When the 19th Amendment finally passed the Senate, Marie Stuart Edwards, Peru, IN said: "... we rejoice that this has come just now to the women of America at the dawn of this wonderful reconstruction period. Women are to “sit in” at the remaking of the world. I believe women will bring to our body politic an independence of action, a clarity of thought, unhampered by precedents, and an inspired desire to vote for the best interests of human society. We are calling on all women of the state to study, to carry through their plans for educational work along civic and citizenship lines. We are urging them to put loyalty to humanity, loyalty to country and to state above all ideas of party loyalty, since these new voters have yet to participate in party councils.
“I am glad to see this amendment pass. I am anxious to see it ratified. Most of all, am I anxious to see this great new force in action.
Marie Stuart Edwards, 4 Jun 1919

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ida Husted Lived Here!

 “Ida Husted Harper lived here!”

That was another revelation that came from our evening with Melissa Gentry.

“Who was she?”, you may wonder...

Ida Husted Harper[1] (February 18, 1851 – March 14, 1931) was an American author, journalist, columnist, and suffragist, as well as the author of a three-volume biography of suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony at Anthony's request.  Harper also co-edited and collaborated with Anthony on volume four (1902) of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage and completed the project by solo writing volumes five and six (1922) after Anthony's death. In addition, Harper served as secretary of the Indiana chapter of the National Woman Suffrage Association, became a prominent figure in the women's suffrage movement in the U.S., and wrote columns on women's issues for numerous newspapers across the United States. Harper traveled extensively, delivered lectures in support of women's rights, handled press relations for a women's suffrage amendment in California, headed the National American Woman Suffrage Association's national press bureau in New York City and the editorial correspondence department of the Leslie Bureau of Suffrage Education in Washington, D.C., and chaired the press committee of the International Council of Women.”

Would you expect that a woman of such prominence might have influenced some of your ancestors on a very different level?  As a teacher.  As the principal of their school.  Right here in Peru.

Well, Ida Husted arrived in Peru, IN in 1869. That same year Kate and Emma Leebrick also arrived here to teach.

While I have not been able to find out what school Kate and Emma taught, the history books tell us that Ida Husted came to Peru to take charge of Peru High School as Principal and teacher.  She was all of 19 years old! She had not even finished college yet!

The High School sat on the West 6th Street and North Miami Street. 

The 1870 census places Ida Husted and fellow teacher, 31y old Mary Jordan, at the residence of Harvey J. Shirk[2] and his wife, Eliza Minerva Cole, on the corner of 6th and Huntington Streets.  It was a straight shot from the residence to the school, just a short 3 blocks walk.

The house is pictured in the 1868[3] bird’s eye view of Peru, as well as in the 1877 Atlas of Miami County[4]


The fragile 1872 map of Peru located at the Miami County Museum also depicts the residence.

Eliza Minerva Shirk died in 1890, surviving her husband by only a year.  In her will[5] she left the house to her youngest unmarried daughter Martha, with conditions allowing for her sister’s family to reside there as well, rent free.

Her sister Winona Minerva McClintic and her husband William continued to live there. In 1920, the census shows Brown S McClintic and his family as residents at 109 North Huntington.

The house remained in the family until it was purchased by Francis and Irene Kramer in 1943[6]

The house went thru some serious renovations in the 1970s when the Pope family bought the house.

Julie Tussey, who had a chance to see the inside of the house, could still recognize the original layout. 

She recalls that there were at least 6 rooms on the second floor of the house, with some larger than others, and a bathroom. 

A grand staircase would have divided the first floor with former parlors on each side.  Behind each of them were pocket doors leading to what would have been a large dining room with a fireplace.  That room spanned the entire width of the house in the middle. 

Behind that were two more rooms, split like the parlors: one was the kitchen, and the other probably a less formal area with a door leading to the north, towards Ewing Street. 

What must it have been like coming home after a long day at school?

Was Ida a guest in the house? Did she rent a room upstairs or did she share a room with the other teacher? 

Harvey Shirk was a prominent lawyer, so I don’t imagine he needed to take on boarders, and there were 3 servants listed on the 1870 census so they likely were in charge of the cooking and serving.

Did everyone have to dress up for meals or was it more informal?

It’s easy to let our imagination run free.

It is possible Ida Husted went home to her parents’ in Muncie, in between terms, but there is nothing to confirm this.  

Ida Husted was born on 18 February 1851, in Fairfield, IN to John Arthur Husted and his wife Cassandra Stoddard.  The family had moved to Muncie when Ida was 10 years old, looking for better schools to ensure their daughter received a good education.  She had been studying at Indiana University in Bloomington when she accepted the position of principal of Peru High School.  Ida held that role for 2 school years, then she married Thomas W Harper on 28 December 1871 and moved to Terre Haute with him, where she resided most of her married life[7].

