ELKTON — Each week, we take a look back in time to examine what was on the minds of Cecil County readers. Rotating through the Whig’s 177-year history, we hope to not only provide direct text from our archives, but also context as to why the issue was important at the time.
Join us as we thumb through the pages of our history.
Sept. 1, 1894 (125 years ago)
As we prepare to open the school year next week, we were drawn to stories this week that dealt with the school system of the 19th century. Interestingly, this account was about a petition from parents to the county school board to remove an administrator from a school after he was alleged to have shown up drunk and displayed lewd material. He denied the claims and produced character witnesses in his defense. With so few teachers across the schools of the time, each teacher was approved by the Board of School Commissioners, and they agreed to remove this teacher despite his defense. It is an interesting look at the personnel process from so long ago, when evidence was more difficult to find.
The Board of School Commissioners met on Tuesday. Present, Messrs. Everist, White and Ash. Minutes read and approved.
The trustees of No. 2, Seventh district sent in the appointment of S.J. Tammany as teacher of said school. H.M. Anderson, Eli Jackson, John E. Jackson, E. L. Craig, J. J, Wright and others, representing 61 scholars, protesting against the continuation on the ground that he “is unfit to teach or manage a school.”
Roman Tammany read a letter from Mr. Nelson Whitaker, of the Whitaker Iron Company, asking for the retention of Mr. Tammany as one well fitted to manage a school and under whom the school has improved. W.B. Bayles in a letter withdrew his name from the petition against Mr. Tammany.
Several others asked for his retention.
Roman Tammany, under oath, said that William Cline had said to him that the last sentence on the petition against Mr. Tammany was not on it when he signed; that Levi Leedom had said to him that he signed the petition as he was under obligation to those who opposed Mr. Tammany, and that he had no objection to Mr. Tammany. K. S. Whitaker asked for the retention of Mr. Tammany as he was satisfied that the opposition would disappear.
S. J. Tammany, having been sworn, said that he had taught for over thirty years and held a first grade, first class certificate also one from the State Board and one from Washington county (from P.A. Witmer). That he had three entertainments. His assistants had been Misses Morrison, Haines and Graham. That he did not take any intoxicating liquors; that he did not buy any, evenfor medicinal purposes. As to the 1 obscene picture he said that be had a picture of the Greek Slave, presented to the school by one of the teachers of Vassar College, as a model for drawing. That he did have a newspaper, but did not let it go from his desk if he saw any objectionable matter in it. That he did take a medicine, prepared by Mr. Moore for the chills, from which he was suffering — and so told the children; this medicine contained quinine. That the children had lessons in writing on slates and in note books.
Mr. Moore said, under oath, that he was a trustee until June 1st, and frequently saw Mr. Tammany and knew that he refused to drink when invited to do so. That he would take a glass of beer. That the school was in good order. That he had prepared a chill medicine for Mr. Tammany.
Eli S. Sentman said that his daughter was past twelve years of age; that she had never complained of any obscene pictures or that Mr. Tammany was under the influence of drink; that the school bad never been conducted better; that he was frequently with him; that a letter which Mr. Tammany presented and was signed “E. S. Sentman,” was not written by him.
John E. Jackson, under oath, said that he wrote the petition and that every word in it was written at one time; that he did not ask Mr. Leedom to sign it, nor was he with him when he signed, nor had he said one word to Mr. Leedom about it.
H.M. Anderson said he knew that Mr. Jackson did not see the petition after it was written until it had been presented to the Board.
John E. Jackson said he had seen Mr. Tammany when he thought he was under the influence of strong drink.
Messrs. Austin L. Crothers and L.M. Haines appeared for Mr. Tammany.
In view of all the circumstances the School Board deem it is best to reject said appointment.
George Biddle, Secretary.