Tag Archives: Ohio

Home Economics Education in the 1920s and 1930s


Very likely the type of hotplate Miss Anderson used to teach home economics in 1925.

When I read that my mother, Harriette Anderson (Kaser) taught home economics her first year of teaching, and all she had in the way of equipment was a hot plate, I wondered what she taught.

Of course she was teaching a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with cooking. The newish science of home economics (in 1925) covered a good deal more than food. The objective was to turn young women into scientific home makers–able to use the latest and greatest discoveries in health and nutrition, new kinds of sewing machines, and how to be a home manager instead of just a house slave.

The fact Miss Anderson had only an electric hotplate to teach on in 1925 was not entirely unreasonable. In their homes, these girls may still have been cooking on wood stoves,  and using an ice house dug into the side of a hill to store perishables. Although ice boxes with delivery of ice would be widely used in urban areas, home refrigerators had only been introduced in 1914. There were no small electrical appliances. The first stand electric mixers were introduced in 1919. Even the simple toaster did not come along until 1926, and electric stoves were not popular until around 1930. And that did not matter to these farm families, because before the federal  Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in the 1930s, they had no electricity anyway.

Home Economics is Born

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was credited with fueling the north’s passion for the Civil War. But her sister Catharine Beecher wrote a book that may have had more lasting effects. In 1841, she published Treatise on Domestic Economy and in 1869, American Woman’s Home (co-authored by sister Harriet). According to the history of women in the kitchen, A Thousand Years Over a Hot Stove,

“…she put forth a vision for the home economics movement, a movement that would not come to fruition until the turn of the twentieth century…Her most fervent cause was education for women, and she started many schools for women where ‘domestic science’ was a formal branch of study.  With education and professionalization, Catharine believed housework could be transformed from drudgery into a sacred job on equal footing with the professions of men.”

Catharine herself was never a traditional housewife because her fiancé was lost at sea and she never married. Coming from a family with servants, she may never have cooked. Her books were saturated with the Calvinistic religion of her father and the intellectual philosophy of the circle of New England literati and abolitionists and her extraordinary family members who gathered at the Beecher Hartford Connecticut home at Nook’s Farm.

Although she was a pioneer in this field, I can’t see the fundamentals of Miss Beecher’s teachings permeating the fun-loving 1920s that formed my mother. Catharine was a scold who was intent on improving women, particularly the lower classes so that they could fulfill the “great mission” of “self denial”. Food was not for enjoyment, but for character building. Furthermore, her religious background formed a philosophy where women were subservient to men and she did not believe in women voting. They should be educated–as teachers.

But the ‘get to work and stand up straight’ messages were salted with incredibly helpful hints for forward-looking home making. Move over Martha Stewart–Catharine explained that women could learn how to divide their home into rooms to best use the space, how to make their own picture frames and pant stands, organize their kitchens for maximum efficiency, and properly serve meals.

Home Economics in Ohio Schools

In 1914, a federal law required land grant colleges (including mother’s and my alma mater, Ohio State University)  to extend teaching of home economics and agriculture through county extension agents. That program was in full swing when mother started teaching in rural Ohio in 1925. In 1917, the federal government had started partially funding domestic science teaching in local schools, which probably explains why by the time mother started teaching, most Ohio schools–even a two-room school like Clark, Ohio– had home economics classes.

Harriette Anderson teacher

Clark, Ohio High School, the 1925-26 students. The 19-year-old teacher is on the far right.

But what could she teach to a class with three girls of various ages? Food was certainly going to be a challenge with only a hotplate to operate with. And I can imagine what those farm mothers thought about their girls being taught by some outsider the skills that had been passed down form mother to daughter for generations.

Home Economics for the Twenties and Thirties

In the twenties and thirties, women were being taught that cooking with commercially preserved foods was superior to using fresh or home-preserved. The newest, most modern, most economical and efficient way to cook was to use commercially prepared foods. Food manufacturers jumped on this opportunity and mother’s closet was full of brochures and cookbooks on how to use brand name products. The Singer company helped get sewing machines into classrooms. Pattern-makers catered to home economics teachers.

Since Miracle Whip was not introduced until 1933, this brochure must have come along a little later, but checking historic labels, I think this would have been very early. [Note: I had to leave out a couple of panels. The recipe that goes with the center bottom picture of food is Burgers and coleslaw. Also, the color balance is off–the mayo was just as white then as it is now.]

