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We Made Baldur


Teacher Mildred Bateman



The girl by the fence is Mildred Bateman. Her teaching career in Baldur and area touched hundreds of lives over several decades. She lived most of her life in this modest home on Oak Creek Road.

Photo from the S. J. McKee Archives

Mildred Alice, seventh and last of the family of Arthur and Ellen Bateman, arrived Sept. 24, 1897. She remembers her early life as being that of an only child in a family of adults, - six of them, and all were her friends. But, of course, there were no little playmates either, but these she found in the homes down the street, so she never really thought about it until much later. Then she finally realized what a lucky little "kid" she had been, with such a family and such friends.

School  and  Sunday  School   brought   their   own challenges, with whole new vistas of knowledge to be explored, and a world of books to be enjoyed – ever changing as the years went by.

Before teaching in Baldur, Mildred taught briefly at Rosehill and Holmfield, then spent four years working at the Union Bank in Baldur. Those four years were not only pleasant but of great value to her, and she was always grateful for the opportunity which came so unexpectedly.

Most of Mildred's working years were spent in Baldur School, teaching at various times in grades from III to VIII, and having the opportunity of working with children who appreciated everything that was done for them, such as the opportunity of competing in music festivals.

She was also grateful for the privilege of working in Church and Sunday School; with the classes, the choirs and the women's organizations, where again she found good fellowship and loyalty which endured through the years.

Mildred came to believe firmly that there is always a challenge waiting for those who are seeking it, and what is worth doing is worth doing well. She believes her mother had such thoughts in mind when she started her little girl's training with the memorizing of the Apostle’s Creed. What better foundation could she have laid?

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

A teacher’s duties in the late 1800s and early 1900s were many, varied and difficult. Many teachers walked a mile or more to work every morning, and home in the evening through farmer’s fields, herds of cows, rainstorms, or blizzards. Some had the luxury of riding horses for lengthy distances.

Upon arrival at school, the new teacher drew pails of drinking and washing water from the well, then set them up just inside the front door of the school. If it was a cold morning she would gather wood from the woodpile and start a fire. If it was hot she would see to it to open the windows and door. She might sweep the floor and wipe off the rough-hewn plank chairs and desks. She would check to make sure the “privies” or outhouses were tidy and sanitary, and make sure that her black-laquered plywood blackboard was washed.

Next, she dealt with the arrival of her students, many of them immature and ignorant. The male students could be much larger than she, and even older in years—and some resented being there at all, away from farm work. There could be jeers and jibes, truancy, and general disobedience. Many 19th-century female teachers complained that teaching was especially hard when “big boys” flirted, teased or defied them.

The curriculum usually included reading, writing, basic arithmetic, a little geography and history. Books were scarce and teaching tools few. The texts often took the form of moral tracts or primers of childish virtues and sometimes children were even asked to bring whatever books were at home, such as an almanac or old textbooks.

The blackboard proved essential as she printed and wrote lessons while students copied notes onto slates. Most students had to furnish their own supplies including writing slates and chalk. It would be some years before scribblers and pencils came into use, and only when there was money to buy them. In rural schoolhouses, apart from overcrowding, practical solutions had to be sought to overcome darkness and poor ventilation.

From the Baldur Gazette Special Historical Edition, March, 14, 1940:

Baldur School

Baldur's present school building was erected on the old site on the corner of Main and Government Road in the year 1905. The building of brick veneer, the basement walls are four feet clear of the ground. A centre flight of steps lead up to the main entrance of the school into a vestibule, steps leading to the hallway of first floor, at the end of which are two cloak rooms and wardrobes. Special attention has been given to the lighting of the school.

Our Heritage  People / Index