Bessie Eileen Lumsden

Bessie Lumsden, 1985
Bessie Lumsden, 1985

Bessie Lumsden
Bessie Lumsden

She played her accordian at the end of every school day.
She played her accordian at the end of every school day.

Bessie chose to say her final farewell to 41 years of teaching by decorating a bulletin board.
Bessie chose to say her final farewell to 41 years of teaching by decorating a bulletin board.

After retirement, Bessie and her bookmobile
After retirement, Bessie and her bookmobile

Bessie in her yard
Bessie in her yard

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

(April 21, 1907 - April 10, 1992)


The Lusk Herald
April 15, 1992


Bessie Lumsden

Funeral services for Bessie Lumsden, longtime Niobrara County resident, will be held on Thursday, April 16, 1992, at 2 p.m. in the Bader-Peet Mortuary.

She died Friday, April 10, 1992, in the Niobrara County Memorial Nursing Home in Lusk.

A complete obituary will follow.


Lusk Herald
April 22, 1991
Bessie Eileen Lumsden



Funeral services for Bessie Eileen Lumsden, 84, longtime Niobrara County resident, were held Thursday, April 16, 1992, at 2 p.m. in the Bader-Peet Mortuary with Rev. Del Cowley officiating. Burial was in the Lusk Cemetery.

She died Friday, April 10, 1992, in the Niobrara County Memorial Nursing Home in Lusk.

Lumsden was born April 21, 1907, in Quasqueton, Iowa, to George and Carrie B. (Kimball) Lumsden. She attended and finished grade school there, with her mother and brother, Lyle and sister, Mona. She moved to Lusk where she attended Lusk High School and graduated in 1928.

The summer of 1928 she attended summer school at Chadron State College. That fall, she began teaching at Bob Cat School in northern Niobrara County. She taught for 41 years in Niobrara County, retiring the spring of 1969. She started the Niobrara Bookmobile the fall of 1970 and ran it for the Niobrara County School District for five years.

She loved teaching and was devoted to the schools and children of Niobrara County. Her last 25 years of teaching were in the Lusk Grade School.

She was a member of the Lusk First Baptist Church for 65 years. She was a charter member of the Retired Teacher of the State of Wyoming, national and Niobrara County.

Before and after retirement, she helped many elderly people by bringing their mail and groceries, doing errands and driving them to appointments.

She is survived by one sister, Mona DeWayne, Yuba City, Calif., and several nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by two brothers, Lyle and Jean and one sister, Lorena Postel.



The Lusk Herald
December 27, 1989
Bessie Lumsden recalls 41 years of teaching


She has worked with children most of her life and she has enjoyed it and looks back on her years as a teacher and driver of the Niobrara County Bookmobile with fond memories.

Bessie Lumsden taught school in Niobrara county for 41 years before retiring in the late 1960s. She took a year off and then began driving the Niobrara County Bookmobile.

During her 41-year teaching career, Lumsden managed to teach in eight schools in Niobrara County before coming to Lusk where she taught first grade for 24 years.

"I was ready to retire when I did," she said, adding that she retired at age 62.

When she retired the teachers in Niobrara County had a dinner in her honor. At that dinner, a poem, written by Garnet Lohr of Lusk, recounted the many schools where Lumsden taught.

Lumsden said one of the most difficult things to get across to her pupils, particularly the first graders, in her 41 years was that she was "Miss" Lumsden and not "Mrs."

"One night a little boy who was waiting for the bus asked me 'so you never got married, huh?" and I said 'No.' He said 'Why not?' I told him I was too busy teaching school. He said, 'Couldn't you do it on Saturday or Sunday?"

She said she had forgotten who the little boy was, but still gets a chuckle when she things of the incident.

Lumsden got her degree in teaching by going to summer school and taking correspondence courses in the 1930s.

Among the schools she taught at was Bobcat School, which was her first job after high school in 1928. She only taught there one year, because the school was closed and the building torn down. The Cheyenne River School was then built, but by then she had moved on to teach school at Magoons School on 28 Road.

It was named for the Magoons, but there were no longer any Magoon children attending it. There were three Robinson children who attended and Lumsden lived with them. She was there for one year. The oldest Robinson child was in eighth grade and the following year came into town to go to school and the other children came to town also.

She then taught at Hat Creek for three years where she had a two-room schoolhouse. She then moved to Kirtley for a year and then on to Node for a year.

