|Birth: ||Feb. 21, 1907|
|Death: ||Aug. 30, 2008|
W. Jewell Ragsdale
A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, August 30, 2008 at the Lamar First Baptist Church with Reverend Duane Eastman officiating.
Interment will be held at 11:00 AM, Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at Memorial Gardens in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Jewell was born on February 21, 1907 to Mason and Minnie (Brooks) Holt at Goodson, Missouri. She passed away on August 22, 2008 at Prowers Medical Center. Jewell was 101 years young.
Aunt Jewell (Jewell's life story)
With a twinkle in her eyes at a young 97 years of age, Jewell Ragsdale attributes her good health in part to her life of work. Actively employed until the age of 77, she experienced a number of career changes and resident relocations, but was always willing to adapt and meet the new situation with a positive attitude.
She was born in the country home of her Grandmother Holt on February 21, 1907, near Halfway, Missouri. Her childhood was spent in the rural area of Halfway and Goodson. She recalls a pleasant childhood; she and her younger sisters Fern and Bryl created their own entertainment, helped with the chores and with the family garden. She said she has always enjoyed gardening and having the fresh vegetables available. As a kid she snacked straight from the garden. She even now enjoys planting onion sets and lettuce in her flower box along with her colorful flowers so she can serve them fresh.
At the tender age of 14 she experienced some life changing events. In February, she made a life commitment to the Lord and was baptized in Brush Creek covered with a thin sheet of ice. Later that year in August her father passed away.
An entirely new chapter of her life evolved when she met and was courted by Roscoe Ragsdale. On Christmas Eve 1926 they married. The young couple tried the vocation of farming and lived in a farm house which belonged to his parents. She recalls tough times as they had good crops but no prices.
She reminisces that when her parents married, as was typical of the standard, "their folks gave them a wagon and team of horses, hope chest, table and chairs, and a goose feather bed...and the young married kids usually lived with parents for a year to get started." Jewell and Roscoe did not experience such luxury. She states all they had when they got married was "I had a small hope chest and Roscoe had a tea kettle."
Jewell and Roscoe were eager to begin a new vocation - that of school teaching. Both had been offered teaching positions. They moved west to Elkhart, Kansas, and arrived just before the dust bowl days in the early 30's. In 1931 after a visit to his Uncle and Aunt, Attorney George and Belle Terrill's in Elkhart, Kansas Roscoe was hired as principal of the Wilburton School. In 1932, Jewell was hired by the district's school board to teach first through eighth grade in the Point View School. This was one of two country schools in the Southwest District and had thirty to thirty-four pupils of varying ages. However, this meant that the young married couple had to board in separate houses because of the distance between their schools. Since times were tough and money was hard to come by, they were pleased with both having work. They did spend their weekends together, with maybe a special treat of an occasional trip to the theater in Elkhart. Other entertainment included "play parties" which were just outdoor games for both children and adults.
Jewell and Roscoe had a fairly recent model Chevy which they took turns using. If Jewell did not have the car, she walked a mile to the schoolhouse. The Roll family, with whom she boarded, did have a pickup that could be used some for transportation. The students walked or rode horseback to school. The schoolhouse was built in a central location of the farms, but Jewell remembers not being able to see any houses from the school.
"New girl in town!" exclaimed a young man as the new Point View teacher, (Jewell) was seen on Elkhart street. The new teacher seemed to arouse the curiosity of the locals; after all, during the early thirties, not many people were moving into the dirty, wind swept rural area of Southwest Kansas. At twenty-six years old and barely over one hundred pounds, parents were overheard on the streets asking, "Is she big enough to teach our school?" Many times older brothers and sisters of the pupils would drop by the Point View one-room, stucco school house to check out the new teacher as she began her duties of teaching the educational basics.
The school day began at 9:00 AM with Jewell being there early to do the janitor work. She swept the floor, dusted the desks, and built the fire in the middle-of-the-room stove. The older boys would help bring in the wood and coal, and would help stoke the fire. Since there was no water at the school, Mr. Roll (or another member of the school board) daily hauled in about ten gallons in a cream can and poured it into a tank at the back of the room. This tank set on a table and had a faucet in the bottom. Each of the students brought their own drinking cups. The lavatory consisted of a pan and cake soap near the water.