In a book called A History of Vocational and Career Education in Ohio 1828-2000, I learned that the first state coordinator of Home Economics was appointed in 1918.  I do not know for sure what the teaching guidelines were for home economics teachers in 1925, but by 1930, Ohio had a detailed curriculum guide, Home Economics: Course Study for High Schools in Vocational Home Economics Education.  If you want to see what was expected of women in 1930, check the digital version on this page.

Food teaching centered on nutrition–not fancy food.  The vitamin value of vegetables was not even realized until World War I–not even a decade before mother started teaching.  The recommended reading section of the study guide includes two books by the Boston Cooking School teacher and author, Fannie Farmer. Recipes are plain and seasonings are few.

The study guide is earnest and for the most part probably very helpful to a beginning teacher at a city school, but I doubt that the farm girls of Clark had any need for the etiquette of serving dinner–both with and without a maid; nor would Miss Anderson’s hotplate have accommodated the instructions to have each girl take responsibility for “planning, preparing and serving (with the aid of another member of the class) at least one luncheon of each type for a group of five or six people.” And “planning, preparation and serving a series of suppers (10-14) for the family. Two or three meals a week may be prepared if the project is covered while school is in session.”

The “types” of luncheons to be discussed, with focus for each day underlined were:

  • Vegetable plate luncheon, bread, beverage.
  • Cheese dish, vegetable salad, gelatin dessert, bread.
  • Meat or fish salad, parkerhouse rolls, fruit compote.
  • Croquettes, green vegetables, fruit salad, bread.
  • Meat, or meat extender, vegetable salad, bread, beverage, dessert.

Mother was learning her own ideas of what made the proper meal as she taught her classes. To the end of her life, she complained about any meal that did not include bread. She expected meat, vegetable, starch (potato or rice for instance), bread and coffee and dessert. If these farm families wanted bread, mother had to bake it. There were no bakeries, and commerical sliced bread was not yet available.

In the classroom, she could have boiled potatoes on the simple hotplate like she reported doing on a campfire on her summer road trips during this period. I can imagine her borrowing an iron skillet from Aunt Rhema, in whose house she was staying while she taught at Clark, and frying potatoes, or perhaps she made an omelet. Of course the girls could make a salad, but there was no refrigeration for leftovers, and anyway, fresh salads might have been a hard sell in those days of boiling  vegetables to death. That vegetable plate luncheon would have been an oddity for these meat-loving farm families. And fish? Probably not. In one way, they would have been extremely modern. All produce would have been locally grown and organic.

Teaching home economics in a rural two-room school in 1925 would have been quite a challenge– even if  teacher had more than a hotplate in the classroom.

Will you try any of the recipes in the Kraft  booklet?  For that matter, which side of the divide do you fall on–Miracle Whip dressing or Kraft mayonnaise?

52 Ancestors #32 Three Sisters: The Stucky-Pfaeffli Connection

Catharine (Katie) Stucky ,1857-1877

Mary (Maria) Stucky, 1858-1929

Matilda Stucky, 1861-1908

John Pfaeffli, 1846-

As I explored the family of Helen Stucky, my husband Kenneth Ross Badertscher’s grandmother, I bumped into an interesting combination of three sisters and one man.  Two of the sisters of Helen Stucky’s father, Frederick Stucky, were married to John Pfaeffli, and another sister may have been—well–in a relationship.

Ken is related to the sisters because they are 2nd great-aunts–sisters to his great grandfather.

Catherine and John

Catherine Stucky, the fifth child (third daughter) in the family of John and Elizabeth (Roth) Stucky, was seventeen when she married the 27-year-old John Pfaeffli in December 1874. It is clear that Catherine was already pregnant when she married, as she gave birth to their first daughter, Florence Lydia Stucky in July 1875.

John was born in Switzerland in July, 1846, and arrived in the United States in 1870. He apparently came by himself. I can imagine a young man, getting familiar with a new country, and perhaps on his own for the first time in his life.  [John’s father arrived in 1876 at the age of 63, accompanied by a 36 year old woman.  In 1880 he is living with his son son and is a widow.]

John is listed as a cheesemaker on various census reports, and would have had no problem getting a job when he arrived with one of the many Swiss cheese makers in the area of Holmes and Wayne Counties, Ohio. Additionally, there were other Pfaeffle families in the area. The Swiss community would have made him welcome.  Perhaps he took advantage of the hospitality of the John Stucky family.

So, by 1875, John Pfaeffli is married and is a father. In 1876, Catherine becomes pregnant again, and in March 1877, she gives birth to another daughter. However, Catherine dies in childbirth, leaving John with two little girls. The baby is named Katie in honor of the deceased Catherine.

