This is a photo of the students in the school the McClain children attended near Paxton, Nebraska.
Identifications, according to Mom/Florence:
- The lady on the right is Nellie McClain. She was the teacher. She would have been 20 years old in 1899. (And she looks like a stern teacher!)
- To the left of Nellie is Mae McClain. She would have been 17.
- Fourth from the left in the back row is Arthur McClain. He would have been 15.
- The little girl on the left in front is Clara McClain. She would have been six.
Those are all of Mom’s identifications.
It is hard to imagine that Frank, Ray, Ellery and Clyde would not have been in school if Arthur and Clara were. (They would have been 13, 11, 10 and 8 respectively.) So I suspect they are in the photo even though Mom didn’t recognize them. I have my guesses as to which children they are in the photo. But I’ll let you make your own guesses if you wish. Assuming they are in the photo, and assuming all the students in the school are in this photo, this means seven of the 20 students in the school at this time were McClains. It seems only reasonable, under those circumstances, that the McClains would provide the teacher as well!
I say “McClains” as if the Nathan McClains were the only McClains in the area. But as discussed in this previous post, they were not. The three neighboring homesteads to Nathan McClain were also held by either Nathan’s or Mary’s siblings. And they also had children of school age. Ed McClain had three and John McClain had four. (Elmina Lierley’s children were older.) So potentially fourteen of the twenty students at the school had the last name McClain. Imagine being one of non-McClain students in that school!
It does make sense that the children older than Mae (for the Nathan McClains, not counting Nellie: Jim, Bill and Charlie), being 18 or older, would either have completed school or dropped out to work on the farm by this point. Finishing twelve grades of school was not typical at this time anyway—especially for boys who were needed to help on the farm.