Top: James and Etta Parkerson, with whom Minnie boarded while she taught school in Sherman Township, Riley County, Kansas. Circa 1920. Bottom: The Parkerson farmhouse in 1938. Photographs courtesy of Jim Olson.
Minnie tells me about her first day of teaching school in a one room school house in Sherman Township, Riley County, Kansas. I am still at home in Manhattan awaiting my induction into the army. It would be three more years before I would marry Minnie.
Addressed to Mr. Ward C. Griffing, Manhattan, Kansas
September 2, 1918
My Dearest Boy:
Oh how I wish I could talk to you tonight. My first day of teaching is over. In some ways I like it fine. In other ways I wish it was my last day. I expect you are wondering why I am writing with a pencil. I discovered the first thing I have forgotten to bring and that is my fountain pen ink. I know I put a pencil in my box of school materials but I couldn’t find it at all tonight and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to write you so bad and I didn’t want to ask Mrs. Parkerson for a pencil. I asked her for fountain pen ink and she said she didn’t have any so I hunted all through my trunk and finally found this poor stub in my pocket book. I must send home for ink.
That owl down home must have followed me up here. There’s one howling right here by my window. I don’t like to hear it up here.
Those [Krause] twins I have in school are sure enough twins. They look exactly alike. I don’t make any attempt to tell them apart as yet. And they are so hard of hearing [that] I had to change their seats up nearer the front [of the class] the first thing. I forget to yell at them once in awhile but they don’t hesitate to remind me of it. I know you would just collapse [laughing] if you were to see me shouting at those kids, and what is worse, in the winter they get colds in their heads and have their ears stuffed full of cotton half the time too. Mrs. Parkerson said the [previous] teachers always come home almost desperate. But they are smart [kids]. One little primary girl cried to go home during opening exercises. I read from the Bible and we all repeated the Lord’s Prayer, and all the time she was crying and sobbing so loud. We sure had a concert.
I wonder if you folks had a big rain last night. We thought we were going to. It sure looked and sounded like it. But it didn’t rain very much. The road was real muddy this morning but dry tonight.
I wonder most about you. If I only knew. I do hope you will be home a week from Sunday. Maybe you will get in at the College yet. Ward boy, I think I have been the luckiest girl I’ve ever known the last three years. If I could only continue to be. But this seems far from it. No one, but God, will ever know what I am suffering these days. But I suppose we must both keep on trying to be happy knowing what has been and what may be in store for us in the future, if we do our part well.
It is now ten after nine. I must study awhile and then go to bed. I must scratch off a line to the folks. I want my ink. This letter is a disgrace. Your sweetheart, -- Minnie G. Frey
- Minnie taught school in Sherman Township, Riley County, Kansas. The nearest Post Office was in Stockdale, Kansas. The one-room school house where Minnie taught was in the south-center portion of Sherman Township, a couple of miles west of the Blue River. The school was constructed at the south-east corner of Section 15 on the property of William I. Hoffman.
- Minnie boarded with 70-year old James E. Parkerson and his 54-year old wife Etta, both natives of Germany. Their farmhouse was less than one-half mile west of the Sherman school house.
- The twins mentioned here and elsewhere throughout Minnie’s letters were Lloyd and Floyd Krause who were born in 1904, making them 14 years old when enrolled in Minnie’s school. They were the children of a second-generation German immigrant farmer named Henry F. Krause and his wife Ethel. No explanation is given for the boys' deafness but it was not uncommon at that time for children to sustain hearing loss from German measles.