Mary and John

As is common in that time, John wastes no time remarrying so that he has a mother for his two girls.  And, also, not uncommon is the fact that he keeps it in the family.  In 1858, John marries the sixth child (fourth daughter) in the Stucky family, Mary (sometimes written as Maria). Like her sister before her, Mary is only 17 when she marries. John is now 32. In November 1878, Mary gives birth to John’s first son, John Alexander.

The couple goes on to have three more children, Walter, Erma and Blanch, in addition to raising Florence (also known as Flora) and Katie from John’s marriage to Mary’s sister, Catherine.

[I was slightly confused by the 1880 census.  In the York Township, Tuscarawas County schedule, Katie Pfaeffle (3 years old) is shown living with her grandparents John and Elizabeth Stucky.  She is also shown in Walnut Creek, Holmes County, with John and Mary Pfaeffle.  Both censuses were recorded in the same month.  I can only assume that Katie lived with her grandparents after her mother died, but was in the process of relocating to the home of her father when the census taker made his rounds.]

So far, there is nothing terribly out of the ordinary in this story–unless you are surprised by the early age of marriage and a pregnancy before marriage.  Since Mary’s son was born the same year as her marriage, it is possible that was another one, but I have not yet tracked down the wedding date.

Matilda and John?

But another entry in that 1880 census revealed a really interesting story. Not only is Katie Pfaeffle is listed with her grandparents but there was also  a one-year-old Edward Pfaeffle.  The mother is not identified. I knew, of course that this could not be Catherine’s child.  Later census reports show an Edward Stucky of the correct age to match up, so I saw that either his name had been changed or the census taker had made a mistake.

About the same time, I first saw the Stucky family history which clarifies that Matilda, the 7th child (fifth daughter) of the John Stucky family is the mother of Edward “Stucky”. Matilda would have been eighteen years old.

Apparently the 1880 census entry was not a mistake.  I found a birth certificate for an Edward Albert “Bafley”, b. February 1879, mother Matilda and father John Bafley. To back that assumption up, his name is Edward Albert Stucky on his tombstone. With the misspelling of Pfaeffli in so many documents, it is not a stretch to assume that John Bafley is the same John Pfaffelie who had married Matilda’s two older sisters?

If so, he was a very busy guy.

  • October 1874: Catherine gets pregnant
  • December 1874: Catherine and John marry
  • July 1875: Catherine gives birth to Florence
  • March 1877: Catherine gives birth to Katie and Catherine dies.
  • About February 1878: Mary gets pregnant
  • About May 1878:  Matilda gets pregnant
  • Some time in 1878: John marries Mary
  • November 1878: John Alexander is born to John and Mary
  • February 1879: Edward “Bafley” is born to Matilda Stucky and John “Bafley”.

Wrong Conclusion About John Pfaffeli?

I do not want to be unfair to John Pfaffeli, so I have tried to think of alternative explanations.  Here are two possibilities I came up with:

1. There really was a John Bafley as the birth certificate says, and it was the 1880 census that had the name wrong.

2.  There certainly could be other John Pfafflis–although I have not easily found any. But it was common to reuse a name, especially a common one like John, and so Catherine and Mary’s husband might have had a cousin named John.

If any of the Pfaeffli family are reading this and want to refute any part of it, I welcome any evidence.

This whole series on my husband’s family started because of pictures of the Stucky family. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see a photograph of John Pfaeffli?  He certainly must have been attractive. At least he attracted the Stucky sisters.


So what happened to single mother Matilda ( a term much kinder than her age would have used) and her out of wedlock son, Edward?  Both lived out their lives with John Stucky, and his successor, the youngest son of the family, Simon. Edward’s name was always Stucky as far as anyone in the community knew.  He may have been adopted by his grandfather or his uncle, but he is listed as grandson or nephew to head of household. Neither Matilda nor Edward every married. Nor did Simon.  Matilda is described in the family history as keeping house for her father and brother.

Matilda died in 1908. Simon died in 1940 and when Edward died in 1946 he was buried beside his uncle, their names inscribed on the same stone.


