Grandma’s Grade Card

My mom, Gail Martin, was the family archivist and after her death, the boxes of family papers passed to me. Among the minutia that survived from one generation to the next were some grade cards from 1911 and 1912. My grandmother, Ruth Vining (later McGhee) seems to have been a diligent student at the Tyro, Kansas grade school.

 Tyro, Kansas – Report Card 1911

ruth vining 7th grade report card 

What They Studied

There were the usual subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history.  I was glad to see they studied drawing and music too. Orthography puzzled me. My sister said, “Surely it’s a form of orthology? An online dictionary says orthology – the art of correct grammar and correct use of words.”

A distant cousin who’s a teacher joined the discussion. Patricia Cummings Brown -“Orthography is the study of spelling. We just call it spelling now!

I said,  “OK, orthography sounds reasonable. I think it includes handwriting too.”

Patricia said, “No it is strictly spelling.”

It looks like Grandma Ruth excelled at orthography, as well as music, history, and geography. She was never tardy, but it looks like her deportment slipped in March from 100 down to 98.

Her teacher for the Eulalia Parks and the principal was Howard Hitchcock. The Parks family were prominent in early Tyro.

Tyro, Kansas – Report Card 1912

ruth vining 1912 grade card

Ruth Vining’s 1912 grade card from Tyro, Kansas school.

It looks like the school year started in September and ended April 26th. That gives the students four months off. That’s only 150 days of school instead of the 186 of modern-day schools. In farming communities, kids were probably needed at home to help.

I’m confused over the different ratings for being tardy and being punctual. Perhaps the first is for getting to school on time and the second is for completing the assigned work in class.

For the 7th grade, the principal, Howard Hitchcock taught the class.  This year, rather than general history, the students were taught Kansas history. Drawing and writing seemed to be Grandma Ruth’s less accomplished subjects. That seems odd, as later in life, she wrote short stories and even an entry in a screenplay contest where she won a prize.

I don’t have her 8th-grade report card or at least I haven’t found it in the box that I was exploring. The schools at that time had graduation ceremonies for completing the 8th grade. This photo, I suspect, is from that occasion.

scelian and ruth vining 1911 edited by kristy duggan

Ruth Vining with her older sister, Scelia.

Graduations Over the Years

It’s the time of year when new graduates beam with pride for the camera as they clutch their hard-earned diplomas. They are glad the school year has ended, little realizing that ahead are many trials and tribulations as they learn about being an adult.

For the moment, don’t bring up jobs, bills, keeping the spouse happy, coping with car repairs and grumpy bosses, plus the challenge of raising children. Let them savor that triumphant and heady feeling of achieving the long-term goal of getting an education.

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H is for Hamilton, Kansas

Learning about Hamilton, Kansas

My mother, Gail Martin, graduated from high school in Hamilton, Kansas, back when she was still Gail McGhee. That was about all I knew about Hamilton, so I did some research. Here’s what I found out about this small Kansas town. Only a few hundred people now live there.  The small town is located in Greenwood County, just north of Eureka and south of Madison.

Perhaps you have links to Hamilton or have heard of it. Please sound the guestbook at the end of the page and tell us about your interest in Hamilton, Kansas.

The photo below shows my mother’s graduating class at Hamilton. It is in the family photo collection.

1942 Hamilton KS high school graduates

Gail Lee McGhee is right under the words Hamilton Seniors.

Mom had a postcard image of Hamilton High School. Pretty impressive building for such a small town. If this is like Madison, it would house all the grades from first grade through high school. The high school would have been on the top floor.


Hamilton High School in Kansas where Gail Lee McGhee graduated.

To see what the area around Hamilton looks like, view this short YouTube video, The Flint Hills – Meditations from a Kansas Prairie.

Read More About It

my_flint_hills_childhood___paperback_versionMy mother wrote many family memory pieces about her early life. I gathered these together in a book that I self-published on Her book is titled My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s Kansas. In the book, she includes a picture of herself in her prom dress for the Hamilton prom. Her maiden name was Gail McGhee. She dated Johnnie Faylor while attending Madison High School, but ended up marrying my dad, Clyde Martin.

There’s a book about his life as well, Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times. It’s also available in the Blurb online bookstore. Dad has family connections to Hamilton that goes back several generations.

clyde martin book cover

The book about Dad is also available from Blurb.

The Martin Connection to Hamilton

Joy Mill - roxio
This is my great-grandfather, Alfred Joy and his son Harry standing in front of the feed mill that he owned in Hamilton. The picture is from the book, Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times.

Harry Joy - 1st grade Hamilton-copy_edited

Around 1904-1906, first-grade class, Hamilton, KS

This piece of Hamiton history is from the early 1900s. Harry Earl Joy, son of Marie (Kennedy) and Henry Alfred Joy, is in first grade in this picture. I don’t know which child is Harry. He was born in 1898 in Baldwin, Kansas.

This photo is from the paperback edition of Dad’s book. Harry Joy was Dad’s uncle.

In hopes of finding out more about Hamilton and its early days, I’ve asked to join a Facebook group called U Know U R from Hamilton KS. I’ll keep exploring.

Gail’s Early WWII Memories

On December the 7th, we were all shocked when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Now World War II was not just looming, it was a reality. Rationing became a way of life; my friends older brothers were inducted into the army, navy or the air force. All eighteen-year-old males had to register for the draft. Everyone was worried. My friend, Clyde Martin’s brother Ralph, who had been working at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita, enlisted in the air force.


