The first of June 1925 was an important day for Frances Marie Noehl of Deerfield, Chickasaw County, Iowa. She completed the eighth grade in District No. 11 with flying colors, even rallying over the course of the year to bring up her lagging grade in conduct.1 However, although she was a successful student, with high average marks equivalent to straight A’s, she would not go on to graduate from high school.2Frances was the eighth of nine children born to Matthias and Elizabeth (Hoffman) Noehl, German immigrants who farmed in northeastern Iowa.3 Once her schooling was completed, Frances was needed at home, although her father did prize education. In his memoirs, he wrote of his schooldays in Germany, “I entered into the arena, and took it up not only with the alphabet, but with all my classmates. As at that time there was no special talent in our school of eighty-four pupils, I succeeded in taking the first place among all the boys.”4 His education concluded at the age of fourteen, but he was pleased to be allowed to keep his books, writing tablet, slate, and pencil.5 Perhaps he had once dreamed that his children would be fortunate enough to further their educations, but, at least in the case of his youngest daughter, that dream was unfulfilled.
During the course of her eighth grade year, Frances was instructed by Miss Beatrice Joebgen, a local teacher who was still a teenager herself.6 Frances was graded in Reading, Writing, Spelling, Arithmetic, Grammar, U.S. History, Music, Civics, Drawing, and Conduct, with all of her marks falling between 90 and 100 and her averages between 93 and 98. Her father’s signature was recorded on her report card at the end of each term.7Attendance rules for the time indicate that Frances would not have been required to complete additional schooling, as she had fulfilled the educational qualifications of an eighth grade pupil. Other reasons for exemption from public schooling included being mentally or physically unfit, living more than two miles from the school house by the nearest traveled road, or attending a private or parochial school, receiving instruction from a competent teacher, court order, religious instruction, or regular employment for one over the age of fourteen.8
Although Frances may have liked very much to have had the opportunity to graduate from high school, duty to her family, it seems, kept her at home.
1 Frances Noehl, Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925, Deerfield, Iowa; privately held by V. P. [personal information withheld], 2014.
2 1940 U.S. census, Woodbury County, Iowa, population schedule, Sioux City, Enumeration District (ED) 97-71, p. 473 (stamped), sheet 16-A, dwelling 111, family 426, Frances Walsted; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 April 2014), citing National Archives microfilm T625, roll 482. Frances reported having attended high school through the second year, as her husband did, although her daughter Kay (Walsted) Adam recalls that her mother only attended school through eighth grade.
3 1920 U.S. census, Chickasaw County, Iowa, population schedule, Deerfield, Enumeration District (ED) 50, p. 2601 (penned), sheet 1-B, dwelling 8, family 8, Francis Noehl; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 April 2014), citing National Archives microfilm T625, roll 482.
4 Noehl, Mathias. “Memoirs.” MS. New Hampton, Iowa, ca. 1938-1950. Privately held by Melanie Frick. Note: Excerpts from an unpaginated German to English translation. Information about the translator and date of translation to come at a future date.
5 Mathias Noehl, “Memoirs.”
6 1920 U.S. census, Chickasaw County, Iowa, population schedule, Washington, Enumeration District (ED) 59, p. 281 (stamped), sheet 2-A, dwelling 26, family 26, Beatrice Joebgen; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 April 2014), citing National Archives microfilm T625, roll 482.
7 Frances Noehl, Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925, Deerfield, Iowa.
8 Frances Noehl, Teacher’s Report to Parents, 1925, Deerfield, Iowa.