Henrietta’s Story: Part III

Eugene Frederick Saucier, Jr. Family Photograph circa 1902-03

Henrietta is located in the top row, third from the left, or smack-dab in the center of things depending on your point of view.

This photograph represents a large portion of the Eugene F. and Louise A. Saucier family right around 1902 or ’03. There were a total of seventeen children raised in the household – one child from Eugene’s first marriage, fifteen children born of this union, and a foster daughter.  My grandfather, James, is also in the top row, far right.

I wish I could thank Aunt Hattie for writing down these brief histories of herself and her parents.  If there are any more of her papers out there, I’m not aware of them at this time, but I’m still looking.  For now at least, this will be the last installment.

Autobiography of Henrietta Aspasia Saucier Pace

On May 28th 1879 I first saw the light of day in what was at that time called a double log house – That is a house of 2 rooms separated by a large open hall-way.  This house had a fireplace at each end.  We moved away before I was old enough to remember the place, but I visited friends and neighbors there many times while I was growing up.

This home was on a small farm some 4 miles S.E. of Stanton, Franklin County, Mo. and near the Reedville school, which was also a log building of one rather large room which would accommodate some 40 or 50 children.  At the time of my birth my father was teaching this school.  The children sat on benches without back-rests of any sort and kept their books and slates either on their laps or on the benches beside them.  Along one side of the room and hinged to the wall was a shelf made of heavy lumber which was used by the pupils when given lessons in writing.  When in use it was propped up by sticks cut from the surrounding woods; when not in use it was dropped down and hung close to the wall giving more space in the room.

I experienced my “first day” in this school when I prevailed upon my indulgent father to take me with him tho’ I was not yet of school age.  At this time we were living some 2 miles from the school and I can well remember I grew tired (or lazy) and he carried me most of the way home.  I can also remember how the older girls coddled me and what roars of laughter I caused when inadvertently I “talked out loud” in school.

At the age of 6 I almost severed my foot at the ankle by stepping upon a cradle blade which my eldest brother [William, half-brother ?] was using to cut some green oats with which to feed the pigs.  This accident prevented me from entering school until the next year.  When I was eight the log school house was replaced by a better frame building equipped with home-made desks (for two) and having compartments for books, etc.  Here I spent many happy days for I was very fond of school with an eager desire for knowledge.  But even in my wildest flights of fancy I never dreamed that it might be possible for me to become a teacher.  A young woman who taught when I was 14 gave me my first inspiration and from then on I knew what I wanted and worked toward that goal always receiving encouragement and help from my father who realized the value of an education.  For lack of better opportunities I continued in this little school until during my latter years here I was the oldest and largest pupil.  Some of the neighbors couldn’t understand this, and acted as tho’ they thought I must be foolish or stupid, and slow to learn.

At the age of 18 I passed the teachers’ examination and was chosen teacher in the same little school where my father had taught before me and where I had thus far received my entire schooling.

This “first day” as teacher was a great day for me and I was supremely happy.  Happy because I had reached the goal for which I had striven, under difficulties, to attain.  Happy too in the thought that with my $40 per month (which seemed colossal) I could now help provide some of the things which the rest of the family needed so badly – and at the same time continue my education through the summer months.

After two years in this school I accepted the Stanton school, remaining here two years.  I then accepted a school in Jefferson County near De Soto, Mo.  During this year (1901) I entered into a very foolish marriage with Wm. Douglas.  This union dissolved the next year, and I returned home to teach two more years in same little Reedville school.

At the end of this time the family moved into the Stanton district, and I accepted this school again for 2 more years.  The following two years I spent as principal of the Sullivan school – a faculty of 6 teachers.  The Supt. here was difficult to work with and I then accepted the Labaddie school – a smaller school but at an increase in salary.  My life here was pleasant and my work appreciated.  After 3 years I reluctantly left them for a higher salary at Gray Summit school.  At the end of 3 years here Labaddie over-bid them and I returned to Labaddie where I taught two more years.  It was during these years that I met William Pace, a road master for the Mo. Pac. R. R. and we were married in St. Louis before a justice of the peace Nov. 1, 1917.

From that time on my life was spent in Washington, Mo. where I cared for our household and “his” children and “our” two sons, Chas. Benjamin (born Dec. 26, 1918) and John Thos. (Jack) born Apr. 9, 1921.  I also assisted with the rail road office work and when my eldest had reached school age I accepted a position as principal of the Washington Public School (1924 & 25).  After 2 years I left teaching to resume it again in the same school in 1936 – this time serving 2 years as supervisor of the study hall and teaching junior high school mathematics.  I spent the following three years as a teacher in the grades and at the end of that time, due to ill health, was compelled to resign in 1941.  This year saw the beginning of terrible World War II which called my two sons who served until the end of the war in 1945.  I spent much of the war-years in bed and with the help of my sons spent 9 months in Mt. Rose Sanitarium in St. Louis.  With their help and the help of my people – especially that of my sister, Gertrude, I was able to overcome the terrible t.b. germs.  These were trying years but God was with us, granting us a happy reunion at the close of the war – and many blessings besides.

My life has been rich and full even with all of its vicissitudes and I am content in the faith that God will continue to lead us on.

During my 26 years in teaching I continued my education by attending summer terms at The Teachers Colleges at Warrensburg, Mo., Cape Girardeau, Mo., Harris Teachers’ College in St. Louis, Mo., and the University of Mo. – finally securing two life-time certificates to teach – one from the college at Cape Girardeau and one from the Missouri State Department of Education.

stanton schoolI found this photo in my inbox this afternoon, what a delightful surprise.  Stanton School, Franklin County, Missouri – December 1905.  There’s Aunt Hattie, top row, center.  You can also spot Ethel (Hattie’s foster sister), and Mabel (Hattie’s baby sister) in the first row standing, fifth and ninth from the left.

2 thoughts on “Henrietta’s Story: Part III

  1. Donnell

    So cool. What an interesting life. I wonder if she thought it was common place at the time or if she realized how interesting it was.

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    1. Jo Post author

      I’m fairly sure she must have realized that what she was doing was anything but commonplace. For a woman of her day, life was laid out for her from the moment she was born. Husband, children, home. I believe that it was to her parents credit – especially her father – to encourage her to step outside that strictly defined role. So glad you enjoyed it – and I’m just so happy to have the extra photos to share. Icing on the cake!

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