"I taught there (Node) for a year and a half. I didn't care much for that summer stuff. We started in March and went until just before Thanksgiving," she said.

She next taught at Fairview for two years, then moved to Keeline where she taught for five years. Manville had her for three years until she permanently located in Lusk where she spent the next 24 years.

Some years she was the only teacher at a school, sometimes there were tow teachers and at Node there were three teachers. She usually had the lower grades, except for a time when she taught ninth and tenth grade at Keeline. During that year she said she had a good softball team.

"I play the accordian and I had a harmonica band at Keeline and at Node," Lumsden said.

Lumsden said the way school is taught has changed a lot over the years since she retired.

"It was beginning to change before I quit teaching," she said. "I don't know much about what they're doing with all the computers now.

"I wonder sometimes how many of these kids are going to have computers when they get out.

"It's the way of the world I guess. Nothing stands still; everything changes, she said.

She said one of the subjects she taught and continued to teach in her classes was phonics. She said when she was in school the schools did not teach it and it took a long time for her to learn to read. While she was teaching and attending summer school, she learned methods, but not how to teach phonics, so she came up with a way of her own which seemed to work.

She said someone in the state Department of Education decided school didn't need to teach phonics, so the program was dropped for many years until someone decided to put it back into the curriculum. She said she never stopped teaching it because it seemed to help her pupils learn to read and write better. She said the result of the 10-year (drought) from phonics resulted in many students coming out of school who couldn't spell, or read, and their writing was awful.

"They don't (get) enough of it now. They don't know the difference between printing and writing. It is different in different parts of the country.

After Lumsden retired, she took a year off and when the Niobrara County Bookmobile was started in 1970 she became its first driver. Her route covered a large amount of miles. She began on a Tuesday and would travel to Manville and have lunch after she had been at the school, then went on to Node in the afternoon, and then home. On Thursday she would go to Cow Creek School where she would eat a lunch she had brought, or the teacher would prepare a meal for her, then back to Lance Creek and then home.

The following Tuesday she would go to the Cheyenne River School and later, when she was allowed to, she went to the 7-mile School, ate at the Longbranch and then went to Fairview in the afternoon before returning home.

On Thursdays, she would go to Hat Creek (there was no school there) and then on to Indian Creek, which is almost in Nebraska.

She drove an old school bus that Bob Bramlet converted into a van, complete with shelves for the books that kept the books from sliding off. She drove for two years, then underwent back surgery. She then returned to her driving job and worked for three years before retiring.

"I used to take my accordian on the bookmobile. I (made a) sheet with songs and we always sang when I went to the schools," she said, adding that many of the schools did not have any music program at that time.

Lumsden also worked at the local swimming pool for 10 summers. She worked at the old pool for many years and one year at the new pool, when the town could not find a manager.

"One year at the end of school a little boy said, 'Good-bye, see you at the swimming pool.' I said I wasn't going to work there this year. He said 'Why not, I thought you owned it.'" She remembers those times with humor.

Since retiring from the bookmobile and the swimming pool, Lumsden has continued to spend her time doing good for other people.

When the Niobrara Hospital District Nursing Home first opened, Lumsden had a friend who was a resident there whom she visited on a regular basis. Her friend had a broken collarbone.

Lumsden donates her time and talents by baking cookies for the nursing home's singing sessions every week.

"I had been looking after her (Lumsden's friend in the nursing home) house and going to see her. When the (nursing home) started having chorus singing on Tuesdays I started (baking cookies). It ended up I was the only one to do it," she said, adding that many had made the comment that they should bake cookies for it, but they never materialized.

"Ruth Manring was the director of activities then. She helped me out and still helps when I was sick she kind of took it over.

She said when the nursing home first began there used to be a party for everyone's birthday on their birthday instead of the party that is held once a month now and honors all the people who have birthdays in that month.

Lumsden doesn't play her accordian much any more, but she played a little for the December birthday party. Arthritis in her fingers has slowed her playing and many of the activities she once enjoyed including rock polishing and leather work.

In addition to her teaching and community service, Lumsden was honored in 1986 as a 60-year member of the First Baptist Church in Lusk. She held offices in the church, including being a retired deaconess, and being clerk of the church.

"I used to work with the young people when I wasn't so old," she said.

"This old age slows you down. It's sure not for sissies," she said.








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