Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1920s
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Chores and Work

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Winter - School


1920s Teaching

One teacher describes her class and school in Seward County, adjoining York County.

"The schoolhouse was a large one-room building with windows on each side. It was heated by a coal stove. We did not have a well on the school grounds so the children would take the pail and go for water over to the adjoining farm house. The children were from 5 to 16 years of age, in classes ranging from first to eight grade. Two of the boys were taller than I. The children would come to the front of the room for classes. They played games at recess and noon, such as Andy-over, baseball, hide and seek, keep away, and kick the can. My salary was $72 a month for nine months, and I was to do my own janitor work; sweep the floors and get the goal for the stove."

Bernice Lyon
Pioneer Schools, Produced by York Area Retired Teachers, 1976
Nebraska Historical Society Collection


Cold and snow were not excuses to stay home from school. Only illness or a blizzard kept children home from school. The teacher rang the bell and school began. When the weather was dry, children played outside at recess. On the rainy or sleeting days, students played word games or had spelling bees at recess.

Merna Bailey taught school. She rode her horse the two and a half miles to school and was paid $50 a month for nine months. Later she made $75 a month at a school near York. She taught reading, spelling, penmanship, geography, history, and arithmetic. Herbert Heine remembers school in the winter.

Herbert Heine"We had chores in the morning … take care of the horses, and there's always cattle to feed. And we had to see to it the dog got something and the cats. Eat breakfast and take off for school…We walked to school, about two miles… And then there was a time we had snow or too much rain, Dad would take us to school with a horse and a sled [or] a kind of buggy we had… He would give us a ride to school, put some hot bricks for us to stand on … to keep [our feet] warm." -- Herbert Heine Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required)

Mystery Number Game

Take any number up to a thousand.
Multiply it by 7.
Add 100.
Multiply by 33.
Multiply by 9.
Multiply by 481.
Take the last 6 figures of your result and add them to the preceding figures.
The last 6 digits of the answer will be 285,714.

  Photo of school classroom with students.  
On cold winter days the classes would stay indoor during recess.
When the weather was bad in the winter, the teacher would invent work for students to do at their desks. Here is a sample:

  • Take a page from your reading lesson and arrange the words in alphabetical order.
  • Make a list of all the words in your reading lesson containing a given sound. Example: K sound (corn, car, king, cracker)
  • The teacher put a list of words on the blackboard. Pupils copied the list and then wrote the opposites. Example: Up and down.
  • Write the names of creatures that: fly, run, jump, swim, or creep.
  • Write the names of animals that growl, purr, cackle, sing, laugh, neigh, bark.

Written by Claudia Reinhardt.


Chores and Work

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