Blackboards were across the front of the room, and Jewell's desk was in the front center. Three or four windows were down each side of the building. The reciting bench faced the teacher and the blackboards, and behind it were rows of desks beginning with the smallest closest to the front. Usually two sat in a desk. The classes all had seat assignments to prepare while Jewell would call on one class at a time to come to the bench. Those pupils were individually called on to stand and read or spell. All the subjects were taught: Math, English, History, Geography, Physiology, Writing, Spelling and Agriculture. The students learned the state of Kansas by drawing a picture of it complete with rivers and their names, colleges and railroads. They learned all the capitols of the states. Grooming and hygiene were taught right along with the breeds of horses, cows, chickens and hogs. Sometimes seventh and eighth grades would be combined on some of the subjects; and sometimes the big kids would help younger ones with their lessons.
The students brought their lunches in pails. Even though Jewell carried her lunch too, she recalled that some of the students would bring cake or other food items. Mostly the lunches were sandwiches, fruit, and not too frequently a piece of candy. The pupils also liked to trade parts of their lunches with each other. An hour was given for lunch break; two other breaks were given during the day - fifteen minutes in the morning and in the afternoon recesses. Even though the wind and dirt flew almost every single day, many of the recesses were still spent outside. Everyone just seemed to grow accustomed to it.
One of the games played on the sand and grass less playground was "Annie Over". Students threw the ball over the school house, and if the team on the other side caught it, the "catching" team as possible. The team ending with the most players won. A swing set was also on the school yard, but the children mostly entertained themselves.
The students would notice snake "tracks" in the dirt, and know when to be on the look out. One day as they came out of the schoolhouse, two rattlesnakes had coiled up under the porch and began striking. Wilber Cridlebaugh, a fourteen year old boy, killed both before either could harm anyone. At a different time, Mrs. Ragsdale had another close-call walking to school; one fall morning she almost stepped on a rattler camouflaged under a sage brush. And yet another time she was taken surprise by an animal visitor: a non-threatening little red fox positioned on a sand hill greeted her on her walk to school.
Every two or three weeks the Point View School House had a fire drill. Mrs. Ragsdale would set the alarm clock (without the students' knowledge) and whenever it rang, the students would quickly file outside. Once, however, the teacher was unaware of the fire drill because a young boy had set the alarm. He later remarked that she was the best teacher he ever had - Jewell thinks it is because she just obeyed the fire drill and filed outside along with the pupils.
The County Superintendent visited each school in the county for observation of the teacher. Jewell knew of her coming and she admitted she warned the students to be on their best behavior. The superintendent stayed and stayed. Finally she left, only to return to the classroom again to observe. This long observation was not customary. Jewell did not know the reason until several days later when she happened to see one of the girls in the Penny store. The superintendent just couldn't understand what the petite teacher did to keep the kids quiet and busy. Mrs. Ragsdale had also heard rumors that this school district was tough because the pupils had run off several teachers. Jewell remarks that if it were true, she wouldn't have known it because the students always were respectful to her.
Plays and programs would be performed at Point View School, and parents would bring box suppers and pies to be raffled. A stage across the front of the room was made by pulling a curtain. Other fun times that included the community were spelling bees and baseball games. Competitions were held with other schools- but they were mostly for entertainment.
The students of the one-room school had to get their basics learned well. If they were to go on to high school in Elkhart, they had to pass a test. Mrs. Ragsdale appreciated the fact that not only students had to take exams. She, as a new teacher in Morton County, attended a six week session and then had and all day exam for her teaching certificate. The only question on the test that she recalled at the age of 83 was the spelling of "alfalfa". As she looked over the eighth grade commencement program for 1933., she remembered some of the students names and incidences that she has related. Jewell Ragsdale and her husband endured the tough dire conditions for about five years at which time they decided to return to Missouri to the farm. At the Missouri farm, at least the soil wasn't moving. Roscoe taught school.
They desired a family but encountered difficulty with incomplete pregnancies. Finally with a successful pregnancy, in September of 1942, Jewell gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Peggy. As tradition, Jewell sought assistance in the home of her mother, Minnie, in Goodson.
Again, Jewell and Roscoe set on a trek towards the west. The most severe years of the dust bowl seemed to be behind them and Roscoe moved his small family to Granada, Colorado. He had a cousin Lowell and wife Phylane Caldwell who had moved to Granada from Missouri, and also his brother Howard Ragsdale with wife Mary had moved there to farm. Granada appeared a good location to start up a real estate business which is exactly what Roscoe did. In just a short period of time Roscoe's two sisters, Irene and Bertha, and their families also joined the group in Granada. Since all the families were young, Peggy had several cousins to keep her entertained.