Scrap metal and rubber collected during WWII for the war effort. (photo taken at WWII museum in NH by Virginia Allain)

Life struggled on as we all tried to be patriotic by saving scrap metal and grease. We went on scrap hunts to find unused and abandoned metal. Sugar, meat, oil, gasoline, and rubber went on the ration list. Families were issued ration booklets to keep everybody honest.

War slogans became my classmate’s secret passwords, “If you don’t need it, DON’T BUY IT” and we interpreted that slogan to mean we did not need any more studies; we wanted to help win the war.


Christmas was very quiet that year. Packages of home baked goodies were mailed early to our relatives, friends, and neighbors in boot camp or overseas. No one went any place unnecessary because of the shortage of gasoline and tires. My family usually had relatives come to our home for Christmas for lots of good food, togetherness, and exchange of homemade gifts, but not the Christmas of 1941.


The spring semester dragged on and I managed somehow to get good enough grades to let me graduate. No one knows how worried I was about passing the 12th-grade exam. However, I must have known more than my teachers and I had every thought of. As long as I was not rushed or having to recite out loud I did well. This exam was a written test; anyway, I passed and attended baccalaureate ceremony and the graduation ceremony. Back in those days, we did not wear floor-length dresses except for fancy weddings. At least in the Midwest and in a county that was made up mostly of farmers and oil workers.

(emailed to daughter, Virginia, on Saturday, August 11, 2012)

The Acrobatics Team

My mother spoke a number of times about learning acrobatics when she was in school. Their teacher Brownie Dillman taught the students. Recently I scanned some stamp-sized photos that showed this teacher and some of the students.

I’m enlarging them here for more detail. To see them even larger, click on each photo.

Gail McGhee's school friends

Gail McGhee’s school friends

It seems that the acrobatic team had the opportunity to perform at the Kansas State Fair. It lists the names of the students, but not Gail McGhee. I don’t know if at age 13, she had already moved on to another school or if some other reason kept her from attending.

The Hutchinson News (page 13, Sept. 16, 1937) wrote about the free day for school children that expected 7,000 children and teens to attend. Here’s the schedule for the entertainment in the grandstand at 10:30 am on the free day.

  • Short speeches by some school officials
  • A clown from the state fire marshal’s office
  • Rover the mathematical dog
  • A troupe of juvenile acrobats – The acrobatic team originated from the Seeley Grade School of Madison, Kansas. Members of the troupe are Dixie Jean Falk age 7, Edna Mae Laird age 7, Marilyn Ruth Dettcr (spelling?) age 7, and Dorothy Rose Laird age 12.
  • Dancers from local schools and Clyde S. Miller’s Wild West Show
  • Music by the Hutchinson High School band directed by S. Allen Watrous.
  • Also music by Turkey Creek, Wakeeney and Pawnee Rock bands.
Gail McGhee's school chums showing their acrobatic moves.

Gail McGhee’s school chums showing their acrobatic moves.

Browning Dillman, the school teacher who taught Gail and her friends to perform acrobatics.

Browning Dillman, the school teacher who taught Gail and her friends to perform acrobatics.

A Random Act of Genealogical Kindness

In Mom’s photo collection are four photos relating to her childhood friend, Dorothy Rose Laird. I wrote about their friendship in another post, so you’ve seen one of the pictures there.

It occurred to me that descendants of Dorothy or relatives would love to have these 60 year old pictures. I researched on the Ancestry site for family trees that included Dorothy Rose Laird.

When I found one, I messaged the owner of the tree asking if she would like the photos to add. She was thrilled. I emailed digital copies of the pictures and I see she has already attached them to the people on her family tree.

Here are the four pictures in case anyone else is looking for Dorothy.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy's new car.  Dorothy Rose Laird is in the center, Gail on the right.

Gail and her school friends standing by her daddy’s new car. Dorothy Rose Laird is in the center, Gail on the right.

I could not find details later than 1940 on Dorothy, so I don’t know who she married, where she lived and if she died.

Dorothy Rose and Edna Mae Laird - Greenwood County, Kansas.  Photo from Gail Lee Martin's collection.

Dorothy Rose and Edna Mae Laird – Greenwood County, Kansas.
Photo from Gail Lee Martin’s collection. Edna is 4 years younger than Dorothy.

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird - 1930s at Noller School, Greenwood County, Kansas

Gail McGhee and Dorothy Rose Laird – 1930s at Noller School, Greenwood County, Kansas

This one is labeled "Grandmother Lair's house, Potwin, KS." According to Ancestry, Dorothy had a grandmother, Ella, who lived in Potwin.

This one is labeled “Grandmother Laird’s house, Potwin, KS.” According to Ancestry, Dorothy had a grandmother, Ella, who lived in Potwin.

According to that member’s family tree, the grandmother’s name was Mary Ellen “Ella” Combs and she married Thomas Laird.

The good part of sharing these photos is now they are on Ancestry so others who are searching for her will easily find them. The bad part is that Ancestry’s subscription fee keeps many from using it. For that, I’m posting them here.

It turns out that my sister, Karen, had an additional photo of Edna Mae and Dorothy Rose Laird. Here it is.

It turns out that my sister, Karen, had an additional photo of Edna Mae and Dorothy Rose Laird. Here it is.

PS – One of the activities that my mother, Gail, remembered fondly from her school days was learning acrobatics with her friend Dorothy. Click the link to read about that.