RUTH EMMA MITTEN, of Newton, is now in her fourth consecutive term as county superintendent of schools of Harvey County. She has given the best years of her life to educational work and progress, and enjoys many enviable distinctions both as a teacher and as a school administrator.
Born at Troy Grove, Illinois, Miss Mitten comes of a family of educators and farmers. The Mitten family originally came from England to New Jersey in colonial times. Miss Mitten grew up on her father's Illinois farm, attended local schools, and in 1894 graduated from the High school of Mendota, Illinois. While a teacher in LaSalle County she completed her education in the Illinois Normal University at Normal and also took special work to fit her for teaching in the University of Illinois at Champaign. All this time she was teaching in rural, graded and high schools.
Coming to Kansas in 1902, Miss Mitten has since had her home at Newton, where her parents had lived. Her first teaching in Kansas was as principal of a grade school in El Dorado for one year, but since that time she has taught in Harvey County, either in rural schools or the city schools of Newton.
Miss Mitten was elected county superintendent in the fall of 1910. She was re-elected in 1912, 1914 and 1916. In 1912 there was no opposing candidate, and in 1916 she was favored by an even larger majority than she had in 1914. Miss Mitten is a democrat and was chosen on that ticket, though politics was not so much an element in her election as her generally recognized qualifications for the position.
Miss Mitten has a large and well organized school service under her supervision, the county having seventy-five schools, 125 teachers and an enrollment of 5,730 scholars. Miss Mitten's offices are in the court house at Newton, and since beginning her term as county superintendent she has made her home in Newton, and at the present time has rooms at 127 West Ninth Street, although she considers her real residence at the farm of her father near Newton.
Miss Mitten has always been active in church affairs as a member of the Christian or Disciples Church. She is at present superintendent of the junior department of the church and has filled various other offices in the church. She is a member of the Macon Township Grange, belongs to the Women's Christian Temperance Union and is a member in good standing of the Harvey County and the State Teachers' associations.
Miss Mitten's grandfather was born in New Jersey in 1810 and brought his family to LaSalle County, Illinois in early times. He farmed there but finally retired and lived with Miss Mitten's father and afterwards went to Chicago, where he died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. L. M. Vaught, in 1897. He married a Miss Dunn, who died at Stewart in LaSalle County, Illinois.
J. H. Mitten, father of the county superintendent was born near Newark, New Jersey, in 1837, and when a young man moved west to Troy Grove, Illinois, where he married. He was an active farmer in Illinois for many years, but in 1896 moved to Kansas and bought a farm 2 1/2 miles east of Newton on First Street. He still owns a quarter section there and the farm is still his home, though he is practically retired. Politically he is a prohibitionist and is an active member of the Christian Church. J. H. Mitten has a creditable record as a soldier of the Union, having enlisted in an Illinois regiment of infantry in 1861 and followed the flag on many a hard fought battlefield until he was honorably discharged.
J. H. Mitten married Miss Almira Bell Ransbarger. She was born at Troy Grove, Illinois, in 1839, and died on the Kansas homestead in January, 1916. They were the parents of a family of ten children, Miss Ruth being the fifth in age. A brief record of the others should also be given. Philena Ellen is the wife of W. R. Foster, present county superintendent of schools in LaSalle County, Illinois. Catherine Rebecca, the second in age, died at the age of ten years. Lucetta Angeline died unmarried at Newton, aged thirty-three. Charles William died at Newton at the age of forty, being at that time a farmer on his father's place. David Oliver operates a threshing outfit. Grace died at home at the age of twenty-three. Louis W. is a manual training instructor at Wilmette, Illinois. Inez Estelle is the wife of C. W. Gates, a resident of Potwin, Kansas, and owner of a farm in Elk County of this state and a claim in Montana. John Franklin, the youngest of the children, is at present conducting a dairy at Newton but will shortly remove to a farm in the State of Montana.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 13, 2000.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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