Margie Hancock Cofield-Madison Teacher

The Story of a Jefferson County Pioneer
Published in the Madison Courier – January 21, 1874

Old man Waterman, of North Madison, bears the title prefixed to his name as an indication of his extreme age. Every neighborhood has its “old man,” and in no case is the term applied discourteously. Mr. Waterman may justly claim the title above others by reason of his great age. Ninety-six years spent in this lower world entitles him to the distinction of being the oldest man in the county. Mr. Waterman was born in Providence Co., Rhode Island, on the 9th of April, 1778, and was married to Deborah Mitchell in 1818.

Mrs. Waterman is still living to nurse and comfort her husband in his old age, being some twenty years his junior, and to all appearances a very active and clever old lady. The venerable couple are no doubt the oldest married people in this part of the country, Mr. Waterman emigrated to the West in 1819, landing in Madison the same year. Since that early date he has uninterruptedly resided in Jefferson County. For a few years he taught school upon Ryker’s Ridge, for the people of that enterprising locality seem to have built a school house before they were fairly settled in their rude cabins of logs. Mr. Waterman, after teaching some time, lived there many years. For the last fifteen years he has not been able to do anything whatsoever, being very feeble, almost blind, and well nigh destitute of the faculty of hearing. For ten years back he has patiently reclined in his arm chair, day after day, leaving the house during the dark days of the Civil War to cast his ballot in favor of the Union and its noble defender, the martyr President, Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Waterman is one of those men, who by their age and acquaintance with events, link the present to the past, connect the generation of today with the Fathers of the Revolutionary and Colonial epochs. How strange it is to meet and converse with one who was a child before the struggling Colonies had gained their independences – to look upon the gray head and bent form, and realize the mighty changes that have transpired on this Continent since he was young. The eyes of this venerable man have witnessed the entire history of the United States. Like panoramic scenes on the great stage of human life, decade after decade of our National existence has passed before his vision.

First, the weak Provinces, distracted by mutual jealousies, and holding views on the most essential subjects as diverse as the poles, molded and wrought together into one harmonious people by the fiery furnace of the Revolutionary War. Succeeding this the Administration of Washington, the settlement of parts of the Eastern and Middle States, the war with Tripoli, the Indian and British war of 12, Decatur’s brief conflict with Algiers, the Seminole war, and the more protracted and important contest with Mexico. Finally the last fearful struggle, when the descendent of the men he had seen fighting, shoulder to shoulder as brothers, met as foes upon the ensanguined field.

During this period, the span of one lifetime, what prodigious events have occurred to elevate and enlarge our civilization The application of steam as a driving force, the invention of the cotton mill, the propulsion of boats on water and cars upon land by steam The invention of gas, the development of the art of printing and the rise of the modern newspaper, the wonderful application of electricity in telegraphy and the laying of the submarine cables. The invention of the sewing machine, and ten thousand other inventions and devices for saving human labor and lessening the toils and privatioins of life. In the literary, scientific and religious world what amazing progress has been achieved. New sciences have been born, as it were; others have been carried so far beyond old land marks as to be scarcely recognizable.

In the realms of literature and education a work has been accomplished that will challenge the admiration of all succeeding generations. The gradual evolution of our Common School system has been affected so perfectly that there scarcely remains a child throughout the broad national domain who does not find a free way open to an education. Beginning with the lowest form of elementary training the State provides a thorough and compressive course to the High School and College, Who can predict the progress of another lifetime of ninety-six years?

I, Margie Hancock, graduated from Madison High School in 1917. Word was passed around that I wanted to be a teacher. At that time Madison was famous for having only the very best teachers.

My teacher in Science was Miss Isabelle Doig. She offered me her room if I would go to Hanover College. She said she rented a room in town, while teaching in Madison. She suggested that I could have free use of her room in Hanover. Miss Doig lived with her sister who was the wife of Mr. Lee who had the store in Hanover. They all boosted for Hanover.

At that time our High School Principal felt I should go to a regular Teacher’s college like the State Normal at Terre Haute, Indiana. Many others sided with him adding, “If you go to the State Normal 12 weeks, you will have the best chance to get a job.” Word had gotten around that I was to be the support for her (an) Aunt who had raised me.

That Aunt was Marsha Hancock who married Jasper Shoots. She was the sister of Lewis Tracy Hancock and their father (Margie’s grandfather) owned many acres of land in Kentucky. His name was Lewis N. Hancock. Instead of grandfather selling his land, he divided it between his children; Ellen, Marsha, John Lewis T., Monroe and Tom.