Already in 1861, Lizzie Bunnell was bragging up the forward thinking of the Peru Graded Schools in appointing a woman administrator.

The announcement[8] came out in February 1860.  School was to start on Feb 27, 1860.  The principal, Mr. A H Harritt, included his qualifications as he extended an invitation to parents to send their children to his school.

Three Departments, each for a 12-weeks term, paid by the parents at the following rates

1.      Secondary            $2.50-$3.50

2.      Normal                $4.00

3.      High School         $5.00

He even offered a prorated fees schedule, allowing for days missed because of illness.  School was held in the basement of the Methodist Episcopal Church that year.

The following year in February 1861, it appears the board of trustees had already made some adjustment, adding a Primary department for children 5 to 10.  Students were evaluated the last week of February, by age level.

“Scholars passing a satisfactory examination will be furnished by the Superintendent, with a Certificate entitling them to admission to the Department for which they are qualified – and NO SCHOLAR WILL BE ADMITTED TO ANY DEPARTMENT EXCEPT THE PRIMARY UNLESS FURNISHED WITH SUCH CERTIFCATE AND THE BOOKS THERE ON MENTIONED AS NECESSARY FOR THE STUDIES OF THAT DEPARTMENT.”[9]

The “New School Building” would replace the basement of the church and classes would start March 4th at 9am.”

There is no mention of teachers or administrators.   

That information, as small as it is, comes from the pages of Lizzie Bunnell’s Mayflower of August 1, 1861, where she quotes the now lost pages of the Peru Republican:

The examination and exhibition which took place a few days ago, at the close of the first term of the Peru Graded School, occupied the attention of many of our citizen…  We find in the Peru Republican quite a full account of the examination of the different departments; the editor of that paper seems to be at a loss for terms to express his unbounded admiration of the manner in which the female teachers have acquitted themselves.

…The Republican further says: ‘Until the experiment was tried here, we regarded the placing of females at the head of schools filled with grown up young men and women, as of questionable policy, doubting their ability to govern… as to government, it is a complete success; and few gentlemen possess a superior faculty of imparting knowledge… more plainly or forcibly the lessons to classes.’.”[10]

Lizzie Bunnell describes the evening session she was able to attend as filled with “orations, essays, declamations, recitations, songs etc., in all of which the performers did honor to themselves, and commanded the applause of the audience.” Then, tongue in cheek, she chides the girls for daring to appear before an audience in such unladylike manner and broaching such masculine matters.  She concludes “if, after this (warning), any of you should become so strong minded as to address an audience for the purpose of advancing the cause of truth, instead of displaying your scholarship, let none blame us…  Long live the Peru Graded School and all honor to its accomplished teachers and principal.”[11]


A Winter term was added in September 1863[12] as the school’s reputation grew, retaining the “old” teachers.

I had hoped to find information about Ida Husted’s tenure at Peru High School and I suppose I should be satisfied to have come across this bit.

The Superintendent, D Eckley Hunter, reports a 94% attendance on May 26, 1871.[13]

760 students had enrolled since September 1870, but only 468 actually followed thru.

It would be nice to have a list of teachers who taught there. For a rural community like ours, these are rather big number for one school building in 1870-1871.

By then Lizzie Bunnell had moved to Iowa and Ebenezer Loveland, the Peru Republican editor had passed away[14]

Did Ida Husted Harper ever miss her students?  The Shirk family?  Did she ever see any of them again?

She passed away in 1931 in Washington DC.  She is buried in Muncie, IN[15]

[5] Indiana, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1798-1999, Miami Will Records, Circuit Court, Vol 3, 1889-1895, pp81-83

[6] Dave Birnell, Miami County Clerk researched the Ewings Addition Lots 34 & 35

1891*-1900 Eliza Shirk

1900-1926 Winona and William McClintic

1926-1943 Brown and Elenore McClintic

1943-1972 Francis and Irene Kramer

1972-2011 George and Mary Etta Pope

7] The Muncie Evening Press, 16 Mar 1931, Muncie, IN p 7

[8] The Miami County Sentinel, 4 Feb 1860, Peru, IN

[9] The Miami County Sentinel 21 Feb 1861, Peru, IN

[10] The Mayflower 1 Aug 1861, Peru, IN https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:53759204$4i

[11] The Mayflower 1 Aug 1861, Peru, IN https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:53759204$4i

[12] The Miami County Sentinel 27 Aug 1863, Peru, IN

[13] The Miami County Sentinel 8 Jun 1871, Peru, IN

[14] Ebenezer Loveland died 10 Feb 1871, Peru, IN - https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16416315/ebenezer-pratt-loveland

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