Thursday, June 21, 2018

So is this a Methodist Sunday school class?

This charming photograph of seven young ladies and, perhaps, their Sunday school teacher turned up in an unexpected place this week at the museum and I've been trying to figure out since exactly where to file it. For the record, its home henceforth will be one of the "Methodist" archival boxes in the library with other photographs and memorabilia related to Chariton's First United Methodist Church. 

I think it was taken in Chariton about 1895 and depicts members of a First Methodist Sunday school class and their teacher, but the evidence is circumstantial.

The photograph came into the collection during 1969, donated by Miss Mary White. She identified the seated subjects as (from left) Della Howsare, Ida Seward and Bessie Burgett; (standing from left) unidentified, Lulu Delay, Miss E. Murray, Sarah White (the donor's elder sister) and Mattie Larimer.

Both Miss Mary (1893-1973) and Miss Sarah (1883-1960) were daughters of Charles and Rachel (Graves) White. They devoted their lives to educating Lucas County youngsters, living together in the family home in Chariton. When Mary retired, she was the longest-serving teacher in the Chariton school district.

The women were born at Newbern --- and in death returned; Charles (1857-1937), Rachel (1860-1924), Sarah and Mary are buried in the Newbern Cemetery. But the family moved to Chariton during 1894 and immediately united with First Methodist. During 1900, Charles White's occupation was given as stock-buyer. There also was an older son, Willis, born during 1883, but he moved as a young man to California and never returned.

Mary was very small when the family moved to Chariton and far too young to remember the circumstances of this photograph, which probably belonged to Sarah. Her note on the back reads, "Sunday School Class?" And that makes sense.

Mary was the last of her family in Lucas County as she grew old and her sole heirs were a nephew and two nieces who lived in California and New York. So over the course of a few years, 1967 into the early 1970s, she donated a couple of hundred family-related items to the newly formed Lucas County Historical Society --- including this photograph.


Unrelated, but interesting (to me). I kind of collect unusual names and came upon two while exploring old newspapers, trying to identify this photograph more specifically. Della Howsare, one of those photographed, had a twin brother --- Mella Howsare, who operated a plumbing and heating business in Chariton. And one of my all-time favorite given names --- Miss Truthful Wing, daughter of a Derby family and also a Lucas County school teacher until she married and moved to Kansas. Names just don't come much better.

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