What Was the Teacher’s Last Name?

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, December 12, 1911: Jake says we have to study harder. It seems to me such tiresome work, but I suppose I could if I tried hard enough. I guess I staid up longer tonight than I did last night, although it is not so very late now.

Lots of resources--none of which answer my question.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I’m continually amazed how many mysteries about Grandma’s life as a teen-ager I’ve been able to resolve (at least to my own satisfaction) with a little research. However, occasionally I’m totally baffled by things that I feel like I should be able to figure out. Today is one of those days–.

What was Jake’s last name?

The History of the McEwensville Schools by Thomas Kramm indicates that the teacher during the 1910-11 school year was Howard Northrop; and that there were two teachers during the 1911-12 school year—Howard Northrop and D. Forest Dunkle.  And, Leon Hagenbuch in his History of McEwensville lists the same teachers. I suppose they both used the same source—sigh.

I’m not getting anything close to Jake out of those names –but maybe Howard went by a nickname. Grandma’s referred to her teacher several times in the diary as Jake or Jakie. I wonder if she called him Jake to his face or it he was Mr. ____.

Jake seems to be very young for a teacher and almost one of the gang. For example, in the fall Grandma and other girls teased him about drawing a picture of a diamond ring, and the previous winter he fell through the ice while skating one evening with students.

7 Responses

  1. When my uncle Ralph described the country school teachers, he said that they were just barely older than the oldest students — 18 to 19, so they may have been almost part of the “gang” of a 16 year old.

    • It’s amazing how young teachers once were. I wonder whether these young teachers generally had the knowledge and skills needed to be good instructors. I also sometimes wonder how student outcomes a hundred years ago compares with today.

  2. Have you checked census records for 1910 ? Jake may be listed there. If he did not have family living in the area, he probably stayed with a locale family .

    • That’s a really good idea. So far I’ve only used the FamilySearch tool to look for complete names–this motivates me to figure out how to search by locale and first names.

  3. [...] Mr. Northrop’s first name was Howard, but Grandma always referred to him in the diary as Jake or Jakie, which I never could figure out. He must seem a little older now to her, and deserving of the title “Mr.” [...]

  4. Jake could have been her “pet” name for him.

  5. Do you know if he had a middle name? In my brother-in-law’s family all the men go by their middle names. (They’re also given their father’s middle name as their first name).

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