The Sunday School Girls

The Sunday School Window
The Sunday School Window

Eight names of teenage girls – the members of Fannie Leonard’s Sunday school class of 1906 – are painted on one of the windows on the East Wall of the LBC Museum. The girls’ ages ranged from 14 to 19 that year; some where daughters of trustees of the Milton M. P. Church, but all who have been identified came from working-class families.

The girls of Fannie Leonard’s Sunday school class are in the generation that would begin the transition from Milton’s static, agrarian and maritime society – the 19th century – to the more dispersed, urbanized society of the 20th century. They would not all complete that transition; that task would fall to their daughters. The girls all came of age in the 1900’s, and nearly all were married off by 1912, which would have been the norm in that era. However, the paths that some of these girls took differed considerably from their mothers’.

W. Morris is Edith Morris (1888 – 1963), the daughter of church trustee and carpenter Joseph B. Morris (ca. 1848 – 1923) and Annie M. Hudson (1846 – 1897). Joseph is believed to have sponsored the “Annie” window in memory of his wife Annie M. Morris[1]. At age 21 Edith was a machine operator, probably at the Douglass and White Shirt Factory.[2] On February 16, 1912[3], Edith married Ernest Maloy Jefferson (1888 – 1982) and moved with him to Indiana County, Pennsylvania. The couple had three sons. In 1924, they came back to Milton where Ernest took a job with an insurance company and had a house built for them; Ernest was elected a steward of the M. P. church. Within two years, they had moved back to Pennsylvania, where Ernest took a job with a coal mining company. They would, however, move back to Milton again, where Ernest would remain involved with civic and church affairs for most of the rest of his life. Both Edith and Ernest were buried in Milton after their deaths.

L. E. Barker is Elizabeth (Lizzie) E. Barker, (1891 – 1968), the daughter of church trustee John B. Barker (1850 – 1927), a tinsmith, and Harriet E. (“Ella”) Walls (1863 – 1948), themselves sponsors of a window in the vestibule. The Barker family’s presence in colonial America can be traced back through the Waples line in the 18th century Virginia colony; the link is through Lizzie’s great-great-grandmother Patience Waples. Peter Waples migrated from Virginia to Maryland in the 1680’s and eventually to Delaware in the early 1700’s. Elizabeth, who completed three years of high school, was elected assistant organist in 1909 and 1910 and worked until the end of 1910 in the Douglass and White Shirt Factory. In 1910 she married Clarence Clendaniel (1887 – 1959), a pipefitter. They remained in Milton all their lives, where she would eventually find work as a seamstress in a dress factory and Clarence worked in plumbing. Lizzie’s brother Charles was mayor of Milton at the town’s sesquicentennial in 1957.

Magee is Viola Coulter Magee (1887 – 1980), the daughter of long-time Milton barber John L. Magee (18621936) and Emily J. Robinson (1870 – 1940), who were married in 1886.[4] In 1906 Viola, who finished high school, married Philadelphia stockbroker John A. McMullin (1888 – 1913), with whom she would have three children.[5] It should be noted that this is one of the very few instances where a woman named on the windows married above her social class. She had her first child, Regina, in 1907; in June of that year she made her first visit back to Milton for a family visit since she first left, and brought her baby with her. The family lived first in Philadelphia and then Denver, Colorado, where her husband managed the bond department of the Federal State & Savings Bank. Her mother Emily and sister Marie were living with the McMullins as of the 1910 census. John McMullin died prematurely in 1913, and in 1919 Viola married oil man Emmett Talman (1879 – 1946), moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma[6]. Emmett and Viola would live out their lives there, but visited or were visited by her parents regularly. John McMullin, Viola’s son by her first husband, visited Milton with his wife in December of 1947.

L. Reed is Lillie M. Reed (1887 – 1954), the daughter of Benjamin F. Reed (1858 – 1922), a tailor, and Mary E. Vent (1857 – 1936). [7]Lillie and fellow Sunday school student Sallie M. Morris were second cousins. She was also an employee of the Douglass and White Shirt Factory, like her classmates Edith Morris and Lizzie Barker[8]. Lillie Reed’s father Benjamin left the family sometime after 1900; he was listed as head of household in the 1900 U. S. Census, but in 1910 it was May (Mary) Reed that was listed as the head. He did not provide maintenance for the children and could not be traced until May of 1904, when according to the Milton News column in the Milford Chronicle May 20, 1904 edition, he was located in the Broadkiln Hundred. An attempt was made to arrest him on non-support charges, but he absconded again owing to the carelessness of the arresting constable. In January of 1914 Lillie, who ended her schooling in the 6th grade, married Harvey Campbell (1889 – 1974), a Georgetown blacksmith. The couple took up residence in Salisbury, MD after their marriage; their son Glen Campbell (1927 – 1986) was born there. They would continue to live in Salisbury until their deaths.

O. Wright is Olivia H. Wright (1890 – 1949). She was the daughter of John D. Wright (1866 – 1949)[9], of varying occupations, and Sarah E. (“Sallie”) Derrickson (1868 – 1943), whom he married in 1890. The family moved to Milton from Wilmington sometime after 1900, but both Olivia and her younger sister Edith left Milton after sometime between 1906 and 1909 for Philadelphia. They returned for a time, around 1911, and Edith worked as a telephone operator on the Milton telephone exchange (a so-called “hello girl”). She resigned her position and the two left again for Philadelphia, where Edith married Milton Dole[10] and Olivia worked as a retail salesperson and buyer in ladies’ garments. Olivia was still using the name Wright in 1915, and when she visited her parents in Milton annually in the years 1920 to 1926, usually in the company of her sister’s family. In July and October of 1927, she spends a weekend with her parents in Milton accompanied by William McMichael from Philadelphia, still using her maiden name. In the February 24, 1928 edition of the Milford Chronicle, she is referred to as Olivia McMichael returning to Philadelphia after a visit with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Wright in Milton, and twice more that year she visits as Mrs. W. H. McMichael. That is the name she used on her marriage license in 1939 when she married Walter Isaac Shivers (1875 – 1959). There is no record of a marriage and/or divorce between Olivia Wright and William H. McMichael that has surfaced. One possibility is that there may have been a common-law marriage, since Pennsylvania is one of the states that recognizes such unions. This was Walter Shivers second marriage; his first wife was still alive as of the 1940 Census, so there would have been a divorce that preceded his marriage to Olivia.

