Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1

I shared this photo of my grandmother Eveline’s high school graduating class a few weeks ago. Along with the photo and her diploma, a couple of other mementos were saved. One is the program for the Junior-Senior Banquet in honor of the graduating Seniors. It was interesting to see how World War I seemed to be the overarching theme of the festivities. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and wondering how I might understand that year of her life more fully.

There was a lot going on during the fall of 1917 and the spring of 1918, a war and the beginning of an influenza pandemic to name the two biggies. Resources for my research seem rather limited, but I’ll just jump in and see where this takes me.

Eveline Coates was born 15 Feb 1901 in Mystic, Iowa, to Joseph Coates and Mary Ann Harris. Both of her parents were immigrants from England, who met and married in Mystic. Eveline had three older brothers and was the oldest girl in a family of nine siblings ranging in age from six to twenty-six. Eveline was seventeen at the beginning of her senior year and turned eighteen before graduation.

I’m still trying to adjust to WordPress changes and the file of the 1915 plat map of Mystic is too large, but you can check it out here: City of Mystic. The Joseph Coates family is located at the very top of the map, on the right.

Jos. Coates, 30 acres.

Eveline’s older brothers Carl, John, and Joe were all employed in the mines, as was her father. She was the first of the children to complete high school, as the older boys left school at about age fourteen or upon the completion of 8th grade. Eveline’s father, Joseph, worked as a carpenter in the mines most of his life which, if I understand correctly, resulted in a higher income than those digging coal in the shafts. Perhaps the combination of thrift and a higher income resulted in the purchase of the family plot. In addition to a large garden, they had at least one cow as indicated by my great-grandmother’s fondness for this particular cow.

Mary Ann Harris Coates with cow. Undated

Since I just started this on a whim yesterday and have no plan, I’ll stop here and think about what will come next!

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday, where we are all going on a whim without the benefit of a prompt photo this week to give us direction. We are a diehard group, so pay my fellow Sepians a visit and see how they have responded this week.

5 thoughts on “Eveline’s Senior Year, Part 1

  1. That’s a lovely photo of your great grandmother with a cow (steer?) That part of Iowa is so flat, it seems an unlikely place to have a coal mine. At least for those of us who know nothing about geology. I was interested to see how close your grandparent’s lot was to the mine, so I went to the Google satellite view and I can’t see any remains of industry in that part of Mystic.

    I have a similar photo of my great grandmother on her Maryland farm with her three daughters and a favorite horse. It’s on a tribute blog that I made with my mother in 2003 after my grandmother passed away. You can see it here: https://rememberingdobbin.blogspot.com/2010/12/harvest-time.html Click the “older post” button to see a second photo the horse and sisters.

    Photos from “down on the farm” are real family treasures as they show our ancestors in a context of a real life’s work. Managing a small farm or a rural business a century ago required constant attention. It seems like a kind of hard struggle that was completely unlike today’s modern farming systems. I often wonder how they found the strength and determination to keep a farm going.

    • I am obviously not a farm girl. 😂
      Mystic was a small community that boomed for a while and then the mines closed. I hope to put the mines in some relation to their home. We’ll see.
      I enjoyed looking through a few of the photos on your other blog. It’s a lovely tribute.

  2. That’s a neat picture of your great grandmother with the cute cow. I’ll be interested to see where you go with all this. Sometimes it’s fun to just sort of venture forth without a plan because it gives you more flexibility to wander off the road a ways if you want. 🙂

  3. Love the photo of your great-grandmother with the cow/steer. Your Coates ancestors had a nice sized spread, compared with their neighbors – 30 acres! I spent my early childhood on a 10-acre farm, but the one next door — which had diary cows — was probably 30 acres. An excellent size for a family farm.

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