Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, May 20, 2018

Ancestor Sunday

Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Prime

You know how much I love writing the stories of family members gone before?
Well, I’ve decided to make it official and institute Ancestor Sundays!
Here we go . . .
For today’s story, first a little background . . .
My Grandma Stringam’s Paternal Great-Grandmother was Sarah Thornton. Sarah was born in Little Paxton, Huntingshire, England on June 11, 1806.
So my great, great, great grandmother, if I’m doing this right.
Am I doing this right?
Moving on . . .
Sarah died in Utah, USA on March 1, 1892 at the age of 85.
What a treasury of stories her life would be!
I only have a tiny portion, from family journals:
At the age of 10, Sarah was left motherless.
Her grieving father sent her and her older sister Jane to boarding school. A common enough practice.
But this was no ordinary school.
Nope.
This was a school that emphasized ‘discipline’.
Oh, they were quite progressive in a lot of ways: no beating or whippings were allowed.
But to make up for that ‘lack’ the powers-that-be got a bit creative.
They weren’t allowed capital punishments, so they resorted to other cruel and unusual reprimands.
Going without food was a biggie.
Or being forced to undress and go to bed in the day time.
Separation from playmates was another first response.
But the cruelest punishment was saved for any child found sleeping with their knees up.
Each child was expected to sleep perfectly straight. If anyone was discovered curled up in a comfortable position, their legs were roughly jerked straight. Abruptly waking the child.
They couldn’t even escape these people in their dreams!
Sarah survived at this school for ten years.
Finally, at the age of 20, she married Prime Coleman.
Prime’s father was against their union. He told his son that he was making a colossal mistake. In his own words, “Son, a girl who has spent most of her life in a boarding school could not hope to be a helpmate to a cattleman and farmer.”
But the two persisted and married.
Years later, Prime Coleman’s dad had to admit he had been wrong. Sarah had turned out to be a wonderful wife and mother.
Strong Sarah obviously left her rough ‘boarding school’ years in her past.
At least those horrifying punishments never made it the five or six generations forward to my childhood . . .
I don’t know if I’d have survived . . .

5 comments:

  1. Yikes! How inhumane . . . not even to be allowed to sleep naturally . . . a sobering account of those schools.

    I'm glad things turned out better for your g-g-g-grandmother after she married. And she lived a very long life for that time in history. She was a strong lady.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How wonderful that Prime Coleman's father was prepared to admit he was wrong. And that your many times great grandmother found the niche made for her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Punishment back then was simply accepted. Sometimes I think it should still be practiced. We might have a lot less problems with kids today...

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've heard a few horror stories about boarding schools, but this is the worst. How awful to not even be allowed to sleep comfortably.

    ReplyDelete

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