A Letter From Miss Etta Dale

Article provided to Tommy Neathery by the Canadian County Historical Museum July 2016

OKLAHOMA The Beautiful Land, by The 89ers,
The Times-Journal Publishing Company, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1943
“FIRST SCHOOLS OF OKLAHOMA” by Ellen Eagin Hickam, pp.283-287

El Reno, Okla.

October 5, 1942

Mrs. John P. Hickam.
Oklahoma City, Okla.

My Dear Friend:

I completed 50 years of service in El Reno Schools last spring, and 53 years in Canadian County. The City of El Reno had a surprise celebration for me on May 28. You may have read about it in the papers. I voluntarily retired at the close of school in the spring and have not been in school this fall. However, the superintendent told me a few days ago that he thought he would need me in some capacity very soon, so I may be back in harness any time.

I taught in the Banner school district, Canadian County, six miles southeast of El Reno, from 1890 to 1892. We had a frame school building with no seats, no blackboard no furniture of any kind. The teacher and the pupils brought chairs and boxes faun home and made their own desks. We used a piece of black cloth for a blackboard. Teachers had to get a temporary certificate for teaching, and one of the requirements was to attend a normal which lasted two weeks. It was just a review of 8th grade work.

I had 52 students in my school in 1890, and they ranged from beginners to sophomores in High School. Pupils walked from 1/2 to 2 1/2 miles to school, and thought nothing of it. My salary was $35.00 per month, and I was paid in warrants which had to be discounted 15%. I taught in this school until December, 1892, when I was elected a member of the El Reno city schools, at a salary of $40.00 a month.

I remember that you taught in one of the frame school buildings which were erected at that time. I was made principal of the school in 1896 and was the only principal the school ever had up to the time I retired. We heated the building with coal stoves, but often we had to burn green wood instead of coal. We had many school entertainments, and the school was the social center of the community. I had an organ and a piano. I hauled the organ to the school every Sunday so we could use it for Sunday school and church. We had a literary society in which the entire community was interested. I suppose there were hardships, but I thought nothing of them then. I had such joy in my work that I did not think of the work as a hardship.

Your friend,

Etta D. Dale

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