Alexander County

1940 It Happened in Cairo

Arranged for Publication by Anne West 1940

Chapter II


To Maud her high school graduation was a mingled sensation of triumph and sorrow. She'd earned her diploma - and lost her carefree school days.

The Cairo Bulletin for Saturday, June 10, 1882, had this to say about the exercises.

The Ninth Commencement

As a matter of news for the Cairo public an extensive account of the graduation exercises of the Cairo High School Class of '82 held at the Opera House yesterday afternoon is almost unnecessary, because people from the farthest ends of the city were present to witness it. The Opera House stage represented a suite of drawing rooms, surrounded by a collonnade supporting an elaborate entablature. There were eight groups of columns, and against each group was suspended a large star with tips of evergreen and each bearing in the centre the name of the graduates. The stars were cut from thick cardboard, and inscriptions, surrounded by ferns and foliage, were produced by spatter work with such perfect shading that every figure could be distinctly seen from all parts of the house. Miss Bettie Korsmeyer did the work and proved herself an artist of much taste and skill. A piano and an organ and a number of chairs placed in rows in a semicircle completed the stage outfit.

Over a thousand people all in holiday attire were present, and gazing down upon the myriads of beautiful hats and bright fluttering fans in the parquette and parquette circle one imagined that he saw before him a sea of nature's own flowers waving to and fro in the gentle zephyrs.

The audience gathered early and throughout the exercises gave deep interest and appreciation. The Choral Society which was to take part was on the stage in full force, the school board and Prof. Bigley were also there, the latter directing the exercises.

A handsomer, more self-possessed and more intelligent looking group of young ladies probably never - well - hardly ever "roamed wide the realms of thought together," or was ever launched upon life's uncertain sea by any institution of learning in the country.

The order of the exercises was as follows:

Piano Solo - Miss Ada Scarrett.
Salutatory and Essay - Individuality - Miss Edith Martin.
Essay - Does Education Promote Happiness? - Miss Sarah Wheeler.
Essay - Women of the Past and Present
Ages - Miss Amanda Field.
Music - Choral Society - Accompanied on the organ and piano by Miss Ella Robbins and Ada V. Scarrett.
Essay - Monuments - Miss Jennie Wright.
Essay - Spirit of Discovery - Miss Emma Webster.
Essay - Poetical vs. Practical - Miss Martha Martin.
Essay - Character Study - Miss Maud Rittenhouse.
Essay and Valedictory - By Ceaseless Action All Is Subsists - Miss Eva Shepard.
Music - Choral Society.

From the Opera House the eight graduates went directly to the residence of the parents of Miss Edith Martin where they spent the afternoon and night in a delightful manner.

(As events turned out in the passing years, it would seem that Maud knew little of the subject she chose for her graduation essay.)

Of the girls in Maud's class, it is known only that Eva Shepard is now living in Chicago, and that Edith Martin (Maud's cousin De-de), who was married to Mr. E. E. (Eugene) Ellis, the Cairo printer, on May 16, 1883, was killed in a horse and buggy accident at Villa Ridge, Ill. Mr. Ellis had become the publisher of the Cairo Telegram, an evening daily. The Telegram ceased publication many years ago and Mr. Ellis moved to Chicago and entered the printing business. He died there about two years ago.

Not quite ten years after her graduation Maud was to experience a second great triumph. The Cairo Citizen of January 28, 1892, carried this story.

Miss Maud Rittenhouse Gets $1000 For a Story

There was great rejoicing at the Rittenhouse residence last Monday which soon spread among her friends when news went forth that Miss Maud Rittenhouse had captured the first prize of $1000 offered for a story by an Eastern Company.

The offer was made by the Linville Improvement Company of Mitchell County, North Carolina, for the best story with a description of "Greatfather Mountain," a famous elevation in that vicinity, and scenery, climate and advantages of that locality woven into it.

Competent judges performed the task of examining a vast number of manuscripts which such a liberal offer would naturally draw. Miss Rittenhouse's novelette is entitled, "In the After-Glow," and is the result of but a few weeks' work on her part. Her ready pen is already winning for her the name of fame which her friends long ago predicted."

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Extracted 25 Aug 2018 by Norma Hass from It Happened in Cairo, arranged by Anne West, published in 1940.

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