Location, date, names – all are identified in this 1914 photo postcard of the second grade class at Lincoln Elementary School in Little Falls, Minnesota. Even with all these fabulous details, the image is still almost hauntingly filled with questions. Who were these children? What were they thinking when the photo was taken? Had they heard their parents talking about world events? Did they know about the Great War (World War I), the international conflict that was already in full swing? Did they have older brothers, friends or relatives who could potentially be serving overseas? Was there some sense of the impending national financial crisis that would impact their young adult years? What was going through their heads when the picture was taken?
Three of the children in the photo died at a young age. The serious-looking young boy in the front wearing the Russian-style tunic, Henry Ringwelski, died in 1919 during the deadly flu epidemic. The gentle, shadowy girl in the middle, Cecelia Kliber, died in 1926 at age 19. The tall girl in the back with the deep circles under her eyes, Catherine Lipinski, died young but at an unknown date. Catherine is perplexing. Was she tall for her age? Had she been held back? Was she really in the second grade? What is her story? Why do these three somehow stand out from all the rest?
History is full of questions. It ferrets out facts and information, examines nuances, and explores contexts that lead to increasingly complicated questions and an infinite number of opportunities for exploration and adventure. Ever changing, history guides our understanding of the complexities and delights of this world – past, present and future.
Inspiring curiosity, connection, and change. History matters.
~ Ann Marie Johnson
Photo identification from back of postcard:
Front Row (L to R):
Middle Row (L to R):
Back Row (L to R):
Lincoln Elementary School was one of several elementary schools operating in Little Falls by 1914. Established in 1892, it served the west side of Little Falls. By 1915, there were 151 schools in Morrison County.
This article originally appeared in the Morrison County Historical Society newsletter, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2018.