Now the Aunt Marsha sold her land for money as she and her husband wanted to go west and travel to Missouri. Jasper, Marsha and 4 daughters traveled by wagon. The oldest girl, Margie Shoots, learned to sew and to make hats and was prepared to run a dress making business. But Jasper took ill and it was the prevalent disease of that day—tuberculosis of the lungs. And they felt he better get back nearer to his relatives. His daughters were loath to leave, but they must turn back.

They returned by way of Madison and were surprised at business here. “Marsha”, he said, “we had better stop here. There is business for the girls to get a job and support you as the Dr. says I am going to die. We’ll be near to some of the Kentucky relatives.”

The eldest daughter found work in a millinery shop, then with a modiste in the A. Marks & Son Store. She became in demand for her grand sewing. One daughter found work at the candy factory, another made the stitching to put the finish on the lovely Schofield blankets.

After Mr. Jasper Shoots died, Marsha’s brother Lewis T., who had married Carrie May Moore…News came that typhoid was an epidemic over near Bedford, Kentucky, so Aunt Marsha and her daughter, Margie, rented a rig to go see about Marsha’s brother and his family. Carrie was in the middle of childbirth, so Lewis T. needed help. The older boy & girl, Herbert and Esther, were playing around and were not aware of the terrible trouble.

The third child which they called Little Margie, because she had been born on her father’s birthday, and he said he would name her Margie, like Marsha’s daughter. Carrie gave birth to the 4th child. Marsha and her daughter, Margie, had to go back to Madison and they said, “Lewis, we’ll take Little Margie with us, she can’t just stay here.” From that time on, Aunt Marsha and her daughter, Big Margie, looked after Little Margie.

Marsha’s 4 daughters taught Little Margie before she reached the age to go to school. Margie became the best known little school girl. When she started school she was known for her brilliant ways and knowledge.

When I, Margie, was growing up, Madison was known for having the best group of teachers. They attended summer programs like Chautauqua, New York and took summer courses in the Normal School for Teachers, but getting a degree was not placed first.

So, when I was a senior, I had to decide what I could do to get a job and help support my Aunt, who was now crippled, and her daughter, Big Margie, also not well enough to continue her sewing life and work for a living.

Therefore, the offer from Miss Doig was being considered by my elders but not in my own mind. I was ashamed when I answered my Aunt and said, “But I don’t want to go to Hanover. I want to go away to school.” Mr. Dibler, my math teacher in high school, now had an office at the Courthouse and so many people offered to help me go to a Normal School for teacher training. They all promised to help me get a job. My Aunt would say. “I wish we could afford it.”

Before graduation the 5 students highest in grades were in a oratorical contest and Margie Hancock won the Grand First Prize, which was paid in gold. So I enthusiastically said to my aunt, “Now will you let me go to Terre Haute Normal School and pay that money for it?”

All agreed and those who could help came through and gave me a job for the fall term. I must teach a year in the county (country schools) for the extra training, so I did that. Then an opening came in the Madison schools and my friends went to “bat” for me. From that time on—I taught in Madison schools.

About this time, our State Board of Education in Indiana made a big push to get teachers to go their summer at Hanover College where special classes were to start. I was chose(n) to do observation under the best teachers in Madison and credit them. A man from State was put down to direct the course. I was to turn in notes of my observation teaching under Mrs. Lyde White. Miss Jesse Wood and all of those approved by the State Board were to do this at Hanover College, and do observation of Miss White. Each must teach two years out of four, and if approved the license given could be exchanged for a life license. My life license was for primary, intermediate and grammar grades. When I had accomplished this at Hanover I said,. “Oh, I love Hanover!”

My Aunt said I owed Miss Doig a note of thanks too, even though I was slow making a decision on where I would go to school. I loved the Alpha Delta Pi girls and so many people at Hanover and was proud to take care of my Aunt and cousin, Margie, through all their living days.

I was glad Hanover won my favor.

One summer and one college year, I did observation and turned in notes in full as to what expert teachers were doing. Then I had to make lesson plans on my own and turn in to Hanover Supervisors.

I was sent to observe the best teachers in Madison. Teachers credited me with the effort I put forth to have the lesson in class well done.

When they gave me the permit and approval it came in the form of a permit to teach 2 years out of 4, then a life license. All this earned the life license to me in Primary Elementary and Junior High English because of high grades in grammar school (8th grade).