Posts Tagged ‘Shurtleff College’

Dorothy Genevieve Rainey (1904-1987)

February 4, 2023

After reading my postings on Junia Smart, a former classmate asked if I had researched MISS Rainey, the Latin teacher. I hadn’t, so I gave her a look.

Dorothy Genevieve Rainey was born on January 20, 1904 as the first child of  William W. and Ethel Shaver Rainey. She would later be joined by three younger brothers. Her father worked as a clerk in the Litchfield, Illinois post office, so they were probably living there at the time. The 1910 US Census had them living at 1224 Franklin Street in Litchfield. Her parents owned their home and had an 18-year-old servant, Mina Aikman, living with them. Dorothy’s brothers hadn’t been born yet. Not quite six,Dorothy didn’t attend school and couldn’t read or write at that time.

In 1920, the family was living on a farm in Cahokia Township, Macoupin County, Illinois but William was still working as a mail clerk along with farming. His mother-in-law, Francis Shaver, was living with the family which had expanded to include the three boys. The farm was located west of Litchfield, north of Mt. Olive and east of Gillespie. Dorothy was attending school and could read and write. Her college yearbook entry indicated that she had graduated from Litchfield High School, probably in 1921. That seems about right considering that she had an October birthday and would graduate when still 17.

SIUE has digitized the Shurtleff College yearbooks and has made them available to peruse on-line. Miss Rainey’s senior page accompanies this piece. She was quite active at Shurtleff, particularly with the French club. One of the nice things about high school and college yearbooks of this period is that they are gossipy. A few interesting quips about her follow:

Who put the salt in Dorothy Rainey’s bed? (1923)

Dorothy Raney steps out in white slippers. (1923)

Meigs makes a date with Dorothy Rainey for John Wones and takes her to the show himself. (1923)

Miss Walker and Dorothy Rainey let the St. Louis car go by and have to sit in the depot all night. (1924)

Dorothy Rainey oversleeps and misses breakfast. (1924)

Dorothy Rainey has the mumps. (1924)

Case—Crum [probably George Crum Walbaugh] and Dorothy Rainey. (1925)

The fall after graduating with her Bachelor of Philosophy degree, she took a teaching job with the Mattoon, Illinois school district. She appears to have started by teaching junior high but had shifted to Latin by the time she resigned in January of 1927 due to ill health. She apparently returned home then.

In June of 1929 she attended a Shurtleff College reunion. In 1930, the family, except for Dorothy, was back in Litchfield but lived at 1119 Jackson Street, a house worth $3,500 that they owned. With the Great Depression in full force she may have had difficulty finding a job and decided to go to graduate school. She supposedly earned a masters degree from the University of Iowa at some time. The period between the Mattoon and Marine jobs would be the likely period during which she would have gone to grad school.

She wasn’t mentioned in the press again until 1934 when she attended the funeral for the Shurtleff librarian. Dorothy was living in Marine, Illinois at that time. The likely reason for her relocating to Marine was that she was working there. Otherwise, she would have stayed with her parents.

In April 1935 her name appears in the “Marine News” column of The Edwardsville Intelligencer for the first time. Her social and professional activities were reported on in this column from this date forward until her death many years later. This time the mention was for attending a lecture on foreign languages in St. Louis. In May she was reappointed as a teacher at Marine High School. This suggests that she had teaching there for at least one previous year. Dorothy became very active in Marine by joining the Marine Evangelical Church, the PTA she helped found and served as its first Vice-President, the Red Cross, and the Draft Board. She hosted Latin Club meetings at her home and was active in teachers’ organizations. Close to her family, she spent part of each Christmas break and summer vacation with her parents. That changed in 1945 when her parents retired and moved to California. She continued teaching at Marine High School through the spring of 1951 after which Marine merged with two other schools to become Triad High School in Troy, Illinois.

Miss Rainey started teaching at Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto, Illinois in fall of 1951. Now teaching journalism, she and Mrs. Smart started the school newspaper The Eaglet. At CMHS she became more involved in statewide and national organizations and took students to compete in various contests. She also became more adept at getting press. The two local newspapers, The Alton Evening Telegraph and The Edwardsville Intelligencer, frequently ran pieces covering her activities. Something else that changed, possibly due to her parents relocating to California, was that her travel radius expanded over time from places no father away than Chicago to across the U. S. and eventually to going abroad. Olga (and sometimes Agatha) Deibert was a frequent travel companion.

One thing that didn’t change was her involvement with Marine. The Marine newspaper column continued to run news of her. It wasn’t clear if she moved her residence to Bethalto or, if she did, how long she lived there. She kept her ties to Marine strong.

In 1955 she had a special boy for a student. 15-year-old Charles Brunk of Cottage Hills liked languages. He bought a Hebrew reader and learned the language by correlating the symbols. He learned Latin in school and Greek after school from Miss Rainey.

She continued her education by attending summer sessions at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Tufts in Massachusetts. In 1962 she fell and broke her wrist. This was about  when I arrived at CMHS and may have seen her wearing a cast. Not taking any classes with her, our only interactions were admonitions from her about my associating with underachieving friends.

She bought a house in Marine in 1965 and used a Marine address in her letters to the editor which became more frequent during this phase of her life. She retired from CMHS in June 1970 but remained active in teachers organizations. She died on January 2, 1987 at age 82 and was buried alongside her parents in Elmwood Cemetery in Litchfield, Illinois.

Information found in later searches follow.

A February 2, 1934 Edwardsville Intellingencer article reported on a farewell party for Fred C. Durbin that had been held by students at Marine High School. He had substituted for Miss Rainey during the first semester of the 1933-34 school year. The reporter gave no reason for her absence.

To some extent this information fills in the gap in Miss Rainey’s life between completing her master’s degree in 1930 and teaching at Marine High School in 1935. The article makes clear that she was or at least was scheduled to teach at Marine High in the fall of 1933. While not stated, it seems logical that she would have been teaching there at least since the 1932-33 school year and possibly earlier. If not, why would she have been considered the regular teacher if she was absent for the first semester of her employment by the school? Left completely out was the reason for her absence.

Most recent find:

Late this afternoon I realized that I hadn’t done a search on Dorothy Rainey on, one of the tools I usually use when researching people’s lives. A quick search of her name for the 1930-1935 period returned a couple of pieces of new information. Illinois State Journal for May 2, 1932 reported that she had taken a job teaching Latin at Marine High School starting in the fall. It also reported that she had been taking a secretarial course at Greenville College prior to this. Now we know when she started at Marine High School—fall 1932—and what she was doing immediately before that. What we don’t know is when she started the secretarial course.

I emailed the library at Greenville University (the current name of the institution) requesting whatever information they have on her. I will share whatever they send me.

This article confirms that Miss Rainey wasn’t about to sit on her duff and wait for something that might never happen happen. She was proactive. If teaching jobs weren’t available she was preparing herself for an office job that might be. I wonder how much she put to work what she learned in the secretarial classes. One would think some of it could be applied to producing school newspapers, something she later did. What do her former students think?