How My Husband is Related

  • Ken Badertscher is the son of
  • Agnes Badertscher, who is the daughter of
  • Helen Stucky, who is the daughter of
  • Frederick Stucky, who is the son of
  • John Stucky, who is the father of
  • Catherine Stucky, Mary Stucky and Matilda Stucky

Notes on Research

  • Descendants of John Stucky and Elizabeth Roth From the Year 1831 to 1972, by Martha Stucky, Sugarcreek Ohio, 1972. This is a faded copy in purple ink.  The information was mostly gathered by contacting family members, although it seems the author also looked at some census reports. Although obviously a great deal of work went into the listing of descendants, there is no index of sources.
  • Census reports from 1870, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1880, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1880, Walnut Creek, Holmes, Ohio;1900, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1900, Wayne, Tuscarawas, Ohio;  1920, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1910, Franklin, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1930, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio; 1940, York, Tuscarawas, Ohio.
  • Find A Grave.com
  • Ohio, Births and Christenings Index, 1800-1962, Ancestry.com, for births of Matilda Stucky and Edward (Bafley) Stucky.
  • U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, Registration State: Ohio; Registration County: Tuscarawas; Roll: 1851247; Draft Board: 2 ,Edward Albert Stucky
  • Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1932, 1938-2007, Ancestry.com and Ohio Department of Health 2011 for Edward Albert Stucky, Simon Stucky, Mary Stucky.
  • New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957, Year: 1876; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237, 1820-1897; Microfilm Roll: Roll 405; Line: 43; List Number: 878  for Ulrich Pfaeffle.

52 Ancestors #31: Frederick Stucky’s Life Was Simple if Not Easy

Four Generations

Ken Badertscher with great-grandmother Ida Stucky; mother,Agnes Badertscher and grandmother Helen Bair Kohler

For the time being, I have set aside my own family research (except for occasional timely notes).Instead  I am searching for ancestors of my husband, Kenneth Ross Badertscher. Today–his maternal grandmother’s father. Interestingly, Ken’s great-grandparents Stucky have the same first names as his grandparents Badertscher–Ida and Fred.

Frederick Stucky (1864-1946)

The theme for #52 Ancestors this week is “easy.”  What started out as an impossible tangle, shows signs of become at least easier, with the arrival in the mail of the Stucky family history.  So it isn’t easy YET.  Although Frederic Stucky himself, has a pretty straight-forward life, easy to trace, his siblings and children add lots of intrigue. My task is further complicated because I do not have the world membership at Ancestry.com, and so tracing Frederick and Ida’s roots back to Switzerland is not going to be so easy.

Frederick Stucky

Fred Stucky

When Frederick Stucky was born, he had eight older siblings, the children of John and Elizabeth Stucky, who emigrated from Switzerland some time before their oldest child, John Jr. was born in 1850. They settled in York Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, where Frederick would also spend his life.

Since he was one of the youngest members of the family, Frederick was probably not as close to his much older siblings, except John Jr., who lived at home until he was in his 30s. His brother Simon was born two years after Frederick, for a total of ten offspring.

Of course not all ten of these children were at home at any one time. All but one of his sisters married quite young, and one or more died in childbirth. When he was just 11 one of his sisters died in childbirth, and his family took in her daughter.  When he was 15, another sister had a child out of wedlock, and that child also joined the household. I’ll talk more about these sisters later.

Fred was 24 when he married Ida Schneiter in 1888, who came to the U.S. from Switzerland as a toddler.Their first son, William was born in 1889, but died six years later.  Their second child, Helen, was Ken’s grandmother, Helen. I told Helen Stucky’s story here. Their last child, Gladys, born in 1915, was probably one of those mid-life surprises. Frederick was fifty at the time, and already a grandfather several times over.

Frederick Stucky may have had his hands full running his farm and worrying about his own eleven children, but from today’s perspective his life seems pretty routine.  Born and raised on a farm in York Township, he lived all his life on his own farm in the same township. He was not a soldier. He was born just after the Civil War, and was too old for World War I. He did not have economic difficulties. He worked hard an his farm thrived. He lived a peaceful life. He did not get into trouble with the law. Anything difficult in his life came from farming (those long hours!) and family.

Family was very important to the Stuckys, and Ken remembers attending Stucky reunions as a child.  In 1913, Fred and Ida celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, but this picture came later, as Gladys is in the picture, and looks about two years old which makes the photograph 1917 or 1918.

Frederick Stucky family

Stucky family Circa 1917

In 1943, Fred and Ida celebrated a 50th anniversary, and the family reunion below could have been on that occasion.  I’m guessing because of the ages of some of the children. That is Ken Badertscher in the front row wearing a cap, and he was born in 1939. The little girl beside him was born in 1940.

Stucky family and cousins

Stucky family and cousins

Note: If you are related to this family, and would like to know the names we have identified so far, or can help identify more, PLEASE get in touch!

Fred outlived most of his brothers and sisters and at four of his eleven children, dying in 1948 at the age of 83 1/2. Like so many of the Stucky family, he is buried in the Jerusalem Cemetery in New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County, Ohio.