Report Cards

Among the many treasures recently sent to me by John Casbon were photographs of these two report cards.

Photos courtesy of John N Casbon. (Click on images to enlarge)

These are obviously report cards for brothers Jesse (1898–1974) and Steven (1900–1979) Casbon. Jesse was John N Casbon’s father. Although the location and year of the report cards are not given, we can narrow these facts down through other sources of information. In addition, the report cards can give us some insight into Jesse and Steven’s education and the educational system of the time.

As to time and location, the name of Jesse and Steven’s teacher, Grace Hubbell, aids us greatly in pinning these down. The name looked familiar to me, and then I recalled an earlier post, “Bundy School, Porter County Indiana, 1907,” that mentioned Miss Hubbell and even included a photograph of her. In a 1912 biography of her uncle, Fletcher D White, we are told, that

Mr. and Mrs. White have reared in their home a niece, Grace Hubbell, an amiable, talented young lady, who is a graduate of Valparaiso University in the scientific and normal departments. She has taught for three years in the Bundy school near this city and has recently been engaged to teach in the schools of Gary.[1]

Based on this information, we can guess that the report card is from Bundy school in Porter County, probably sometime between 1908–1912.

This matches well with what we know about the boys’ whereabouts based on census reports. In 1905, they were living with their mother Anna and aunt Lillie Casbon in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota.[2] By 1910 they were living with their grandfather, Jesse Casbon Sr. in Porter County.[3] Jesse and Steven were listed as ages 10 and 9, respectively. This was probably within a year or two of the time the report cards were written.

The Bundy school was a one-room schoolhouse with only one teacher, so the boys would have been in class with children of all ages and grade levels. The report cards don’t tell us what “grades” they were in, but evidently there was some way of distinguishing, since “Rank in Grade” (Jesse: 78 percent; Steven: 70 percent) was a category on the report cards. I find it interesting that the report cards were entirely hand-written. The only academic subjects receiving grades were Spelling ,Reading and Writing. Punctuality and Deportment (a word rarely used these days) were also graded. What a difference from today’s educational system!

Jesse and Steven weren’t at the top of their grade levels, but it looks like they were in the upper 50 percent (assuming Miss Hubbell was using a zero to 100 percent scale). Jesse seems to have been a slightly stronger student than Steven. In particular, he scored 96 percent on an examination in mathematics. We know from later life that Jesse was an astute businessman. Perhaps this was an early indication.

The 1912 History of Porter County has some interesting information about the county’s public schools. Outside of the city of Valparaiso, there were several high schools and one grammar school. Aside from these, each township was divided into a number of school districts, “and one teacher is employed in each district school.”[4] The one-room schoolhouse was still the norm for education through the eighth grade. The average school term was 178 days.[5] We’re also told that the average daily wage for teachers in Porter County was $3.38.[6]

We know from the 1940 census that Jesse and Steven completed eight years of school education.[7] I wonder how much of their education was completed in Porter County? Their early years must have been rough – parents separated, then divorced, relocation to Minnesota and then Indiana. These experiences probably helped to build a strong bond between them. The report cards were presumably saved by their mother, Anna. What significance did they hold for her?

[1] History of Porter County Indiana: a Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People and its Principal Interests, vol. 2 (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1912), p. 569 (entry for Fletcher White, pp. 564-9).
[2] Fifth Decennial Census of Minnesota (1905), Red Lake County population schedule, Red Lake Falls, p. 344 (penned), enumeration nos. 1079–1082, Annie Kitchenn, Lillie Casbon, Jessie & Steven Kitchenn; imaged as “Minnesota State Census, 1905,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-YSB7-M72?i=7&owc=waypoints&cc=1503056 : accessed 1 August 2018), Red Lake > Red Lake Falls, Ward 02 > image 8 of 10; citing State Library and Records Service, St. Paul.
[3] 1910 U.S. Census,  Porter County, Indiana, Center Township, enumeration district 137, sheet 10A, dwelling 155, family 158, Jesse Casbon; imaged as “”United States Census, 1910,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRJJ-CL9?i=18&cc=1727033 : accessed 1 Auguest 2018), Indiana > Porter > Center > ED 137 > image 19 of 26; citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 374.
[4] History of Porter County Indiana: a Narrative Account, vol. 1, p. 87.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] 1940 U.S. Census, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, population schedule, election district 5, p. 622 (stamped), enumeration district 2-29-B, sheet 4-A, household 79, Casbon, Jesse (age 41); imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89M1-HKD9?i=6&cc=2000219 : accessed 6 July 2017); citing NARA digital publication T627, roll 1502. 1940 U.S. Census, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, population schedule, 4th Election District, District Training School, enumeration district 2-23, sheet 9A, p. 494 (stamped), line 16, Stephen Casbon (indexed as “Carbon”); imaged as “United States Census, 1940,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9M1-HVF6?i=16&cc=2000219 : accessed 28 June 2018); citing NARA digital publication T627, roll 1501.

2 thoughts on “Report Cards”

  1. I was surprised not to see at least history and geography on the list of subjects. The focus appears to have been on basic literacy. I was curious about how the report cards survived all these years. Were they intentionally preserved and passed down to the next generation, or were they tucked away somewhere and forgotten until someone happened upon them?

    1. I agree with your comment about subjects. Perhaps the missing subjects were included in the”general average” category. I believe the report cards were preserved by the boys’ mother and eventually ended up stored in an attic until they were rediscovered when the house was sold.

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