Ida Emily Higginson Crabtree’s Teaching Certificates

Great Grandma Ida taught school in sod houses. It seems Ida had to take an exam each time she renewed her certificate. One of the certificates said that she attended the County Teaching Institute in Springview, Nebraska. Here are two of her teaching certificates, courtesy of Cal Bivens.



On Friday night, Mama took water and a broom to settle the floor for Monday. Men hewed logs in half and put the flat side up for desk and seats. There were readers and books in the school whenever they could get them.—daughter Myrtie Crabtree Briggs

There were three stories from Ida’s teaching days that her daughter Myrtle’s children enjoyed hearing:

“The apple tree,” read one child, “bust into a ‘hug bucket’.” The words were huge bouquet.

“The girl was walking along and turned aside and fastened her garter,” was the sentence in the book. But Ida’s pupil was too embarrassed to read that. “She turned aside to do a very necessary thing,” he read out loud.

Another time one of the poorer boys was reading and asked, “What is b-o-n-e-s?” Miss Higginson answered, “Why, you know. You have more of them than anything.” “Is…it…beans?” (Spoken in a western drawl.)

Emily taught school at one time, in a sod school house. Two boys got into a scrap there one day and Emily waded into the melee and “knocked their heads together.”—Great Grandson Cal Bivens

During the time Ida taught school there was much tension between the settlers and the Indians, because of the Ghost Dance, which spread across the west in the mid to late 1880s. It excited the settlers greatly and Wounded Knee was part of the fallout.

When one major incident happened in South Dakota, Mary Higginson sent for her daughter Ida, “‘Cause she thought that they’d get her as she was teaching and she had a long way to walk home.” Seven miles is a long way to walk home, but Ida was not close to the situation in South Dakota, Grandma told me.—Great Granddaughter Louise

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