The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Posts tagged “first free kindergarten

Brunette “Nettie” Kerby

was beloved by her family and was a friend and colleague of Maud Lindsay.

Brunette "Nettie" Kerby Walters

Fondly referred to as “Aunt Nettie” by my grandmother is my great-grandfather (Andrew Ethelbert Kerby’s) sister. She and her siblings were reared in Dixon Springs, TN. Her parents were married shortly after the Civil War. Her father, Richard Marshall Kerby, was in the 8th TN Infantry Co. A during the war.  His unit saw action in most of the big battles of the Tennessee arena. In a book entitled the History of  Trousdale County, (Tennessee) a letter was published which was written the morning after the Battle at Chickamauga which mentioned “Marshall”. It was a letter written from a son (Daniel Burford) to his mother (Ms. Ward) which were neighbors of R.M. Kerby’s family. One of the Kerbys had been killed during the battle (I believe he was a cousin of R.M.’s ) and Daniel asked his mother to reassure “Mr. Kerby” (Francis Kerby, R.M.’s father) that Marshall was alright.

Shortly after returning home Richard Marshall married Catherine (Caron) Ruth Jones and they raised a large family there in Dixon Springs. A letter was written from R.M. to his sister, Medora Kerby Fergusson, in 1883 telling about his move from Dixon Springs to Florence, Alabama. R.M. and his children had intended to move to Texas but were wearied by their trip. They found a desirable place just “north of South Pittsburgh” (Sheffield)”along the Tennessee River.”  His family settled into Florence, Alabama during its boom in the 1880s.

Several of Richard Marshall Kerby’s relatives were school teachers, some were of the most prominent in the earliest schools in Florence.One of these teachers was R.M.’s daughter, Brunette, who taught at the famous Maud Lindsay’s Free-Kindergarten in Florence. She lived on N. Walnut Street, near the parking lot of the new Florence Public Library. I can just imagine her immaculate, warm, cozy home full of the best southern hospitality. I discovered an article that my Aunt Irene Kerby Marks had clipped and placed in her scrapbook. I thought you might enjoy it. It was from the Florence Times but I do not know the date on which it appeared.

Miss Maud Lindsay

One of my heroes from the Shoals Area would be Miss Maud Lindsay. She was known internationally as a philanthropist, author, teacher and story-teller. Miss Lindsay was a  devoted daughter of Robert Burns and Sarah Miller Winston Lindsay, and most importantly “Miss Maud” was a selfless educator that established the first Free-Kindergarten in Florence, Alabama. Maud was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1874. Her father served the Confederacy and became the first non-Reconstruction Governor of Alabama. She and her family are buried in the Winston Cemetery in southwest Sheffield, not far from my great-grandfather’s (Robert Duncan Peebles) old house.

Much can be written of Miss Lindsay, my focus is on the Free-Kindergarten named in her honor. This little school stands on the hill near the former Brandon School. (I believe my aunt told me that it had been moved from its original position.) My great-aunts (Pauline Kerby and Irene Kerby) attended the kindergarten around 1915. Both are now deceased, but they passed fond memories of “Miss Maud” and her storytelling abilities to younger generations. Aunt Irene  said the children would be mesmerized when Miss Maud told stories. Many of her stories were published in school readers during the early 1900s. Aunt Irene told about Miss Maud getting off of the train every morning at the Florence Depot in East Florence, meeting children in that area, then walking up the hill to the Kindergarten with “her” children. The things I most admire about Miss Maud were her willingness to make sacrifices and the way she influenced “her children”; she was a humble servant of her community. She passed up many lucrative offers to speak and teach around the world in order to stay in Alabama helping the little children of factory and mill workers in Sweetwater.

My family has a long line of teachers, including me!         written by Kim Ricketts