The West Side School was on the southwest corner of Cedar and Crow streets.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Early-day teaching contract was stifling

Jeanne Newby

With School about to start I felt it was a good time to discuss the teachers of old!

The following teaching contract was shared by Jerry Pryor.

Teachers in the early days of teaching agreed:

  1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
  2. Not to keep company with men.
  3. To be home between the hours of 8 PM and 6 AM.
  4. Not to loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
  5. Not to leave town at any time without permission of the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  6. Not to smoke cigarettes. Contract becomes null and void immediately if teacher is found smoking.
  7. Not to drink beer, wine or whiskey.
  8. Not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brother or father.
  9. Not to dress in bright colors.
  10. Not to dye their hair.
  11. To wear at least two petticoats.
  12. Not to wear dresses more than 2 inches above the ankle.
  13. Keep school room clean. Sweep classroom floor daily. Scrub floor once weekly with hot water and soap. Clean the blackboard daily. Start fire at 7 a.m.
  14. Not to use face powder, mascara or paint their lips.

By the way, the above teachers received $75 per month.

Reading some of the above restrictions reminds me of some of our high school substitute teachers during the ’60s. Those teachers dedicated themselves to a lifetime of teaching, and most taught until they were way up in years.

The list of restrictions also recalled to my mind the restrictions that were placed on students who attended the Webb City College, an institute for both sexes in 1900.

  • Ladies were to wear plain dress, nothing fancy.

  • Young men were provided with military uniforms.

  • Young ladies were forbidden to have young men callers during the week.

  • Their correspondence was limited to just a few short notes between men and ladies.

  • Basically, there were to be no communications between the men and ladies during the day at the college.

  • The ladies boarded at the college and the men stayed in boarding homes near the college.

  • The young men attended classes on the first floor and the ladies attended on the second floor.

  • Ladies were to wear gloves when in the presents of a gentleman.

  • No eye contact with young men.


Bertie Hensley Wahlstrom recalled many fond memories of her favorite teacher, Mayme Stinnett. Here is Bertie’s letter:

Miss Aldridge, Miss Gilmore, Miss Crotty and Miss Herrod all had a hand in getting me through school. But the one I loved the most was Miss Mayme Stinnett.

Miss Stinnett treated all of her students as individuals; not as a number or a seat occupant. I attended the seventh and eighth grades during the last two years Central School existed. During my eighth grade year the southwest corner of the building fell down. No big deal!! They just moved the students out of that room, put up a rope fence around the debris, and we finished the school year. I smile to think of what a “to-do” would be made now, should this happen.

But I digress. Back to that precious Miss Stinnett. At Christmas time, Thanksgiving, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc., she would give me a box of colored chalk and the whole black board. She encouraged me to do a large mural in keeping with the season. She was the first person who made me realize I might have artistic and writing talents.

Jess Douglas (son of Dr. Douglas at the old T.B. Hospital) and I did the artwork for our eighth grade annuals. They were handmade and cost 35 cents each. My best friend and I didn’t have 35 cents. But not to worry; Miss Stinnett to the rescue! We received our annuals, and we paid her back a nickel at a time. I don’t know another soul who would have cared enough to extend us that kindness.

I was fortunate enough to write to Miss Stinnett at the nursing home where she spent her last days. I told her how much we appreciated her kindness and encouragement. It made absolutely no difference to Miss Stinnett that we were not from the so-called elite of Webb City.

My childhood friend and I are still oldest and dearest friends. We speak of Miss Stinnett often. We will never forget her.

Mayme Stinnett graduated from Webb City High School in 1902, and the last she is mentioned as a regular teacher is 1956, but she continued as a substitute teacher.

Dan Crutcher seemed to remember that at one time Mayme Stinnett was the oldest living graduate of Webb City High School, and he thinks she might have been a teacher at the time of this honor. Almost 60 years of teaching, what an accomplishment. How many lives did she touch along the way?

Miss Helen Herrod is another long time teacher. Miss Herrod graduated from Webb City High School in 1909. In 1961 Helen Herrod and Olive Gilmore both had the annual dedicated to them for the years that they had devoted to teaching the youth of Webb City. They both continued to teach after that. Helen Herrod taught for almost 60 years, Olive Gilmore taught for more than 40 years. Henrietta Crotty taught for almost 40 years. What wonderful dedicated ladies they were.

Teachers who taught for 40 years or more were most likely to teach several generations from the same family. I had a few favorite teachers through my years of high school that included Mrs. Whetstone, she encouraged me in my writing. (She would say of my writings, “It was interesting,” but I didn’t know if she meant that as a good thing or an unusual thing! But it encouraged me to keep writing anyway!) I love that Mrs. Whetstone liked to whistle. I was in Grandpa Pigeons at Stone’s Corner one day and I heard someone whistling in the aisles. My first thought was “that reminds me of Mrs. Whetstone,” and sure enough there she was, coming down the aisle. Another favorite teacher was Larry Goode, he would probably have been surprised that I was a bookkeeper for four Hallmark Stores as he watched me struggle through his bookkeeping classes. But he always put up with my crazy questions with a smile!

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.

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