S. Morris is Sallie M. Morris (1891 – 1973), daughter of farrier William A. Morris (1866 – 1942) and Clara Reed (1871 – 1935), who married in 1887. Sallie and her Sunday school classmate Lillie M. Reed were second cousins, and therefore Sallie M. Morris shares the long Reed lineage back to Massachusetts-born James Reed (1657 – 1726) who arrived in Delaware in the early 18th century. On November 21, 1914 Sallie married Clarence Hammond Mustard (1891 – 1977), a carpenter from Milton and the grandson of John H. B. Mustard. By 1917, the couple were living in Camden, NJ with an 11-month old son William, who would be their only child. Clarence and Sallie continued to live in southern New Jersey, but were both interred in Milton upon their passing.

E. A. Bailey is probably Estella Ann Bailey (1889 – 1931), daughter of odd jobs laborer Edward Joseph Bailey (1867 – 1935) and Ella Dodd (1869 – 1937), who were married in 1888. In 1906 Estella, who worked as a chambermaid in a boardinghouse, married James Carey Betts (1885 – 1922), a farmer and later carpenter. [11]By 1920, the couple had 5 children, four of whom survived to adulthood, and they resided in New Castle. Widowed at a young age when James died of tuberculosis in 1922, Estella married Thomas E. Buckworth (1888 – ?), a widower himself, on March 15, 1927. On her death four years later, she was interred in the Betts Family Cemetery in Milton, as was her first husband James C. Betts.[12]

Among the Sunday school students, only the background of E. Walker remains uncertain.A photograph of the Milton Academy class on 1904 – 1905 shows an Emma Walker in the second row, far right; a member of that class would be within the right age range to have been in Fannie Leonard’s Sunday school class of 1906.


The February 23, 1906 edition of the Milford Chronicle provides a detailed account of how the Sunday school class gathered the funds to sponsor their window: a theatrical presentation, performed at the school house hall, featuring musical performances and a three-act comedy, “The Oxford Affair,”[13] starring Fannie Leonard and all of the girls in the class except for E. Walker. The newspaper columnist was rhapsodic over the performances. All proceeds went to the window fund.


[1] The records are unclear as to who Edith’s paternal grandfather was, but on her maternal grandmother’s side she is descended from Nicholas Maine Frost of Tiverton, England, who sailed to America in 1834 and settled in the New Hampshire colony. Nicholas Maine Frost is the ancestor of the American poet Robert Frost.

[2] The Milton News column of the Milford Chronicle, July 7, 1905 reports that the Douglass and White Shirt Factory, built in November of 1895 and operational in 1896, had a chronic problem retaining its mostly female workers, local girls who were off getting married as soon as they became highly skilled. The author suggested that the factory post a sign out front: “Gentlemen who are matrimonially inclined, would do well to call at the shirt factory.” The shirt factory was an important economic factor in the lives of the unmarried girls in Milton, providing them with a year-round income that helped support them and their families. Edith Morris, Lillie Reed and Lizzie Barker worked there before their marriages. The Milton labor shortage problem would plague the shirt factory and other businesses in Milton well into the 1920’s.

[3] The Milford Chronicle provides the only available documentation of the date of the marriage, in the February 26, 1912 edition.

[4] Research on this family is made more complex by the variation in spelling of Magee as Megee.

[5] The Milford Chronicle reports that Viola Magee left in February 1906 for an “indefinite stay” in Philadelphia.

[6] One distinction of the Talman family is that they made the trip from Tulsa to Milton by automobile in the summer of 1928, returning by way of Niagara Falls and several Canadian cities. Considering what roads were like in that era, a road trip like this would have been a major undertaking.

[7] The Reed family line has a long history in Sussex County, beginning with the arrival in Delaware of James Reed (1657 – 1726) from the Massachusetts Bay colony in the early 18th century.

[8] In the October 6, 1911 edition of the Milford Chronicle, she is reported to have been sent home from the shirt factory after an attack of vertigo.

[9] John D. Wright eventually became a trustee of the Milton M. P. Church. He was employed at the Diamond State Roller Mills company for many years. Unlike most of the other elderly persons who died at home prior to WWII, cared by family members, John D. Wright moved to an old-age home in Minquidale, DE at the end of 1946; he would pass away there in 1949.

[10] The marriage was actually performed in Wilmington, DE at the M. P. Church, by the Rev. G. I. Wolfe.

[11] The Betts line is descended from Capt. Richard H. Betts, born in Hertfordshire, England, who came to America in the mid-17th century and eventually established himself in New York and Long Island. His descendants migrated to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, reaching the latter in the late 17th – early 18th century.

[12] Estella died well before the 1940 census, so her level of education cannot be ascertained; the 1940 Federal census is the only instance in which education was reported by grade level completed.

[13] “The Oxford Affair,” written by Josephine H. Cobb and Jennie E. Paine, was a farce with eight female characters deemed suitable for girls to perform. The fact that it called for eight actresses may explain why E. Walker did not have a role in the production, at least on stage.