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Civil War Veteran and School Board Chair Cautions Teacher to Discipline Carefully
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...neither have the right to inflict punishment or impose restrictions that will maim, or injure the health of, the children. As to the particular case under consideration, I cannot believe that you are unduly severe or that your restrictions and exactions will hurt a robust, stubborn pupil.

[EDUCATION]. GEORGE N. SHEPARD. Autograph Letter Signed, as Chairman of the School Board, to Mary D. Webster, October 5, 1891, West Epping, New Hampshire. 2 pp. and envelope.

Inventory #25493       Price: $390

Complete Transcript

                                      West Epping N.H.

                                       Oct. 5, 1891

Dear Miss Webster,

            Yours of the 3d inst. is at hand.

            Your school supplies as ordered are sent by mail this morning. We have no Swinton’s Second Readers now on hand, therefore I put in for you a McGuffy’s Second Reader, which I hope will serve your purpose.

            In relation to authority of teachers, you perhaps already understand that they have the same as parents while the children are under their care, and that neither have the right to inflict punishment or impose restrictions that will maim, or injure the health of, the children.

            As to the particular case under consideration, I cannot believe that you are unduly severe or that your restrictions and exactions will hurt a robust, stubborn pupil. <2> Of course you will be expected to discriminate so as to properly modify your discipline to suit each particular case, and be especially tender with such as are weak and frail, physically or mentally. Try to place yourself in the same relation to the children under your care and instruction, as that of a faithful, conscientious mother, possessed of good, sound, common sense, who, while she loves her children with a true and motherly love, is profoundly impressed with the importance and necessity of restraining them, and of training them in habits of studiousness and industry, as well as all the other useful activities, and you will have a guiding principle that will never lead you very far in wrong methods.

            My decision, then, is this, you have a right, in general, to deprive a pupil of part of the regular noonday intermission and mid-session recesses to make up delinquencies, provided that you substitute a sufficient number of recesses by himself, alone. This is, indeed, a most fitting discipline to apply to a pupil who stubbornly and persistently wastes in idleness the time regularly assigned for study.

                                                                        Yours truly,

                                                                        G. N. Shepard

                                                                        Ch. Sch. Bd. of Epping.

George N. Shepard (1824-1903) was born in Epping, New Hampshire, and educated in the public schools and at Hampton Academy. He married Rowena Lawrence Thyng (1823-1911) in 1845. He taught school, was a land surveyor, and served as a justice of the peace. By 1860, he was listed as a farmer, living with his wife and four children. He represented West Epping in the state legislature from 1860 to 1862. During the Civil War, he rose to the rank of captain in Company I of the 11th New Hampshire Infantry from 1862 to 1865. He was wounded at both the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Cold Harbor. Afterwards, he returned to farming, then engaged in the mercantile and lumber business. He was postmaster of West Epping from 1876 to at least 1895 and chairman of the school board from 1886 to at least 1895.

Mary D. Webster (1854-1935) was born in New Hampshire. By 1870, both she and her older sister Sarah (1848-1929) were school teachers still living with their parents in West Epping, Chester township, southeastern New Hampshire. By 1910, the two unmarried sisters still lived together in Chester township, but Mary listed her occupation as farming (at home).


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