Washington was a popular name for a school, named after the first president. This school was located in Nemaha County, Nebraska. Like many early schools, it was a wood frame building painted white. We are not sure when it was built, but we suspect around the 1870s. The school has displayed their large American flag--note the star arrangement. There is wire protection for the windows. In these rural schools, the only lightening would come from the windows. There is one male teacher, although a female teacher may be sitting with the children. A smaller school would have more likely had a young female teacher. There are about 50 children. The boys all wear jackets and all the children wear shoes. We suspect this meant that it was a little chilly. The youner boys wear knee pants anf long stockings. The older boys wear long pants, to the extent we can tell. The girls all wear dresses, but without pinafores which were common at the time. Note than none of the boys wear overalls.
Washington School was located in Nemaha County, Nebraska. Nemaha county is located in southeasten Nebraska along the Missouri River. The name of the county comes from the Nemaha River which flow into the Missouri River. The area was inhabited by the Otoe Indians. The United States acquired the area in the Louiana Purchase (1803). Lewis and Clark passed through the Peru area, and it is believed that a member of the group was buried there. The Territorial Legislature established the county (1855).
Early Settlers experienced severe problems when prices for agricultural commodities fell in the financial panic of 1857. County residents came to the conclusion that a railroad would solve many financial problems. The county approved the issuance of bonds to assist in building a railroad (1860s). The first train of the Midland Pacific Railroad reached Brownville (February 1875). The county seat after some dispute was established at Auburn (1883). The population of the county peaked in 1900 at 14,952, about the time the photograph here was taken.
The Nemaha Half-Breed Reservation was established by the Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1830). This set aside a tract of land for the children of French trappers and Oto, Iowa, and Omaha, as well as the Yankton and Santee Sioux tribes. Indian women and their French-Canadian trader husbands and children often lived under the protection of the women's tribes, but commonly did not have full membership rights. This was an usual elemebnt in the many traties signed with the Native American tribes. It was included at the request of the Omaha and other tribes. The purpose was to help mixed-blood Indian descendants establish temselves in society. The U.S. government designated land allotments for their use. They were known as Half-Breed Tracts. This unusual development resulted from tribal rules of descent and membership and Eropean-American discrimination. The children were almost all the result of unions between European fathers and Native American mothers. The Native American mothers were often left outside the social networks of both tribal and white society.
Washington was a popular name for a school, named after the first president. Like many early schools, it was a wood frame building painted white. The school was located about 2 miles northwest of Johnson and operated from about 1884 until 1956 when like other small rural schools it was consolidated. There is wire protection for the windows. In these rural schools, the only lighting would come from the windows. Like most rural schools it would have had an eight grade program because there was no local secondary school. Most of the children would not have progressed beyound 8th grade. There are about 50 children in the 1899 portrait (figure 1).
There is one male teacher. Teachers were expected ti dress formally. Notice the wing collar. A female teacher may be sitting with the children, but is probanly an older-looking student. A smaller school would have more likely had a young female teacher.
The school here in 1899 has displayed their large American flag--note the star arrangement (figure 1). This helps confirm the dating becuse stars were added to the flag as states were admitted to the Union. and this is not yet the 48 star configutation when Arizon joined the Union (1913). ,br>
The boys all wear jackets and all the children wear shoes. We do not know if the children were instructed to dress up for the portrat or if this was how they normally dressed. We suspect this meant that it was a little chilly. The younger boys wear knee pants and long stockings. The older boys wear long pants, to the extent we can tell. The girls all wear dresses, but without pinafores which were common at the time. Note than none of the boys wear overalls. Notice the one boy with the large ruffled Fauntleroy collar.
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