Roscoe opened his real estate office on the highway near the center of town and the family lived in a two story white house on the opposite side of the highway just to the west. The yard was a popular place for the kids to congregate as Jewell remarked she always had a yard full. A gas station was just across from the house and was also a well-liked place because of the affordable selection of popsicles and pop. They were to build a new home on the other end of town, but she still had a yard full of kids because of the draw of one of the first televisions in their living room.
The clan of the relocated relatives from Missouri was not to last long. After only about a year, the sisters and their families returned to Missouri, and the brothers Roscoe and Howard moved to what they both felt they were bigger and better opportunities. Howard moved to Lamar and bought farm land south of town, while Roscoe moved to the much larger Colorado Springs where plans for a bigger real estate office seemed promising.
Jewell said she loved living in Colorado Springs. They lived in a large two story brick home on Nevada. Roscoe set up his office space in the enclosed front porch and Jewell rented some of the upstairs rooms to overnight guests. With the breakfast she cooked for her guests, and the conversation, the stay was enjoyable for both the renter and Jewell. Of all the places Jewell lived, she remarks the house on Nevada was her favorite place.
Roscoe saw increasing opportunity in the newly developing area of Fountain and moved his family out to a new house in the undeveloped area. He continued in the real estate business. His real estate business provided him with the knowledge of a small motel in Colorado Springs for sale, which he bought. The "overnight-guests-business" seemed to suit the family well. Jewell and Peggy could assist in management of the motel so that Roscoe could continue his real estate business at the same location.
Jewell endured some traumatic events at this motel. In 1966 Roscoe passed away of a sudden heart attack. Jewell was faced with the somewhat critical family finances. Peggy was in college in Texas, and Jewell felt like the motel was too much for her to manage by herself. She sold it and looked for employment. Stratton Homes, associated with Colorado College, hired her, which was the first of many occupations she would have as a widow.
In that next year she made the decision to move to Lamar, partly to be closer to relatives and old friends. She worked in the office of the Blue Spruce Motel, an occupation with which she was quite accustomed. The Lamar Community College advertised for a dorm mother to oversee the college girls living in Cedar Hall on Main Street. Cedar Hall (now known as the Emick house) had ample room for kids and had been renovated as a dorm by LCC. Jewell applied and was hired. After LCC built two large dormitories on their new campus south of town, Jewell served as house mother for about seven years beginning in about 1967. The dormitory had an apartment within the complex where Jewell lived. She had her own kitchen, but also enjoyed meals furnished in the cafeteria. Jewell enjoyed her work with the ever-active college kids and can relate many stories of their shenanigans - some involving her nephew David.
As a civil service employee through the state, she was sent retirement notice. Someone in the state office had noted she was past retirement age and should therefore not be employed through the state civil service. Even though she did not wish to quit working, and the college administration felt like she was doing a great job, she could no longer be employed by the state. This of course involved another move.
Jewell purchased a duplex on 8th street where she could rent out the front half, live in the back half, and enjoy the large back yard and the gardening that it provided. After working for awhile in the college bookstore and the college library, she found employment with the K-12 school system as a lunch lady in the Washington School lunch line. She enjoyed being around the kids. In just a couple of years, an opportunity opened up at the Lamar Public Library for employment. She would again be around kids, and enjoyed her co-workers as a library helper. She continued in this vocation for the next seven years until she was 77.
She remarks that throughout her life she seems to move about every seven years. After she moved to Strainhurst Apartments in 1982, where she now lives, she said "this is the longest I've ever lived anywhere." She enjoys living on the plains, and enjoys company from her family and friends. She is an avid reader, still does some crochet, and has a quick smile. She takes pleasure in sitting on the porch and watching the birds as well as the people. She regrets that she can't do as much as she once could, but admits she's certainly better off than many her age. She's very appreciative of those who help her. She still eats green onions in about everything and will furnish you with the freshest bunch from her flower pot if you happen to stop by.
Noble Mason Holt (1887 - 1921)
Minnie Lee Brooks Holt Breshears (1887 - 1974)
William Roscoe Ragsdale (1905 - 1966)
Wilma Jewell Holt Ragsdale (1907 - 2008)
Mecy Fern Holt Anson (1908 - 1997)*
Byrl Lillian Holt Richards Armstrong (1912 - 2003)*
Beatrice Marie Holt (1921 - 1924)*
Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Mausoleum
El Paso County
Created by: Jan Breshears Thomas
Record added: May 23, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37408000
Added: Nov. 6, 2013
". . . God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." I John 4:9. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas with Jesus.|
Added: Dec. 19, 2010
Remembering you on this Heavenly homecoming anniversary. What a wonderfully long life given you; may you now find Heavenly peace in the arms of Jesus.|
Added: Aug. 30, 2010
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