Ohio History Journal

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Albert B. Graham: School Days

of a Schoolmaster


Albert B. Graham was born March 13, 1868, or as he expressed it in

his own wry sense of humor, "came up between two stalks of corn on

the last farm on Route 36, west of St. Paris in Champaign County."1

From as early as he could remember, he had aspirations of being a

schoolmaster. When he first revealed his secret ambition, his

Scotch-Presbyterian father remarked, "What a thing for a lad to decide

when there is a mortgage on the farm."2

Joseph A. Graham never lived to see his son realize this ambition, for

in a tragic fire in February 1879, he lost his life, leaving the

eleven-year-old boy to care for his younger sister and mother.3 Young

Albert Graham went to work, taking on any odd job he could find in the

community-serving as hired man, sawing wood, doing chores around

the blacksmith shop, and even helping his mother with the sewing which

she did for the neighbors.4 Yet the strong-willed boy never lost sight of

his goal-to achieve a good education and a teacher's certificate.

How well he succeeded in doing this is shown by his career as a

country schoolmaster, which began in Johnson Township, Champaign

County. By 1890 he was Superintendent of the Lena-Conover School,

then went on to Terre Haute as Principal and Superintendent of the

one-room schools of Mad River Township. In August 1900, he was

employed as Superintendent of Schools, Springfield Township, Clark


Mr. Crout, an educator and former principal, co-authored an elementary school

textbook on Ohio history. He also has written a biography of Albert Graham.

1. Columbus Ohio State Journal, June 20, 1951.

2. Jean Harshman, "Father of 4-H," Columbus Sunday Dispatch Magazine, February

23, 1947, 22-23.

3. Albert B. Graham, "The Story of the Burning of Our Farm Home," The Papers of

Albert B. Graham, privately owned by Helen Graham Baker, Middletown, Ohio. Graham

was a fine photographer and took pictures of Ohio rural life and schools and children. This

collection was given to The Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, Ohio, by him. It includes

2,100 negatives on glass plates and 1,200 prints, with photographs of 200 one-room schools

and 150 of early centralized schools.

4. Fannie Bosler, "A. B. Graham: Educator. Founder of 4-H Clubs," Mimeographed,

Centennial Committee, Graham School Celebration, March 10, 1968, 1-2.

5. Austin Showman, "A. B. Graham Set Stage for World-Wide 4-H Movement," Ohio

Farm Bureau News, XXXIX (January 1960), 20-21.