Brother Was Mischief-Maker in One-Room Schoolhouse

The older boys in our one-room schoolhouse were often punished for mischievous behavior.

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My brother, sister and I were attending a one room rural schoolhouse in Jefferson County, Iowa. My brother was one of the "big boys," I was in the third grade and my sister was in her first year of school. It was a very cold day in winter. The coal burning heater in the center of the room was burning fiercely. Pupils near it were much too warm while those sitting near windows or outer walls were chilly, a condition common to un-insulated schoolrooms heated in this fashion.

My brother was a mischief-maker and somewhat of a leader among the older boys. He seldom was caught in the act, however. On this particular day his best friend, Rusty, was caught in some misdeed. She told him to stand beside the red hot stove and kept him standing there until wafts of smoke actually began to rise from his bib overalls. When that was called to Miss Joseph's attention, his punishment ended. (I think as I write - what a law-suit would arise from such punishment today!) It certainly was cruel treatment, but I do not remember Miss Joseph as an unkind teacher. I believe she was not fully aware of the intensity of the heat (her desk was not near the stove) and that she was rather desperate in her need to control the older boys.

Davida B. Nicholson
Washington, Iowa


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.