. A grain of Wheat.
Christian Endeavor 6:30 P.M.
Evening Service 7:30 P.M. Subject of Sermon, The Way Out.
Prayer meeting Thursday at 7:30 P.M.
Monday at 6:30 P.M. Monthly Teachers’ meeting of the Sunday School.
Chi Tau meet on Tuesday of this week at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 Winnebago St. at 6:30 P.M.
Monthly missionary meeting at the home of Mrs. S. W. Murphy on Tuesday of this week, January 12 at 2:30 P.M. The devotional service will be conducted by Mrs. Rhoades. The topic for the meeting is Utah. The committee in charge of the meeting consists of Mrs. W. D. Mason, Mrs. William Burbank, Mrs Stewart Leuchars, Mrs. David Ogelvie, and Mrs. O. D. Harris.
Chi Tau Upsilon of Memorial Presbyterian church will meet at Tuesday evening at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 E. Winnebago St. A supper will be served at 6:30 after which the business session will be held.
PICK TEACHERS TO PLAN PROGRAM
Committees Are Appointed to Work Out Educational Problems.
Committees to work out educational problems were appointed at the meeting of first and second grade teachers with Ben J. Rohan, superintendent of schools Wednesday afternoon. Other business include the distribution of programs for the Northeastern Teachers association convention in Oshkosh on Oct. 8 and a discussion of Better Teaching booklets which have been planned in order that teachers may measure their ability and development through the year.
Members of the geography committees are: Second grade, Miss Katherine Tracy, chairman, Miss Dorothy Harris, Miss Ruth Taylor, Miss Erma Temple…
HOLD CLASS PARTIES FOR MCKINLEY PUPILS
Class parties were held in the grades at McKinley school Friday afternoon before the closing of school for the Christmas holidays. Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth and Miss Agnes Tracey were in charge of the party for the kindergarten and first grade children. The second grade had it’s program alone. This was directed by Miss Dorothy Harris.
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Chi Taus will meet on Tuesday at 6:30 P.M. at the home of Miss Dorothy Harris, 224 E. Winnebago St. Miss Evangeline Wirick, Miss Ruth Mielke, Miss Mararet Miskimin will act as the committee.
VISUAL EDUCATION IS SHOWN TO PARENTS
Visual education as a part of geography teaching was demonstrated at the “go to school night” of the second, fourth, fifth and sixth grades of the McKinley school Wednesday night. About 100 parents attended the model classes.
Stereoptican slides and stereographs are used in the supplementary work of the children. Other subjects demonstrated were silent and oral reading, spelling, mathematics, including examples of the true and false test method of teaching, and oral English.
Teachers in charge of the classes were Miss Pearl Fellows, Miss Josephine Sexton, Miss Elsie E. Sandberg, and Miss Dorothy Harris.
ELECT OFFICERS AT MEETING OF CHURCH SOCIETY
Election of officers was the principal business at the meeting of the Chi Tau Society of Memorial Presbyterian church Tuesday evening at the home of Miss Dorothy Schenck, N. Leminwahset. A supper was served at 6:30 preceding the business session. Miss Schenck was assisted by the Misses Margaret Miskimmin and Vivian Viel.
Miss Olga Heller was elected president for the coming year. Miss Ruth Mielke was elected vice president and Miss Dorothy Harris was elected secretary and treasurer. Patronesses for the year will be Miss Jessie King, Mrs. J. E. Bond and Mrs. Virgil B. Scott.
CHI TAUS TO HOLD FIRST MEET OF YEAR
Chi Tau Upsilon society of Memorial Presbyterian church will resume its meetings for the season with a supper at 6:30 Tuesday evening at the home of the Misses Helen and Jean Paterson, 319 E. Lawrence St. The Misses Dorothy Harris and Margaret Ritchie will be the assistant hostesses. Miss Olga Heller is president of the society for the coming year. As social will be held following the supper.
A meeting of the Womens Missionary society of the Presbyterian church will be held at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon at the home of Miss Marian Smith, 210 N. Park Ave. Miss Kate Schneider will lead the devotions. Mrs. H. H. Clausen, Mrs. Orville Harris and Mrs. G. A. Ritchie will have charge of the programs which will be on new literature for the coming year. Study books for the season will be chosen.
CHURCH SOCIETY HEARS INDIAN MISSIONARY
Miss Agnes Gale Hill, a missionary from the Presbyterian church to India, told about the people in India and her work at the meeting of the Womens Missionary society of the Presbyterian church will be held at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon at the home of Miss Marian Smith, 210 N. Park Ave.
