We just didn’t like it there

Ms. Pendleton talks about her experiences in both public and boarding school.

Things to think about: 

What was the purpose of boarding schools?

Audio Chapters

DL: I see. So you started out at what would be called a junior high in the seventh grade. Do you know why your parents wanted you to go to the public school?

JP: We had to, because that’s when they had quit going to the eighth grade up here. They quit it at sixth grade.

DL: So did you take a bus into school? What was it like? What do you remember about that transformation [from a small one-room schoolhouse]?

JP: It wasn’t good at all because in the seventh grade, as far as the clothing and stuff, we were always teased about that. There were only two girls that I got along with in the high school. They always had problems with us being there; they didn’t want us there.

DL: That had to be hard for a child to have to deal with.

JP: Yes. I stayed there seventh and eighth grade, and then ninth grade I went to Flandreau, South Dakota.

DL: How long were you at Flandreau?

JP: Two years; ninth and tenth grade. Then at that time I got so lonesome all the time so I ran away.

DL: Oh my goodness, you had a little courage!

JP: Yes, there was three of us: Augie Peters, Vera Wabasha and myself.

DL: And you were how old?

JP: Must have been 14 or 15.

DL: And the three of you, how did you run away, and why?

JP: We just didn’t like it there, we were too confined. And we only went to school for half a day, and then you had to work the other half. On Saturday and Sunday if you had money to go to a movie or go uptown, you could go. A lot of times we didn’t have any money. One day we decided we were going to go. So we signed up to go to the movie, and instead of going to the movie, we started hitchhiking. We didn’t get far. We got to Pipestone, I think, and then we hid until dark, and it started snowing and getting cold, so we got up on the road, and the first car that came along was a cop. [Laughter] Took us right to jail and we had to stay overnight until our parents got there. They took us back to school and told us we wouldn’t be punished for what we did, so we stayed until the end of the year.

DL: What did your parents say to you when they first found you?

JP: My dad and their dads, Hank Wabasha and Vernon Peters, had to come and get us out of jail. We got a good talking to. They said we had to stay, so we stayed. When I came home that May I never went back. I went to school down here and spent my 12th grade year here. In September, October and November, I just couldn’t get along with the kids. I had a friend that came from Prairie Island, and she said that as long as I was 17, I could work at the hospital down there, so I went there and started working. I quit school; I didn’t finish my senior year. I worked there for six months and decided to come home again. I came back and met my first husband in ’53, then in ’55 we got married and moved to Wisconsin and had six children. He passed away when he was 48 years old; he had a heart attack.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Joan Pendleton Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Morton, Lower Sioux Community, MN | Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. We just didn’t like it there May 26, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1093

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