Miss Tabby Jones’ Nursery School sat on Main Street in Elkton on the land where the current Cecil County Courthouse stands today. The Aug. 30, 1879, issue of the Cecil Whig announced that “Miss Tabitha Jones will open her infant school on Monday next. Miss Tabitha has been a faithful preceptress of the young, as the number of her grown pupils amply testify.” Based on this and the fact that Miss Tabby was born in the 1840s, the school probably opened in the 1860s.
Teacher Miss Tabitha Jones was the daughter of Ellis and Mary Jones. According to the 1850 U.S. Census, 10-year-old Tabby lived with her parents and 3 sisters Mary A. (age 17), Martha (age 19), and Maria/Rinie (age 2) as well as Isaac Thomas. Ellis Jones was a tailor, as was Isaac Thomas.
The historical society has in its collections a photograph, donated by the McCullough family, of Miss Tabby’s school taken in 1887. Luckily, on the reverse of this photo is a list of the students’ names. Included in this class list are last names of well-known families like Jamar, McCullough, Evans, and Finley. The photo is a posed class picture, with Miss Tabby in the center.
Miss Tabby seems to have been a very talented person. In the years 1895 through the early 1900s, she won first place in numerous categories at both the Elkton Fair and the Cecil County Fair. In 1895, for example, Miss Tabby won first place for knitting a cape and a pair of mittens, tatting a collar and sewing a sofa pillow cover. In 1898, she won first place for sewing a handmade chemise, handmade ladies’ drawers, and a tea cozy. She was the daughter of a tailor, and obviously learned a great deal from him. Miss Tabby was also named the superintendent of the Elkton Fair floral department in 1896.
Charity work was important to Miss Tabby, as she was active in a few Elkton clubs and groups. She was put in charge of the cake table at Singerly Fire Company Charity Dinner in 1895 and 1896. Each dinner netted approximately $200, which was a large amount back then. She was also active in her church, Trinity Episcopal Church, and was named treasurer of the Young People’s Guild of Trinity Church several years in a row.
In the October 29, 1915 Cecil Whig it is noted that Tabby entered and won second place in the Cecil County Fair “Over 70” group for her plain needle work, tatting, and fancy table cover.
The 1900 U.S. Census lists Tabby as living with her sisters. Martha A. Nelson, the oldest sister, was listed as the head of the household. In 1910, Tabitha is listed as the head of the household, living with sisters Martha and Rinie, as well as their 30-year-old nephew Ricketts Nelson. The census notes that they lived on North Street. By the 1930 census, Miss Tabby was living alone at 414 North Street and was 90 years old.
If anyone knows anything else about Miss Tabby Jones’ school, please let us know. We’d love to see more pictures.
Just a reminder, due to COVID-19, the Historical Society of Cecil County is currently closed to in-person visits and research. You can email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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