“The Twelve Test of Character” by Foedick was chosen as the study book of Chi Tau Upsilon society of the Memorial Presbyterian church at the first meeting of the season Tuesday evening at the home of the Misses Helen and Jean Paterson, 319 E. Lawrence St. Miss Ruth Mielke read a paper. Supper was served at 6:30. The Misses Dorothy Harris and Margaret Ritchie were assistant hostesses.
WOMANS CLUB OPENS ANNUAL FINANCIAL DRIVE ON MONDAY
Solicitors Start Campaign to Raise $10,000 to Meet Current Expenses
Workers for the Womans Club will have a supper meeting at 6:15 Monday evening, opening a campaign to raise $10,000 to defray current expenses of the club during the coming year.
The club, entering its ninth year of existence, is planning a comprehensive program of work for the coming year. Its principal purpose is regular club work and to sponsor recreation for women and girls.
The club has a nominal membership fee and an woman in Appleton or Outagamie Co. is eligible for membership. A squad of women soliciting memberships for the club started work last Monday and the two efforts will be carried on together next week.
Woman who will canvas the schools for pledges are Mrs. Mable Meyer and Misses Ruth Mielke, Magdalene Kohl, Mable Welter, Hilda Kippanham, Rose Helm, Selma Mallmann, Jenn Jackson and Dorothy Harris.
Mrs Emory Greunke and the Misses Marie and Irene Greunke entertained at a miscellaneous shower at the latter’s ohm, 709 N. Morrison St. in honor of Miss Emily Greunke, who is to be married hearty in September to William Brydenhagen of Sturgeon Bay. Miss Greunke is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Greunke, 70 N. Morrison St. Bridge furnished entertainment for the evening and the prizes were won by Miss Dorothy Harris and Mrs. Marie Boehm.
GEOGRAPHY COMMITTEE AT SCHOOL APPOINTED
A meeting of the first and second grade teachers of the public schools was held at Lincoln school Wednesday afternoon.
The committee selected to work on the geography outline includes Mrs. Leila Mortimer, general chairman; Misses Katherine Tracy and Marion Uebele, second and first graid chairmen, and Misses Dorothy Harris, Ruth Taylor, Ruth Hartig, Emma Schwandt, Agnes Tracy, Viola Weber and Lois Smith.
RED HATS CAUSE GREAT STIR AT LOCAL SCHOOL
A man with a red hat seen on the streets of a civilized community might cause a ripple of excitement and shop window full of men’s red hats bring forth a few gasps, but it is doubtful if any red had could cause as great a stir as the one in the second grad at McKinley school. In this particular instance a red hat marks the crowning achievement – for the pupils of class B it means victory in the art of reading.
The idea is this. To stimulate greater interest in perfect reading the teach, Miss Dorothy Harris, intimated a contest inbreeding. Each time a child reads well, he is permitted to take one more step in the drawing of a snowman and when the snowman is finally topped with a red hat, the pupil has completed the contest. None steps re involved – three balls for the three parts of the snowman’s body, the eyes , nose, mouth, buttons, broom and finally the red had.
This who have completed their snowman are Harold Bertsky, Donald Own, Doris Jean Rhoder and Oscar Moderson.
The marriage of Miss Dorothy Harris, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. O. D. Harris, Winnebago St. and Russell Weller, Clintonville, took place at 7 o’clock Monday morning at St. Rose church, Clintonville. The Rev. Father Dietrich performed the ceremony. Miss Helen Weller, Clintonville, acted as bridesmaid and Emil Tanty, Neenah, was best man. A wedding breakfast for immediate relatives was served at the home of the bride’s parents following the ceremony. After a tour to Niagara Falls and other points of interest in the east and Canada, Mr. and Mrs. Weller will make their home in Clintonville where Mr. Weller is in the hardware business.
4 MARRIAGE LICENSES ISSUED AT WAUPACA
Waupaca – The following applications for marriage licenses were received in the office of County Clerk L. F. Shoemaker during the week ending July 9: Guy J. Schmahl, Manawa, and Ivy L. Reinheimer, Cecil; Russell B. Weller, Clintonville, and Dorothy L. Harris, Appleton; Joseph S. Lolosso, Manawa, and Esther Swenson, Iola; Bernard L. Schults, and Irma M. Roenz, Manawa.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know my Grandma Weller as well, or for as long, as I would have liked. She passed away when I was 11 years old. We didn’t live near Wisconsin when I was a child, so we saw our Grandparents once or twice a year. I’m thankful to have found these tidbits about her life before she married my Grandpa.