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Harshbarger, May Bennett, 1880-1966



  • Existence: 1880 - 1966


May Bennett, who became a schoolteacher and farmer, was born in eastern Carroll County, Iowa, on April 14, 1880. She attended the Laudenbach one-room school and upon completion of the eighth grade, began teachers training at the Normal Institute in Carroll, Iowa. In 1898 she began teaching in rural Iowa schools including the Dillavou school in western Greene county, the Hiron and Riedesel schools north of Glidden and the Banan school. While teaching, and for many years afterward, May Bennett published articles for newspapers and magazines, including the Des Moines Register and the Normal Instructor. She used the proceeds to buy books for rural schools.

May Bennett continued to teach until 1910 when she married Harry Harshbarger. They had two children: Helen Louise Harshbarger (b. February 2, 1914) and Laurence H. Harshbarger (b. April 3, 1921). Upon the death of her husband in 1926, May Harshbarger chose to stay on and continue working the 80 acre farm instead of moving to town as was the customary action by most widows. She wrote: "In 1926 I lost my husband and was left breadwinner as well as homemaker on our little farm." Keeping meticulous records of every expenditure and sale, and, with the help of a former student and the United States Agriculture Bulletins obtained from Iowa State University, Harshbarger learned the art of farming while running a household with two children.

May Bennett Harshbarger continued to advocate the advancement of rural schools and became active in two clubs of which she remained a member for many years. The Goldenrod Magazine Club originated December 7, 1901 with its goal being "the increase and diffusion of knowledge among its members and their families." Each member subscribed to a magazine, then bound it and sent it to the next member until it had circulated through the group. The Mothers' Club was organized in 1914 to provide an arena for women to exchange ideas about raising children. Its motto was "Not for ourselves, but for others."

May Bennett Harshbarger died July 15, 1966.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

May Bennett Harshbarger papers

Identifier: IWA0088

Schoolteacher from eastern Carroll County, Iowa who managed the family farm after her husband's death in 1926.

Dates: 1898-1993