Ruby Elliott

This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society.  Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.



December 17, 1978

Tammy Elliott: This is Mrs. Ruby Elliott from Lincoln County and she’s going to tell us about when she went to school, when she went to college and when she taught school.  Would you mind telling us about when you went to grade school and high school? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: In the year of 1911, I started to school in a one room school building, one teacher.  The name of the school was {  }.  I walked two and a half miles.  But sometimes I would catch a ride with an old Midville (sic) man, on a load of bones, that he would gather up over the county, to sell.  School started in July and it was out by Christmas.  I attended this school for two years.  My next school, I attended, in {  } Virginia, and then my next year, I attended school in Knoxville, Tennessee and I attended that until I was in the tenth grade.  Then I came back to Crab Orchard and I graduated. 

Tammy Elliott: After you graduated, where did you go to college? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: I attended college at Richmond, Kentucky. 

Tammy Elliott: How many students were there at Richmond, at that time? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: At that time, there were eleven hundred. 

Tammy Elliott: Were there dormitories and classrooms like there are today? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: Yes, we had dormitories for the girls and dormitories for the boys.  We had a cafeteria. 

Tammy Elliott: After you finished college, where did you teach grade school, and what did you teach? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: After I finished college in the year of 1926, I taught school in Lincoln County at McKinney, Kentucky.  At that time, there were several one room school houses, but my first school happened to have three teachers and three rooms.  I taught the beginners through the fourth grade, and some of my pupils were sixteen years or older.  We had a teacher for the fifth and sixth grade, and we had a teacher for the seventh and eighth grade.  Back in that time, each teacher had to do their own janitor work. 

Tammy Elliott: What did the janitor work consist of? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: It consisted of carrying in the coal and building fires in an old iron stove.  But, this was just in the wintertime.   

Tammy Elliott: Did the iron stoves keep the schoolrooms very warm? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: Well, it did if you kept putting the coal to them. 

Tammy Elliott: You said that you taught…some of your fourth graders were sixteen years old.  Did they seem harder to teach, or harder to learn? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: I think the reason they were grown, sixteen, probably older, they didn’t have a chance to go to school every day.  They had to stay at home and help do the work.  They were eager to learn and was very interested in school. 

Tammy Elliott: Uh huh (yes). 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: School started at eight thirty and it lasted until three thirty.  Our morning exercises included singing and reading.  It lasted fifteen minutes.  I taught reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic to the older ones.  For the beginners, we had one study on the chart, we used the blackboard quite a bit.  We had counting (sic), and they needed help a bit, and then we did our work.  Some of the little ones, when they got sleepy, they would take a nap.  The third and fourth grades, we had reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic.  We had recess morning and afternoon. 

Tammy Elliott: What did you all do during recess?  What were some of the games that you all played? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: The main thing for the recesses were to get a drink of water and to be excused.  And, the rest of the time, the children would play ball, play marbles and they would bring their dinner from home in a tin bucket. 

Tammy Elliott: Did you all have a lunch room? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: No, no lunch room at that time, but later on we added on two years of high school, and they added on a lunch room.  Me and another lady started the lunch room in a building close to the school.  We would take our stuff, in the way of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes or whatever…anybody that would give to us, and would take it down to this building and do the cooking.  We also had two long tables and four benches.  And, the children, from the high school, mostly, would come over and eat their lunch.  And, at that time, it was fifteen cents. 

Tammy Elliott: Did you all have milk for them to drink, too? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: We, mostly, had soup, and sometimes we’d have wieners and bologna and light bread, of course, and that was about it. 

Tammy Elliott: Did the children seem to enjoy eating at the lunchroom where they didn’t have to bring their lunch from home? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: More of them would have eaten in the lunchroom if they’d had the fifteen cents to pay for it.  At that time, it seemed like money was hard to get hold of. 

Tammy Elliott: Were the children polite and courteous to the teachers? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: They were.  They were very polite and mannerly. 

Tammy Elliott: Did you enjoy teaching school, the years that you taught? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: Yes; it was a struggle to get there, sometimes.  It would be wet and cold. 

Tammy Elliott: Did you have to walk to the school, when you taught school? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: Yes, I walked morning and evening. 

Tammy Elliott: Was school called off any whenever it snowed and the children couldn’t get to school? 

Mrs. Ruby Elliott: I don’t remember the time that it got too bad that we didn’t get there.  Sometimes some of them didn’t be there until twelve.  Just a little late. 

Tammy Elliott: It’s been very interesting talking with you, Mrs. Elliott, about the schools.  And, I thank you for talking with me. 



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